Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Worthington, KY
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Hey, not to be an opportunist, but I happen to have a '98 323is, and I just ordered a new receiver for it yesterday. It will be in Friday, there is nothing at all wrong with mine. Mine illuminates perfectly and does exactly what it is told.
If you think your head unit is in need of replacing or something, let me know and maybe we can work something out.
Aside from the above offer, you can only adjust the dimming value (potentiometric increase in current) by rolling that knob next to your steering wheel. Every bulb in your dash has a dimmer switch that responds to your head lights and that pontentiometer. If your stereo doesn't illuminate right, it is a problem with the head unit--in my opinion. You need to play with the lights at night and that dash light intensity switch and see if there is a "systemic" problem or just a specific head unit issue.
I'm changing receivers this weekend, and I'd be happy to help you in any way I can. I could lend you some advice on another kind of unit too. These jobs are easily done on this car with the correct knowledge and parts. Hint: this car has its own amplifier TOTALLY separate from the head unit, therefore, you gotta be careful about this sound system. It's got some landmines in it I wouldn't want to step on--like sending 20-50 watts per channel of an aftermarket unit to the far reaches of your wiring harness... Needs a special part to turn off the aftermarket amp and key the signal into your amp. What if your amp goes out??? You have to wire ALL speakers up to some other amp/head unit (with amp).
Anyway, gimme a shout if you need any other advice or if you are interested in my factory stereo.