we had this exact problem on our '93 525. the fix in our case was to swap out the cluster (and transfer the coding plug) with another one i bought at a junkyard. that was a few years ago and everything has worked great since.
i worked on the cluster both with and without the steering wheel/airbag removed. it's definitely doable with the wheel/bag in place, but its MUCH easier without. removing the wheel and airbag adds another 2 minutes to the operation.
if you have the bentley (sounds like you do) then you have all the instructions for removing the wheel/airbag. it's really easy.
now, with 5 speeds!
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