E24 is BMW's internal designation for the 6 Series coupe made from 1976 to 1989. As with any older or classic car, the E24 is prone to issues from ageing, some of which are related to the instrument cluster, which over time can stop functioning when the plastic gears inside break. Removal of an E24 instrument cluster is relatively straightforward. With the cluster removed, you cannot only repair the plastic gauge gears, but you can install new bulbs for better night-time visibility of the gauges.
What You Need
To remove the gauge cluster on an E24 you will need a few tools. To remove the steering wheel (not absolutely necessary but helpful) you will need a flathead screwdriver and a 22mm socket and ratchet. You will also need to a Phillips head screwdriver and a full socket set, along with soft towels to protect the gauge cluster.
Accessing the Cluster
Remove the steering wheel by prying off the horn button with a flathead screwdriver. You should now be able to place the 22mm socket over the large nut that holds the wheel on. Remove the nut and set it aside. Pull the steering wheel off of the steering column shaft. It may help for later refitment if you make a mark where the wheel is in relation to the steering column. Next, remove the four screws that hold the knee panel and disconnect the wires and the vacuum line in the back of the panel. Remove the three screws that hold the bottom steering column cover on.
With a thin-blade screwdriver, gently pry the "Check" panel cover off. Pry from the bottom to avoid damaging the panel, since it is held on with two clips at the top. Remove the three screws that hold the "Check" panel module in place. Pull the module out far enough to access the wiring harness that goes to the back of it and disconnect the harness. With a 13mm socket, remove the two bolts that hold the steering column in place. When the second bolt is being removed, support the steering column and let it down gently until it stops.
Removing the Cluster
With a thin-blade screwdriver, gently pry off the moulding located to the right of the instrument cluster. Next, remove the two cluster mounting screws on the right side of the cluster and then the two screws on the left side. Once the screws are out, lay a thick towel or some type of padding on the top of the instrument column, pull the cluster out and let it lay on the column. Remove the bulb for the fog light switch by pulling it straight out of the yellow holder. Remove the bulb for the head light switch in the same manner. Pull out the wires that go to the headlight switch by gently spreading the two locking tabs that hold it place. Disconnect the speedometer wire bundle, the odometer wires, the main SI board bundle connector and the fuel/temperature gauge bundles.
Be careful when removing the connectors: pull them straight out to avoid breaking them. Finally, disconnect the fog light switch wires and the ABS instrument cluster bulb. You should now be able to remove the cluster from the interior to work on it on your workbench. Place it on a clean, soft surface to avoid breaking it.