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Discussion Starter #1
Is there any method to modify the electronics of the car so that the instrument cluster will become always illuminated so long as the key is inserted and switched to the "ON" position (even without switching on the head and tail lamps)?
 

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Because Race...Convertible?
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If its not dark enough out to have headlights on, why do you need to illuminate the dash?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
If its not dark enough out to have headlights on, why do you need to illuminate the dash?
On my daily commute, I drive through a lot of tunnels (which are unlit during the daytime) and have trouble finding revs for shifting as the dash is not illuminated. Plus, my window film is quite dark all-around. Therefore, I would really appreciate if there was a certain way to configure the cluster to light up by default.
 

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Because Race...Convertible?
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Theoretically you could pull the dash, multimeter test to find which wire is activated with the lights to power your dash, and then jump that wire to accessory power

Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Theoretically you could pull the dash, multimeter test to find which write is activated with the lights to power your dash, and then jump that wire to accessory power

Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk
That sounds reasonable enough. I might give that a try. Thank you!
 

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You should be able to tell if the gear needs to be changed by sound and just knowing the car. I don't look at my gauge when I shift.


Good luck finding the proper wiring to make it work.
+1
get a feel for the car, you should never have to look at the rpm when shifting
 

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On my daily commute, I drive through a lot of tunnels (which are unlit during the daytime) and have trouble finding revs for shifting as the dash is not illuminated. Plus, my window film is quite dark all-around. Therefore, I would really appreciate if there was a certain way to configure the cluster to light up by default.
Couldn't you just leave your selector for the lights one click to the right? All it does is turn on DDL and illuminates the cluster as far as I can tell?
 

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Because Race...Convertible?
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Yes but figured he knew that

Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Couldn't you just leave your selector for the lights one click to the right? All it does is turn on DDL and illuminates the cluster as far as I can tell?
I don't like the fact that the tail lights light up along with the front DDL.

You should be able to tell if the gear needs to be changed by sound and just knowing the car. I don't look at my gauge when I shift.
+1
get a feel for the car, you should never have to look at the rpm when shifting
Yeah, I understand; on upshifts, I'd like to say that I'm alright (if only a bit inconsistent), but for downshifts, especially for multiple downshifts I get quite lost without looking at the speedo.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I asked my mechanic about this topic and he said that doing so could potentially cause problems; he wasn't especially specific about it though. He said, "the cluster lights up as a result of the "module" telling it to light up after the lights had been switched on, so tinkering with this system could cause problems." I'm not sure if I believe him because part of me just thinks that he's too lazy to fiddle with the electronics, but I can't be sure. What do you guys think?
 

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He does have a point. Many of the cars things are controlled by the gm5, but I believe all the lighting except for the interior lights are controlled by the lsz or lamp control module. I'm actually interested in keeping it on all the time because I like my white cluster led on all the time.
 

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Theoretically you could pull the dash, multimeter test to find which wire is activated with the lights to power your dash, and then jump that wire to accessory power

Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk
On early models, it's Pin 7 of the black connector (gray/red wire). On later models, the lights are triggered by a K-bus command. Not sure where an 03 falls on the spectrum.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
He does have a point. Many of the cars things are controlled by the gm5, but I believe all the lighting except for the interior lights are controlled by the lsz or lamp control module. I'm actually interested in keeping it on all the time because I like my white cluster led on all the time.
Yeah, if you like your cluster LED, then it does make sense to keep it on. I like the way my dad's Audi's have the needles lit in red all the time too.

On early models, it's Pin 7 of the black connector (gray/red wire). On later models, the lights are triggered by a K-bus command. Not sure where an 03 falls on the spectrum.
My guess is that mine falls into the "later models" category because it has the raised turn signal indicators.
 

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Buy an old Beetle, drive around, know how to listen to the engine and feel what the car is saying to you, especially if it is a stick shift. You'll be less dependent on gauges and sensors. Problem solved.

Here, the beetle dashboard, have fun!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Buy an old Beetle, drive around, know how to listen to the engine and feel what the car is saying to you, especially if it is a stick shift. You'll be less dependent on gauges and sensors. Problem solved.

Here, the beetle dashboard, have fun!
The car I learned to drive on was my dad's Superstar '74 Beetle, so I do kinda know about manual-shifting with feel because it too didn't have a tach (but then one time, I drove it at around 140kmph for an extended period of time on an expressway, and one of the pistons gouged through the cylinder cover and the engine ceased on the expressway - was a ****-show for me, and my dad never let me touch his Beetle again after he got a new 1.8 flat-4 for it). Plus the fact that in my university years, I kind of riced around in an EG6, which was manual. I guess that that was probably the time that I actually developed a habit of shifting according to speed. The 1.5 D15Y Vtec-E engine in my Civic was matched with a final gear ratio that was so tall and evenly spaced that I drove around with 20kmph intervals per gear for daily-driving. It was super economical to drive that way as well, so I had to stick with that driving habit for the whole time I was a student (because I was broke like, basically, the whole time). At 100 kmph in 5th, the rev was only at 2000rpm - crazy low. However, once I started working, I daily'd in an automatic-transmission Toyota Hilux since then for a majority of my "driving life" up until now. So yes, I may have forgotten the feeling of it a little bit because I haven't driven a manual-transmission vehicle in quite a while.

Anyhow, my 318i has the Steptronic-auto (I'd love to swap it to manual, but that's a whole other story altogether), but I drive around in manual-mode all the time because automatic is just too boring. In Thailand, non-M e46's with manuals are more rare than M3's, so it's just not in my ability to find one (in fact I've only ever seen one non-M e46 with a stick-shift here, and I believe that the owner did a swap to get it to become a manual because the shifter, shift-boot, etc. didn't match with the rest of the car both in color and "age/wear".) Personally, I find that with the "+/-" of the Steptronic (and other manumatics), I get lost in the gears when shifting - like I'd forget which gear I'm in. However, with an H-pattern shifter, I never had this problem; although the gear display is always illuminated by default so I can look down to see which gear I'm in, I still want the speedo and tach to be always illuminated as well (just out of habit of shifting with the speedo, which I still do apparently). For me, I use the speedo to shift for daily-driving (eco-driving) and the tach to shift for spirited-driving.
 

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abyzzim;16918639(but then one time said:
LOL that's crazy. Sorry I can't answer your question but why does the auto option bother you? It goes on and off in seconds and it's already there, OEM, no need to modify anything.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
LOL that's crazy. Sorry I can't answer your question but why does the auto option bother you? It goes on and off in seconds and it's already there, OEM, no need to modify anything.
By "auto option", you are talking about the auto on/off of the cluster illumination when turning the lights on/off right? I drive around in manual-mode all the time on my automatic transmission, and you may be wondering why I want the cluster illuminated by default. The reason is because then I can downshift (and upshift too, but that can be done from feel more easily) according to the speedo accurately (for engine braking and matching the gears to the speed - especially for multiple downshifts) even in darker areas like in dimly lit tunnels or like really early in the morning. In such dimly lit environments, there is enough light to see the road and other cars, but the curved hump on top of the cluster that blocks out light in such environments from getting to the cluster. You'd barely be able to tell how fast you were going or what rev you were at - unless you switch on the dimmers. And I guess I like to keep my lights off whenever possible - it's just a personal preference.
 
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