BMW 135i Faded Head Unit Display

BMW Head Unit Display Failure (E90-E93, E82, E88) – Faded Pixel Display Fixed

Jake Mayock

Meet Jake

Jake currently owns two N54 powered BMW’s – an E60 535i and E82 135i. Jake has 10 years of experience maintaining, repairing, and upgrading his BMW’s. The 135i features a single turbo Precision 6266 conversion capable of 700+whp; Jake completed the entire project on his own. With over 200 automotive articles published, Jake brings a balance of writing skill, hands-on BMW experience, and technical knowledge to the table.

Today we are covering a common failure with our cars, the head unit display/radio. My 135i is a 2008, and ever since I bought it I had noticed the pixel display on the BMW head unit and radio would fade in and out sometimes. Sometimes it was perfectly fine, other times you couldn’t make out a single thing on it, and often it was somewhere in between. Head unit pixel display failure is popular on these cars:

  • E90, E91, E92, E93 3-series BMWs
  • E81, E82, E87, E88 1-series BMW’s
  • Model CD73 Radio

The head unit and radio failure is common on all models, not just N54s, but is more common on older cars. Also, cars which are parked outdoors constantly are more prone to this issue. It is also more common for this to happen to cars that are driven in hot states (such as Texas for me). Luckily the fix is relatively easy, and is a lot less expensive than replacing the whole head unit.

How do I know if my BMW Head Unit is Failing?

Well, its pretty simple. Here are various picture of what it looks like on my E82 135i:

This is how it looks on a really hot day:

BMW 135i Faded Head Unit Display

This is the BMW head unit when the temperature is a little more mild:

BMW E90 Faded Head Unit Display

What Causes the BMW Head Unit Radio Pixels to Fail?

Heat. Excessive heat inside the car causes the LCD Display to become dilapidated and faded. It doesn’t cause any issues with the functionality of the radio or other features, it simply causes the display to begin to fade, making it hard to see the time, radio station you are on, etc.

The display gets more faded when the inside of the car is at its hottest. Hence why it is common in cars that are not garage-kept, and cars that live in hot and sunny states. As the interior temperature of the car cools down, you will notice the display getting more clear. If your display does not improve when the temperature decreases, then your whole LCD Display has likely failed.

What Are My Options to Fix the Display?

It depends on your personal preference, but you can either fix the display, or just wait until it completely fails if you don’t mind it. If you live in a cool area for the majority of the year, you might not mind the display getting a little out of whack during the summer months. In that case, just leave it and don’t replace it until it fails. For people like me, who live in an area that gets to 110+ in the summer, and is still hot in the winters, here are your replacement options:

  • Dealership Warranty!! If you still have factory warranty, they will replace it for free. Some people have even gotten upgraded HiFi head unit’s under warranty

Most of us, like me, who have older cars are out of luck on the warranty. Here are our options:

  • Replace it yourself (DIY): it’s not an overly complex DIY, and it only costs about $130 (check the product links below)
  • Pay the dealership or someone else to fix it: probably not worth paying for labor on it, in my opinion
  • Upgrade your entire head unit: there aren’t a whole lot of aftermarket options, but its a possibility. I will write a guide on this soon and link it here

Repair the LCD Display Yourself

For people with the CD73 Head Unit you need this: CD73 LCD Display Repair

The above link works for 2006+ E90-E93, and all 1-series BMW’s.

For 2009+ 3-series BMW’s: 2009+ E9x LCD Display


DIY Guide:


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  1. Thanks. Does anyone know where this replacement can be bought at a reasonable price for DIY. Seems a lot of links are sold out. And can’t find less than $100 which seems a lot to do myself.

  2. I also have fading out radio display and I’m glad to hear that it’s nothing more serious. I’ve had my 1 series in the shop replacing the CAS module ” Car Access System ” The car would run perfectly in every respect , Then suddenly it shuts down without any warning. Very dangerous ! However; most of the time ( if not all ) when this happens I will notice the Radio pixels began to fade. I would like to know if others have witness this type of occurrence. I understand the CAS Module generates random Key Codes and synchronizes the code with the Engine Control Unit which BMW calls DME or DDE. This CAS Module has many jobs and I hope the Pixels fading isn’t related!! $1600 so far!

  3. Mine goes the same on my e87 also my sound is constantly intermittent. Any advise.woukd a new stereo fix problem or could it be battery fault? The serious doesn’t turn off just sound cuts in and out bout every 10/15 seconds for a couple of seconds.any help will do


    1. Did you sort the intermittant sound as my CD73 unit does the same just don’t know why?

  4. Hi Martin
    Sorry I’m so late but I just now found your message. My e82 started a habit of shutting down and even would not start again…The CAS was replaced and the Start Button replaced. Total $1600. Sometimes the car would shut down when an incoming cell phone call comes through the car”s software program. I was not sure if that was related to the radio which I have learned the Pixcel fading is due to interior heat. I still have fading of the radio pixcels going in and going out but doesn’t seem to bother it. I constantly sit on the edge of the seat wondering what’s next.. It’s been 6 weeks with no other trouble. I love my e82 but too much unnecessary Tech!
    Steve Winston-Salem NC

  5. Hello please I have 2008 135i with radio professionnal and its the second time i change it due to the damage of the screen because of the hot weather . Is it possible to upgrade to the professional head unit ? I dont have screen in my car . Thank you

  6. Bought 2nd hand cd 73 swapped screens with my faulty one all alpine screens the same cost £30 took 30 mins no recoding needed work perfectly

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