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Completed 4/15/2005

Install three VDO gauges into the center console. Because of the supercharger, I chose a boost, oil pressure, and oil temperature gauge. Other gauges available are for things like air pressure, amps, volts, a clock, mechanical & electrical pressure and temp gauges (for oil or water), boost and vacuum, fuel level, outside temp, EGT (exhaust gas temp), transmission temp and pressure, and others. These are standard 2 1/4" guages from the VDO Vision series. You can use any standard 2 1/4" gauge you choose in this install with minor variations, but the VDO Vision series gauges match the BMW factory instrumentation perfectly with the correct lighting.

1 - LeatherZ E46 Gauge Kit
     (LEATHER Z $305 part #E46GaugeKit)
     Includes the gauge panel wrapped in leather of your color choice,      orange bulb covers, wiring, electrical connectors, oil
     distribution block, senders, and instructions.

     VDO Boost Line Kit (part #150-855D)
     VDO Boost Gauge (part #150-101D)
     VDO Oil Temp Gauge 300°F (part #350-106D)
     VDO Oil Pressure Gauge 80psi (part #350-104D)

Wire Crimping Tool
6mm, 24mm Wrench
13mm Socket and wrench (optional)
Utility Knife
Phillips Screwdriver
Electrical Wire 18awg - in 2 colors, 6 feet of each
Electrical Blade Connectors
Electrical Wire Crimp Taps
Electrical Tape
Soldering Iron

I started by pre-constructing the gauge panel on my table to make the time working inside the car as short as possible (Photo A).

1. The boost gauge is longer than the others and gauges this deep MUST be placed on the right side of the panel. It is the only location with a little extra room behind the center console. Make sure the gauges are lined up and straight (Photo B).

2. Some VDO gauges come with a white screw-on collar to mount them. These will not work as they take up too much room. LeatherZ provides the metal U brackets to mount each gauge. You will need to install the threaded bolts into the back of each gauge first and tighten with a 6mm wrench (Photo C).

3. Fasten each gauge to the panel with the U brackets. Tighten in place with supplied thumb screws. If you tighten them too much, you will start to bend the panel. Just firm tight works (Photo D & E).

4. These next few steps take the longest and should be done with the most attention: Wiring the panel. Begin by examining the backs of the gauges. There will be a + and - marked connector and then an extra one for the sender signal (usually marked S). There is also 2 blade connectors on each lamp housing. The lamps have no +/- markings as it doesn't matter with DC voltage lighting. The boost gauge is mechanical and has only connectors for the bulb housing.

5. Begin by cutting short lengths of electrical wire a few inches long to begin connecting all the - terminals (ground) together. I used brown wire for ground as it matches the standard BMW ground wire color. Start with the farthest gauge bulb to the right (Photo F) and leave a 12" length of wire after the last gauge. It should go from one bulb to the next and then to all gauge grounds, then have a pigtail for a total of five (5) blade connectors on the power wire. Solder each connection (Photo G), then crimp a blade connector on tight (Photo H).

6. Do the same for the other terminals for the lights and also ending in a 12" pigtail. You will have a total of three (3) blade connectors and the pigtail on the lighting wire. I used gray wire (Photo I).

7. One more wire, 12V switched power. Wire the + gauge terminals together and end with a fairly long pigtail. You will have a total of two (2) blade connectors and a pigtail on the power wire. I used thicker red wire here (Photo J). I also tape power connections with electrical tape (Photo K).

8. Pull each bulb socket out by rocking it to the side. Slide the supplied orange bulb covers on the bulbs all the way. I didn't have to use any tricks here to get any air out. No soap, heating, or cutting. Just work them on slowly and they will go on (Photo L).

9. The gauge panel is complete. Time to get the senders installed. Open the hood.

10. Find the factory oil pressure sender behind the oil filter housing (Photo M). Disconnect the factory wiring harness by lifting the metal clip and then and remove the sender with a 24mm wrench. You may want to remove the two (2) 13mm bolts on the power steering reservior housing and move it aside to make more room.

11. Cut the factory sender electrical harness connector off at the plug. Strip and crimp a blue ring connector on this wire. This is the low oil pressure lamp trigger (it comes on at 7psi). Attach this wire to the "WK" marked pin on the back of the new VDO oil pressure sender.

12. The oil temperature sender from LeatherZ is pre-installed in the distribution block so attach the VDO oil pressure sender to the block. On my first gauge install, this temp sender was installed in the oil pan drain plug. You can do the same if you wish with the right sender.

13. Using the supplied gauge wire, crimp a ring connector on the end of the black wire and a blade connector on the red wire (Photo N).

14. Attach the ring (black wire) to the other pin on the VDO oil pressure sender and tighten both thumbscrews. Attach the blade (red wire) connector to the pre-installed oil temperature sender (Photo O).

15. Using the supplied banjo bolt, attach the oil distribution block to the oil filter housing where you removed the factory sender in step 10. Be sure to use the crush washers on either side of the distribution block on the bolt. You don't have to get this super tight, just pretty snug. You may need to rotate the block to get everything to fit with clearance. You don't want the block or senders to touch anything (Photo P - you probably don't have the supercharger oil supply line to deal with, but you get the idea).

16. I added my boost line along the sender signal wires (red and black) and taped the entire length every 6" to keep it clean (Photo Q).

17. Run these two wires & tube up and across the engine to the firewall grommet located in the small space in front of the passenger firewall (Photo R).

18. Cut one of the nubs on the large grommet in the firewall and feed the gauge wires a few inches into the grommet. This gets them inside the car.

19. Time to move inside the car. Remove the contents of your glovebox and remove the three (3) phillips above the glovebox (Photo S - Red Circles).

20. Remove the two (2) phillips screws on either side of the glovebox (Photo T). There is another right inside the passenger door underneath.

21. The glovebox will drop and you can disconnect the flashlight and glovebox lamp wiring harness connectors (Photo U).

22. Remove the glovebox and the plastic kick panels below it. They pull straight out. This exposes the backside of the grommet we cut earlier (Photo V).

23. Pull the sender wires and boost line through the grommet and run it over behind the center console.

24. Remove the oddments (storage) compartment above the ashtray by opening the lid and reaching in with your hand. Press up while pulling straight out. It will pop out (Photo W).

25. Remove the shift boot by pressing in on the left/right sides and pull up (Photo X). Remove shift knob by pulling hard and remove both.

26. Remove the two (2) phillips screws on the shifter console trim and pull up (Photo Y).

27. Disconnect the two window switch harnesses and remove the trim (Photo Z).

28. Remove the four (4) phillips screws for the center console (Photo AA - Red Circles).

29. Pull the console out (it is easier with the shifter in 4th gear) and disconnect the DSC switch harnesses, lighter and ashtray wires (Photo AB).

30. These wires we unplugged will come in very handy. The thick brown wire is the lighter ground we can use. The thin wires for the ashtray light we can tap for lighting (gray is +). The red/yellow striped lighter wire is always powered, so we need to find another switched 12V source (Photo AC).

31. Above the glovebox, find the fusebox by twisting the white tabs and letting it drop down. You will notice the purple wire tap I added that triggers my Praxis Advanced Suspension via switched 12V power (Photo AD).

32. Bring your pre-built gauge panel in and disconnect all of your blade connectors. Choose the power wire harness we made and run the pigtail into the center console and behind the dash to the glovebox. I used a Crimp Tap to tie into the Praxis trigger (Photo AE). An alternative 12V source is the thick purple wire in the wiring bundle coming down from your steering wheel under the dash.

33. We have power, now let us tap the lighter's ground wire for the gauge ground (Photo AF).

34. For lighting, strip the small gray/red wire on the ashtray light harness and tie in your lighting harness for the gauges (Photo AG).

35. Pull your sender wires and boost line up through the center console and crimp blade connectors on the wire ends (Photo AH).

36. Before we install the gauges, you may want to Loctite the U bracket screws to keep it all from coming loose (Photo AI).

37. Assemble the center console back in place, attaching your DSC plugs and lighter/ashtray connections, but don't screw into place yet. We want to make sure all the wires come out of the hole (Photo AJ). Attach them to the gauges and lights.

38. The boost line connection is a tricky one. I teflon wrapped the threads to help keep it airtight (Photo AK).

39. Run the boost line through the brass nut with the hole in it from the tubing kit. Then it passes through the collet (the tiny cone shaped fitting). The point of the collet goes into the gauge. Then press the hose into the gauge and tighten the brass nut. Tight is OK! (Photo AL).

40. You may want to check your wiring and turn the ignition to on, but don't start the car. Check the lights and connections.

41. Check for clearances, don't pinch any wires or tubing and fit the gauge panel into the dash (Photo AM). It may help to pull the edges of the console apart to make it fit. It will stay there with friction (Photo AN).

42. It all looks very good. Even at night, the lights are a perfect match (Photo AO).

43. Have a friend start the car and check the sender area for leaks and tighten if necessary. I had no problems. Enjoy!


Photo A

Photo B

Photo C

Photo D

Photo E

Photo F

Photo G

Photo H

Photo I

Photo J

Photo K

Photo L

Photo M

Photo N

Photo O

Photo P

Photo Q

Photo R

Photo S

Photo T

Photo U

Photo V

Photo W

Photo X

Photo Y

Photo Z

Photo AA

Photo AB

Photo AC

Photo AD

Photo AE

Photo AF

Photo AG

Photo AH

Photo AI

Photo AJ

Photo AK

Photo AL

Photo AM

Photo AN

Photo AO


The gauges are a nice touch to the interior and add serious functionality! Normal operating stats are 10-15psi idle oil pressure, while up to 55-60psi during driving. Oil temperature ranges from cold to about 235 degrees normally. Boost gauges reads out my 8psi at redline.

Overall, it is a simple, yet useful modification and LeatherZ makes it easy to get everything put together in one purchase. Thanks!

  © MarvelPhx