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How to Remove Your Headlight Lens
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

How to Remove Your Headlight Lens

Nick Czerula

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$200

Talent:

**

Tools:

Phillips screwdriver, plastic prying tool

Applicable Models:

BMW E46 3-Series (1999-06)

Parts Required:

Headlight assembly, headlight bulb, headlight assembly to hood seal

Hot Tip:

Keep bulbs and inside of headlight assembly clean when replacing lens

Performance Gain:

Brighter, reliable headlamps

Complementary Modification:

Repair damaged headlight assembly, replace faulty headlight bulb

In BMW E46 models with standard halogen or upgraded xenon headlights, the high and low beam bulbs on each side of the front grille are located inside a plastic housing. The front of the headlight assembly is covered by a separate plastic lens. This lens tends to dull or turn yellow over time, thus reducing output of the headlight bulbs and resulting in less than desirable headlight brightness. The headlight lens can be replaced separately. 

In vehicles with adaptive bi-xenon headlights (2002 and later models) the headlight housing is one unit with a separate lens or cover.

Keep in mind that when your car was serviced before, parts may have been replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have, so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches. 

Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If you are working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Do not work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability. 

Vehicle models change and evolve as they grow older, so the vehicle shown in our illustrations may vary slightly from yours. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Do you have questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

Models with headlight washers: Remove the headlight washers.
Figure 1

Models with headlight washers: Remove the headlight washers. To do this, use a plastic prying tool and lever the washer out.

Models with headlight washers: Then grab and pull it straight out of headlight.
Figure 2

Models with headlight washers: Then grab and pull it straight out of headlight. When nozzle is pulled out, a small squirt of washer fluid is ejected.

Working at top corner of fender, insert a Phillips screwdriver into the hole and remove the turn signal lens fastener.
Figure 3

Working at top corner of fender, insert a Phillips screwdriver into the hole and remove the turn signal lens fastener. Some models do not have a screw, but a retaining tab instead. To release this, insert a flathead screwdriver into the same hole and release the tab while levering the turn signal lens out.

Slide the turn signal lens out of the fender, disconnect the electrical connector and remove the turn signal lens from the vehicle.
Figure 4

Slide the turn signal lens out of the fender, disconnect the electrical connector and remove the turn signal lens from the vehicle.

Using a plastic prying tool, level out and remove the lower headlight trim.
Figure 5

Using a plastic prying tool, level out and remove the lower headlight trim.

Next, unclip the headlight to hood seal from the headlight (green arrow) and remove it from the headlight assembly.
Figure 6

Next, unclip the headlight to hood seal from the headlight (green arrow) and remove it from the headlight assembly. If it is worn or cracked, replace with new.

Release the headlight lens retaining tabs (green arrows) and remove the lens from the headlight assembly.
Figure 7

Release the headlight lens retaining tabs (green arrows) and remove the lens from the headlight assembly.

Remove the old gasket from the headlight assembly (green arrow).
Figure 8

Remove the old gasket from the headlight assembly (green arrow). Install the new gasket into the headlight assembly. Then install the new headlight lens. Listen for the retaining tabs to snap, this will confirm they are properly seated. Install the headlight trim and the headlight washer.

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Comments and Suggestions:
John Comments: Thanks for the article Nick. I'm having a hard time getting the lens back on. The gasket is thicker because it is new and prevents the lens from pushing in far enough for the retaining tabs to snap. Any tips or tricks that might help? Thank you
November 21, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Try lubricating the gasket with dish soap. Then when pressing lens on, try to get the whole perimeter to snap in together. If at an angle, it will bind. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Sam Comments: Can the lens on a 2004 330ci be replaced? I told coupes hae a different headlight.
April 24, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes the can be replaced.
Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Bear Comments: Hi, I have 2001 330i with just the regular halogen headlights. I want to replace the lenses of course. What is the differences from all the options you sell?? I'm lost trying to figure which ones i need.

Thanks for your time.
March 22, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would assume the more affordable models may have a thickness of protection coating difference than the more expensive ones. I am not the best with part numbers. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Mikey Comments: 2005 325i is glass Len glue on I was told it was
April 21, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don't believe so. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
tj Comments: how do u remove the headlight washer?
March 13, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Assuming you are referring to E46, see this tech article, step 9:

http://www.pelicanparts.com/BMW/techarticles/BMW-3-Series-E46/94-BODY-Xenon_Headlight_Replacement/94-BODY-Xenon_Headlight_Replacement.htm - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Tony Comments: I have a 2000 BMW 328I is this procedure applicable to my car.
February 20, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes it is. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Greg Comments: I have been told by BMW and several others that the headlight lens only CAN'T be replaced on my 2004 BMW 325Ci. Could you confirm this or, if false, tell me where I might find the lenses for both headlight they both have spyder cracks directly in front of low beams as well as yelkowing. Do you have these lenses available and, if so, how much are they? Thank you

Greg
October 21, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If you have OE headlights, the lens should be able to be replaced. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799 and they can help figure out which part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 

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Page last updated: Wed 12/7/2016 02:20:58 AM