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BMW Rear Exterior Lights Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

BMW Rear Exterior Lights Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$100

Talent:

**

Tools:

Flathead screwdriver, trim panel tool.

Applicable Models:

BMW E90 3-Series (2006-11)
BMW E91 3-Series (2006-12)
BMW E92 3-Series (2007-13)
BMW E93 3-Series (2007-13)

Parts Required:

Bulbs, LED strip, Trim panel clips

Hot Tip:

Tape body to protect from scratches

Performance Gain:

Working lights

Complementary Modification:

Replace in pairs

In this tech article I will show you how to replace the rear exterior lights on your BMW E90. These lights include the tail lights, license plate lights, and third brake light. Some of these lights are standard tungsten style bulbs and others are LED style bulbs.

When dealing with bulb failures or bulb out messages, always inspect the electrical connector and taillight bulb holder. The connectors can wear over time causing heat and melting. Once the electrical connector on the harness side or the taillight socket has melted, you will have a poor connection and rear bulb faults or failures. If you find the connector is melted, you can repair it by installing a new plug pigtail and / or replacing the bulb socket assembly.

Tail Light Bulbs:

The taillight on E90 models is split into two parts.
Figure 1

The taillight on E90 models is split into two parts. One is mounted to the rear fender (green arrow) and the other in the trunk lid (yellow arrow) or tailgate. The lens in the rear fender houses the brake, turn and taillight bulbs. The lens in the trunk or tailgate houses the backup and rear fog light bulbs.

Fender mounted bulbs:
Driver side: Working in trunk, open carpet door to access tail light bulb socket.
Figure 2

Driver side: Working in trunk, open carpet door to access tail light bulb socket. (green arrow)

Passenger side: Working in trunk, open battery access door to access tail light bulb socket.
Figure 3

Passenger side: Working in trunk, open battery access door to access tail light bulb socket. Rotate knob (green arrow) 90° counterclockwise to release.

Then, disconnect electrical connector by pressing release tab and pulling off.
Figure 4

Then, disconnect electrical connector by pressing release tab and pulling off. (green arrow)

Press release tab on socket assembly toward fender and pull socket assembly out of tail light.
Figure 5

Press release tab on socket assembly toward fender and pull socket assembly out of tail light.

Replace bulbs as needed.
Figure 6

Replace bulbs as needed. Turn signal bulb (green arrow). Tail light bulb (yellow arrow). Brake light bulbs (red arrows) 

Trunk lid mounted bulbs:
Next you will have to remove part of the trunk lid trim.
Figure 7

Next you will have to remove part of the trunk lid trim. I suggest only removing the plastic rivets from the side you need to repair bulbs on, then pull trim away from trunk lid to access bulbs. Depending on side you are servicing, remove four ( of eight total) plastic rivets from trunk trim using a trim panel tool. (green arrows)

This photo shows removing the center of the rivet using a trim panel tool.
Figure 8

This photo shows removing the center of the rivet using a trim panel tool. Be careful, these have a tendency to pop out once released and go flying away. Once rivets on side you are servicing have been removed, pull carpet trim away from trunk lid.

Then, disconnect electrical connector by pressing release tab and pulling off.
Figure 9

Then, disconnect electrical connector by pressing release tab and pulling off. (green arrow)

Press release tab on socket assembly and pull socket assembly out of tail light.
Figure 10

Press release tab on socket assembly and pull socket assembly out of tail light.

Replace bulbs as needed.
Figure 11

Replace bulbs as needed. Reverse light bulb (yellow arrow) Brake light bulb (red arrow). Rear fog light / brake force bulb (green arrow).

License Plate Bulbs and Lens:
There are two separate license plate bulb lenses.
Figure 12

There are two separate license plate bulb lenses. (green arrows) If you are having trouble with water intrusion or corrosion on one, replace both as a set.

Using a small flathead screwdriver, press license plate lens at small square opening in direction of green arrow to release.
Figure 13

Using a small flathead screwdriver, press license plate lens at small square opening in direction of green arrow to release.

Then remove opposite side of lens from trunk, then feed out lens with wiring.
Figure 14

Then remove opposite side of lens from trunk, then feed out lens with wiring.

To remove bulb, (green arrow) pull out of bulb electrical socket.
Figure 15

To remove bulb, (green arrow) pull out of bulb electrical socket. Inspect socket for corrosion. Replace if necessary. If needed, see our tech article on trunk release handle replacing. This covers license plate socket replacement also.

Inspect seal (green arrows) on lens, if seal is worn, dry rotted or shows signs of water entering light, replace lens with new.
Figure 16

Inspect seal (green arrows) on lens, if seal is worn, dry rotted or shows signs of water entering light, replace lens with new. Reassemble license plate light in reverse order. When installing lens, feed wiring in first, then snap into place.

Third Brake Light Bulbs: To replace a bulb in your third brake light, you will have to replace the LED light strip. The LED strip is a number of LED bulbs that make up the third brake light assembly.
Working inside vehicle at third brake light, pull third brake light cover down and remove.
Figure 17

Working inside vehicle at third brake light, pull third brake light cover down and remove.

With cover pulled down, fold down electrical connector mount.
Figure 18

With cover pulled down, fold down electrical connector mount.

Then, disconnect electrical connector by pulling apart.
Figure 19

Then, disconnect electrical connector by pulling apart.

Using a flathead screwdriver, lever locking tabs outward to unlock.
Figure 20

Using a flathead screwdriver, lever locking tabs outward to unlock. (green arrow) Photo shows driver side tab, there is one on passenger side too. Then remove LED strip from vehicle.

To install new LED strip, reverse installation instructions.
Figure 21

To install new LED strip, reverse installation instructions. Be sure to properly align plastic tabs on rear window with locks on LED strip. (green arrow)

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Comments and Suggestions:
Kin Comments: Hi. Thanks for your fast reply to the message from July 22, 2017.

Are the brake lights default configured in this way that when the car is break lightly, only the outer set of the lightouter red arrow on both side are lit up? Then when you break harder, there will be both lightsboth red arrows on each side are lit up?

Thanks advance for your answer again.


Best regards,
Kin
August 1, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What year and model vehicle? BMW has models with progressive brake lighting, but it is more a brightness feature than bulbs. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Norman Comments: Hi
Sorry again, I had many question and I just found you,
I look at the reverse bulb pic for BMW E90 as you attached on the page, it looks like a normal bulb for reverse light, but when I try to search it online to buy, it seems there are different type of bulb or led for reverse light, I don't mean brand or manufacture . But some are like led with thin end, so my question is , if you showed us on above pic,about the reverse light bulb.so what is the exact bulb to buy for BMW E90-2006. Would u able to show me a pic of the right bulb for reverse lightE90,please
Thanks
July 30, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give The Pelican Parts parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Norman Comments: Hi everyone
Dose anyone know for low beam bulb in BMW 320i E902006 what we can replace with higher power and brighter!? Indeed not expensive £10-£20
Is it LED light or halogen! Which one has more power and long life!?
Also what type of bulb is for side indicator ? Not the one next to front and rear lights, the one is near tyre it's on side of BMW?
Cheers all
July 30, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You can't change the bulb wattage, it can damage the connector, wiring or module. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Norman Comments: Hi all
I need to know what is exactly , front parking light, cunbus light and side light? I confused, it's been a 3 weeks I am looking to change into LEDhigher power but I am struggling to chose the right bulb for it.i have BMW 320i2006-E90 !!! Would you please tell me what it is called, the one you turn on before low beam. I don't mean low beam or high beam.
Thanks
July 30, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I have no info on LED replacement bulbs. Possible the Pelican parts specialists will. Give The Pelican Parts parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Kin Comments: Hei,

You wrote as follow,

"Replace bulbs as needed. Reverse light bulb yellow arrow Brake light bulb red arrow. Rear fog light / brake force bulb green arrow."

For my interpretion, that the light can be fog light or brake light depending on how you have wired it..

My question is can the green arrow pointed light be fog light and brake light, that it can sense when the car is on the brake or fog light switch is on with simple factory wiring?

Thanks.
July 22, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: BMW wires it as a fog light. I have no information on rewiring it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Tacitus86 Comments: This would be great if it mentiones the bulb type names! Looking for led replacements for my 07 328xi sedan and i dont know what bulbs to get to replace the big ones and small ones
May 28, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: YOu would have to check the LED manufacturers cross-over list using the bulbs that show up in the parts look up tool on the right side of page. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Tealeaf Comments: Tried replacing bulbs, but upon re-inserting module,
there is no power at all. I did replace bulbs without detaching harness. Is that why? What can i do?
May 16, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: A fuse shouldn't blow from removing and replacing the bulb, unless you shorted a wire. I would check the fuses. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Tye Comments: I have a e90 with a rear passenger side tail light out replaced all three bulbs but the blinker bulb. Indicator light is still on harness is not melted or damaged what could be my issue??
May 5, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would trace the harness to the footwell module. Possible it is a bad wire, if not it is likely a bad footwell module. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Andy Comments: I have an CCID code 134 on the dash with a left tail light malfunction on the I drive display.
May 5, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: See my other reply. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Andy Comments: The bulb does not have power , ground is ok.
May 5, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: OK. I would trace the harness to the footwell module. Possible it is a bad wire, if not it is likely a bad footwell module. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Andy Comments: My 2008 BMW 328XI has a rear outer tail light malfunction, it is the pre- lci model. I've replaced the bulb socket but the tail lights still does not work. All other lights work, any suggestions will be appreciated.
Thanks.
May 3, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Does the bulb have power and ground? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Michael Comments: Thanks Casey for the response. I wanted to follow up on my problem.

I started researching problems with the FRM and found that "short" errors may be cleared from the FRM by coding sometimes.

I could not understand the coding myself so I had someone remote code it. He was able to clear the error and get the bulbs working again.

Thanks again for the response that lead me to searching FRM problems and getting this solved.
April 6, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the follow up. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Michael Comments: sorry I forgot to add my vehicle info to my post below. It is a 2006 325i
March 28, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks, see response to your first question. - Casey at Pelican Parts  
Michael Comments: Does anyone know where the fuse is for the license plate bulbs? I had some errors which lead to those bulbs. They were both blown so I replaced them. After replacement they still did not work so I searched and found the wires can break under the rubber boot. I took the boot off and found two broken ground wires one to those bulbs and a few wires with stripped insulation both of the + wires to these bulbs. I re-soldered the ground wires and taped up the other wires but it still didn't work. I then got my meter out to see if I could trace those wires to the fuse box. I found where they connected to a couple of fuses that also shared other devices but all those fuses were good. At this point I am not sure what else to do so I am hoping someone can point me in the right direction. Maybe it uses a control box somewhere and that box is dead or maybe there are other fuses etc. Any help would be appreciated because the warnings are driving me crazy. I can get the bulbs to work by hooking them to something else but I want to get rid of the errors.
March 28, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Very good diagnostic work! I think in your case the shorted wires have fried the footwell module (FRM). Have seen that a few times after the trunk wiring insulation comes apart. Try clearing the faults in the module first, if that doesn't work the FRM is most likely bad. Double check the license plate light bulb output from the FRM. You can get a 1 day subscription to BMWTIS.com for $30 and download the wiring diagrams and component locations. - Casey at Pelican Parts  
Trey Comments: Hi does anyone know how to replace the license plate wiring harness connectors and have a part name or number
Thanks
January 25, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You h ave to replace the trunk harness. Give The Pelican Parts parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
J Comments: Hi Nick, thanks for coming back to me, please see attached photo. The light is at the bottom of the three within the trunk lid, although the other two look faded as well in comparison to the other side. Can you help at all? Thanks
June 17, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Looks like a large portion of the LEDs have failed. You will need a new LED unit. Give The Pelican Parts parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
J Comments: I have an e92 and the light that is out is within the boot lid but it is the bottom of the three long and thin lights. When I took it to Halfords the guy didn't know how to fit it and said the tail light bulb was the wrong one and what I needed was most likely an LED strip light. Is this correct? Thanks
June 13, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: it could be, some models are LED. i would have to see the light that was out to be sure. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Cabrillo Comments: Hi
I have a pre face lift non LED e90. The problem is the left tail isn't working checked bulb. The brake light is coming on dimly instead when the lights are switched on. The brake light is working when pressed. Any ideas?
May 16, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like a shorted bulb holder or harness. I would check the voltage and ground to the bulb to start. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Jacob Comments: great!!! i did it by myself
December 22, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Roaddog 328 Comments: Follow-up to my last post. Yes, it was a broken wire in the gooseneck one of two brown negative carriers, the one that serves the passenger-side trunk mounted lamps tail and backup. Repair was as in past three series: retain peeled back gooseneck temporarily with slip ties, isolate the broken wire, strip and solder tin both wire ends, add heat shrink tubing to both ends, solder in short insulated patch of same gauge, heat shrink the tubing, add electrical tape wrap for additional protection if desired, test, carefully cut and remove slip ties, and reassemble gooseneck at both ends. I've attached a photo of the broken wire, pre-repair, for context.
December 14, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the follow up. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Tristan Cliffe Comments: Slightly unrelated. My 2008 Pre-LCI e90 has an issue with rear lights. The outer tail lights do not light up with side/dip/main lights, only the boot/trunk lights come on. But with Parking lights ignition off, indicate for a second or two the outer light does work, so bulb/wiring is okay.

Any ideas what the problem might be. Fuses check out, no codes or warnings. FRM2 module. Never used NCS-Expert or similar, but have tried Carly app and not been able to fix it.
December 14, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Using a BMW scan tool, activate the lights in question. From your note, it sounds like the only component left to be at fault is the FRM. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Roaddog 328 Comments: My E36 and E46 three series had problems with wires breaking within the gooseneck between the body and the trunklid. Have you seen this happening with the E90s? My current E90 has both the trunklid tail and backup lamps unlit. New bulbs have not fixed the problem, and the carrier and connector terminals look fine. No power at the bulb sockets. No fault codes from the LCM are indicated, but you know how variable that can be.
December 11, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I have not seen that issue with E90s, but it worth checking. The problem may be in a control module. Check fuses, then I would start by checking the vehicle for fault codes. If the system is not working properly, a fault code will be set. This will be your best bet when diagnosing.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Randall Comments: Thanks for the reply! The dealer did a key read and the rear signal came up as an issue. Ouch! $400 CAN! Don't see that item in your parts list. We are traveling to Florida this weekend so I may order from you guys and have the shipment sent to the Florida address. Related question: I need to gather up the parts for the eccentric shaft sensor replacement also. Any reason to choose the OEM part over the Siemens/Siemens VDO part?
April 29, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The VDO should be fine. No need for the OEM if you use a quality replacement like VDO.

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
 
Randall Comments: Getting a fast blink for left turns. Replaced both brake light bulbs. Thought they were signal related. But my signal light setup looks different than fig 6. 3 terminals than match up with 3 more on the light assembly. LED ? All the small elements appear to light up. Just with a quicker frequency. And I do get the yellow bulb warning when I trigger the left signal.
April 27, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check the front turn signal bulbs and sockets. The issue may be up there. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
ripotudo Comments: Bmw E90 I need the harness that goes on the headlight from the ballast to the light ball
March 18, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: 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
 
Tony H Comments: Two brakes on car do not work. The inner brake lights which are beside the fog lights. I have noticed this on other e90s aswel. Is this a common fault? I have bought LED rear lights and only half the brake clusters are lighting due to this issue. Any help or advice would be great.

Thanks in advance

Tony H
October 30, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Have you check for power and ground to the lights? Could be an issue with the module. Would be smart to check the vehicle for fault codes. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
roly Comments: Great guide! Just curious, on figure 11 text you say the middle bulb as marked by red arrow is a brake light but on my E91 this bulb position is one of the tail lights. Is that a difference between the E90 and E91?
No need to publish this comment; i am just curious because as i research which bulb is which i am finding many different answers for each bulb position and especially on what bulb type.
June 14, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Might be different on wagon due to the hatch. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right bulb. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
330d Comments: Hi, thaks for the useful DIY! However, could you please tell me what bulb do I need for the reverse light of my 2006 e90? It went dead last night and I cannot find what bulb I need.

Thanks in advance!

Tony
May 29, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: See figure 11. For the part itself, Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
e91 Comments: still not showing how to do this on the e91 estate
May 14, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Correct, this article applies to sedan models. If we get the chance to perform the repair, we will be sure to create a technical article. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
328i Comments: Great! Helped me avoid dealer cost and DIYed myself. Very helpful!
December 20, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 

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Page last updated: Sat 9/23/2017 02:22:57 AM