Parts Catalog Accessories Catalog Tech Info Tech Forums
 
Follow Pelican Parts on Facebook Follow Pelican Parts on Twitter Follow Pelican Parts on Instagram Follow Pelican Parts on YouTube Follow Pelican Parts on Pinterest Follow Pelican Parts on Tumblr
  Search our site:    
View Recent Cars  |   Cart  | Project List | Order Status | Help    
 >  >
BMW Rear Exterior Lights Replacement
 
Bookmark and Share

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)

Bookmark and Share
Comments and Suggestions:
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
 

  Search our site:    

View Cart & CheckOut | Project List | Order Status |  Help    

 

[Home] [Customer Service] [Shopping Cart] [Privacy Statement]
 [Contact Us] [About Us] [Shipping] [Map to our Location] [Careers]

Copyright © Pelican Parts Inc.

Page last updated: Wed 12/7/2016 02:22:14 AM