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Third Brake and License Plate Lights Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Third Brake and License Plate Lights Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

1 hour1 hr

Tab:

$100

Talent:

**

Tools:

Flathead screwdriver, trim panel tool

Applicable Models:

BMW 525i/xi Sedan (2004-07)
BMW 528i xDrive Sedan (2009-10)
BMW 528i/xi Sedan (2008-10)
BMW 530i/xi Sedan (2004-07)
BMW 530xi Wagon (2006-07)
BMW 535i xDrive Sedan/Wagon (2009-10)
BMW 535i/xi Sedan (2008-10)
BMW 535xi Wagon (2008)
BMW 545i Sedan (2004-05)
BMW 550i Sedan (2006-10)
BMW M5 Sedan (2006-10)

Parts Required:

Bulbs, LED strip, trim panel clips

Hot Tip:

Tape body to protect from scratches

Performance Gain:

Working lights

Complementary Modification:

Replace bulbs in pairs

The rear lights on your BMW E60 are comprised of the taillights, high mount stop light (third brake light) and the license plate lights. All of which are serviced separately, bulb or lens. It is important to keep these lights functioning to avoid traffic violations and possible crashes due to an improperly lit vehicle.

In this tech article I will show you how to replace the third brake light and license plate lights on your BMW E60. The license plate lights are tungsten bulbs, while the third brake lights are LED bulbs. The third brake lights require the entire assembly to be replaced, when needed.

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 bulb 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.

Do not touch bulbs with your bare hands. The oil from your skin can damage the glass, causing it to overheat and fail prematurely.

Remember that your car may have been serviced before and had parts 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 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. Never work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability.

Our vehicle may vary slightly from yours as models do change and evolve as they grow older. 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.

License Plate Bulbs and Lens:
License Plate Bulbs and Lens: There are two separate license plate bulb lenses (red arrows).
Figure 1

License Plate Bulbs and Lens: There are two separate license plate bulb lenses (red arrows). If you are having trouble with water intrusion or corrosion on one, replace both as a set.

License Plate Bulbs and Lens: Using a flathead screwdriver, press the license plate lens at the small slot opening in the direction of the red arrow to release.
Figure 2

License Plate Bulbs and Lens: Using a flathead screwdriver, press the license plate lens at the small slot opening in the direction of the red arrow to release. Note the small amount of movement illustrated by the changing gap between the light and trunk lid (green arrows).

License Plate Bulbs and Lens: Hold the lens all the way to the right, while pulling it down out of the trunk lid (red arrow).
Figure 3

License Plate Bulbs and Lens: Hold the lens all the way to the right, while pulling it down out of the trunk lid (red arrow).

License Plate Bulbs and Lens: Pull the lens out of the trunk, while feeding the wiring harness out (red arrow).
Figure 4

License Plate Bulbs and Lens: Pull the lens out of the trunk, while feeding the wiring harness out (red arrow).

License Plate Bulbs and Lens: Disconnect the electrical connector by pulling it straight off the lens.
Figure 5

License Plate Bulbs and Lens: Disconnect the electrical connector by pulling it straight off the lens.

License Plate Bulbs and Lens: To remove the bulb, pull it out of the metal contacts in the lens.
Figure 6

License Plate Bulbs and Lens: To remove the bulb, pull it out of the metal contacts in the lens. Inspect the lens for corrosion.

License Plate Bulbs and Lens: Inspect the seal (red arrow) on the lens.
Figure 7

License Plate Bulbs and Lens: Inspect the seal (red arrow) on the lens. If the seal is worn, dry rotted or shows signs of water entering the light, replace the lens with a new one. Reassemble the license plate light in the reverse order. When installing the lens, feed the wiring in first and then snap the lens/light assembly into place.

Third Brake Light:
Third Brake Light: To replace a bulb in your third brake light, you will have to replace the LED light strip.
Figure 8

Third Brake Light: 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. The third brake light is accessed behind a trim panel at the rear headliner (red arrow).

Third Brake Light: Working inside the vehicle at the third brake light, pull the third brake light cover down and remove it.
Figure 9

Third Brake Light: Working inside the vehicle at the third brake light, pull the third brake light cover down and remove it.

Third Brake Light: Remove the antenna connectors from the third brake light.
Figure 10

Third Brake Light: Remove the antenna connectors from the third brake light. Pull them down and off the mounts. Allow them to hang and move them aside.

Third Brake Light: Move to the right side of the third brake light.
Figure 11

Third Brake Light: Move to the right side of the third brake light. Open the third brake light electrical connector mount by folding it down (red arrow).

Third Brake Light: Disconnect the electrical connector (red arrow) by pulling it straight out.
Figure 12

Third Brake Light: Disconnect the electrical connector (red arrow) by pulling it straight out.

Third Brake Light: Using your finger or a flathead screwdriver, lever the locking tabs outward to unlock (red arrows).
Figure 13

Third Brake Light: Using your finger or a flathead screwdriver, lever the locking tabs outward to unlock (red arrows). The photo inset shows a left side tab. There is one on the passenger side too.

Third Brake Light: This photo shows a close up of the right side locking tab.
Figure 14

Third Brake Light: This photo shows a close up of the right side locking tab.

Third Brake Light: Once both sides are unlocked, remove the third brake light from the vehicle.
Figure 15

Third Brake Light: Once both sides are unlocked, remove the third brake light from the vehicle.

Third Brake Light: The locking tabs (red arrow) may stay on the rear window (green arrow).
Figure 16

Third Brake Light: The locking tabs (red arrow) may stay on the rear window (green arrow). This is OK. You can reattach them later. To install the new LED strip, reverse the removal instructions. Be sure to properly align the plastic tabs on the rear window with locks on the LED strip.

Third Brake Light: Once the new third brake light is installed, snap the cover into place.
Figure 17

Third Brake Light: Once the new third brake light is installed, snap the cover into place. Start with the rear tabs (green arrows). Then press the trim panel clips into the roof (red arrow). If the clips were damaged during removal, replace them.

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Comments and Suggestions:
Chris Comments: You mention to replace the clips for the 3rd brake light if they're broken, but I cannot find them on your website. Do you have a link for them? Windshield shop broke and/or lost mine...
April 30, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I’m 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
 
Revthese Comments: Dude... this was spot on and extremely helpful. Thank you so much for taking the time to document the process.
February 10, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 

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Page last updated: Fri 12/9/2016 02:43:15 AM