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Pelican Technical Article:

Taillight Wiring Repair

Nick Czerula

Time:

1 hour1 hr

Tab:

$200

Talent:

**

Tools:

Flathead screwdriver, plastic prying tool, wire cutters, crimping tool

Applicable Models:

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

Parts Required:

Taillight wiring, taillight bulb socket, taillight electrical connector, butt connector

Hot Tip:

Tape body so you do not scratch it

Performance Gain:

Repair faulty wiring

Complementary Modification:

Replace taillight bulbs

The taillights on BMW E60 models are mounted in plastic housings with socket assembly connecting the lights to the lighting module.

E60 / E61 exterior bulbs are monitored by the Light Module (LM), which also monitors adaptive headlight function (where equipped) and controls instrument panel dimming. LM is also capable of switching lighting functions in case of a fault. For example, in case of a taillight bulb failure, brake light bulbs are used as a substitute.

Bulb monitoring by LM is done both cold and hot (unlit or lit). In cold monitoring, LM sends brief current pulses to unlit bulbs to measure their resistance. The pulses are too short to illuminate bulbs but serve the purpose of evaluating whether an individual bulb or bulb circuit is defective. In hot monitoring, LM measures the current to individual lit bulbs to determine overload or a break in the circuit.

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 as described in this tech article. For bulb replacement see our separate tech articles on sedan and wagon taillight replacement.

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 you're 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.

This article describes taillight wiring repairs for the E60 sedan. Wiring repairs for the E61 Sport Wagon are similar.

Working in the trunk on the left side, using a flathead screwdriver, twist the trim panel locks (green arrows) counterclockwise 90° and then remove them(inset).
Figure 1

Working in the trunk on the left side, using a flathead screwdriver, twist the trim panel locks (green arrows) counterclockwise 90° and then remove them(inset).

Lift the trunk carpet panel up (inset) and hold it.
Figure 2

Lift the trunk carpet panel up (inset) and hold it. Then remove the trim panel cover from the trunk. Pull the side closest to the trunk opening away from the fender and rotate it toward the spare tire to remove it.

Then, disconnect the electrical connector by pressing the release tab and pulling it off (green arrow).
Figure 3

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

Squeeze the release tabs on the socket assembly and pull the socket assembly out of the taillight.
Figure 4

Squeeze the release tabs on the socket assembly and pull the socket assembly out of the taillight. Pull the socket assembly away from the taillight housing and remove it.

The green arrows point to the melted connector and bulb socket.
Figure 5

The green arrows point to the melted connector and bulb socket. The ground wire on my subject vehicle overheated and has to be replaced. When repairing the wiring, you only have to repair the damaged wires. Most times I find that it is the ground only.

You will need a wire with a terminal (yellow arrow) for each melted terminal.
Figure 6

You will need a wire with a terminal (yellow arrow) for each melted terminal. The new connector housing (green arrow) and the new socket assembly (red arrow) are shown here.

Using a pin or paperclip (red arrow), lever the white terminal lock (green arrow) away from the connector.
Figure 7

Using a pin or paperclip (red arrow), lever the white terminal lock (green arrow) away from the connector. Once free, remove it from the connector. If melted this may stick, just pull it off. You will be replacing it.

Next, remove one wire at a time from the old connector and place it in the new connector housing.
Figure 8

Next, remove one wire at a time from the old connector and place it in the new connector housing. Using a pin or paperclip, release the retaining tab (red arrow) while pulling the wire out. Once free from the initial stop, release it from the lower (green arrow) stop and remove the wire. Remove one wire at a time to avoid confusion, and place them in the connector housing (yellow arrow).

With all the wires swapped over, insert the new wire with the terminal into the housing.
Figure 9

With all the wires swapped over, insert the new wire with the terminal into the housing. Cut the wire you are replacing about six inches away from the connector. Measure the needed length of the new wire and trim it.

Strip and butt connect the new wire.
Figure 10

Strip and butt connect the new wire. Then install the white lock that comes with the new connector housing. Swap bulbs to the new socket housing and install the housing into the taillight. Connect the electrical connector and check the operation of the taillights. Reassemble the trunk interior and you are done.

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Comments and Suggestions:
shaz Comments: hi, i have a BMW e60 07reg 5 series
the rear light connector has burnt a bit and need a replacement please can you state which connector i need and what else i require with it.
thanks.
November 6, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Parts are listed next to the article, enter your vehicle info and it will sort it for you.

I’m not the best with part numbers.


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
 
Noel Comments: Do you guys have the connectors and the wires for the 2008 bmw 535i LCI Tail light , left and right I'm going to put them on my 2004 bmw 530i
I need to know ASAP
February 10, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Pelican Parts can get them for you.

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
 
Eric Comments: For any one looking for $5 fix, with better ground fixing with OEM parts does not fix the OEM flaw I drilled a small hole on the ground plate of the bulb carrier and bolted a 14g wire to it. Then pulled the pin from the OEM harness, stripped it and used a twist connector to connect to the new wire from the bulb carrier ground plate and another new ground wire connected to the battery ground connection. It now is grounded twice battery and OEM wire and directly to bulb carrier which won't melt away like the OEM harness due to design flaws. The OEM wire is too thin and will continue to melt the harness if you leave it stock.
December 14, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info and feedback. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Carl Comments: Thanks so much for the tutorial! I fixed the problem. Here is the parts for the driver side tail lamp:
63-21-6-923-305 Bulb Carrier - Tail Lamp
61-13-0-006-626 Electrical Contact Wire 1.0 mm
61-13-6-984-758 Taillight Connector Socket for Bulb Carrier left or right
July 24, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info and feedback. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Carl Comments: Could you provide the parts number for the parts used in this repair? My vehicle is 2005 BMW 525i. Thanks a lot!
July 21, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Depends on exactly what is damaged.

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
 

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Page last updated: Mon 12/5/2016 02:40:55 AM