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Tailgate Release Handle and License Plate Lights Replacing
 

Pelican Technical Article:

Tailgate Release Handle and License Plate Lights Replacing

Nick Czerula

Time:

1 hour1 hr

Tab:

$100

Talent:

**

Tools:

Flathead screwdriver, trim panel tool

Applicable Models:

BMW X5 (2000-06)

Parts Required:

Bulbs, lenses, tailgate handle

Hot Tip:

Tape body to protect from scratches

Performance Gain:

Working lights and tailgate handle

Complementary Modification:

Replace bulbs in pairs

The tailgate release handle (lock release button) is a plastic handle with an integrated button behind a soft rubber pad. The electrical portion of the button is pretty tough and tends to work for a long time. The surrounding parts however do not. The rubber button pad and plastic portion of the release button fall apart, making it difficult to open your trunk lid, leaving you with only the lock cylinder to access items inside.

To replace the button, you have to remove the license plate light trim panel and replace it with a new piece. It has to be painted to match the color of your vehicle, unless you found a part that allows you to transfer over the old painted trim piece. I will show you how to replace it both ways.

The rear license plate lights on E53 models tend to fail due to broken lenses or faulty seals. 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 improperly lit vehicle.

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 your car may have been serviced before and 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. Questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

The tailgate release handle (green arrow) is a plastic handle with an integrated button behind a soft rubber pad.
Figure 1

The tailgate release handle (green arrow) is a plastic handle with an integrated button behind a soft rubber pad. The electrical portion of the button is pretty tough and tends to work for a long time. The surrounding parts however do not. The rubber button pad and plastic portion of the release button fall apart, making it difficult to open your trunk lid, leaving you with only the lock cylinder to access items inside. The rear license plate lights on E53 models tend to fail due to broken lenses or faulty seals, 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. 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:
License Plate Bulbs and Lens: Using a flathead screwdriver, press the license plate lens at the small slot opening toward the license plate to release it.
Figure 2

License Plate Bulbs and Lens: Using a flathead screwdriver, press the license plate lens at the small slot opening toward the license plate to release it. Hold the lens all the way to the right, while pulling it down and out of the trunk lid.

License Plate Bulbs and Lens: To remove the bulb, pull it out of the metal contacts in the lens.
Figure 3

License Plate Bulbs and Lens: To remove the bulb, pull it out of the metal contacts in the lens. Inspect the lens for corrosion. Inspect the seal (red arrow) for wear or signs of water intrusion.

Tailgate release handle:
Tailgate release handle: The rubber pad on my subject vehicle is missing, leaving me with a non-working release button (red arrow).
Figure 4

Tailgate release handle: The rubber pad on my subject vehicle is missing, leaving me with a non-working release button (red arrow).

Tailgate release handle: To remove the handle, start by removing the four T20 Torx fasteners (red arrows).
Figure 5

Tailgate release handle: To remove the handle, start by removing the four T20 Torx fasteners (red arrows).

Tailgate release handle: Lower the handle and trim enough to access the electrical connector (red arrow).
Figure 6

Tailgate release handle: Lower the handle and trim enough to access the electrical connector (red arrow). Pull the electrical connector straight out to remove it.

Tailgate release handle: To replace the button (red arrow), you have to remove the license plate light trim panel and replace it with a new piece.
Figure 7

Tailgate release handle: To replace the button (red arrow), you have to remove the license plate light trim panel and replace it with a new piece. It has to be painted to match the color of your vehicle, unless you found a part that allows you to transfer over the old painted trim piece (green arrow). I will show you how to replace it both ways. If you are not doing it this way, reverse the steps to install your new trim piece with handle. The new items come as two parts. You will have the trim piece painted, then snap them together, securing them with supplied double-sided tape.

Tailgate release handle: To separate the trim piece from the handle, press the locking tab (red arrow) and pull the handle away from the painted trim piece.
Figure 8

Tailgate release handle: To separate the trim piece from the handle, press the locking tab (red arrow) and pull the handle away from the painted trim piece. It will not come all the way apart, just enough to detach the locking tab.

Tailgate release handle: Then, release the two clips (red arrows) and slowly peel the painted trim piece off the handle.
Figure 9

Tailgate release handle: Then, release the two clips (red arrows) and slowly peel the painted trim piece off the handle. You will have to separate the double-sided tape (green arrow) as you pull the pieces apart. Work slowly so nothing is damaged. Once apart, secure the new handle to the trim piece using double-sided tape while snapping it together. Reverse the remaining steps to reinstall the component.


Comments and Suggestions:
Jake Comments: I am looking at replacing the trunk release handle and license plate light piece on my e66. The part number is 51137139745. Do you have any info on what is needed to replace this? It looks like other trim needs to come off before this piece will. Thank you!
May 21, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: We don't currently have that tech article. If we get a chance to perform the procedure, we will be sure to document it.


I would suggest you grab a repair manual, you should own one. It will have the procedure, special tools and torque specs.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
me again Comments: its tricky but possible if you have the right tools and some knowledge.
March 14, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Agreed, not for everyone. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
aam bmw doc Comments: To follow i cut open the faulty switch panel with a hot knife and repaired a break in the circuit board with soldering that has corroded and replaced both of micro switches as one had packed up,they both have four pins and each has a small square rubber cover,its like new now !
March 14, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Awesome, glad you got it worked out. Any photos of the repair? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
adam the bmw doc Comments: i th a hot knife and repaired a break from corrosion in the circuit board with some soldering also one of the two mirco switches inside had stopped working so i un soldered them and replaced both of them and then plastic welded the assebly back together,works a treat now much more sensitive to open.if you do dissaemble it like this make sure you replace the two rubber blocks over the top of each switch inside otherwise you have to push to hard to open it.ook my x5 e53 boot release handle apart even further as it stopped working,the middle two pins in the connector are for the two switches inside the two outside pins are for the number plate lights .
March 14, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the follow up. I would agree, soldering circuits is tough and not for everyone. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Tue 12/12/2017 02:51:20 AM