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Third Brake Lights Replacing
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Third Brake Lights Replacing

Nick Czerula

Time:

1 hour1 hr

Tab:

$100

Talent:

**

Tools:

Flathead screwdriver, trim panel tool, T20 T30 Torx

Applicable Models:

BMW X5 (2000-06)

Parts Required:

Third brake light strip and trim panel clips

Hot Tip:

Tape body to protect from scratches

Performance Gain:

Working lights

Complementary Modification:

Replace rear brake light bulbs

The high mount stoplight (third brake light) on BMW E53 X5 models is comprised of multiple LED bulbs to create one light strip. If more than 60% of the LEDs are out or the lens in cracked, you may receive a traffic violation, depending on your local traffic laws. It is important to keep these lights functioning to avoid traffic violations and possible crashes due to an improperly lit vehicle.

The third brake light is controlled via driver input (brake pedal) and activated by the lighting control module, located in the right side kick panel. The light has a constant ground on a brown wire and power sent to it on the blak / yel wire. These wire colors match my subject vehicle. Be sure to check a wiring diagram for your specific vehicle.

In this tech article I will show you how to replace the third brake light on your BMW E53. 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 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.

Open the tailgate.
Figure 1

Open the tailgate. If the tailgate will not open, you can work from inside the vehicle. Remove the tailgate interior side trim panels. Lever the panels off in the area of the red arrows. The right side is shown. The left side is similar.

Once you detach the trim panels, slide them out (red arrow) of the top trim panel and remove from the vehicle.
Figure 2

Once you detach the trim panels, slide them out (red arrow) of the top trim panel and remove from the vehicle. The right side is shown. The left side is similar.

After you remove the trim panel, check if the panel clips remained in the body.
Figure 3

After you remove the trim panel, check if the panel clips remained in the body. You can see one came out with the panel (green arrow) and two remained (red arrow). Squeeze the clips and remove them from the body.

Working at the center top of the tailgate, lever off the center trim pane.
Figure 4

Working at the center top of the tailgate, lever off the center trim pane. Use a plastic trim panel tool in the areas indicated by the red arrows.

Working at the top corners of the tailgate, remove the plastic covers (red arrow).
Figure 5

Working at the top corners of the tailgate, remove the plastic covers (red arrow). Use a small flathead screwdriver to lever them out. The right side is shown. The left side is similar.

With the plugs removed, remove the T30 Torx fastener inside the hole (red arrow).
Figure 6

With the plugs removed, remove the T30 Torx fastener inside the hole (red arrow). Then remove the T30 Torx fastener just below it (green arrow). The right side is shown. The left side is similar.

There are a total of five T30 fasteners.
Figure 7

There are a total of five T30 fasteners. You have already removed the ones through the holes and the ones on the outer edges, indicated here by green arrows. Remove the final T30 Torx fastener located in the center of the tailgate (red arrow).

Lower the tailgate.
Figure 8

Lower the tailgate. Then lift up and remove the upper tailgate trim panel (green arrows).

Working at the third brake light assembly, remove the two T20 Torx fasteners (green arrows).
Figure 9

Working at the third brake light assembly, remove the two T20 Torx fasteners (green arrows).

Move to the right side of the third brake light.
Figure 10

Move to the right side of the third brake light. Disconnect the electrical connector by pressing the release tab (green arrow) and pulling the connector apart. Then slide the connecter up (red arrow) out of the tailgate.

Lift the third brake light strip up to remove it.
Figure 11

Lift the third brake light strip up to remove it.

This image shows the third brake light strip assembly (green arrow).
Figure 12

This image shows the third brake light strip assembly (green arrow). There are many aftermarket options for different looks and light types. Explore your options and install the unit that best suits you. To install the new LED strip, reverse the removal instructions. Be sure to properly align the plastic tabs on the rear window with the locks on the LED strip.


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Comments and Suggestions:
dannyj Comments: On my car 2001 BMW X5 3.0 all 5 of the screws were accessible without removing any of the trim pieces. I only realized that after following these instructions and removing the trim pieces.

Also on my car, the screws that are supposed to be T30 were 10mm bolts. The screws that were supposed to be T20 were regular Philips screws.
May 3, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for sharing your repair process and experience. These type of comments add so much to the Pelican tech community.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
benarivo Comments: You sell repair manual for this model and ship to Hungary?

Thanks
August 18, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The manual is available. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-310-626-8765 - Nick at Pelican Parts  
benarivo Comments: Hi,
where does the cable go from the 3rd light down? I have no voltage at the connector at the light, and I would like to track it down to see where it is broken.
Thanks
August 16, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It will run through the tailgate hinge. I would grab a repair manual. It will have the wiring.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 

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Page last updated: Sat 10/21/2017 02:47:47 AM