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-   -   DIY: Headlight removal for facelifted coupe (http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=639475)

sillieidiot 01-12-2009 03:55 AM

DIY: Headlight removal for facelifted coupe
Ok, so my DIY got deleted on the site it was hosted on, so I'm rewriting it for you guys. I couldn't find the document I saved it on, but oh well. This shouldn't be too hard. Anyhow, I know this says it's for facelifted coupes, but you can still use it as a general guide for all e46's.

***Note: Follow this at your own risk. I am not liable for any damages or injuries that may have resulted or caused by this DIY.***

Tools needed:
- Flat screw driver (I used the BMW one)
- 8 mm socket
- Magnetic antenna (trust me, you will thank me for it later)
- Long extension for ratchet
- Towel, or some rag or something
- Optional: A friend (it would definitely make it easier for those with headlight washers, but it's not required)


First you want to take out the 4 mm bolts that are holding the headlight down. There are two on top of the headlight, one behind the headlight, and one right next to the kidney grill (where the magnetic antenna is going to save you).

Here's a picture of the passenger side with the bolts circled in white:


Close up of the kidney hard to get one:


Driver's side:



Back of the driver's headlight cause the airbox was in the way:


Next you want to take out the headlight trim. Here's what it looks like:


You want to pull the trim off starting from the side closest to the middle of the car going outwards (towards the front of the car). When you get to the end, stop and read the next step. The red arrows shows the direction you should be pulling:


Next you want to take out the part that is connected to the fender. This is where the rag comes in. put it around the flat and put it in the gap and push the screw driver towards the car, while doing that, pull the headlight trim in the same direction (away from the car) and it should pop right out. Some cars take more force especially if the headlight hasn't been taken out before (by anyone, including the dealer).

Here's a couple of pictures to illustrate:


Picture of the placement of the flat screw driver (without the rag to show how it should be positioned):


***If you have headlight washers, do not take the headlight trim all the way out. Just leave it there after you do the 2 prior steps. It should be held on only by the headlight washer. Continue to the next step, there will be an extra step at the end for those with headlight washers***

So you should have your headlight trim out now. Just go put that somewhere safe. Next you want to take out the plugs that are connected to the headlights. There should be 5 of them for Bi-xenon headlights (high, low, turn signal, Bi-xenon shutter, auto-leveling), 4 for single xenons (same as bixenon except no Bi-xenon shutter plug), and 3 for halogens (high, low, turn signal). Since you took out the 4 bolts, you can slide the headlight out a little to give yourself some space to pull those plugs out. I usually start by taking out the auto-leveling one first, then go to the rest.

Picture was taken upside down (left to right in picture: bi-xenon shutter, high beam, low beam):


Turn signal (again picture taken upside down):


Auto-leveling plug. It's wedged up against the radiator support bar (picture taken upside down):


***Those with headlight washers, you want to skip the next paragraph. Read that, then go back to this step.***

After you're done with that, all that is left is to pretty much pull out the headlight. It's not going to come out easily though. Thing still wants to put up a fight lol. But when you pull out, you want to push down a little (so that the stuff in the back clears the radiator support bar) on the headlight then pull up diagonally towards you (so the ballast on the bottom clears the bottom plastic piece). It might take you a little while, but that's the gist of it. For you halogen guys, you have it easy. I should just come out with a little wiggling.

Sorry I don't have a picture of this, not like it's going to help you anyways lol

And you're done. To put it back, reverse the steps. Remember to push down the headlight when you're putting it back in.

***For those with headlight washers***

What you want to do is to pull out the headlight trim with one hand and hold it out as far as it could go. Then use your other hand to pull the headlight out (using the procedure described above). Yea I know sounds impossible, but you can do it. Start by pushing the back of the headlight down and pushing it forward at the same time from the back. Then do the other half of the procedure in the front. Really, if you have a friend, this would make it a lot easier as he (or you) can hold the headlight trim while you (or him) can wiggle out the headlight.


Well I hope that helps you guys.

mct777 01-13-2009 11:09 PM

Sillie...thanks for re-posting. I've got a question for ya. What would you replace first if the headlight was only working intermittently? It's not a loose connection and it does work sometimes so it's not the bulb. The ballast or the ignitor? Thanks, Mike

sillieidiot 01-14-2009 05:02 PM

have you changed the bulbs to isolate the problem before ruling out what it's not? honestly, that description could be any of the xenon components. more likely to be bulbs and ignitor, but it's possible on the ballast.

what i would do is to swap the xenon components systematically isolate the problem. swap out the bulbs (as it's the easiest to do), if problem changes sides, it's the bulbs. then take out the headlight a swap the ballast (next easiest), if the problem switches sides, it's the ballast. if not, it's the ignitor.

there's a link in my sig for taking out and replacing the components in my sig.

Fatal Flash 01-14-2009 05:05 PM

add one more thing...when you wedged out the trim, you put the screwdriver there, i can tell from the pics that you messed up your paint on the fender...

for whoever does this, simply wrap your screwdriver in a rag 2-3 times to prevent any damage to your car

sillieidiot 01-14-2009 05:08 PM

uh yea, i already told them that :read:

and i didn't do that, the stupid dealer tech did. i had a ballast issue, went in for warranty and found it like that. no only that, they broke the trim so i had to leave my car there and wait for a brand new one to be painted at put on. i hate going to the dealer.

if you think that side is bad, look at the other side. :ben:

mct777 01-14-2009 06:31 PM

Ok thanks for the help. I figured that it wouldn't be the bulb if it was intermittent. Either it would work or be burned out. Go figure.

BMW_Matt 01-14-2009 09:21 PM


Originally Posted by sillieidiot (Post 9217044)
- Magnetic antenna (trust me, you will thank me for it later)

:ben: I dropped one of the screws down below the fan and had to reach my hand down there from several different angles to get it :( Took me about an hour to get that dam screw :censor:

Fatal Flash 01-15-2009 01:52 AM

^^ thats why u need those little magnet rods...

and OP sorry bro! didnt feel like reading a DIY i do all the time, just the pics interested me, my bad!

sillieidiot 01-15-2009 02:12 AM

it's cool man. no harm done :)

skiggity 01-27-2009 08:14 PM


Originally Posted by BMW_Matt (Post 9234015)
:ben: I dropped one of the screws down below the fan and had to reach my hand down there from several different angles to get it :( Took me about an hour to get that dam screw :censor:

I did that too! I just gave up though and lost a screw. :banghead:

mujjuman 02-15-2009 10:03 PM

thank you so much. very informative and great pics!!

is it easy to put it all back together?

sillieidiot 02-16-2009 06:54 PM

yes sir, it's just the opposite of what you need. this is where you really need the magnetic antenna. it's almost impossible to put the screw back without it. though i've manage to accomplish this a few times.

mujjuman 02-16-2009 07:12 PM

Is this the same process for a facelifted sedan? Didnt notice the "for facelifted coupe" in the title,

sillieidiot 02-20-2009 04:19 AM

yes sir, same process for all the cars pretty much. i just made a redundant DIY because people asked so yea lol

mujjuman 02-20-2009 10:37 AM


Originally Posted by sillieidiot (Post 9441494)
yes sir, same process for all the cars pretty much. i just made a redundant DIY because people asked so yea lol

oh lol, thanks for clear up, and thanks especially for making all these DIYs I'm about to use

sillieidiot 02-20-2009 10:21 PM

no problem man. you should really thank the people that asks me for the DIYs lol. i'm usually too lazy to make the DIYs cause it just makes the process longer (like this one, took me like an hour to take out one headlight because i had to stop to take pictures, it normally takes me 10-15 for both headlights lol)

sandman512 03-06-2009 07:43 AM

Great DIY. I wish it was around when I installed my P46's. Nice job!

sillieidiot 03-06-2009 06:45 PM

^ thanks. actually, i think it was around when you installed yours. it's just i had it hosted on a different forum. but that went down so i rewrote it on here

BMW jockey 04-04-2009 10:20 AM

Problems with washers
Anyone else had a problem with the washer tank draining after removing the headlights. I took mine out and ever since they've been back i can't sort out stopping the pump from draining. I think its to do with the washers not fitting all the way back and thus releasing a slow flow of water.
Help would be appreciated

sillieidiot 04-04-2009 04:43 PM

Yea i've had that problem before when i tried to take out the trim and the nozzle. It's just that nozzle part connecting to that tube. If that isn't in securely, it keeps on draining. And that thing is a ***** to put back securely

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