Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: the OC
My Ride: '06 AW 330ci
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.***
- 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:
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.