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DIY: Do It Yourself
Post here to share or improve your wrench turning skills! All BMW E46 DIY tips, tales, and projects discussed inside. Learn to work on your car and know the right BMW parts you will need!

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Old 11-15-2012, 06:51 PM   #1
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Join Date: May 2012
Location: S.E Melbourne, VIC
Posts: 243
My Ride: '04 325ci 5MT
-=DIY RETROFIT= -FX-R 3.0 Retrofit into Facelift Coupe Halogen

Hi there all. I posted this in the Lighting forums, however I believe a copy should reside in the DIY section as well, as nothing like this exists!


Please note this thread is more of an informational one than a easy to follow DIY, its not. Any retrofit is almost always not straight forward.

As I have come across almost nothing in relation to retrofits for the facelifted coupe, I took it upon myself to attempt a FX-R installation.
FX-R in Facelift? How to ??
Retrofit options for Facelift e46 coupe

Every retrofit thread or attempt was on M3, sedan or pre-facelift coupe, where the headlight design is radically different.

There has been a few threads but the consensus out of them is that it would not fit, well here is a thread showing its possible with some work!

Please note that I had the factory halogen projector headlights. Therefore there is no Active Adaption and thus more room to work in, as well as not being constrained to the 'cage' that the adaptive headlights have.

Follow sillieidiot's sig link to remove the headlight assembly out of the car.
Headlight Removal
Then follow the angel eye tutorial on how to bake and remove the lens.
Angel Eyes installation (made by Leontiyzhp)

From now on there is not much info on how people have removed the headlight trim. The mounting is different on the facelift coupe compared to the sedans or M3 / pre-facelifts.

There are 2 clips, one on either side of the low beam projector area. You will be hardpressed to remove the ball joint as the cap pushes through all those little latching legs.

Using a small flatblade bit, pry and lift the middle tab to release the trim. The outside one is easy, you might have a tough time with the inside tab. I used a jewelers screwdriver and by feel pry on the tab and pull gently until it releases.

The process was, remove the outside mounting, then swivel and rotate it out of the way. Now with the horizontal fixing removed rotate the trim and release it from the height adjustment ring at the back of the unit. Then proceed to unlatch the tab on the middle/inside.

These are the said tabs.
Outer tab

Unlatch height adjustment ring.

The inner tab, hard to access, probably only though the top cover of the low beam.

Now that the trim is out, this is the stock headlight trim and projector.

This is the OEM Bosch/AL halogen projector vs the FX-R 3.0

As you can see, lots of cutting is required to fit the FX-R 3.0 into this frame. The way I chose to install it is from the back. The length is just about right if you mount the top tab flush with the back of the headlight frame.

A lot of cutting at the frame is required and there is no real guide. The top two mounting pegs were cut then the outside of the cutout enlarged to accommodate the projector. It needs to be mounted at the uppermost position to have the lens be remotely centered to lens.

After a crap load of cutting and test fitting with each cut, this is what I ended up with. As a guide you do not need to cut the bottom of the cutout as we need to mount the projector as high up as possible. I centered the projector in the cutout the first time and it ended up too low in relation to the shroud in the lens assembly.
The bottom of the projector will JUST sit on the edge of the lower cutout, so I just slowly dremel'ed (using a sand paper cylinder) down both sides of the tabs constantly checking the vertical alignment by eye, in relation to the face of the high-beam bowl.

Next time the headlights are apart I might remember to just epoxy some reinforcement on the top and bottom of the low beam cutout as I removed a few of the strengthening angles. However the projector is solidly epoxied into the frame so it should form part of the structure of the headlight frame. The material also feels very strong and does not snap away easily, even when cut with a slot.

I did a lot of test mounting, basically putting the trim back into the housing the the clips(push them in snug but don't let it click/latch in as removing it is a royal pain. I used zip ties to hold the projector while i tested the rotational alignment. My cutting was that it would sit up against the frame and stop rotating when it was tied down. If it needed more rotation I would cut more of the frame and test it again. This prevented the projector to rotate past the ideal point.

Once i was happy with my rotational AND vertical alignment, put a few dabs of epoxy from the FRONT of the headlight while it was still mounted. This I did to avoid my rotation changing while removing the headlight.
Rechecking rotational alignment

Once I was happy, just remove the headlight trim out and fill with epoxy to securely mount it! I did't have high-temp epoxy on hand, so I used regular stuff and a screw + zipties to hold it in place in the event it did melt/soften from the heat of the oven or general operation( I do not expect the inside of the headlight to be 150*c + in any case). My epoxy says it will start loosing maximum strength above 70*c but that is off the labeled max holding strength of 150KG.

Fix up with some new butyl on the seam of the headlight, and bake them back together!

This is a final picture of the fitment of the projector. Overall fitment isn't 100% factory perfect but it is probably as best as one could get it with this headlight. It looks well enough to not raise an eyebrow, "Is that alignment off??" questions.

Hope it helps some others out there who are looking for a more serious lighting upgrade on their facelift E46 coupe!

'04 325ci M-sport 5MT
- Bone stock -

Last edited by zha50; 11-15-2012 at 07:04 PM.
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Old 11-15-2012, 07:01 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Earth
Posts: 363
My Ride: N55 E92
IN for this post. Once it gets warm again, I'll probably look into this more. I have noticed the same thing -- HID options for facelift coupes are just outrageously expensive, or you can get DEPO light, which apparently are terrible.

Thanks for the DIY!
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Old 11-15-2012, 07:10 PM   #3
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Join Date: May 2012
Location: S.E Melbourne, VIC
Posts: 243
My Ride: '04 325ci 5MT
Originally Posted by dauble2k5 View Post
IN for this post. Once it gets warm again, I'll probably look into this more. I have noticed the same thing -- HID options for facelift coupes are just outrageously expensive, or you can get DEPO light, which apparently are terrible.

Thanks for the DIY!
Definitely. The DEPO would be a candle compared to a proper retrofit with the correct parts!

The OEM Xenon lights for the facelift coupe are a arm and leg as with all OE equipment. Easiest to fit but the output I believe is no where near as good either.

'04 325ci M-sport 5MT
- Bone stock -
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