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Lighting Forum
Angel Eyes, DDEs, lighted rings, Clear Turn Signals, LEDs, Xenon, HID, or Bi-Xenon. If it lights up and you want to discuss it, post here!

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Old 07-09-2014, 08:50 PM   #1
TRITONAL
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Adaptive Headlights Issue

I've searched the numerous topics on here about the auto-leveling adaptive xenon headlamp system for the E46, but I haven't seen one which matches my concern.

The car is a 2004 330Ci, 73k miles. Last 7 VIN# PL10421. Currently, both headlamps initialize/adjust when the lights turn on; both go down, then up. Only the right (passenger) headlamp actually adjusts to a lower level after initializing. The left lamp seems to stay "higher" and never become level with the right. I have never noticed them adjusting left or right when turning the steering wheel, nor up and down when accelerating, on an incline, etc (bought the car used). Here it is in action.

All wires are plugged in; all control arms connected properly. Nothing I can see is broken or missing. However, the rear auto-level sensor arm is very loose. The front sensor arm is VERY stiff.

I then turned to PASoft 1.4 to see if any error codes register.



I see that both my front and rear sensors are defective; explains the not leveling when the car is moving. The "Flank sensor SMC left defect" refers to the Stepper Motor Controller. My questions regarding this is:
  • Would this explain why the driver does not level after initialization?
  • Is it #17 in this RealOEM diagram?
  • Would replacing each headlight SMC/ALC also eliminate the steering angle/yaw rate/etc errors, and restore the adaptive-steering ability? If not, what else is needed to replace/check?

TL;DR - adaptive headlights don't work (leveling & steering). Blinding people/can't see. Errors in PASoft. Guidance needed!
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Old 07-09-2014, 09:16 PM   #2
jfoj
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First things first, just because the car has the Adaptive Headlight option from the factory does not guarantee they are stil in the car.

The Adaptive Headlights are very expensive AND most places do not realize this was an additional option so if the car was ever damaged in the front, it is possible that the Adaptive Headlights may have been replaced with standard Bi-Xenons??

Next, something is not correct with your headlights. I have 2 BMW's; an E46 Vert with the Adaptive Headlights and an E39 M5 with Xenon's. On both of my cars the headlights dip at start up/turn on and rise back up at about the same time/rate.

I have had some discussions about this before and I may be wrong, but it is my understanding the headlight leveling system only adjust downward from a default static headlight adjustment. This is somewhat a common sense approach. It may be possible they do actually rise above the static headlight adjustment location, but this would be controlled by the leveling sensors.

Given your drivers side headlight is currently high, this tells me that your static adjustment is too high relative to the passenger side, assuming the passenger side is set correctly.

What you need to do is go back out at night and get your large trash can and block one headlight at a time and look at the light pattern on a wall. Each headlight should have a "step" in the beam. The headlights are designed with "masks" inside the projectors that give this "step" pattern.

As I recall, starting from the far right side, the headlight beam should be the highest, then step down 3 steps as you move from right to left.

You can use blue tape or something to mark the steps on a wall at night and see if the steps look obvious and symmetrical.

As for your errors on the the height sensors, none of them are active. It may be possible these are old faults or faults your forced when playing with or disconnecting the sensors? I would log your fault page, date and mileage, clear codes then see what happens.

Then inspect the lights to make sure they are in fact the correct headlights with the additional stepper motors and connectors.

I know I just had some work performed on my Vert and they missed the fact the car had Adaptive Bi-Xenon's even though I specifically documented this in writing. I had to go back and forth over this issue a few times until it became clear to what the car was equipped with.
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Old 07-11-2014, 11:07 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfoj View Post
First things first, just because the car has the Adaptive Headlight option from the factory does not guarantee they are stil in the car.

The Adaptive Headlights are very expensive AND most places do not realize this was an additional option so if the car was ever damaged in the front, it is possible that the Adaptive Headlights may have been replaced with standard Bi-Xenons??
Well, that makes me sad. No accident or body damage was reported with the vehicle history, but that doesn't mean it hasn't ever happened. When "flashing to pass" the xenon cutoff line disappears, and the whole light area is exposed, making me think I now have Bi-xenons. But when I engage my brights, the halogen and xenons are in use.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jfoj View Post
Next, something is not correct with your headlights. I have 2 BMW's; an E46 Vert with the Adaptive Headlights and an E39 M5 with Xenon's. On both of my cars the headlights dip at start up/turn on and rise back up at about the same time/rate.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jfoj View Post
I have had some discussions about this before and I may be wrong, but it is my understanding the headlight leveling system only adjust downward from a default static headlight adjustment. This is somewhat a common sense approach. It may be possible they do actually rise above the static headlight adjustment location, but this would be controlled by the leveling sensors.

Given your drivers side headlight is currently high, this tells me that your static adjustment is too high relative to the passenger side, assuming the passenger side is set correctly.
I have adjusted them to be the same level now by loosening the top bolts, adjusting, and tightening. The "high" side is adjusted as far down as it will go, and the "low" side is adjusted as high up as it will go. They are now just even with each other.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jfoj View Post
What you need to do is go back out at night and get your large trash can and block one headlight at a time and look at the light pattern on a wall. Each headlight should have a "step" in the beam. The headlights are designed with "masks" inside the projectors that give this "step" pattern.

As I recall, starting from the far right side, the headlight beam should be the highest, then step down 3 steps as you move from right to left.

You can use blue tape or something to mark the steps on a wall at night and see if the steps look obvious and symmetrical.
The step is present. I was parked too close to the garage door for it to be seen

However, I see there is also a static horizontal aim for these. How far apart should the steps be from each other, if I am parked a certain distance from a wall? Using an hex key, I can move them from side to side.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jfoj View Post
As for your errors on the the height sensors, none of them are active. It may be possible these are old faults or faults your forced when playing with or disconnecting the sensors? I would log your fault page, date and mileage, clear codes then see what happens.

Then inspect the lights to make sure they are in fact the correct headlights with the additional stepper motors and connectors.
I have since driven ~300 miles after clearing the codes. Now, my AHL section says and errors are now unknown. I cannot read the module anymore, nor clear or read errors.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wildirish317 View Post
The E46s are the Knights of the chessboard. They can outmaneuver the other, more powerful pieces on the board. They aren't the King or Queen of the garage, but they are the first piece that you want to move.
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Old 07-11-2014, 06:21 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TRITONAL View Post
Well, that makes me sad. No accident or body damage was reported with the vehicle history, but that doesn't mean it hasn't ever happened. When "flashing to pass" the xenon cutoff line disappears, and the whole light area is exposed, making me think I now have Bi-xenons. But when I engage my brights, the halogen and xenons are in use.

Adaptive Headlights are Bi-Xenon. Flash to pass only happens when the headlights are off, the Halogens will light up. If the headlights are on, then "Flash To Pass" is actually just flashing the highbeams????, which on Bi-Xenon does raise the mask inside the projector from my understanding, so you would loose the stair step cut off. Unless someone has recoded the car, the Halogens should only come on when the headlights are not on, but I need to confirm this on my 2006 E46 Vert with Adaptive Bi-Xenons.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TRITONAL View Post
I have adjusted them to be the same level now by loosening the top bolts, adjusting, and tightening. The "high" side is adjusted as far down as it will go, and the "low" side is adjusted as high up as it will go. They are now just even with each other.
This is not the way to adjust the headlights, this will allow the housings to move, but this is not the official headlight adjustment.


Quote:
Originally Posted by TRITONAL View Post
The step is present. I was parked too close to the garage door for it to be seen
The steps are hard to see due to the headlight overlap. If you can back up 20-35 feet, this is about all you need. But the large 90 gallon rolling trash bin will be your friend for checking the individual light patterns!

Quote:
Originally Posted by TRITONAL View Post
However, I see there is also a static horizontal aim for these. How far apart should the steps be from each other, if I am parked a certain distance from a wall? Using an hex key, I can move them from side to side.
Not sure what to tell you, might have to see if there is anything useful in the service manual.

I set up a pattern on my garage door using my E46 as a baseline so I could properly adjust the headlights in my E39 after I replaced the headlight adjusters that break in ALL E39's!
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Old 07-11-2014, 06:41 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfoj View Post
...after I replaced the headlight adjusters that break in ALL E39's!
Did you also replace the lenses on your E39 while you were in there? I did on mine with some Depos from ebay and was really pleased with the result.

Last edited by BaliDawg; 07-11-2014 at 06:42 PM.
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Old 07-11-2014, 10:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BaliDawg View Post
Did you also replace the lenses on your E39 while you were in there? I did on mine with some Depos from ebay and was really pleased with the result.
My E39 was a facelift 2003 with a Hella Xenon system. No lens to be replaced, matter of fact no way to easily split the lens from the main body as this set up did not use butyl sealer that you could bake apart in the oven, these headlights were silicon glued together.

Believe it or not, I was able to replace the adjusters without opening or drilling access holes in the headlight housing. Think ship in the bottle and a lot of patience.

I then wet sanded and polished my lens and was able to actually see once I had new adjusters, polished lens, new bulbs and properly aimed headlights.

It was like "night and day"!!
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Old 07-11-2014, 10:52 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfoj View Post
My E39 was a facelift 2003 with a Hella Xenon system. No lens to be replaced, matter of fact no way to easily split the lens from the main body as this set up did not use butyl sealer that you could bake apart in the oven, these headlights were silicon glued together.

Believe it or not, I was able to replace the adjusters without opening or drilling access holes in the headlight housing. Think ship in the bottle and a lot of patience.

I then wet sanded and polished my lens and was able to actually see once I had new adjusters, polished lens, new bulbs and properly aimed headlights.

It was like "night and day"!!
Wow, nice work. I read about how in 2003 they switched from the bakable butyl to the unbakable silicon, sucks! Mine is a 2002. But I also read about a guy who did a DIY just as you described, replacing the adjusters ship-in-a-bottle style. That along with the lens refinish sounds like some hour of work. Did you hand polish or use an orbital?
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Old 07-12-2014, 07:37 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BaliDawg View Post
Wow, nice work. I read about how in 2003 they switched from the bakable butyl to the unbakable silicon, sucks! Mine is a 2002. But I also read about a guy who did a DIY just as you described, replacing the adjusters ship-in-a-bottle style. That along with the lens refinish sounds like some hour of work. Did you hand polish or use an orbital?
Hand wet sanded the headlights to get the UV clear coat protection off the plastic that turns either cloudy or gray, then progressively finer paper. Finished off with a circular buffer pad on a drill using rubbing, the polishing compound.

Decided not the recoat the lens with anything other than wax, they may cloud again in a few years, but I can always resand/buff. I may put Laminex on them as well?
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Old 07-12-2014, 07:42 PM   #9
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TRITONAL,

Just to follow up. I checked my '06 E46 Vert with Adaptive Xenons.

With the headlights on, pulling the stalk for "Flash To Pass" does light the Halogens. This does not trigger the shutter in the Bi-Xenon headlights.

Flipping the stalk forward opens the Bi-Xenon shutter, so no Halogens with hi-beams.

Long of the short, on cars with Bi-Xenon/Active Bi-Xenons, Halogens are ONLY used for DRL if enabled and "Flash To Pass". The do not come on with hi-beams unless the LCM has been recoded if this is even possible.
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Old 07-12-2014, 08:54 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfoj View Post
TRITONAL,

Just to follow up. I checked my '06 E46 Vert with Adaptive Xenons.

With the headlights on, pulling the stalk for "Flash To Pass" does light the Halogens. This does not trigger the shutter in the Bi-Xenon headlights.

Flipping the stalk forward opens the Bi-Xenon shutter, so no Halogens with hi-beams.

Long of the short, on cars with Bi-Xenon/Active Bi-Xenons, Halogens are ONLY used for DRL if enabled and "Flash To Pass". The do not come on with hi-beams unless the LCM has been recoded if this is even possible.
That's how mine work, but I coded the halogen beams to come on as well. They are the brightest headlights I have ever seen.
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Old 07-15-2014, 01:12 PM   #11
TRITONAL
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfoj View Post
TRITONAL,

Just to follow up. I checked my '06 E46 Vert with Adaptive Xenons.

With the headlights on, pulling the stalk for "Flash To Pass" does light the Halogens. This does not trigger the shutter in the Bi-Xenon headlights.

Flipping the stalk forward opens the Bi-Xenon shutter, so no Halogens with hi-beams.


Long of the short, on cars with Bi-Xenon/Active Bi-Xenons, Halogens are ONLY used for DRL if enabled and "Flash To Pass". The do not come on with hi-beams unless the LCM has been recoded if this is even possible.
Just to also confirm, this is what mine does. I am unfortunately out of town until the end of the week, so my troubleshooting will have to wait, but I made sure to check this before I had left.

Before continuing, is there any sort of reason why I can no longer read the AHL module within PASoft after clearing the codes? It had only said "<.found.>", errors were "unknown", and when I tried doing anything inside, it would essentially lock up.

Also, what IS the correct way to aim the static height on these headlights? I see on my GF's 325i there are the gear-looking knobs to turn to aim, but my headlights do not have anything similar to aiming knobs/screws (apart from the horizontal aiming).

I appreciate yours and everyone's help in this, just trying to get my car back to factory condition!
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The E46s are the Knights of the chessboard. They can outmaneuver the other, more powerful pieces on the board. They aren't the King or Queen of the garage, but they are the first piece that you want to move.

Last edited by TRITONAL; 07-15-2014 at 04:06 PM.
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Old 07-15-2014, 01:40 PM   #12
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Might be useful:

http://www.danielsternlighting.com/tech/aim/aim.html

https://www.google.com/search?q=e46+...e3%3B747%3B500
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Hidden OBC Menu - Check Voltage, Temps, Fuel Level - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=239619

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