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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 09-19-2008, 05:36 AM   #1
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DIY: Taking your headlight apart (excludes facelift coupes)

Hey guys, DIY time. Anyways, this is just a DIY on how to take apart your headlights and take out that trim in the middle (this was the whole reason why there is this DIY in the first place). I'll also show you where (and how to take it apart) the igniter and ballast are so you can stop asking what it looks like. While I'm at it, i'm going to show you guys how to change the xenon bulbs for these headlights, except I'll have these outside of the car. You can see that thread here:

***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:
- Gloves (because it gets dirty, also prevents you from leaving fingerprints on the chrome especially on the shroud)
- Phillips screw driver (a power drill with the right bit would definitely help)
- Flat screw driver (a longer one than normal is a plus)
- t20 driver (or bit for your screw driver or whatever)
- Pair of needle nose pliers

Before you start, make sure you take the headlights off the car otherwise, you are going to have a very hard time doing this.

First of all, you want to take out all the easy parts. The plastic lense, bulbs, etc. If you already know how to do all that, just keep scrolling down.

As for those that don't, to take out the lense, you up pop (lift up) the 7 tabs that is holding it down, and pry it apart. If you cannot do this, please do not continue, and find someone who is competent enough.

And this is what you end up with:

Next remove the headlight trim, which is clipped in by 4 prongs (one on each corner). you want to pull them toward you.

Here's a picture showing 3 of the 4 prongs:

Next you want to remove the bulbs/bulb holder, and disconnect everything.

For the high beam side, you will see 2 prongs/tab that protrude out. You want to twist them a quarter turn or less to your left, then pull out the whole bulb holder. You can put that aside. (if you have halogen headlights, you will just do this twice; once for lows, once for highs). Take out the rubber dust cover as well.

For the low beam side just follow this DIY i just wrote at the same time:

You should end up with something like this:

Next you want to remove the ballast. The ballast is held on by 3 t20 torx screws. Remove those, then pull the ballast straight up to disconnect it.

Here's a shot of the ballast with part numbers and stuff:

Lastly, you need to unplug the connector that supplies the power for the bixenon shutter. (if you have single xenons, this does not apply to you).

Ok we're done with the easy part, now for the most time consuming part.

You see these 2 adjustment knobs (even though one of them has a piece missing), you will be turning these clockwise until you can't go anymore. As you're doing it, you will see the reflector bowls move forward and down. Otherwise, you are turning the wrong way. This is where you would want to use that power drill or phillips screw driver (turning it with your hand will be painful and time consuming). And trust me, it takes a long time, even with a screw driver.

100 years later with my ratcheting screwdriver, this is what you should end up with:

To take out the reflector bowl, you need to remove one more piece that's holding onto the bowl. It's the autoleveling arm, you need to pry this arm up with a flat screw driver (or push it down. whichever is easier for you). I usually pry it up, but i found it easier to push down on this particular headlight while pulling on the bowl and everything should come off. (for halogen headlights, the arm is white and is stationary).

Here's a shot of what it looks like:

Another showing where to stick the flat (prying up method):

Now you have the 2 pieces apart.

To take out the igniter, just remove the 2 t20 screws that is holding it on, and disconnect the white connector that is attached to it.

Here's a shot of the igniter with the part numbers and what not:

That's pretty much everything you need to replace those parts. So no need to go on there. Just reverse everything you did to put it back. This next step is just for ASAed330 and those people who wanted to know how to take out the center trim to paint or something.

Here's the trim in question:

On the back of the bowl, there are 2 little prongs that hold that sucker in.

you want to take a needle plier and just squeeze the two edges like so:

and it will pop right out like this:

And you are done. now just do the reverse of that. Normally I would keep going, but I have a migraine so yeah

Again, you can thank ASAed330 for requesting this DIY.
I like to reply to threads with 0 posts

Have a lighting problem? Read this first:
Lighting-related Troubleshooting Guide
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center trim, remove ballast, remove igniter, take apart headlight, xenon

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