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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
sillieidiot
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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: http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthr...11#post8554311

***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: http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthr...11#post8554311

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.
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Old 09-19-2008, 12:06 PM   #2
HighBoostin330
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You rock! Thank you so much for the DIY writeup!
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Old 09-19-2008, 02:46 PM   #3
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you're welcome
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Old 09-22-2008, 12:57 AM   #4
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Thanks a lot sillie!
Now my question is, can I skip any parts of this if I just want to take out/replace the ignitor? Thanks bro.
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Old 09-22-2008, 02:31 AM   #5
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for the ignitor, you pretty much have to do the whole thing since it's behind the bowl. you just skip the end part where i showed how to take that little trim off.
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Old 09-22-2008, 07:51 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sillieidiot View Post
for the ignitor, you pretty much have to do the whole thing since it's behind the bowl. you just skip the end part where i showed how to take that little trim off.
Gotcha' thanks.
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Old 10-16-2008, 04:48 PM   #7
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10x

very helpful DIY...just followed the steps..piece of cake

thanks
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Old 10-26-2008, 02:31 AM   #8
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^ you're welcome

damn looking at this DIY makes me miss my n95. all the pictures/vids for the DIY i've done was made with that phone lol
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Old 10-26-2008, 02:49 AM   #9
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OMG this is the part ive been looking everyday for the past 2 yrs that has just dissapointed me!!! i orginally had the black trim and i bought the titanium trim however this part is still black and it makes a BIG difference... do u have the part number for this part in titanuim?

I cannot thank you enough for this, this has been bugging like no other, you dont even understand!!!!
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Old 10-26-2008, 03:04 AM   #10
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that small piece? although it has a part number. bmw does not sell that part. it's a part number most likely for AL (automotive lighting). you should have swapped it with asaed330 lol. he painted those titanium ones black. you can do what he did, and take the black ones out and paint them titanium if you wanted. if not, just wait awhile longer. i'm bound to come across some spare headlights with those and we'll swap for black ones. i always took them out and painted them black.
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Old 10-27-2008, 01:21 AM   #11
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Yea sure that would be awesome!! just keep me updated!! i need them for a prefacelift coupe 00 323ci to be exact
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Old 10-27-2008, 01:22 AM   #12
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yea all the e46 headlights are the same (except for the 04+ coupes)
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Old 10-27-2008, 12:46 PM   #13
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thats what i figured... if i was to paint them with what paint would you recommend?
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Old 10-27-2008, 04:12 PM   #14
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any paint will be fine really. no high temp paint is needed
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Old 10-27-2008, 06:19 PM   #15
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thanks! Would that go with painting the bigger part too?
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Old 10-27-2008, 07:36 PM   #16
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I am new to this forum and just purchased an 01' 330i that came with a xenon out and you guessed it a fried igniter, bulb and bulb mount melted together. In my research I have come across different part numbers for both igniters and ballasts pre 9/01 and aft. The early parts are bosch and post 9/01 are split between two different manufacturers, (not Bosch). The price is way different with the early model I have being 350.00 and the latter igniter being 100.00. Can these possibly be any different in spec??

Thanks
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Old 10-28-2008, 03:56 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alibusoul View Post
thanks! Would that go with painting the bigger part too?
what do you mean bigger part? as in the headlight trim?
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Old 10-28-2008, 04:17 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EGRon View Post
I am new to this forum and just purchased an 01' 330i that came with a xenon out and you guessed it a fried igniter, bulb and bulb mount melted together. In my research I have come across different part numbers for both igniters and ballasts pre 9/01 and aft. The early parts are bosch and post 9/01 are split between two different manufacturers, (not Bosch). The price is way different with the early model I have being 350.00 and the latter igniter being 100.00. Can these possibly be any different in spec??

Thanks
EGRON
sorry to hear about your mishap. anyways, if you can take a picture of the ignitor part. i'm fairly certain that it's an AL (Automotive Lighting, used to be a subsidiary of Bosch) ignitor as BMW only used 2 kinds for the e46. The other would be i believe Mitsubishi, which were only on ZKW units only (03 sedan models).

what you can do to make sure is go to www.realoem.com. type in your VIN number, and then go and search for your headlight and the ignitors. there it should give you the right part numbers, and you can look it up. I have an AL ignitor (the one pictured in my DIY) for sale if you happen to find that is the same one as yours.
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Old 10-29-2008, 07:22 AM   #19
Paulo82
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Hello,
That is pretty much what I did when I updated my 323i with a set of 325ci/330ci xenons i bought on ebay for only $200, for the pair. Had to pull both apart to fit the xenon assemblies in my non-xenon housing, due to the coupe different to the sedan. Had to make a slight adjustment with the igniter not fitting in properly but all good. Took me awhile to figure it out, if only this was here when I did it.

Oh I put my black internals back in my headlight assembly, I'm not sure what colour the ones out of the coupe were, I'll have a look on the weekend.

However the problem I have is the when the headlights are off there is an error saying my headlights are blown in the insturment cluster, this is probably because the xenon ballast/igniter is acting like an open circuit when the headlights are switched off. I have heard that I can take it to a BMW dealer to fix the problem, but apparently I loose my insides lights for highbeam, and they are only then used for flashing. And the fact they will probably charge me more then enough to plug something in and press a couple of buttons. Or put something across it to make it look like a short when the headlights are off? I saw something on ebay once to fix the problem but missed it, now they never seem to be on there.

Also, they are bi-xenon headlights, which I'd like to connect up. Can I just wire a relay into the high beam circuit, like you would if you were connecting aftermarket spotlights to your car?

Also does anybody know where to buy the plugs from??? So it kinda looks like a factory install.
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Old 11-10-2008, 11:51 AM   #20
amar325ci
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To all you guru's out there
I am fairly new to modding. I have a 2001 325 ci with stock lights. I want to put a hid kit with projector headlights. Once I get the HID kit and the projector assembly, is there anything else I need so that I don't get all kinds of orange lights on my dash?
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