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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 09-28-2014, 03:30 PM   #1
DEADF15H
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Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Boca Raton, FL or Salisbury, NC
Posts: 1,379
My Ride: 2001 325i Auto
Tail Light Fix-Pre Facelift with Pictures

Fast Blink or Burnt Tailight connector Pre-facelift fix.
There is already a detailed fix for the later model facelifted cars (http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthr...=512469&page=6) and although the fix for prefacelift cars without the tab is mentioned in the posts, it doesn't go into detail, or talks about wrapping a copper wire around the metal board, soldering to the metal, etc.... And for some of us caused a bit of confusion. Wrapping a wire is a little too sloppy for my OCD and I don't solder worth a damn. This fix will also work for facelifted cars.

I had replaced the driver's side taillight bulb carrier with a kit over a year ago. This week I started getting the fast blink issue on the passenger's side. History tells me the bulb connector is going to burn-up sooner or later.
This DIY is for Newbies, if you're an electronics guy, you won't learn anything here. I don't know enough to do many DIYs, but this one is my way of saying thanks to the community, and hopefully encourages others.

I checked the connector plug, and sure enough it started to show discoloration at the ground wire (it's the solid brown one on most cars). It wasn't fried yet, like my driver's was, so I decided to go for the cheap ground wire fix. It's easier to splice in one ground wire, than splicing all the wires into a new carrier. I don't guarantee the safety of this fix. It works for me and I had all the pieces needed, so it was cheap. I will continue to monitor the connector, it's easy to get to and check.

My car doesn't have the built in tab like the facelifted cars, it is an O1 325i with no lighting mods.
In hindsight, I wish I would have riveted in a connection that could be disconnected easier, like a handshake connector, but with a rainstorm looming, I was in a bit of a hurry, and wanted to take pictures in the process, as this splicing is a bit different than what I'd seen before.

Supplies


1.Rivet gun and rivet. You could use a metal screw in a pinch (not as secure IMO); a bolt won't work, as you can't can't get to the back side. (Cheap at Harbor Freight)
2. 6 inches or more ground wire, in my pictures it's the green one, I should have used brown, as it's the standard color for ground on E46's.
3. Wire shrink to protect your work
4. Electrical tape
5. Dielectric grease (optional)
6. Electrical butt connector (terminal); you can easily substitute a Y Connector or a wire tap, but I didn't have one so I used a Butt, and put both the ground and the jumper into one end.
7. I used a Ring Terminal for the riveted connection, wish I had used a hand shake or push on terminal, if I ever get the budget for LEDs I will convert it.
8. A multi-meter if you have it, and know how to use it, but it's not absolutely necessary.


Steps:
1. DISCONNECT the negative battery cable. Yeah I know you never have problems, like my upholsterer told me (LOL cost him dearly), but do it any way.
2. Remove taillight carrier, there is a lever you can't see, towards the fender wall, but you can feel, pull toward you, the unit will pop out. Try not to touch the bulbs, if you do clean them with alcohol, otherwise the natural oils on your fingers may cause them to fail early.
3. Unplug the multi-wire connector from the bulb carrier, check the male and female side of the connector for damage, if it's a total melted mess, you need to replace the bulb carrier and splice a connector that comes in a kit, it's about $60.00 from ECS.. This side was barely disturbed, and around the ground wire only, so I took the risk of this fix. I should have taken a picture of the damage, but a lightning strike in the distance caused a loss of concentration
4. Cut the ground wire to the connector plug (brown and thicker gauge in most E46s, but test it to make sure it's a ground, if possible, it's fairly consistent throughout the car) Photo #1
5. Twist your new (my green) jumper wire and the ground wire from the car together, like you would for a wire nut in a house connection; insert them both into the same end of the Butt connector with some dielectric grease. Crimp it; it should look like my photo #2. Slide the shrink wrap tube past the connection, now, before you forget, you can barely see mine on the right of the picture. There is also a wire tap connector you can use for this instead of a butt connector
6. Take the brown wire from the connector and plug it into the opposite end of the Butt connector, crimp it. This wire goes to the rivet or screw connection. The splicing is done, shrink wrap it.
7. Drill your hole for the rivet or screw, make sure you are on the grounded side of the board, NOT ALL OF THAT METAL IS GROUNDED, some have power to them, I tested my location. There was a boss (bumped out area) that I chose to drill into, see photo # 3. You can also visually check which metal strip goes to ALL bulbs -- that's the ground strip to connect the ground or jumper wire.
8. Get your ring connector and run the rivet through it, place the rivet in the hole, see photo #4
9. Pop it in with the rivet gun. See photo
10. Feed the green wire to the riveted connector and crimp the wire. Photo #5
11. Plug it up. I taped off the green ground wire to keep it out of the way Photo #6
12. Pop the carrier back in
13. Reconnect the battery
14. Test it.
Good Luck!
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Last edited by DEADF15H; 02-02-2017 at 09:00 AM.
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Old 10-10-2014, 09:52 AM   #2
DEADF15H
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Boca Raton, FL or Salisbury, NC
Posts: 1,379
My Ride: 2001 325i Auto
After 2 weeks no problems at all
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Old 10-10-2014, 12:20 PM   #3
Lancecriminal86
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Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Georgetown, TX
Posts: 4
My Ride: 2001 330i 5-speed St
Thanks for this! I had something similar done at a shop in Virginia, and it was nowhere near as nice. The ground wire to the body ended up pulling out of the blade connector, so whenever I get time I might try your version.
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Old 10-10-2014, 01:05 PM   #4
DEADF15H
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Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Boca Raton, FL or Salisbury, NC
Posts: 1,379
My Ride: 2001 325i Auto
If you don't have access to a rivet gun, they're cheap, a tight fitting self tapping screw should work.
You can probably just squeeze your existing blade connector with pliers to get it to hold. Dielectric grease is always a good idea.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I317 using Tapatalk

Last edited by DEADF15H; 11-01-2014 at 07:16 AM.
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Old 02-02-2017, 08:52 AM   #5
DEADF15H
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Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Boca Raton, FL or Salisbury, NC
Posts: 1,379
My Ride: 2001 325i Auto
Two and 1/2 years later and still holding.
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Old 03-02-2017, 05:34 AM   #6
erl412
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 4
My Ride: BMW e46 330i AT 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by DEADF15H View Post
Fast Blink or Burnt Tailight connector Pre-facelift fix.
There is already a detailed fix for the later model facelifted cars (http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthr...=512469&page=6) and although the fix for prefacelift cars without the tab is mentioned in the posts, it doesn't go into detail, or talks about wrapping a copper wire around the metal board, soldering to the metal, etc.... And for some of us caused a bit of confusion. Wrapping a wire is a little too sloppy for my OCD and I don't solder worth a damn. This fix will also work for facelifted cars.

I had replaced the driver's side taillight bulb carrier with a kit over a year ago. This week I started getting the fast blink issue on the passenger's side. History tells me the bulb connector is going to burn-up sooner or later.
This DIY is for Newbies, if you're an electronics guy, you won't learn anything here. I don't know enough to do many DIYs, but this one is my way of saying thanks to the community, and hopefully encourages others.

I checked the connector plug, and sure enough it started to show discoloration at the ground wire (it's the solid brown one on most cars). It wasn't fried yet, like my driver's was, so I decided to go for the cheap ground wire fix. It's easier to splice in one ground wire, than splicing all the wires into a new carrier. I don't guarantee the safety of this fix. It works for me and I had all the pieces needed, so it was cheap. I will continue to monitor the connector, it's easy to get to and check.

My car doesn't have the built in tab like the facelifted cars, it is an O1 325i with no lighting mods.
In hindsight, I wish I would have riveted in a connection that could be disconnected easier, like a handshake connector, but with a rainstorm looming, I was in a bit of a hurry, and wanted to take pictures in the process, as this splicing is a bit different than what I'd seen before.

Supplies


1.Rivet gun and rivet. You could use a metal screw in a pinch (not as secure IMO); a bolt won't work, as you can't can't get to the back side. (Cheap at Harbor Freight)
2. 6 inches or more ground wire, in my pictures it's the green one, I should have used brown, as it's the standard color for ground on E46's.
3. Wire shrink to protect your work
4. Electrical tape
5. Dielectric grease (optional)
6. Electrical butt connector (terminal); you can easily substitute a Y Connector or a wire tap, but I didn't have one so I used a Butt, and put both the ground and the jumper into one end.
7. I used a Ring Terminal for the riveted connection, wish I had used a hand shake or push on terminal, if I ever get the budget for LEDs I will convert it.
8. A multi-meter if you have it, and know how to use it, but it's not absolutely necessary.


Steps:
1. DISCONNECT the negative battery cable. Yeah I know you never have problems, like my upholsterer told me (LOL cost him dearly), but do it any way.
2. Remove taillight carrier, there is a lever you can't see, towards the fender wall, but you can feel, pull toward you, the unit will pop out. Try not to touch the bulbs, if you do clean them with alcohol, otherwise the natural oils on your fingers may cause them to fail early.
3. Unplug the multi-wire connector from the bulb carrier, check the male and female side of the connector for damage, if it's a total melted mess, you need to replace the bulb carrier and splice a connector that comes in a kit, it's about $60.00 from ECS.. This side was barely disturbed, and around the ground wire only, so I took the risk of this fix. I should have taken a picture of the damage, but a lightning strike in the distance caused a loss of concentration
4. Cut the ground wire to the connector plug (brown and thicker gauge in most E46s, but test it to make sure it's a ground, if possible, it's fairly consistent throughout the car) Photo #1
5. Twist your new (my green) jumper wire and the ground wire from the car together, like you would for a wire nut in a house connection; insert them both into the same end of the Butt connector with some dielectric grease. Crimp it; it should look like my photo #2. Slide the shrink wrap tube past the connection, now, before you forget, you can barely see mine on the right of the picture. There is also a wire tap connector you can use for this instead of a butt connector
6. Take the brown wire from the connector and plug it into the opposite end of the Butt connector, crimp it. This wire goes to the rivet or screw connection. The splicing is done, shrink wrap it.
7. Drill your hole for the rivet or screw, make sure you are on the grounded side of the board, NOT ALL OF THAT METAL IS GROUNDED, some have power to them, I tested my location. There was a boss (bumped out area) that I chose to drill into, see photo # 3. You can also visually check which metal strip goes to ALL bulbs -- that's the ground strip to connect the ground or jumper wire.
8. Get your ring connector and run the rivet through it, place the rivet in the hole, see photo #4
9. Pop it in with the rivet gun. See photo
10. Feed the green wire to the riveted connector and crimp the wire. Photo #5
11. Plug it up. I taped off the green ground wire to keep it out of the way Photo #6
12. Pop the carrier back in
13. Reconnect the battery
14. Test it.
Good Luck!
Hi there! I need your help. Mine is a bit different and I'm not entirely sure where to ground the wire on the metal part. I'm planning to drill it by the way. I have also asked in the above forum link you provided. For reference, here's my post with an attached image - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showpos...&postcount=327

I'm totally noob on this and I don't want to make any mistakes. Any help is greatly appreciated.
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Old 03-02-2017, 09:20 AM   #7
DEADF15H
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Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Boca Raton, FL or Salisbury, NC
Posts: 1,379
My Ride: 2001 325i Auto
Quote:
Originally Posted by erl412 View Post
Hi there! I need your help. Mine is a bit different and I'm not entirely sure where to ground the wire on the metal part. I'm planning to drill it by the way. I have also asked in the above forum link you provided. For reference, here's my post with an attached image - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showpos...&postcount=327

I'm totally noob on this and I don't want to make any mistakes. Any help is greatly appreciated.
We were all noobs at one time, although some of us tend to forget

I posted in the other thread for you as well, but will repeat it here as well for others.

You can tell if it's the ground section because that part of the sheet metal is connected to all the bulbs.

The raised bump, by your thumbnail, in the photo on the other thread is a great spot to drill.

The other metal parts contain the power to the bulbs and are individually connected, depending on what their function is.

You should put the year of your car and whether manual or automatic in your signature. There are a couple of different issues that will come up with these cars, it will help those attempting to assist you if they know what version you are driving.

You have a prefacelift model.

Good Luck and don't forget to post back your results.

Last edited by DEADF15H; 03-02-2017 at 09:21 AM.
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Old 03-02-2017, 08:10 PM   #8
erl412
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 4
My Ride: BMW e46 330i AT 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by DEADF15H View Post
We were all noobs at one time, although some of us tend to forget

I posted in the other thread for you as well, but will repeat it here as well for others.

You can tell if it's the ground section because that part of the sheet metal is connected to all the bulbs.

The raised bump, by your thumbnail, in the photo on the other thread is a great spot to drill.

The other metal parts contain the power to the bulbs and are individually connected, depending on what their function is.

You should put the year of your car and whether manual or automatic in your signature. There are a couple of different issues that will come up with these cars, it will help those attempting to assist you if they know what version you are driving.

You have a prefacelift model.

Good Luck and don't forget to post back your results.
I forgot to mention from the previous post that I had issues with the right signal light indicator that blinks rapidly and headlights that flicker randomly. However, it's all good now! They are all working as normal! Thanks mate!

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