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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 07-18-2008, 12:48 PM   #1
drealbmw
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How do I replace my H7 halogen headlight bulb?

This is my question from yesterday. After working about 4 hours on the problem, you could guess that I got pretty fed up.

So I decided to leave it overnight. The morning light helped me solve the problem. So I decided to share the wealth. Here's what I did for my 2005 325i.

The trick is to look closely at the parts before you remove the headlight bulb. You don't want to turn the entire socket assembly -- just the black locking ring. It has a top and bottom tab that fits into the headlight assembly. Grab the square ring tab, which appears at the top right in the picture below, and twist it a short 1/8 turn counterclockwise (like you were sitting on top of the engine, facing forward). In the picture below, 0 is unlocked; 1 is locked. It will take a little effort to turn it to the unlocked position, but not that much.



Now, just pull the old H7 halogen bulb straight out and push the new one in, trying not to touch the new bulb directly with your oily fingers. I used toilet paper to handle the bulb. This step is a no-brainer, as you can see in the photo below.



Now, the fun part begins. There is a small, narrow slot in the clear, yellowish headlight assembly. You can see it at the bottom of the picture below, slightly to the right of center. (My macro camera setting is great, right? Even though it makes the part look huge.)



This yellow slot accepts the tab of the black locking ring. Barely. You really have to work at it to seat the socket assembly correctly.

You can see the block-looking black tab on the inside of the arm in the picture below.



Now, make sure the tab is in the unlocked, or "0" position. Then line up the 2 tabs, which are on opposite sides of the socket assembly ring, with the 2 slots. You won't be able to see them because your hand is in the way, so just give it your best guess. Then push the socket containing the bulb into the headlight assembly. Using trial and error, you will eventually be able to feel when the socket is seated correctly.

Then, I use my thumb on one tab and the middle finger on the other tab to line up the tabs and twist. If I guess wrong, I give a quick glance to the front of the car where the headlight is, and make sure that the bulb looks like it is seated correctly, and wiggle the part a little.

Then, just give it another go.

The only other bit of advice deals with the driver side headlights. It is a REALLY TIGHT SPACE. So, give yourself some more room and take off the cover of the square air filter housing. First, release the 2 clips for the hose containing the air flow sensor. Then release the 5 clips holding the air filter housing cover to its base. That should give you enough room to take a stab at the headlight assembly.

I know this is a long post on a small topic, but there are fewer and fewer things on my car that I can actually work on. I was determined that I was going to replace my headlights myself, no matter what! (Next time, I'll probably get the mechanic to do it.)

Good luck!
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Old 07-18-2008, 01:01 PM   #2
tony325ci_51
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Yep, you got it right. Nice simple write-up that might be useful to those who haven't yet had to change a bulb.

Can be fiddly and take a little time, the key is to use patience, not force.

Daylight definitely helps (although most will end up doing it at night, cos you won't turn your headlights on to notice a blown bulb during the day).

DIY again next time, you've nothing to fear and it gets easier with practice.
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Old 07-18-2008, 01:16 PM   #3
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Lol wow, I was suprised not to find another diy on this subject although it is pretty much straight forward, nice write-up though.
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Old 07-18-2008, 01:51 PM   #4
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Way to point out the obvious
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Old 07-18-2008, 02:00 PM   #5
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Haha! Not so obvious, my friend

This post is basically an answer to my question. I couldn't seem to get the light out, I'm guessing because I wasn't using the square tab. I was just twisting it where the wires connect to the assembly. (The easiest part to reach without removing the air box.)

Thanks again drealbmw!
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Old 07-18-2008, 02:24 PM   #6
drealbmw
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If there is any way to mess things up, I WILL! (Or I will forget how to do it.)

So the next time I have this problem, I'll have this as a resource.

Now, if somebody could just help me upgrade my lame BMW stereo...
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Old 07-18-2008, 09:46 PM   #7
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seemed like a piece of cake to me, whats the problem?
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Old 07-18-2008, 09:57 PM   #8
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So I came home and tried it... works like a charm if you only turn the square tabs!

Anyway the H7 lights I bought don't fit because they have an elbow (like they would fit directly to the wiring) but the bulb with prongs won't come out and thus won't fit into the assembly.

Would anyone like some unused, but opened H7 bulbs?
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Old 07-18-2008, 10:57 PM   #9
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sure you didnt buy h11?
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Old 07-18-2008, 11:56 PM   #10
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Way to point out the obvious
haha
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Old 07-20-2008, 12:51 AM   #11
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Nice write up OP! This will definitely come in handy for someone in the future. I wish you posted this two weeks ago. Took me an hour before I figured out how to remove the bulb.
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Old 07-20-2008, 01:56 AM   #12
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Nice write up OP! This will definitely come in handy for someone in the future. I wish you posted this two weeks ago. Took me an hour before I figured out how to remove the bulb.
Same here.
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Old 07-20-2008, 07:33 AM   #13
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good stuff, i found it real tricky at night, should help people
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Old 08-05-2008, 01:13 PM   #14
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im about to change out mine soon. if i run into any problems, i'll read this thread. lol
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Old 08-05-2008, 05:38 PM   #15
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Just wanted to say thanks, changed the bulb last night and after reading this it was a breeze.
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Old 08-06-2008, 02:28 AM   #16
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Now that 4th pic was just a show-off for you camera... (and camera skills...)
Nice write-up!
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Old 08-06-2008, 02:38 AM   #17
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Old 10-28-2008, 08:16 PM   #18
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+1+

+1 dude
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Old 10-28-2008, 08:21 PM   #19
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Thanks for the write up...things are NOT always so obvious, it's very much appreciated.

Little anecdote:

A buddy and I were trying to replace the headlight on his mom's 2000 VW bug. No manual or anything with us, we'd figure out it...we're guys, ya know? Well, after fiddling with the headlight assembly for 2 hours, an 8 year old neighborhood girl walked by and said, "Why don't you guys just pull the lights out toward you?"...that is, you actually pull the entire headlight assemblies directly off the car. She was right.
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Old 12-11-2009, 06:31 PM   #20
drealbmw
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Glad to be a help to you guys, and the 1000s of other viewers!
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