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PropellerHead 11-29-2012 10:53 AM

Helping out a nephew-95 740i

It's hard for me to believe that my nephew is old enough to be driving his father's 1995 740, but he is. He bought the car CPO'd in 1997 or so. It was his daily for about 5 or 6 years and then they just sort of kept it bc of how nice it rides and the age of their kids. Now, it has about 130k on it. It's seen better days, but I drove it for a couple thousand miles last year on an extended visit and just loved it.

It needs some work.

Most notably, the driver's seat switch, front and rear lighters, and rear tails. I have heard of a less expensive part/repair process for the driver's seat on an E39 and wonder if there is any insight here.

I have seen EBAY tail light LED's and am quite wary that they look great in pictures but don't work well/not very bright in reality. Not sure of any LCM/check control procedures on the E38, but I can't imagine that they're much different from an E39. ie- what about error codes on the LED's. I have seen other tails that I like that look newer but work off of traditional (and brighter) tails. Any suggestions on the best upgrade and repair for this are welcome. I'll do the sand paper contacts trick, but what he really wants is tails that look newer and work as well/as bright as OE.

Somewhere around 8 years ago, 'soda' was spilled from the front cup holders. Neither lighter/power source has worked since. Your ideas where to start are welcome.

I am sure that other things- like wheel bearings and other suspension components are in need of refresh though the thing tracks as straight as ever without a bump, knock, or rattle from underneath.

You advice to help a brand new Bimmer gnurd into the mix is welcome.

BMWFatherFigure 11-30-2012 06:47 AM

Can't help with some of your probs but:
LEDs with LCM is more trouble than it is worth IMO.
To fix the soda spill problem you have to remove and clean every thing out of the car. Soak in hot water and then dry. Check car wires for damage - I guess the sugar etc will have attacked the plugs and sockets and maybe the wires. Hot water soak using a cup or mug may work. Hair drier to dry the plugs and sockets, WD40 spray on assembly. Don't forget to inspect the earths.

E36 Phantom 11-30-2012 11:05 PM

Prop, I tried a few brands of LED tails for the E39. While they did all look sharp, it actually made me a little nervous (even at age 17-18) that the light doesn't carry. It looks just as bright right up next to an incandescent assembly, but step back 100-200 feet and you'll notice the incandescents are still plainly visible and the LEDs much less obvious. Add fog to the mix and I'd rather have properly designed OEM tails than the LEDs, no matter how much better the LEDs looked.

If only there was some CELIS retrofit for the E38....

740iLV 11-30-2012 11:44 PM

For driver's seat switch your best bet would be a junkyard, a pin on mine was broken when I got the car and I just picked one up for $10, you might even get lucky enough to find 01 E38 tail lights there. Aftermarket tail lights are a pain in the ass in most cases and usually get faded by sun much sooner than OEM.

QSilver7 12-01-2012 05:42 AM


Originally Posted by PropellerHead (Post 7221283)
Gentlemen ... Your (sic) advice to help a brand new Bimmer gnurd into the mix is welcome.

Ummm...your time on the forum and amount of posts disqualifies you as a "Bimmer gnurd". :D

Besides...the e38 & e39 are generational siblings and share the same basic BMW design architecture as well as many of the same parts.

The e38 & e39 share the same front any e39 knowledge you have in this area...carries over to the e38. The 95 e38 may be kind of different (depending on build date) in some areas since it was the first model & year where BMW updated some things from the old generation of e30/e32/e34 models. For instance, the lower plastic seat cover on the early 95 e38s had a slightly different design...but the cover that came later and is common on the rest of the e38/e39 line-up can be retrofitted. For example, the driver's seat switch is the same in both models...and if you go with a seat switch from any 98-up e38/ will get the convenience exit feature where the steering wheel moves up to the highest position when the ignition is turned off...and return to the last position it was in when you insert the key and turn the ignition on.

I agree with the others...instead of trying to deal with LED rear tail lights...just upgrade to either the 99-00 rear tails or the 01 rear tails. The only difference in e38 tails come at the 99 face lift...the 95-98 tails use a different bulb holder which is not swappable into the 99-up tail lights due to the change in the LCM III. But the rear tail light assembly & electrical connections will fit on any e38 from 95-01. Also, the 99-00 & 01 rear tail lights have the "crystallized" treatment versus the "dull" look of the 95-98 rear tail lights. But the 99-00 lights have AMBER turn indicators...where as the 01s have the CLEAR turn indicators. Since many 99-00 owners upgrade to the 01 clear crystallized can find many 99-00 crystallized tails with amber turn indicators...again, either of these styles will give that 95 a nice upgrade...and you may be able to find them at a great price if someone is cleaning out their garage. :)

The cig lighters...again are very similar to the e39. There is a fuse box in the engine bay (instead of the glovebox) and the rear fuses in the trunk are in the same place as the e39. Each location may have fuses for the cig check both locations to make sure a fuse isn't blown. Then as others suggested...the trim needs to be removed so that the areas below the trim can be cleaned because spilled sugary drinks will leave residue in places that never get cleaned by a simple mopping-up of the liquid on exterior surfaces.

Then GLUE the cupholders shut! Just like the e39...this was BMWs first attempt at built-in cupholders...and though they are over-engineered...they suck as far as being user friendly for the American driver. There was a total disconnect and cultural ignorance as to how cupholders are used here and why we "drink" & drive etc. These first built-in cupholders were designed for small cans or cups (up to approx 12 oz) and to be used while the car is stationary.

BMWFatherFigure 12-01-2012 06:25 AM

BTW I read (can't remember where) that LEDs don't have much of the red part of the light spectrum as output so they seem dimmer behind a red lense than a conventional incandescent globe.

PropellerHead 12-02-2012 02:36 PM


Originally Posted by QSilver7 (Post 7224708)
Ummm...your time on the forum and amount of posts disqualifies you as a "Bimmer gnurd". :D

I was talking ab my *nephew* being the brand new gnurd... Gnurd! :p

Thanks for your reply. You were one of the folks I was hoping would impart some wisdom. In fact, I ran immediately away from this post and read all things E38 for these concerns. Many of them intersected with posts of yours (or somebody, I dunno) on other forums.

I deduced that the cheap LED tails were not in fact the way to go. I advised his father of this and was met with all sorts of Ebay claims he'd read. :tsk: I told him he could order what he wanted, but the AZ Autohaus link to the 01+ OE tails was the way to go. I also told him I wasn't going to have a part in the installation of crappy tails. You mention the sockets are different for '01 +- other than knowing that, what kind of effort does that translate into upon install? Splice wires? Buy new bulbs? Does a kit include adapters? Are they necessary? I don't think I'll be fortunate enough to install OE tails, but I'd like an idea of what is needed in case he gets smart.

I actually DID find the fuse (#53, I think) information as well. It would be awesome if that's all it is. I am not averse to removing the console and rinsing the parts. I'll update here on those.

A long, long time ago, BMW sold a blank for the front cup holders in the E39. That was one of those things I was wanting, but it was only like $15 and the shipping was $10. I decided I would wait and get one when I bought something else. I never remembered to order it. Now, of course, I think I read it's NLA. Ahh well.

Thanks again, guys.

QSilver7 12-02-2012 08:48 PM

1 Attachment(s)

Originally Posted by PropellerHead (Post 7226958)
I was talking ab my *nephew* being the brand new gnurd... Gnurd! :p

... You mention the sockets are different for '01 +- other than knowing that, what kind of effort does that translate into upon install? Splice wires? Buy new bulbs? Does a kit include adapters? Are they necessary? I don't think I'll be fortunate enough to install OE tails, but I'd like an idea of what is needed in case he gets smart.

The 99-01 rear tail lights use a different bulb holder for the rear tail lights...and I believe the brake lights. This is due to the introduction of the LCM III starting with the 99 model year. The LCM III has the ability to reduce voltage output and replace a burnt out bulb by using another bulb. Because of this multi-function/multi-purpose use...BMW uses dual filament bulbs in the face-lift rear tail lights.

Installing a 99-01 rear tail light requires nothing new (unless it doesn't come with bulbs). The electrical harness and the four bolts that secure it to the rear of the car is the same from 95-01. Again, if you purchase a new or used set of 99-01 rear tail lights with out bulbs & bulb holders...all you need to do is order new ones for the 99-01 e38...and insert the correct bulbs in them. The old bulb holders (95-98) won't fit in the newer rear tail lights.

A quick look up on will reveal which bulb holders are exclusive to the 99-up rear tail lights. the turn indicator bulb/bulb holder and back-up bulb/bulb holder may work in all of them...since they are still single filament bulbs in both style lights.

When my bro-in-law had his 97 e38...he found a used pair of 99-00 (crystallized/amber turn indicators) rear tail lights (see image below)...which again, still gives the rear end a fresh look over the duller 95-98 rear tails. It was plug-n-play since they came with the bulbs/bulb-holders already installed.

E36 Phantom 12-03-2012 12:06 AM

Actually Prop - I have newer style tails with smoked uppers, don't know what color the car is but maybe he wants those? I'm trying to get ones with clear all the way across the reverse and turns. I think they're OEM and were smoked with some sort of translucent paint based on fitment quality, but I need to verify before making that claim...:rofl:

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