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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 5 Series > E39 (1997 - 2003)

E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 10-20-2009, 05:57 AM
badabingjr badabingjr is offline
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need some straight answers on headlight adjusters

hey guys,

i know this topic is well covered but i feel like i've got conflicting information from all the threads i read in my search.

i have a 2003 540i (2/03 production) with the stock OEM xenon auto level headlights.

i recently removed the headlight assemblies to do the headlight polishing DIY.

I've got them back in and all the lights work but now when i turn on the headlights, they do not "pop up" like they did before.

i am looking for simple answers to these questions;

1. how can i definitively determine that the problem is the broken adjusters?

2. considering it is a 2003 car and the headlights cannot be opened, assuming it is the adjusters, can they still be replaced or otherwise fixed or do i need to buy whole new headlight assemblies.

that would suck considering all the time and effort i put into polishing them just to have to buy new ones anyway.
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  #2  
Old 10-20-2009, 08:05 AM
Max_VQ Max_VQ is offline
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How to check for broken adjusters:
Grab the back of the high beam bulb/connector and apply a slight up/down and left/right pressure. If you lights move more than 1-2 mm, your adjusters are broken. Mine moved about 10mm to each side.

When I changed mine last week, the factory adjusters were brittle like candy cane.

There is someone on the board (Mark at EAC??) that can fix the 03 lights.
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  #3  
Old 10-20-2009, 09:20 AM
resharp001 resharp001 is offline
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Just to clarify, the problem with the broken adjusters should not affect the auto-leveling feature. If the lights are not "popping" up as you note, that seems like it would be a different issue than the adjusters that you use to manual tweak/calibrate the level and direction of the light beams. +1 on what Max is telling you to do to determine if you have broken adjusters which as I'm noting should be a seperate issue that you might have. I'm assuming you double checked that everything got plugged back in correctly.

If you do have broken adjusters, most of the lights from 2001-2003 can be opened via the baking method that you can find on the search (sorry, I don't have the link handy). It does seem that there have been a few people who were not able to use this method because their lights were held together with a different type of epoxy rather than the black sticky stuff. The baking method worked fine on my '02 lights.

Last edited by resharp001; 10-20-2009 at 09:24 AM.
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  #4  
Old 10-20-2009, 09:33 AM
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doru doru is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Max_VQ View Post
How to check for broken adjusters:
Grab the back of the high beam bulb/connector and apply a slight up/down and left/right pressure. If you lights move more than 1-2 mm, your adjusters are broken. Mine moved about 10mm to each side.

When I changed mine last week, the factory adjusters were brittle like candy cane.

There is someone on the board (Mark at EAC??) that can fix the 03 lights.
+ 1,000,000 to what he said.
The 2003 Hellas are very hard to open.
Get the aluminum adjusters (from EAC as well)
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  #5  
Old 10-20-2009, 10:21 AM
resharp001 resharp001 is offline
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Unless I'm misunderstanding the OP, it seems like it is more of a senor issue. Even when my plastic adjusters were shot to pieces, my auto-leveling still worked every time I started the car, it's just that the light beam would be aimed low. If you don't see the lights adjust when you turn the car on, I'd make sure you have a good connection on everything you unplugged to do your work, check the fuse, and if you're still having problems check your leveling sensor under the front of the car by the passenger front tire.

Odds are that after 6 years your plastic headlight adjusters are probably shot too though. The OE plastic pieces they used are just crap. If you do end up replacing them definitely do the aluminum ones so you don't have revist that again.

Last edited by resharp001; 10-20-2009 at 03:59 PM.
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  #6  
Old 10-20-2009, 11:28 AM
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RRsE39 RRsE39 is offline
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'03 headlights cant be opened up, trust me Ive had a pair. They used a clear permanent sealant to seal them up. You could always take a dremel and cut the black housing away from the clear front lens. Just dont cut too deep at the top and bottom because the angel eye fiber optic cables are there. There also a member here, Mark, that can replace the adjusters on the '03 headlights w/o cutting open the entire headlight housing.

If your chrome inner piece moves a lot then you have broken adjusters. If your adjusters are good there still should be some play but only a few mm or so.

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  #7  
Old 10-20-2009, 02:28 PM
Max_VQ Max_VQ is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by resharp001 View Post
Just to clarify, the problem with the broken adjusters should not affect the auto-leveling feature.
Good point! Mine did move but I only had one broken adjuster per side.
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  #8  
Old 10-20-2009, 04:57 PM
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aliaw528 aliaw528 is offline
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Check the little arm/rod

that connects to the servo that adjusts the headlights up and down. I believe the other end connects to a suspension arm or hub arm (right side front wheel). It sometimes gets disconnected during repairs.
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  #9  
Old 10-20-2009, 05:13 PM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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The up and down movement of the headlights is not tied to the adjusters but level sensor attached to the right (passenger side) control arm. See picture. It may have been detached during repairs and not connected back or the adjuster arm might have broke.

Right side: xenon lights: Disconnect level sensor regulating rod joint. Counter hold inside nut and remove outside nut (needle nose pliers, 10mm socket 1/4" / 1/4" ratchet). Remove bolt and rotate regulating rod (link) to be adjacent with control arm.

You'll see it as part number 37146784697 under Real-Oem
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  #10  
Old 10-20-2009, 05:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Max_VQ View Post
There is someone on the board (Mark at EAC??) that can fix the 03 lights.
I don't know about 2003, but, for 2002, EAC has aluminum adjusters for sale.

You can also go OE plastic (cheaper but not as sturdy).

The weird thing to me is that everyone says headlights are adjustable in both dimensions but the quote below says otherwise. I'm still confused about that.


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  #11  
Old 10-21-2009, 09:31 AM
badabingjr badabingjr is offline
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thanks for the help thus far.

using the "wiggle" test it seems that only one headlight has a broken adjuster. the passenger side is snug in both directions. the driver side is snug side to side but up and and down there is alot of play. so i am assuming just one adjuster is broken in that light.

would you concur with my diagnosis?

i am going to double check the auto level as soon as it gets dark and i will report my findings.
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  #12  
Old 10-21-2009, 12:29 PM
HETPE3B HETPE3B is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badabingjr View Post
thanks for the help thus far.

using the "wiggle" test it seems that only one headlight has a broken adjuster. the passenger side is snug in both directions. the driver side is snug side to side but up and and down there is alot of play. so i am assuming just one adjuster is broken in that light.

would you concur with my diagnosis?

i am going to double check the auto level as soon as it gets dark and i will report my findings.
If you have only one broken adjuster - my advice is to change both anyway, because another one can broke very shortly after the first one.
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eB...m=290361732119
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eB...m=290362191196
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  #13  
Old 10-21-2009, 01:13 PM
badabingjr badabingjr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HETPE3B View Post
If you have only one broken adjuster - my advice is to change both anyway, because another one can broke very shortly after the first one.
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eB...m=290361732119
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eB...m=290362191196
unfortunately i have the impossible to open 03 lights so replacing them will be difficult, but i will replace both when i do.

right now my concern is making sure the auto level is working again.
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  #14  
Old 10-21-2009, 01:49 PM
HETPE3B HETPE3B is offline
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Did you try this step-by-step disassembly manual?
http://www.odometergears.com/subpage...dlight_FAQ.pdf
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  #15  
Old 10-21-2009, 02:02 PM
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RRsE39 RRsE39 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HETPE3B View Post
Did you try this step-by-step disassembly manual?
http://www.odometergears.com/subpage...dlight_FAQ.pdf

It doesnt matter, the 2003 headlights cannot be opened that way. As said before they do not have the soft butyl rubbery sealant. They used a hard epoxy that does not soften once heated.

They cannot be opened by heating, you will have to cut them open or pay Mark to replace them for you.
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  #16  
Old 10-21-2009, 02:07 PM
Mark@EAC Mark@EAC is offline
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he has 2003 headlights. if you research this repair you will find that many of these lights coming from 02 and 03 cars cannot be opened by heating the glue, they changed the sealant at some point.

I can still repair the "cannot be opened" angel eye lights with new adjusters. It is involved and takes about 2-3 hours per light and requires a couple special tools I had to develop along the way.

We sell aluminum adjusters for the 01-03 lights at EAC that are far superior to the plastic replacements linked above.


If you are taking the time to fix the problematic plastic adjusters why even consider replacing them with plastic again? Do it once, do it right and forget it.
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  #17  
Old 10-21-2009, 02:22 PM
HETPE3B HETPE3B is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark@EACTuning View Post
We sell aluminum adjusters for the 01-03 lights at EAC that are far superior to the plastic replacements linked above.

If you are taking the time to fix the problematic plastic adjusters why even consider replacing them with plastic again? Do it once, do it right and forget it.
I'm making these plastic adjusters from completely different plastic (polyamide), than the original one. I believe it will lasts much more than 10 years. Actually you can twist it with the pliers (sorry for my English, hope you will understand me ), they will twist but not brake!
By the way I'm repairing these headlight without cutting (taking out) the glass.
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  #18  
Old 10-21-2009, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by HETPE3B View Post
By the way I'm repairing these headlight without cutting (taking out) the glass.
So does Mark....care to share how you do it?
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  #19  
Old 10-21-2009, 02:52 PM
HETPE3B HETPE3B is offline
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Like a gynecologist It is impossible to explain how. Should see. Better to feel, because doing it you see nothing, only feel.
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  #20  
Old 10-21-2009, 03:16 PM
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RRsE39 RRsE39 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HETPE3B View Post
Like a gynecologist It is impossible to explain how. Should see. Better to feel, because doing it you see nothing, only feel.
Post a video up on youtube.

Ive personally replaced my adjusters by opening my headlights and I still dont see how replacing them is possible without cutting the adjuster section away from the black housing.
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  #21  
Old 10-21-2009, 04:10 PM
badabingjr badabingjr is offline
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ok, i double checked all my connections and the lights were def not popping up.

from what i can gather there are five plugs that go into the headlight assy

1. low beam (into silver ballast)
2. high beam
3. angel eye
4. turn signal
5. leveling motor? (its kind of a triangel shaped thing with rounded corners on the back of headlight assy)

anyway, i checked that all connections are tight and they were. i turned the headlights on and off a few times but nothing.

i moved on to other repairs (cloth trim falling off A pillars) etc.

finally, i went to park her for the night. i turned the headlights on, starting backing up and then they POPPED UP!

WTF?
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  #22  
Old 11-28-2010, 03:01 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RRsE39 View Post
I still dont see how replacing them is possible without cutting the adjuster section away from the black housing
I'm not sure what the confusion is, but clearly there are two ways to access the newer E39 headlight adjusters:
- Open the headlight and access the adjusters by taking the assembly apart
- Cut a one-inch by 2-inch rectangle in the black plastic for each adjuster

I've done the first method, and can see how the second can be done if you already knew where to make your cuts.

Anyway, I compiled about a dozen second sources for headlight adjusters; and I appreciate EVERYONE's effort to resolve this BMW problem, from Mark at EAC Tuning to the guys in Great Britain to the guy in Palatine IL to Het3PB, etc.

As you know about me by now, I know nothing about anything until I myself have to solve it. To that end, I've scoured the Internet and subsequently listed ALL (and I mean ALL) your options if your headlight adjusters are broken over here:
- List options available (sorted by cost) for 2001-2003 E39 broken headlight adjusters

The best BMW E39 headlight adjuster links are here:
- HEADLIGHT ADJUSTERS CRUMBLE: brittle plastic headlight adjusters that simply crumble over time causing the lights to point downward (0) (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15) (16)
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