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E36 (1991 - 1999)
The E36 chassis 3-Series BMW was a huge hit among driving enthusiasts from the first moment the car hit the pavement. The E36 won numerous awards over the years it was produced and is still a favorite of many BMW enthusiasts to this day! -- View the E36 Wiki

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Old 10-30-2011, 09:19 PM
cj.surr's Avatar
cj.surr cj.surr is offline
some kid
Location: NH
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 10,495
Mein Auto: whiny 318
DIY: E36 $10 City Lights

I finally got around to making the city lights that I've been waiting to do. There's another DIY on bimmerforums, but it's not very complete at all in the procedure, so I was never too motivated to try it myself. Well, I got bored and frustrated with the other projects on my car, so this DIY is the result.

It turned out to be really easy once I figured out the parts I needed.

-2x 194 bulb sockets - I found them at Autozone, they were labeled as "license plate bulb sockets", $4 each

-2x 194 bulbs - I ordered amber ones from Amazon and they were $4 for a pack of ten. Any 194 bulb will work, and they're pretty common

-large drill bits


-butt splices

1. Assemble the bulb and socket
Put them together and you get this:

2. Drill the hole for the socket
I started off thinking that I would make a hole in the highbeam that was the size of the widest part of the socket, but I didn't have any drill bits that big, so I used the biggest one that I had. It was perfectly sized, just about the same diameter as the bulb. This was good because the top of the socket would fit hella flush, without too much space to wiggle around.

3. Install and seal the socket
The bit wasn't quite big enough, so I had to bore it out a little by rotating the bit about the hole until it got big enough so that the bulb just barely fits in. Then, I put some RTV around the edge of the hole to seal the socket. I later found that it was easier and less messy to just put the RTV on the part of the socket that will sit on the hole. That way you don't get any RTV on the bulb while inserting.

Push the bulb in, and it should fit pretty snug. I used some tape on the socket to hold it down while the RTV dried.

4. Wire the light
Once you're done with that, you need to decide how you want to wire them up.

If you want them to come on instead of the parking lights - Cut the wire going to the cornerlight that is for the parking light (not sure which one it is, may require trial and error. It's not the brown one though, obviously). Connect that wire to one of the wires on the city light socket, and ground the other wire from the city light socket.

If you want both parking lights and city lights - You might be able to do a three way splice on the parking light wire, but I'm not sure. You would need to do the same as above, but with a three-way splice instead of just re-routing the wire.

If you don't have foglights, then you can use the foglight wiring. This is what I did, since I don't plan on installing fogs. This is a little easier and you can control the city lights with the fog light button, which is pretty cool.

That's all there is to it. I have some pictures, but my car is stuck in the garage so they aren't that good (Damn ECS ). I love the way they look in person. I might buy some different color bulbs and see how they look for you guys. I'll probably try white and yellow.

Updated pictures:


Last edited by cj.surr; 10-31-2011 at 06:38 PM.
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