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E28 (1982 - 1988)

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Old 11-06-2012, 06:26 PM
waehrik waehrik is offline
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Location: MA
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 122
Mein Auto: e39 530i/5, e28 535i
DIY LED Tail Lights

I just thought I'd pass along some info on my recent LED retrofit.

This was spurred by non-functioning brake lights (lower two), despite my best efforts to clean all contacts, stuff the sockets with dielectric grease, bend the contacts to increase pressure, and use only silver based bulbs.

Sooo I came up with a solution, though the only earlier work I found was things like the following which all required cutting the housing. I didn't like that idea one bit so I found something better.

Using my favorite Chinese deals site I got a new socket for each: link
And 4w bulbs:

The bulb holder snap right in, and my reason for replacing them was both to replace what could be one failure point and to give a replacement socket with wires on it.

It's pretty obvious which wire goes where, and for the brake light position there's even a nice spade lug on the OEM housing to clip the positive wire. The negative wires all share a common bus, to which it is impossible to solder. You must either use a conductive epoxy to attach it to the housing or one of the dreaded quick splices to connect to the tail light wire directly.

Pictures attached of the setup on my bench. Please feel free to ask any questions.
To defeat the check control flagging the reduced wattage bulbs I followed the instructions on the above 'scrappycow' website, with the photo included here too in case that site ever goes offline.

Overall, $14 per position for an LED retrofit that replaces all of the weak OEM components, not too bad. Just plan on about 3 weeks shipping if you order from dealextreme, the stuff comes from China.
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Old 11-07-2012, 05:26 AM
audioscience10 audioscience10 is offline
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Location: Grand Blanc, MI
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 2
Mein Auto: '85 535i
I kinda did the same thing but i just reversed the polarity on the passenger side bulbs. (because some engineer in germany thought it was a good idea to make that side negative to positive instead of positive to negative like on the driver side.)
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