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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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  #1  
Old 12-09-2012, 08:58 AM
Delisha Delisha is offline
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Location: England
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
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Mein Auto: 316i
Unhappy Headlights randomly turn off

Any help is appreciated...
My headlamps have recently started turning off while I am driving. My dash, turn signal, and hazard lights work fine. Both times they have come back on within 5 min.
I have a 1998 316i - euro spec.
Thank you..
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  #2  
Old 12-09-2012, 09:02 AM
WickedFast.Inc WickedFast.Inc is offline
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Location: Texas
 
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Mein Auto: 1989 325I
How old are they? They might be going out.

Check your connections.
Possible switch problem

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  #3  
Old 12-09-2012, 09:31 AM
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TheFinanceGuy TheFinanceGuy is offline
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Location: Boston Metro West (BMW)
 
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Mein Auto: 1998 328i / 99 540iA
When you turn you head lights on, do feel the selector click into place?

If so, you need a new switch.
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  #4  
Old 12-09-2012, 11:05 AM
Delisha Delisha is offline
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Mein Auto: 316i
The headlamps are most likely the original ones installed. I bought the car in 2005 and have not replaced them myself. To turn the lights on it is a pull out knob and they work well 99% of the time but I have had 2 instances where they just shut off while driving. It may be coincidence but the last time it was raining and when I switched the wipers on the lights came back on... This past time, I know I messed with the blinkers and turned them off and on but I don't remember flipping the wipers on because I was a little freaked driving with no lights in the pitch dark.
On a side note... I've seen posts about the abs and traction control lights staying on... I had that issue for 6 years on and off and finally I was unable to get it past inspection in the UK for this reason so I had to get it fixed. It was the electronics connected to the abs pump, most likely caused by chewed wires from marms while in Germany.
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  #5  
Old 12-09-2012, 11:33 AM
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ZeGerman ZeGerman is online now
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Location: Seattle, WA
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Delisha View Post
To turn the lights on it is a pull out knob and they work well 99% of the time but I have had 2 instances where they just shut off while driving.
If this is the case, you do not have the stock headlight switch in place, which could certainly be part of your problem.
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  #6  
Old 12-09-2012, 11:33 AM
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ZeGerman ZeGerman is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Delisha View Post
To turn the lights on it is a pull out knob and they work well 99% of the time but I have had 2 instances where they just shut off while driving.
If this is the case, you do not have the stock headlight switch installed, which could certainly be part of your problem.
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1998 BMW 328is
1966 Pontiac GTO
2007 Subaru Impreza 2.5i 5-door
View my photos: Caught in the Wild
For sale: E30/E36 front sway links
For sale: OEM E36 328 catback
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  #7  
Old 12-09-2012, 11:40 AM
Delisha Delisha is offline
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Location: England
 
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Mein Auto: 316i
ZeGerman,
I don't understand what you are saying?
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  #8  
Old 12-09-2012, 11:45 AM
Delisha Delisha is offline
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Location: England
 
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This is the pull out knob to turn the lights on and off... Sorry it is dark here...
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  #9  
Old 12-09-2012, 11:46 AM
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johnf johnf is offline
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Location: Bremerhaven, Germany
 
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Mein Auto: 1996 318is
By any chance, do you have a 316i Compact hatchback?
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  #10  
Old 12-09-2012, 11:47 AM
Delisha Delisha is offline
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Yes I do, I got it while living in Germany so it is all euro spec with the speedometer only reading kilometers.
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  #11  
Old 12-09-2012, 11:49 AM
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hornhospital hornhospital is offline
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Location: In the Grumpy Chair
 
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Mein Auto: 1995 318is / 1993 325is
The headlight switch in the US E36s with the stock headlight switch, TURNS clockwise to turn on the park lights and then one more click to turn on the headlights. No US E36 headlight switch has a "pull-to-turn-on" mechanism.

The stock switch breaks down internally and the detents get vague. The plastic detent ring breaks apart and prevents the switch contacts from touching, or even more weird, it can force some contacts together, so that you have headlights on with the switch turned off!

A stock switch should have firm, definite "stops" at each position. If it doesn't, it's going to pieces inside.

I have no clue what switch you have that requires a pull to turn it on.

Edit, just read your posting and saw the picture. Regardless, you need a new switch.
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Last edited by hornhospital; 12-09-2012 at 11:52 AM.
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  #12  
Old 12-09-2012, 12:04 PM
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ZeGerman ZeGerman is online now
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Mein Auto: 1998 BMW 328is
Ah, okay, I didn't realize you had a compact. Makes all the difference, since the regular (non-compacts) have rotary switches and not push/pull switches. Regardless, it does sound like a switch issue to me. I'd double check all of your headlight connections and associated fuses for looseness and/or corrosion before doing anything else, but there's a very high chance that your switch is going wonky and just needs to be replaced. Pretty cheap fix in the end.
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1998 BMW 328is
1966 Pontiac GTO
2007 Subaru Impreza 2.5i 5-door
View my photos: Caught in the Wild
For sale: E30/E36 front sway links
For sale: OEM E36 328 catback
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  #13  
Old 12-09-2012, 12:20 PM
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johnf johnf is offline
John Firestone
Location: Bremerhaven, Germany
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
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Mein Auto: 1996 318is
When the dipped headlights go out, do your full beam headlights still work in the latched on position? (I'd make sure they work before the dipped ones go out.)

Last edited by johnf; 12-09-2012 at 12:22 PM.
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  #14  
Old 12-09-2012, 12:36 PM
Delisha Delisha is offline
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Location: England
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 6
Mein Auto: 316i
Thank you all for your help. I will look into a switch.
ZeGerman: I didn't know that info next time I post ( hopefully not soon) I will be more specific.
Hornhospital: it is a Euro spec car not a US car. It is not even allowed on US soil ( I tried to store it) unless I have it swapped from euro spec to US spec. Regardless I will take the advice and get a new switch
Johnf: I will see if the brights work if it happens again before I repair it ( which will be soon) they work fine in both dim and bright position, but have not tested during the lights out issue.
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