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E60 (2004 - 2010)
BMW 5-Series (E60 chassis) was first seen in the Unites States in the fall of 2003 with a 2004 Model Year designation. The E60 is now available as a 528i, 528xi, 535i, 535xi, 550i and a 535xi sports wagon! -- View the E60 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 02-24-2013, 10:04 AM
kdkauffmann kdkauffmann is offline
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Mein Auto: 2007 BMW 530XIT
2007 530xi "right tail lamp malfunction" answer

I have found this forum to be very valuable, and wanted to share my experience with the "right tail lamp malfunction" error, and solution.

There are other threads discussing this error message, but the solution for the 2007 530xi is a little different than described for other models, or other model years.

The underlying issue is the same, a high-resistance between the light bulb holder, and the light bulb socket causes the connection to heat-up and melt, either breaking contact completely, or causing a higher resistance which allows the brake light to function, while the tail-light does not. (The bulb(s) appear to be used for both, with more current causing the light to be much brighter during braking).

Many of the threads describe the problem to be in the brown wire of the wiring harness where it attaches to the tail/brake light assembly, and describe the addition of another ground connection. That was not the situation with this vehicle. I was unable to actually see the problem until I removed the brake/tail light assembly from the vehicle, and could see that the plastic at the socket had melted, and that there was pitting on the metal at the socket. The metal on the 'prong' of the bulb holder was oxidized (gray).

My temporary, if not permanent fix was to use emery cloth to 'shine' the prong on the bulb holder, and a file to remove the pitting on the socket. I also bent the prong outwards to make a more solid connection.
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  #2  
Old 02-24-2013, 10:57 AM
German Steel German Steel is offline
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Location: Durham NC USA
 
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Mein Auto: 2008 535xi
The brown wire went bad on my 2008 535xi. The female plastic connector on the brake light assembly was fried and I had to replace the bulb holder assembly for around $80. The male plug was in usable condition although it had been exposed to extreme heat. I cleaned that up and reconnected everything without further error messages.
I am considering replacing the stock bulb with an LED bulb assembly if available. Would less draw of LED bulb prevent the problem?
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  #3  
Old 02-24-2013, 06:04 PM
chimi-changa chimi-changa is offline
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Location: borough's- MA
 
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Mein Auto: e28 535is e61 530xiT
Timely thread- i have the same with my 07 that I have only had for a week. Chime reminder is driving me crazy... Replaced all bulbs, and socket and stayed off for three days- now back on every once and a while. Nothing seems melted (yet)Today noticed I could still jiggle the ( new) socket in tail lamp holder. I turned it until tighter warning stayed off on way home, but for how long.
Old socket seemed corroded on one side, and new one was not shiny anymore now one side leads me to suspect these might also still need an extra ground. I don't have the full service hist on mine yet but saw on car fax a tail lamp was replaced at one point. Good call on prying prongs on socket to keep tight- how long has yours been quiet? We still might need more ground back there...
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  #4  
Old 02-25-2013, 09:40 AM
jim165 jim165 is offline
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There is an inherent grounding problem with that bulb holder. To save yourself the headache, I would try to "enhance" the ground by doing this procedure the e46 guys have been doing for awhile now. I had the same issue with random warnings of "tail lamp malfunction" and "reverse light malfunction". I re-grounded the brown wire on both sides and haven't heard a peep since. Luckily I caught it before it burned anything...

Enhance Tail Light Ground

Links to E46 guys

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Last edited by jim165; 02-25-2013 at 09:44 AM.
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  #5  
Old 02-25-2013, 09:49 AM
chimi-changa chimi-changa is offline
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Great- Thanks Jim165
I have seen some other threads but not that one. My 07 has diffferent connectors thans some of the other years, there is only one brown wire though ( four total) That is the one to ground, correct?
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  #6  
Old 02-25-2013, 09:58 AM
jim165 jim165 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chimi-changa View Post
Great- Thanks Jim165
I have seen some other threads but not that one. My 07 has diffferent connectors thans some of the other years, there is only one brown wire though ( four total) That is the one to ground, correct?
yes, the brown wire is the one to ground. My LCI lights have only one brown wire on each side and its a thicker gauge than the other wires in the bundle. Definitely use the quick splice connectors (instead of cutting and splicing wires) and just ground to that screw in the pic below. I would also clean your bulb connectors as well while you're in there..

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2008 550i Sport
Space Gray, Black Dakota, Bamboo Anthracite
SAT, Sat, Shades, Cold Wthr, Comf Access, Nav,L7, PDC, LUX V3 AEs, BMW Perf. Grilles, HID fogs, ACS Roof Spoiler, M5 Lip Spoiler, RPI GT Exhaust

Others:
2006 Corvette Conv, Z51,6sp (wife)
2007 Honda CBR1000RR Sold
2005 Triumph Daytona 650 (wife) Sold


Last edited by jim165; 02-25-2013 at 09:59 AM.
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  #7  
Old 02-27-2013, 01:35 PM
njlou njlou is offline
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At first look it seem that this wire mod is a great idea, however it does not resolve the high resistance at the source(socket). It may save the wire end but the heat will melt something else (ie the socket).

BTW I had a problem where my taillight fail mode would flash on the dash. Then it would go out. This happened a few times. Finally I took its advice and changed that bulb.
It tested good and looked good..........except the filament looked a little off. I tapped it a few times and found it moved!!! the crimp on the filament was not tight and caused an intermittant fail. It could also cause increased heating.

Years ago I had another defective bulb on my Toyota which blew out the light warning system - It cost $125 to fix a defective bulb.
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  #8  
Old 02-28-2013, 07:53 AM
German Steel German Steel is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jim165 View Post
yes, the brown wire is the one to ground. My LCI lights have only one brown wire on each side and its a thicker gauge than the other wires in the bundle. Definitely use the quick splice connectors (instead of cutting and splicing wires) and just ground to that screw in the pic below. I would also clean your bulb connectors as well while you're in there..

I propose that connection of additional ground wire to the ground wire as depicted in your post does nothing. The correct attachment of a new ground wire should involve a wire contacting the metal of the body, and adifferent contact point on the ground circuit of the rear light fixture. I performed this fix on my car in 10 minutes, with 5 minutes just to load and unload trunk.

Last edited by German Steel; 02-28-2013 at 07:55 AM. Reason: add photo
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  #9  
Old 02-28-2013, 04:43 PM
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NoQuarter NoQuarter is offline
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German is correct. The fix shown in the image will do nothing to fix or prevent the problem we have for the rear lights.
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