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E36 /7 Z3 (1996-2002)
E36/7 Z3 roadster and coupe talk with our gurus here.

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  #1  
Old 01-22-2006, 07:04 AM
kayell kayell is offline
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Mein Auto: 1999 2.0 z3 roadster
How to adjust headlights on Z3 please?

Hi...I am totally new to the 'bimmerfest' site and need help please.
I own a 1999 2.0 Z3 roadster and live in the UK. I have just changed my headlight bulbs to give me better viewing at night time. However, despite upgrading to bluevision and halogen bulbs, the headlight spread in front of the car is still poor. Could anyone tell me please how to change the verticle adjustment? I have looked under the bonnet (hood to you Americans) and can see the top of a vertical star-headed screw beneath an aperture above the light cluster on both sides. Is this the screw for adjusting and if so, do you turn clockwise or anti to raise the lights? Thanks for any help....
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  #2  
Old 01-22-2006, 08:35 AM
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Ron Stygar Ron Stygar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kayell
Hi...I am totally new to the 'bimmerfest' site and need help please.
I own a 1999 2.0 Z3 roadster and live in the UK. I have just changed my headlight bulbs to give me better viewing at night time. However, despite upgrading to bluevision and halogen bulbs, the headlight spread in front of the car is still poor. Could anyone tell me please how to change the verticle adjustment? I have looked under the bonnet (hood to you Americans) and can see the top of a vertical star-headed screw beneath an aperture above the light cluster on both sides. Is this the screw for adjusting and if so, do you turn clockwise or anti to raise the lights? Thanks for any help....
http://www.unofficialbmw.com/e36/ele...headlight.html
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  #3  
Old 12-15-2010, 03:35 PM
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BeemerMikeTX BeemerMikeTX is offline
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Relighting an old thread that is relevant to avoid starting a new thread.

OK, I know that the OFFICIAL way to adjust Z3 headlights is to use the knurled knobs that are located on the back of the headlights. However, I just replaced my 10-year old OE Phillips bulbs (which seemed to be getting a little dimmer, but none had burned out!) with Hella Xenon Blue bulbs to see if they would yield a lighting improvement. The Hellas are noticeably brighter, but in test-driving the car last night it seems that the headlights are aimed slightly low and maybe slightly to the right. I am thinking that if I raise the vertical aiming point a little and maybe make a slight leftward adjustment, I can improve the lighting even more.

To install the new bulbs I had to remove the air filter box on the left side and the windshield washer fluid container on the right side. To access the headlight adjusting knobs I would have to remove these two items again. Although this is not the end of the world, I would like to make an adjustment to the headlights and then drive the car to see the result, and then make any additional fine tuning that may be needed. The windshield washer fluid container could be taken out and left out until the adjustment is completed, but obviously the air filter box would have to be reinstalled each time (and one option is to adjust and fine tune the right side, and then just adjust the left side once to match). APITA.

Now, as the OP noted, you can access from the top (without removing anything) a female hex and phillips located on the adjustment mechanism gearing. IF this could be used to adjust the headlights it would make the job much simpler. Of course, all the gears appear to be plastic, and so if turning the gears directly is improper and would put undue stress on the adjustment mechanism you could break the gears and be looking at buying new headlights. Caution is obviously warranted.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Can the gears be turned directly without breaking them, or does one just need to bite the bullet and remove the air filter box and the washer reservoir?

Thanks.

P.S., I remember that my 1976 VW Scirocco had big knobs on the back side of the quad headlights that were very easily accessible once the hood was open, and made adjusting the headlights a simple process. Ah, progress!
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"That's right, you're not from Texas, but Texas wants you anyway." -LL
2001 Z3 3.0i Roadster (Topaz Blue Metallic, 5-speed manual, Sport Package, CD radio, heated seats and mirrors, non-power top via special order)
"Beemer" is for my BMW motorcycles - '13 K1300S, '95 R1100RS, '88 K75S, '75 R90S (gone, but not forgotten).

Last edited by BeemerMikeTX; 12-15-2010 at 03:37 PM.
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  #4  
Old 12-15-2010, 06:33 PM
Racerman27410 Racerman27410 is offline
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Mein Auto: 1999 BMW Z3 2.8L Roadster
Allen key turns the adjusters just fine... just adjusted mine last weekend.
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  #5  
Old 12-16-2010, 07:11 AM
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BeemerMikeTX BeemerMikeTX is offline
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Racerman - Thanks for the confirmation. In looking at the adjusting mechanism, all of the gears are straight-cut, so theoretically you should be able to turn the intermediate gear directly without causing any binding . . . but it's always good to get confirmation from someone who has done it before. I'll be interested to see if this improves the lighting. Tonight's project.
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Mike White
"That's right, you're not from Texas, but Texas wants you anyway." -LL
2001 Z3 3.0i Roadster (Topaz Blue Metallic, 5-speed manual, Sport Package, CD radio, heated seats and mirrors, non-power top via special order)
"Beemer" is for my BMW motorcycles - '13 K1300S, '95 R1100RS, '88 K75S, '75 R90S (gone, but not forgotten).
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  #6  
Old 12-16-2010, 10:32 AM
Racerman27410 Racerman27410 is offline
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No worries,

It appears to me that the beam cut off pattern is built into the reflectors and that throws most of the low beam light off to the upper right (USA) so as to not blind oncoming drivers.

It took a bit of trial and error to get them set where i was happy and to not get flashed by other drivers.

Using the allen key makes it much easier to fine tune since nothing has to be removed for adjustment.

have fun!
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  #7  
Old 12-20-2010, 01:31 PM
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BeemerMikeTX BeemerMikeTX is offline
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Closure . . . OK, I used an allen key (and also a phillips screwdriver) to directly turn the adjustment gears from above (to avoid having to remove the air filter box and the windshield washer reservoir) and raised the aiming point of the headlights a little (probably about 2" when shining on the garage door from 10 feet away). First, turning the gears directly caused no problems (I shot a little white lithium grease into the gears first). Second, the headlights are now MUCH better at illuminating the road, both on low beam and high beam. So, with new Hella Xenon Blue bulbs and reaimed headlights, I'm happy. Probably not as good as having real HID lights (or the 4x6 Cibie H-4's I installed in my 1984 Honda Civic 1500S in 1985 . . . now THOSE were some good headlights), but I can see much better and no oncoming traffic has flashed me on low beams yet.

BTW - When I went by the BMW dealer to ask about how they adjust the headlights on a Z3 (i.e., do they turn the gears or removed the air filter box), I was told . . . and I'm not making this up . . . "We got out of the headlight aiming business.", and he said they got rid of their aiming charts. WTF?!
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Mike White
"That's right, you're not from Texas, but Texas wants you anyway." -LL
2001 Z3 3.0i Roadster (Topaz Blue Metallic, 5-speed manual, Sport Package, CD radio, heated seats and mirrors, non-power top via special order)
"Beemer" is for my BMW motorcycles - '13 K1300S, '95 R1100RS, '88 K75S, '75 R90S (gone, but not forgotten).

Last edited by BeemerMikeTX; 12-21-2010 at 06:40 AM.
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  #8  
Old 12-21-2010, 04:12 PM
rfeirste rfeirste is offline
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Mein Auto: 2001 Z3 Roadster 2.5 red
In North America our headlights use 9006 and 9007 bulbs. We can get near HID output by replacing those bulbs with HIR 9011 and 9012 bulbs. These do not draw any more current but provide at least 50% more output.

Every objective test I have read of "blue" tinted bulbs is that they actually output less light than the clear glass bulbs. I am sure there are great EU style bulbs out there with high output.
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  #9  
Old 12-22-2010, 07:46 AM
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BeemerMikeTX BeemerMikeTX is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rfeirste View Post
In North America our headlights use 9006 and 9007 bulbs. We can get near HID output by replacing those bulbs with HIR 9011 and 9012 bulbs. These do not draw any more current but provide at least 50% more output.

Every objective test I have read of "blue" tinted bulbs is that they actually output less light than the clear glass bulbs. I am sure there are great EU style bulbs out there with high output.
Thanks. I've heard/read that about the HIR bulbs, and may try them later, but thought I would stay with the "stock" bulb technology for now until I know more about HIR.

And yes, I was also aware of the claims of lower light output from blue tinted bulbs. The Hella bulbs only have a very light blue tinting (I assume to filter out the lower frequency red-yellow spectrum). I considered using the Sylvania Silverstars that I use in my Jeep Liberty (much better than the OEM bulbs, and the Jeep headlights actually have a pretty good beam pattern), but the bulb life seems a little short (which Sylvania warns you about on the package), and given the PITA nature of replacing the bulbs in Z3 headlights I wanted to avoid short life bulbs. I also considered just using a set of new OEM Phillips bulbs from the dealer (which have lasted 10 years!), but thought I would try something different to see if any noticeable difference.

So, bottom line, new Hella Xenon Blue 9005 (HB3) and 9006 (HB4) bulbs combined with a little aiming adjustment have resulted in much improved headlight lighting. Of course, YMMV.
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Mike White
"That's right, you're not from Texas, but Texas wants you anyway." -LL
2001 Z3 3.0i Roadster (Topaz Blue Metallic, 5-speed manual, Sport Package, CD radio, heated seats and mirrors, non-power top via special order)
"Beemer" is for my BMW motorcycles - '13 K1300S, '95 R1100RS, '88 K75S, '75 R90S (gone, but not forgotten).
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  #10  
Old 12-23-2010, 05:31 AM
rfeirste rfeirste is offline
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HIR technology was invented by GE. It is simple and is becoming widely adopted in industrial lighting applications and perhaps in new energy saving home lighting very soon.

It uses a unique shape, a percisely located filiment, and a nearly invisible coating on the glass envelope to reflect the heat rays back toward the filiment to make it glow brighter without drawing one watt of extra power. It results in about a 50% increase in output, very focused beam, lasts as long as a conventional bulb and does not stress the wires or the enclosure with extra heat or current draw. A real breakthrough in technology. All good reasons why our auto makers failed to adopt this across the board; NOT.

Guess it is not as sexy as far more expensive HID lighting, with its flash of purple light.

Last edited by rfeirste; 12-23-2010 at 05:33 AM.
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  #11  
Old 12-23-2010, 07:19 AM
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BeemerMikeTX BeemerMikeTX is offline
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Yes, I have read what the HIR technology is. What I needed to learn more about before using them were issues such as trimming the base, expected bulb life, and bulb shielding. HIR may be the way to go (I'm not going to try to convert to HID), but until I get these issues resolved I'll just stick with 9005 and 9006.

Also, the Hella Xenon Blue bulbs do NOT have a "bluish" appearance when the bulb is lit (unlike some blue bulbs I have seen), so it does not look like Hella is going for road bling. The light seems a little whiter than the stock Phillips bulbs, which may be the result of filtering out the red-yellow spectrum . . . or just may be the result of new vs. old bulbs.

I'll keep following HIR, and may try those next . . .
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Mike White
"That's right, you're not from Texas, but Texas wants you anyway." -LL
2001 Z3 3.0i Roadster (Topaz Blue Metallic, 5-speed manual, Sport Package, CD radio, heated seats and mirrors, non-power top via special order)
"Beemer" is for my BMW motorcycles - '13 K1300S, '95 R1100RS, '88 K75S, '75 R90S (gone, but not forgotten).
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  #12  
Old 12-23-2010, 01:33 PM
rfeirste rfeirste is offline
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When you receive the HIR bulbs usually they are marked where you need to trim them. Or you could just hold both bulbs in your hands and look at the minor difference in the tab sizes. Only one needs to be trimmed.

My 01 PT Cruiser has had HIR bulbs for 10 years now and both are still going strong.

The HIR low beam bulbs should be used in a shielded housing only.

Richard
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