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E46 (1999 - 2006)
The fourth generation 3 Series (E46 chassis) was introduced in 1999 and set the standard for engineering and performance during it's years of production including being named to Car & Driver's 10 best list every one of those years! ! -- View the E46 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 12-13-2008, 02:18 PM
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E46 Sedan Bi-Xenon Headlamp Projector Bowl (ZKW) Replacement DIY

BMW E46 Sedan Bi-Xenon Headlamp Projector Bowl (ZKW) Replacement DIY

This DIY applies to a 2003 E46 330i Sedan equipped with OEM Bi-Xenon ZKW headlamps. The car is approximately 5 years old with 60,000 miles. I recently diagnosed issues with my low/dim headlamps and the solution in this thread:

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...090&highlight=

I hope this is of use if you have problems with your E46 Bi-Xenon lamps.

Disclaimer: Proceed at your own risk, your mileage may vary, look before crossing, don't swim within 1 hour of eating, etc.

Tools
Torx T10, T15, T20, T25
#2 Philips Screwdriver
Small flat-blade screwdriver
Small pry-bar tool (I used a metal one, plastic would be better)
Hemostats
8mm socket wrench
Needle Nose pliers
Princeton-Tec 3AA Headlamp
Magnetic Pickup Tool
BMW First Aid Kit (and very useful this was too )

Procedure

1) Raise hood, cover engine bay with clean blanket or towel.

2) Remove indicator cover by unscrewing screw from retaining lug. (#2 philips screwdriver.) Rotate indicator bulb carrier ¼ turn anti-clockwise, remove and set aside in corner of engine bay.

3) Gently pry plastic lower headlamp trim piece out. Ease quantity four latches over lugs and pull gently back, working from the outside to the inside. Set trim aside.

Caution: Use plastic pry bar tool, not metal, to avoid marring plastic trim.

4) Undo and remove 2 x 8mm bolts on top front of headlamp assembly.

5) Undo and remove 2 x T25 Torx screws on bottom of headlamp assembly. Use magnetic pickup tool to retrieve Torx bolts.

Caution: Place clean cloth or towel on top of bumper to avoid marring bumper paint as assembly slides out in next step.

6) Slide headlamp assembly forward, revealing quantity 4 electrical connectors (2 large, 2 small) for headlight. In turn, depress catches on either side of each connector, lever connectors away from housing and set aside.

See Picture 1, assembly resting on bumper

Note: Long-nose pliers and small pry-bar work well here.

Remove complete assembly from car and carry to work area.

8) Remove upper black headlamp trim piece from assembly by depressing four catches and sliding trim piece off front of housing. Set trim aside.

9) Remove headlamp cover by relieving each headlamp cover latch, in turn, and set aside.

Caution: Be careful not to over lever the latches, as they may break.

10) Remove the inner black headlamp trim piece by depressing the latches, and set aside.

See picture 2, assembly on bench with trim removed

11) Spread a clean cloth or towel on the bench, and set assembly face down on bench.

12) Using a pair of long nose pliers, remove the Bi-Xenon solenoid electrical connector and set aside up and out of the way of the projector bowl housing.

13) Take four screws out holding projector bowl using a magnet to pull the screws out safely.

Note: Three are T20 (at the 11 o'clock, 7 o'clock, 5 o'clock positions) and the small one is T10. For whatever reason, there does not seem to be a screw at the 2 o'clock position.

14) Unclip the two bulb cover clips, remove cover, set aside. Rotate Xenon bulb carrier 1/3 turn anti-clockwise, set out of way. Unclip bulb retainer spring, remove Xenon bulb. Remove the two screws holding bi-xenon flap/bulb holder. (Torx T15.)

15) Remove the bulb holder spring and set aside.

16) Remove the bulb holder metal washer/spacer and set aside.

17) Use flat head screwdriver to release bi-xenon flap from electric solenois piston at the back, so it's just loose

Note: The Bi-Xenon flap is held to the Bi-Xenon solenoid plunger using a compression fitting. Be gentle in removing the flap so as not to bend the compression fitting so it will not fit back.

17) At this point, the bowl and Bi-Xenon flap should be loose within the housing. Rotate the bowl approximately 80 degrees clockwise, lean the bowl back slightly and ease out of the housing.

See Picture 3

18) OPTIONAL: If you want to replace the projector lens: On either side of the projector lens carrier (black internal structure) you will locate two catches at the 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock positions of the projector lens carrier on the inside. Using a small curved tooth pry bar or similar, depress the catches from the inside out; the outer "XENON" cover will pop off the projector lens carrier. The projector lens carrier can then be removed from the back of the headlight assembly like the projector bowl.

19) ALSO OPTIONAL: Discover dripping blood from finger after spearing hand with sharper-than-expected screwdriver. Curse. Use handy BMW first aid kit to swab blood, cleaning wound thoroughly. Apply bandage. Wrap with tape. Make mental note to credit an extra Corona to self at completion of job.

At this point, the whole headlight assembly should be in pieces on the bench. Repair or replace parts as required.

Make sure and clean the inside and outside of the projector lens thoroughly.

Re-installation is the reverse of removal.

Miscellaneous additional pictures:

Picture 4 - Tools used for this DIY.
Picture 5 - Sticker on top of Right Hand housing
Picture 6 - Another view of getting the bowl out of the housing
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Last edited by MMME30W; 12-13-2008 at 02:33 PM.
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  #2  
Old 12-13-2008, 03:00 PM
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  #3  
Old 09-18-2009, 12:50 PM
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mawana mawana is offline
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Nice diy - followed it last night when I replaced my ballast. Only thing I will add is a mirror and a flash-light can make the job much easier!
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  #4  
Old 09-18-2009, 02:13 PM
ThreeTwoFive ThreeTwoFive is offline
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How did this get only 3 posts?

Good job man
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Old 09-18-2009, 02:35 PM
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mawana mawana is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrickTizzle View Post
How did this get only 3 posts?

Good job man
I can see why - maybe people just fork the dollars and replace because it's a nightmare navigating through that headlight assembly!
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Old 09-18-2009, 06:25 PM
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Excellent work buddy. My projectors need to be replaced.
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  #7  
Old 09-20-2009, 04:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mawana View Post
I can see why - maybe people just fork the dollars and replace because it's a nightmare navigating through that headlight assembly!
You know, at the end of the day, doing the interior of the headlight is pretty easy compared to getting the assembly out of the car.
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Old 09-20-2009, 05:18 PM
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Any problems with the adjusters inside? (If there are)
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Old 09-21-2009, 07:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Solidjake View Post
Any problems with the adjusters inside? (If there are)
Uhhhh...not sure quite what you mean SJ. If you are referring to the high-beam flaps, no, not really. The solenoid that pulls the shutter back for high beam (default is low-beam cutoff position) has a press fitting on the shaft of the solenoid. The press fitting fits firmly down onto the shaft using a steel compression fitting that distorts slightly as the fitting is pressed onto the shaft. It's hard to get wrong.

On the other hand, if you mean the adjustment of the height of the headlamp within the housing, I did not have to mess with that at all when replacing the projectors.

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Old 09-21-2009, 07:37 PM
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Notice how the lights go up and down when you turn on the car? Isn't that an adjuster inside? I know E39's have something like that and it tends to break.
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Old 09-21-2009, 07:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Solidjake View Post
Notice how the lights go up and down when you turn on the car? Isn't that an adjuster inside? I know E39's have something like that and it tends to break.
Ah - gotcha. Yeah, there are a couple Hall-effect sensors on the suspension arms if I recall correctly that are translated into control signals for the height adjusters.

I would have to go look at some of my extra pictures, but I don't really recall making any changes or having to do much, really, with that linkage when the unit was being dissassembled...
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Old 09-21-2009, 07:43 PM
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Ah ok, thank you.
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  #13  
Old 09-21-2009, 08:55 PM
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G. P. Burdell G. P. Burdell is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wingspan View Post
I would have to go look at some of my extra pictures, but I don't really recall making any changes or having to do much, really, with that linkage when the unit was being dissassembled...
Based on my own disassembly of the ZKW lights, there's no need to mess with the auto-leveling motor linkage in order to remove and replace the bowl.

As for aiming the headlights after everything is put back together, it can't hurt to verify that they're still aimed correctly - just in case the adjustment wheels were jostled during removal and replacement of the headlight innards, or if the reinstalled lights don't sit in exactly the same places on their mounts. The difference isn't likely to be significant, but it's just good practice.

Here's a link to a great set of aiming instructions: http://www.danielsternlighting.com/tech/aim/aim.html
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  #14  
Old 09-21-2009, 09:59 PM
Dunbar42 Dunbar42 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrickTizzle View Post
How did this get only 3 posts?
Probably because it's almost impossible to find new ZKW projector bowls. Well, that and conceptualizing/understanding this is not easy
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Old 11-04-2009, 07:23 AM
Sp33dyKT Sp33dyKT is offline
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Great write up, and I might have to do this soon.
Hopefully, I won't mess up the tint on the heads.lol
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Old 11-04-2009, 09:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dunbar42 View Post
Probably because it's almost impossible to find new ZKW projector bowls. Well, that and conceptualizing/understanding this is not easy
Raises a good question - which part is the bowl that gets replaced? Looks like #18 below?

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Old 11-04-2009, 09:31 AM
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^^^ Lol - none of these!!

BMW conveniently does not list the projector bowl as a separable component item under realoem - it's screwed into the housing.

The only OEM part that's available is the "unit" or about $1,200.

Each.



Since I did this, I've located one used ZKW housing complete that I bought off a guy just for the projector bowl part alone.
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Old 11-04-2009, 09:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wingspan View Post
^^^ Lol - none of these!!

BMW conveniently does not list the projector bowl as a separable component item under realoem - it's screwed into the housing.

The only OEM part that's available is the "unit" or about $1,200.

Each.



Since I did this, I've located one used ZKW housing complete that I bought off a guy just for the projector bowl part alone.
Ahh - got to love the mothership......
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  #19  
Old 11-09-2009, 02:54 PM
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MicahO MicahO is offline
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How many people, after reading these posts, went home, popped the plastic caps off the back of their Xenons, and looked at the visible portion of the bowls?

Did they look as roasty-toasty brown as mine? The upper portion of the right side bowl looked like a big burnt marshmallow, while the left side looks just a bit tinged with brown. That kind of sucks. At some point they will have to be taken care of. For now, they beam color is good and the cutoff is distinct. I'll try not to be oversensitive to degradation. Daily struggles with being AR......

If you have not looked at your lights, I would suggest that you DON'T! Sometimes, ignorance truly is bliss.
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  #20  
Old 11-09-2009, 06:18 PM
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G. P. Burdell G. P. Burdell is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MicahO View Post
If you have not looked at your lights, I would suggest that you DON'T! Sometimes, ignorance truly is bliss.
Au contraire - knowing the problem and fixing it made my car much safer to drive in the dark.
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  #21  
Old 11-10-2009, 04:08 PM
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Solidjake Solidjake is offline
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I want this:

http://www.lightwerkz.net/gallery/ma...g2_itemId=1719
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  #22  
Old 01-02-2010, 03:58 PM
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MMME30W MMME30W is online now
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Well. I am thinking that since the replacement set of headlight bowls are also going bad, and before I send the units off to Lightwerkz for a retrofit, I'm going to go get some high-temperature silver paint and PAINT the old bowls to see what difference it might make.

Based on research I did last night, the HID bulb does not run any hotter than halogen, but I will be looking for a high-temperature paint anyways.

I saw some available in the $20 range that were good to 1,400F, so I would have thought that would be ok. I plan to just take the old bowls, make sure they are clean, and set down a couple coats on the inside of the bowls, then remount them into the housings.

Worth a shot.
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  #23  
Old 01-02-2010, 04:00 PM
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In for pics.
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  #24  
Old 01-14-2010, 12:41 PM
ferrarix99 ferrarix99 is offline
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If you have any questions I did the retrofit myself and can help you guys if needed
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  #25  
Old 01-14-2010, 02:22 PM
aidan530 aidan530 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ferrarix99 View Post
If you have any questions I did the retrofit myself and can help you guys if needed
What projectors did you use and how did you mount them. I am getting the FX R from retrofit source to do this weekend. I need as many pointers as I can get.
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