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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 5 Series > E39 (1997 - 2003)

E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #76  
Old 10-09-2010, 08:04 AM
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The original question was 'where are the adjusters' and the answer is "inside", so here's a pic from this thread which shows broken adjusters in situ from a rectangular hole cut in the headlights with a soldering iron.


BTW, here are the pertinent headlight threads I've gathered for the bestlinks:
- Broken headlight adjusters (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15)
- How to buy new headlight adjusters (E39 prior to 9/2000) (E39 after 9/2000)
- How to make your own headlight adjusters (1) (2)
- Headlight aiming DIYs (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
- Headlight replacement H7 bulbs (1)
- Headlight plastic polishing & refinishing DIY (1) (2) (3)

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  #77  
Old 10-09-2010, 11:23 PM
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Finally, I got the courage to tackle this job.

The only tools required were an 8mm socket wrench and a T10 Torx and a flathead screwdriver:
- I removed the four builbs (high beam, low beam, side light, angel eye)
- I removed the four 8mm screws holding the headlight in place
- I pulled the headlight assembly out forward
- I removed the two tiny T10 Torx screws holding the back in place
- I baked the headlight assembly in the California sun for an hour
- I removed a bottom and a top molding (don't know what they are called)
- Slowly, with a screwdriver, I pulled the front clear plastic off

Out fell three parts:
- a white inch-square section of one of the adjusters
- a round pipe for the angel eye (I think)
- a reflector for the outside bulb

It appears at least one headlight adjuster is broken so I'm left with:
- Sending both headlights out to EAC for repair
- Buying the $160 aluminum headlight adjuster set from EAC
- Fabricating my own headlight adjusters (after buying the necessary tools)
- Purchasing whole new headlights (what options do I have)?

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  #78  
Old 10-10-2010, 12:17 AM
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if you can spare the money get the alu adjusters and never worry about them again; if not try to make your own;

if money is really no object then replace yours with a new set of xenon ae hellas =)

im surprised the heat from the sun was enough to properly loosen the glue..
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  #79  
Old 10-10-2010, 01:01 AM
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I have a couple of pics which i replaced the adjuster last few months.

Let me know if u are interested.
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  #80  
Old 10-10-2010, 02:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ganesht View Post
if you can spare the money get the alu adjusters and never worry about them again; if not try to make your own;

if money is really no object then replace yours with a new set of xenon ae hellas =)

im surprised the heat from the sun was enough to properly loosen the glue..
50% of my task was inadvertently made easier by doing a 45min car ride immediately prior to removing the headlights. The heat from the engine bay had really loosened the glue. I did the 2nd headlight the following day without the drive and found the task much harder.
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  #81  
Old 10-10-2010, 08:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ganesht View Post
im surprised the heat from the sun was enough to properly loosen the glue..
It's a longer story. What happened is I drove about 30 miles to drop a painting off to be framed, and then, while waiting in the parking lot, I impulsively decided to rip apart the headlights (since I had nothing else to do).

The black goopy sticky glue was strong, but the real problem was I didn't remove the T10 Torx screws until I was home. Only then did the headlight come apart for inspection.

Here is the impromptu 10-step parking-lot headlight disassembly DIY!

After removing the four 8mm bolts holding the headlight and pulling the headlight out the front, pulled of this weathered rubber molding and another blue-painted strip.


I then pulled out the high beam H7, the low beam H7, the angel eye (AE) bulb, and the orange side-marker bulb. Notice the yellow covering on this side marker bulb flaking off for some unknown reason.


With the screwdriver from the trunk emergency toolkit, I started prying the cover off. I started at the unused-european left/right switch flat spot at the top and undid the clasps as I pried ever so slightly outward.


Here you can see the sticky black glue starting to separate, ever so slightly, with leverage from the screwdriver. Constantly, in the beginning, I had to unclip the clasps on both sides until their locks were clear.


Working around the headlight, two or three times, I was able to slowly, over the period of about 20 minutes or so, get it to pull further and further apart, right there in the parking lot.



I didn't realize it at the time, but it held up strongly at the side-marker end, due to the two T10 Torx bolts unbeknown to me at that time.


These two T10 Torx bolts should have been removed (but I didn't have a Torx set in my emergency toolbox).


While I shook the headlight, something rattled, and out fell the cellis ring, a reflector ring, and something fell to the engine drain pan as I could hear it stop on the plastic.


Grabbing the other emergency screwdriver end (the big Phillips), I unscrewed the 9 single-turn screws on the lower engine cover and found a part of the headlight adjuster had fallen down.


While lying on the ground, in the hot California sun, I pondered my surroundings, which I found surreal from that perspective, as if the BMW was out to eat me.


Luckily, it was almost as if there was a tall thin alien being standing over me, protecting me from the maws of the BMW, looking quizzically with one huge alien eye, at what I was doing to my bimmer!


I stowed the headlight in the trunk, picked up my now-framed painting, and headed home to ponder what was wrong with my headlights.
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Last edited by bluebee; 10-10-2010 at 11:47 AM.
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  #82  
Old 10-10-2010, 08:21 AM
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You sir, crack me up.
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  #83  
Old 10-10-2010, 10:42 AM
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Lmao. Gotta keep oneself amused!
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  #84  
Old 10-10-2010, 11:44 AM
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I'm kind of stuck at this point.

The DIYs say to remove the black plastic bezel holding the AE rings, but, in my case, that black bezel and angel eye rings all came out with the clear plastic. So, I'm stuck at the very next step.


Now I'm staring at the front and back of the headlight assembly,and I can't for the life of me figure out the next step.

I think I need to remove the post where a self-adjusting motor might go, but, it doesn't twist out.


Is that post removal the next step? If so, how does it come out?
If not, what's the next step as I still haven't accessed the adjusters themselves?
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  #85  
Old 10-10-2010, 12:05 PM
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As I recall doing my adjusters, they reflector assembly is held in place by the two adjustable posts (that you are replacing) and one permanent post, which in your case is probably the self adj motor. The ball sockets are pretty stout. I remember having to give the reflector assembly a pretty good tug to pop the ball socket loose. The old white adjuster plactic crumbled into crumbs.

Also, I found this: http://www.odometergears.com/subpage...dlight_FAQ.pdf




.

Last edited by Flybot; 10-10-2010 at 12:09 PM.
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  #86  
Old 10-10-2010, 05:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flybot View Post


That's the same DIY I've been following but it's very wrong when it comes to the non-Xenon halogen H7's.

For one thing, the bezel didn't come out the way he said it would; for another there is no ballast; for another there are no 'three screws' to remove the self-adjusting motor (since there is no self-adjusting motor), etc.

So, this particular step is DIFFERENT from that DIY unfortunately. And, I'm hung up, for hours, staring at the thing.

Main question is what to do next.

NOBODY says to somehow unscrew or unpop the inch-and-a-half round black back plate off which "seems" like the right thing to do; everyone says quizzically to "pop the ball" but I can't even SEE the ball socket.

My main question can probably only be answered by someone who has done it already.

WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP and do I access that ball-socket from the front or the back?
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  #87  
Old 10-10-2010, 07:24 PM
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If you dont have a self adjusting motor the only thing left holding the reflectors on is one ball socket, or maybe two if both adjusters arent broken. I would think there is a way to see behind the reflector. They do go in tight. Also, you may get a view from the back side if you lift the rubber boots off. If one adjuster is still good, back the adjustment screw out completely. That will free that particular one at least. The reflector is only suspended by the two adjusters and stationary ball socket. Sorry I cant be of more help. I did these on mine last year sometime.
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  #88  
Old 10-10-2010, 09:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flybot View Post
The reflector is only suspended by the two adjusters and stationary ball socket.
There is a dearth of instructions for removing the ball-and-socket for the leveling feature (which I don't have but I still have the ball and socket).

This thread (chock full of pictures) says to use brute force from the front (not the back)!

But, of course, this is a DIFFERENT year and model E39 than mine (which is the problem with most of these DIYs).

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  #89  
Old 10-10-2010, 09:43 PM
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You might have tried this already, but on page 6 of the odometergears DIY/FAQ there are instructions regarding the ball on the end of the adjuster motor and that you need to push and slide it to the right to remove. I know you don't have the xenons with the motor, but I am wondering if the ball and socket set up is similar. I am also assuming the little piece of plastic with the 3 flanges on your non motor section is not a plastic nut that can be unscrewed.

Mark@EACTuning seems to be very knowledgeable on these light repairs. He does repairs (for a fee) if you send in your lights. He even figured out a way to repair the ones that are sealed with the epoxy that will not open. Maybe send him a PM and see if he can offer some advice. I would think he must have run into a set of these lights before. Mark I hope you don't mind me volunteering you.
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  #90  
Old 10-10-2010, 10:28 PM
mujjuman mujjuman is offline
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Wow very interesting read. Unfortunately I don't have anything to offer... but I did learn a lot


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  #91  
Old 10-11-2010, 03:03 AM
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Bluebee, you should be able to view what's going on from the front (behind the reflector). There's not much room, but I suspect it still features a ball in socket that needs to be separated similar to those with a motor. I managed to do this very quickly from the front (mine does have a motor though).

As an aside, I do not have self-levelers, but there is a dial inside the cabin that can be used to adjust the beam height (3 settings).
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  #92  
Old 10-30-2010, 12:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aca84 View Post
I suspect it still features a ball in socket that needs to be separated similar to those with a motor
Yes, there is still a ball-and-socket as shown in this Hella headlight autopsy thread.

In that thread, Mark at EACTuning (an expert on this) says the non-motor permanent-stalk filament halogens are the hardest of all to separate the stalk from the socket.

This is because there are no degrees of freedom; and the ultrasonically welded flimsy plastic cap holding the stalk permanently in place breaks off in precisely three places (ask me how I know).

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  #93  
Old 10-30-2010, 01:40 PM
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As if anybody needs more proof then the following posts to show that the sun IS INDEED VERY STRONG IN CALIFORNIA. (Cause I am sure you weren't smoking anything!)

Quote:
While lying on the ground, in the hot California sun, I pondered my surroundings, which I found surreal from that perspective, as if the BMW was out to eat me.


Luckily, it was almost as if there was a tall thin alien being standing over me, protecting me from the maws of the BMW, looking quizzically with one huge alien eye, at what I was doing to my bimmer!


I stowed the headlight in the trunk, picked up my now-framed painting, and headed home to ponder what was wrong with my headlights.


Oh God, Donna. You are so serious all the time. But when you let yourself go and let you humor show, you make me laugh with no ability to stop!

Thank you for the good laugh!

Sincerely,
DanWiz
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  #94  
Old 11-01-2010, 08:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DatWiz View Post
you make me laugh
It was the sun that made me do it ... whiling away the time ... the Kalifornia sun incessantly beating down ... while I lay there under my bimmer... contemplating my meager options ... and fuming that I was wasting my time in that parking lot ... (methinks my fuming melted the headlamp into submission!)

For the record, in this thread posted just today, are some nice pictures of broken BMW headlight adjusters (and the $80AUS Ebay aluminum replacements):
- Tips on opening headlight

And this unique thread shows broken BMW E39 headlight adjusters in situ:
- Headlamp Surgery - complete with gruesome pics

PS: See also:
- What is the plastic in the OEM Hella and aftermarket DJAuto & Depo BMW E39 headlights?
-
What is the PRACTICAL difference of post-facelift halogen Hellas vs non-filament HIDs

All pics reproduced below are from those other threads, just in case they disappear over time.
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  #95  
Old 11-01-2010, 08:02 PM
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There are so many nuggets that I'll try to consolidate what we've learned in the past few days in subsequent posts.

For one thing, we've dropped the price of the aluminum headlight adjusters down from $160 + shipping to $102 USD including shipping from England in these two threads:

We've also tentatively determined that the adjusters can most likely be molded for a per part cost of about $5, after discussing this with the plastic companies for hours today.

We've determined the original Hella OEM plastic is PBT, and we've pensively concluded the entire set of adjusters can be (apparently relatively easily) fabricated for about $5 parts costs, which includes an entire set of Delrin and/or HDPE rejects (just in case).

We've concluded the pragmatic differences between halogens and HID, and covered the practical differences between the Hella, DJAuto, and Depo headlights.

We've outlined exactly how to adjust headlights once you've fixed them.

And a whole bunch more.

It's all in the following threads:


Note, the cost for these two bars (enough to fabricate 8 adjusters) was under six dollars at Tap Plastics!
- Black, 3/4" thick, 1 1/4"x7 1/2" long, Seaboard UV Stable HDPE, $16/square foot (cost was $1 + tax)
- White, 1/2" thick, 7/8"x10 1/2" long, Delrin, $57/square foot (cost was $4.50 + tax)

Last edited by bluebee; 11-01-2010 at 10:37 PM.
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  #96  
Old 11-01-2010, 09:50 PM
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I'm going to take one for the team (just like I did with the make-your-own-cooling-system-tools thread).

Despite the fact I can make the headlight adjusters for less than $1.50 per headlight, or $3.00 per vehicle out of the Delrin and/or HDPE, I'm going to also provide material for CAD drawings so we can take the drawings to a machine shop to machine them out of metal.

Therefore, as per the suggestion here, tomorrow I will buy the aluminum headlight adjusters fabricated in Great Britain and shipped to the USA for $102 USD including shipping from England.

From those templates, I'll post the measurements of these machined aluminum headlight adjusters (apparently they are not cast, so they will serve our purpose well) ... and one of the volunteers here will create a CAD document which we can then hand to local fabricators at will.

I'm confident, with a little group effort, we can get the price down to about $5 per headlight adjuster (I can already make them for $0.75 in raw material cost per headlight adjuster; that but that doesn't count my labor).

Note the original BMW E39 525i Hella headlight adjusters are made of PBT plastic.


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  #97  
Old 11-01-2010, 10:10 PM
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Another interesting fabrication point we've learned is that the aluminum adjusters and the delrin adjusters on the Internet are NOT THREADED.

According to this helpful post from Zane39 over in Australia, the BMW E39 headlight adjuster hole threading is done as explained below:

"The adjusters didn't come tapped, so when you place the adjuster onto the threaded rod you have to use a 10 mm socket to tighten the threaded rod , which then pulls the aluminum adjuster back towards you and as it is doing that it taps the hole for you and by doing this it gives you room to pop the ball joint into the socket, making things a lot easier, I hope that makes sense and helps you out."

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  #98  
Old 11-01-2010, 10:55 PM
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BTW, in this thread, I found over 20 suppliers on the Internet.

Here, for example, are the brass E39 headlight adjusters.


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  #99  
Old 11-01-2010, 11:01 PM
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Posts: 21,248
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
Summary of useful DIY Headlight threads:
- Broken headlight adjusters (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15) (16) (17) (18) (19) (20) (21)
- How to buy new headlight adjusters (EAC E39 prior to 9/2000) (EAC aluminum E39 after 9/2000) (EAC plastic after 9/2000) (odometergears) (UK)
- How to make your own headlight adjusters (0) (1) (2) (3)
- A list of your options when your headlight adjusters are broken (1)
- Headlight aiming DIYs (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
- Headlight replacement H7 bulbs (1) (2)
- Headlight plastic polishing & refinishing DIY (1) (2) (3)
- Headlight autopsy DIY (1) (2) (3)
- What's the flat spot on the USA spec headlights (1) (2)
- Explanation of HID versus conventional and why the high beam is always a halogen H7 bulb (1) (2) (3)
- How to replace your headlight bulbs (1)
- DJ Auto or Depo headlights (1) or OEM (1)

Some of my favorite headlight adjuster threads:
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  #100  
Old 11-01-2010, 11:08 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 21,248
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
This clarification from the thread below offers some insight into how we've all been using the terminology incorrectly!
- How to choose H7 high/low beam replacement bulbs (3100K to 4000K)

1. Halogen: A halogen, specifically, is a set of elements in "group 7" on the periodic table (see below); but bimmerfesters generally use the word "halogen" to indicate non-HID filament bulbs. These "halogen" bulbs have the tungsten filament encased in a small quartz container which is so close to the filament it would melt if it were made of glass. Inside that quartz container are one of the halogen gases (flourine, chlorine, bromine, iodine, or astatine) which combine with tungsten vapors and allow redeposition of tungsten back onto the filament, thereby allowing for both longer life (in theory) and increased light by increasing the current forced through the filament.



2. HID, high-intensity discharge = Here we mean it to be higher-voltage non-filament bulbs with a ballast. Most members considered the more expensive HID light output superior to the lower-cost filament-bulb light output. The HID bulb produces light "by means of an electric arc between tungsten electrodes inside a translucent or transparent fused quartz or fused alumina arc tube. This tube is filled with both gas and metal salts. The gas facilitates the arc's initial strike. Once the arc is started, it heats and evaporates the metal salts forming a plasma, which greatly increases the intensity of light produced by the arc and reduces its power consumption."

It's important to note that there are a variety of HID types, e.g.,
Of which, we can assume the BMW OEM Hella HID lights would be "Xenon short-arc lamps" where "ionized xenon gas produces a bright white light that closely mimics natural daylight".



3. Xenon = I thought this was a noble gas (see #1 above); but you intimate it's a brand name ... so clarification is requested. You can put xenon inside any bulb, whether it be a "halogen filament bulb" or an "HID arc bulb", so it's rather meaningless (especially after the marketing guys figured that out); however, most bimmerfesters user the word "xenon" to indicate the HID bulbs in the BMW.

4. Celis = I thought this was the plastic ring that surrounds my OEM Hella projector filament headlights (see details here). Clarification requested.


5. Hella = the manufacturer of the OEM E39 headlights. Even though their adjusters are poorly designed, most people seem to prefer Hella brand headlights over the alternatives (DJ Auto, DDM, ??others??). I'm not sure if that preference is due to light output (which is mostly what matters to me), or quality (which also matters to me), or style (which is nearly meaningless to me).

Note: This pic re-used from this thread (so ignore the questions);


6. DDM = DDM Tuning. A company that sells aftermarket headlights, much like umnitza (who not only resells aftermarket headlights, but who also sells modified-aftermarket headlights, after tampering with the brand name).


7. DEPO/DJAUTO
= brand names for aftermarket headlights for the E39.
QUESTION: Are there any other manufacturers for E39 headlights other than Hella, DJAuto, and DEPO?
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Last edited by bluebee; 11-01-2010 at 11:09 PM.
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