Welcome to Bimmerfest -- The #1 Online Community for BMW related information! Please enjoy the discussion forums below and share your experiences with the 200,000 current, new and past BMW owners. The forums are broken out by car model and into other special interest sections such as BMW European Delivery and a special forum to voice your questions to the many BMW dealers on the site to assist our members!

Please follow the links below to help get you started!

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

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 10-06-2010, 12:15 PM
bluebee's Avatar
bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 20,490
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
Do all our E39's have SEPARATE horizontal and vertical headlight adjustment alignment

We have three choices, only one of which must be true:
a) One screw for up/down and the other for side/side as described in our current procedures
b) Both screws are for up/down & must be turned simultaneously as described below
c) Each screw is DIAGONAL but MOSTLY one direction (i.e., one is mostly up/down & the other is mostly side/side)

Which is the truth?

The reason I ask is that Ågent99 and I just put together a 12-step headlight adjustment procedure which perhaps flies in the face of the BMW recommended adjustment procedure pictured below.

The difference is the BMW document below says there is only vertical adjustment possible (using both adjustment screws are turned at the same time); while others state horizontal (outside screw) and vertical (inner screw) are possible, and others like PJB, say it's "mostly" vertical and "mostly" lateral adjustment which is possible, intimating the motion is actually somewhat diagonal in fact.

It bothers me when procedures are confusing ...

Unfortunately, I can't prove it either way because mine appear to be non-responsive & half-responsive respectively.

Maybe we're wrong ... or maybe the procedure listed below by BMW is for a different (perhaps European E39???) vehicle (it came from this post which referenced this 2008 post from PJB in response to Fudman's questions). Or maybe it's half-lateral and half-vertical, as PJB says.

To those of you who have working E39 headlight adjusters, can we clear this up once and for all E39s?


Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	headlight_adjustment.jpg
Views:	4532
Size:	134.7 KB
ID:	249235  

Last edited by bluebee; 10-06-2010 at 12:31 PM.
Reply With Quote
Ads by Google
  #2  
Old 10-06-2010, 12:54 PM
bluebee's Avatar
bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 20,490
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
This proposal ASSUMES the answer to this question is "diagonal":
(1) Inflate tires properly, tank 1/2 full, typical driver in seat.
(2) Find a wall at least 4' high abutting about 35' of level drivable ground
(3) Obtain two 6mm allen wrenches (each headlight's two adjusters must be turned simultaneously an equal number of turns in the same direction)
(4) Find a small self-standing or clipping light to see under the hood.
(5) On a dark night, park just close enough to the wall to fit your body in between as you string the tape along the wall.
(6) Mark a 10' horizontal line with tape on the wall at the headlight midpoint; the result should look something like this:
----------------------------------------
(7) At each headlight centerpoint, mark a vertical line with tape on the wall to make a plus sign (one for each headlight center point); the result should now look something like this:
--+---------------------------------+--
(8) Back the vehicle until the headlights are 25 feet from the wall and perpendicular to the wall.
(9) Switch the low beam on (both high & low adjust together for each headlight).
(10) Chant "Lateral:lateral, Medial:vertical", three or four times (or until at least the lateral:lateral part sinks in). This is because the lateral (outside) adjuster MOSTLY moves the headlight laterally (i.e., side to side); in actuality, it moves the headlight aim diagonally, but mostly horizontally. Likewise, the medial (inside) adjuster MOSTLY moves the headlight vertically (i.e., up and down); in actuality, it moves the headlight aim diagonally, but mostly vertically.
(11) Using both 6mm allen wrenches in place on one headlight, twist both adjusters an equal number of turns in the same direction such that the brightest area moves diagonally to about 2" below the horizontal reference tape and to 2" to the right of the vertical reference tape (i.e., the plus sign) for each side respectively.
(12) As a doublecheck, switch on the high beams (the respective alignment should remain the same).

The result should look something like this:
--+----------------------------------+--
-----*----------------------------------*

PS: It's confusing to me how BOTH adjusters work in tandem diagonally; but that's what the BMW E39 headlight aiming instructions seem to indicate.

Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	headlight_adjustment.jpg
Views:	170
Size:	134.7 KB
ID:	249239  

Last edited by bluebee; 10-06-2010 at 01:01 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 10-06-2010, 12:56 PM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
Search, Read, THEN Ask
Location: "Empire State" of Mind
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 2,614
Mein Auto: 98 540i M62 3.15
Donna,

The answer you seek is in the TIS you posted. The horizontal adjustment is ONLY on a Pre March 1998. Those who have it will notice a bubble level (liquid all dried out by now) and a wheel adjustment knob. Post March 1998 do not have the bubble level and NO horizontal adjustment.

Moreover, if you are turning the knob and the headlights are not moving the adjusters are likely broken.

Here is an excellent link to aim headlights and aux lights regardless of make and model.

Note: while there may be members on the forum with a post 1998 build date with horizontal adjusters, my guess is they may have bought or previous owner bought a used pre-facelift/pre-3/98 headlight either on ebay or from another member/parts car.

Last edited by dvsgene; 10-06-2010 at 01:11 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 10-06-2010, 01:33 PM
bluebee's Avatar
bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 20,490
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
Quote:
Originally Posted by dvsgene View Post
The answer you seek is in the TIS you posted.
Hmmmm... sort of. I say that because the TIS is confusing. It seems to say we have ONLY vertical adjustment; however, PJB, who posted that TIS, says one adjuster is MOSTLY vertical while the other is mostly horizonal - that is, the adjusters are ACTUALLY diagonal.

Hence my profound confusion!

I'll read the posted non-E39-specific article (referenced below in case it goes away) but I'm leery of non-E39 instructions because I don't like to guess.

I like SPECIFIC procedures. Every step. To that end, can you take a look at my 12 steps listed above to see if they're accurate?
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Aiming headlights.pdf (145.9 KB, 337 views)
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 10-06-2010, 01:46 PM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
Search, Read, THEN Ask
Location: "Empire State" of Mind
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 2,614
Mein Auto: 98 540i M62 3.15
Donna,

Since you have a 2002, I believe you have the post facelift lights. Hence, unless you've baked your headlights you have not seen the inside of the the headlights or adjusters. Which I guess is why you cite, PJBs posting. Nevertheless, if you think about the triangular nature of PJBs little diagram and think on a spatial level, along 3 points of a connection, you can theorize that (assuming you are visual in that nature) there indeed can be a little horizontal movement due to the ball and socket not being on the center of the axis like an equilateral triangle vs a scalene triangle. Since PJB points out the off center location, there is some horizontal/diagonal movement.

However, in a pre-3/98 headlight, you have a dedicated adjuster to the horizontal axis. Hope this helps to clarify.

While this may prove insightful, I'm not sure the point of it. When you take 15 mins to aim the headlights per the instructions on the TIS or the PDF link, you will see how much movement there is and the direction. However, if your adjusters are broken, as I suspect they are, you may still be confused and will need to revert to the triangular theory to visualize it.

Last edited by dvsgene; 10-06-2010 at 01:55 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 10-06-2010, 02:31 PM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
Search, Read, THEN Ask
Location: "Empire State" of Mind
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 2,614
Mein Auto: 98 540i M62 3.15
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post

I like SPECIFIC procedures. Every step. To that end, can you take a look at my 12 steps listed above to see if they're accurate?
The chanting part is definitely E39 specific.

However, the PDF provides the standard measurements to align any headlights/driving lights and fog lights as long as you know where the adjustments screws/knobs are.

By using the PDF I provided and making the right markings on a wall then 25 ft away, you can correct the aim of any car in your driveway.

While note E39 specific, I find it more step by step than the 12 step process. Again as long as you know where adjustment points are. IMHO, if you were to combine the PDF with specific E39 information, that would be ideal.

Last edited by dvsgene; 10-06-2010 at 02:53 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 10-10-2010, 08:10 PM
bluebee's Avatar
bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 20,490
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
Quote:
Originally Posted by dvsgene View Post
the PDF provides the standard measurements to align any headlights/driving lights and fog lights as long as you know where the adjustments screws/knobs are.
Based on this Jim Cash article, I've modified the procedure to the following:

(1) Inflate tires properly, tank 1/2 full, typical driver in seat.
(2) Find a wall at least 4' high abutting about 35' of level drivable ground
(3) Obtain two 6mm allen wrenches (each headlight's two adjusters must be turned simultaneously an equal number of turns in the same direction)
(4) Find a small self-standing or clipping light to see under the hood.
(5) On a dark night, park just close enough to the wall to fit your body in between as you string the tape along the wall.
(6) Mark a 10' horizontal line with tape on the wall at the headlight midpoint; the result should look something like this:
----------------------------------------
(7) At each headlight centerpoint, mark a vertical line with tape on the wall to make a plus sign (one for each headlight center point); the result should now look something like this:
--+---------------------------------+--
(8) Back the vehicle until the headlights are 25 feet from the wall and perpendicular to the wall.
(9) Switch the low beam on (both high & low adjust together for each headlight).
(10) Wait about a minute as the Xenons do a calibration run which takes about 30 seconds to complete.
(11) Cover one headlight with an opaque blanket or towel so that only one light is being aimed.
(12) Chant "Lateral:lateral, Medial:vertical", three or four times (or until at least the lateral:lateral part sinks in). This is because the lateral (outside) adjuster MOSTLY moves the headlight laterally (i.e., side to side); in actuality, it moves the headlight aim diagonally, but mostly horizontally. Likewise, the medial (inside) adjuster MOSTLY moves the headlight vertically (i.e., up and down); in actuality, it moves the headlight aim diagonally, but mostly vertically.
(13) Using both 6mm allen wrenches in place on one headlight, twist both adjusters an equal number of turns in the same direction such that the brightest area moves diagonally to about 2" below the horizontal reference tape and to 2" to the right of the vertical reference tape (i.e., the plus sign) for each side respectively (the spec is 2.1 inches/52mm +/- 1.3 inches/33mm).
(14) As a doublecheck, switch on the high beams (the respective alignment should remain the same).

The result should look something like this:
--+----------------------------------+--
-----*----------------------------------*
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 10-10-2010, 08:15 PM
bluebee's Avatar
bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 20,490
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
Quote:
Originally Posted by dvsgene View Post
unless you've baked your headlights you have not seen the inside of the the headlights or adjusters.
This weekend, I was waiting for a painting to be framed, and, while in the parking lot, with the hot California sun baking the headlights, I took it apart with just an 8mm socket and the trunk-mounted emergency kit screwdriver.

I didn't have the T10 Torx so I had to finish that part of the job at home. I definitely have at least one broken adjuster (white pieces fell out as I jiggled the headlight about).

I'm stuck, at the moment, because all the DIYs I found explain how to open the headlight if you have the self-leveling motor, which I don't have. So I can't see how to remove the permanent leveled ball-and-socket joint yet.

I don't know if I remove it from the back or the front. Gory details here.

Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 03-24-2011, 11:42 PM
bluebee's Avatar
bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 20,490
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
For the record, a specific headlight aiming question was just asked today by aioros:
- What is the WIDTH adjustment for the headlights?

Last edited by bluebee; 03-24-2011 at 11:45 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 10-22-2013, 10:46 AM
bluebee's Avatar
bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 20,490
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
For the record, there is a good discussion of headlight adjustment in this Fudman cn90 RDL thread today, specifically with respect to the self-leveling headlights ...
- Replacement Headlamp Adjuster Lifespan?
__________________
Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks


Forum Navigation
Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 5 Series > E39 (1997 - 2003)
Today's Posts Search
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On



Forum Jump


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 02:07 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
© 2001-2011 performanceIX, Inc. All Rights Reserved .: guidelines .:. privacy .:. terms