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E36/7 Z3 (1996-2002)
E36/7 Z3 Roadster, Z3 coupe, Z3 M Roadster and Z3 M Coupe talk with our gurus here.

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  #1  
Old 11-15-2010, 04:51 PM
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BeemerMikeTX BeemerMikeTX is online now
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Z3 Headlights - Lowbeam Lens

I have been reading the various threads re Z3 headlights for a couple of hours (although not every single post in the very lonnnnnnnnng thread), and just do not see my specific questions addressed.

I have been generally happy with my 2001 Z3 headlights (especially when the car was new, it was a huge improvement over the headlights in my 2000 328Ci, which had significant gaps in the beam pattern), but over time the low beams have been getting dimmer and dimmer, although the high beams are fine. Sure, not as good as the new HID lights, but more than adequate. The bulbs are the original bulbs (not one has burned out in ten years and 72k miles!), so I assumed the halogen bulbs had just deteriorated with time and use (I drive with the low beam lights on all the time) and new bulbs would restore the original performance. The outside lenses of both my headlights are clear with no pitting or other surface problems that often affect these new "plastic" headlights.

In looking at the headlights in preparation to buying new bulbs (BMW OEM or some aftermarket) I noticed that the INSIDE lenses for both low beam lights had a yellow discolored area on each side of the center of the light, and these four areas appeared to have small cracks in them. I had always assumed that these inside lenses were made out of glass, but now I suspect they are made out of plastic and the yellow discoloration and cracking I see is the result of 10 years of the low beam lights being on. The high beam inside lenses do not have this and essentially look as new.

My basic question is how best to move forward. One option is to just buy new low beam bulbs, install them, and see what improvement I get. However, it seems better to correct the low beam lenses, but from what I have read in these threads, and see on the REALOEM diagrams, there is no way to just replace the lenses, and the "repair" would involve replacing the two entire headlight housings (at $350 or so each!). Or, replace the low beam lights with projector beam lights. Most of the posts I see on this subject appear to be several years old, and therefore may be out of date.

So, has anyone else experienced this inside lens discoloration and cracking, and if so, what was your solution?
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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)
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  #2  
Old 11-15-2010, 07:14 PM
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Hmmmm....

Well, you may be able to find replacement lenses somewhere on the internet if its the INTERNAL lenses you are dissatisfied with.

I was really impressed what the random orbital buffer was able to do to old yellowed lights.

Might want to replace the bulbs too, they do age over time.
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  #3  
Old 11-15-2010, 10:24 PM
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The internal lenses are plastic.

I'd replace the headlights and stop using the low beams as daytime running lamps. If you still want daytime running lamps, install the DRL module which uses the high beams at about 80%.
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  #4  
Old 11-16-2010, 04:36 AM
rfeirste rfeirste is offline
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I also have a 2001 Z3 and found a great improvement when I switched out the OEM bulbs for a set of 9011 and 9012 HIR bulbs. This would be a good first step before spending the money on new headlight units.
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  #5  
Old 11-16-2010, 04:36 AM
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DRL + HID = Blinding blinking lights.

It pulses the lights, you just don't notice it when they are incandescent lights.
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  #6  
Old 11-16-2010, 11:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwm View Post
The internal lenses are plastic.
Aren't they only plastic with the chrome-ringed headlights? I thought the early versions had glass lenses.
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  #7  
Old 11-16-2010, 11:31 AM
ricrx7 ricrx7 is offline
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Would the angel ring lights be applicable to this discussion?
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  #8  
Old 11-16-2010, 07:49 PM
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I have noticed that my headlights have a yellow spot on the inner lenses as well, it bothers me but I am not going to spend 300+ dollars on new lights. As for your lights dimming halogen lights always dim over time as the filament life is used.
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  #9  
Old 11-16-2010, 11:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vinci View Post
Aren't they only plastic with the chrome-ringed headlights? I thought the early versions had glass lenses.
I don't know. I've only taken apart ones with the chrome-ringed lenses. And I hope to never do it again.
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  #10  
Old 11-17-2010, 04:16 AM
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I swapped out the old bulbs my car came with with brand new units at the dealer. VAST improvement. It's a part of my yearly regiment to just replace them every spring. It only costs $20.00 so why not just do it.

Al.
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  #11  
Old 11-17-2010, 05:20 AM
rfeirste rfeirste is offline
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When I pickup my 2001 Z3 this summer the first thing I did was change out all the exterior bulbs. The amber coating on all the amber bulbs had mostly fallen off! I then ordered a set of 9011 and 9012 HIR bulbs and all I can say is that it is the best improvement I have made to this Z3 so far.

Richard
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  #12  
Old 11-17-2010, 11:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwm View Post
I don't know. I've only taken apart ones with the chrome-ringed lenses. And I hope to never do it again.
Not going to fight the PZ's anymore?

To those of you with HIR bulbs, doesn't the lack of the painted tip cause some pretty serious glare for oncoming traffic?
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  #13  
Old 11-17-2010, 01:08 PM
rfeirste rfeirste is offline
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Not an issue with 9011 high beam's. The 9012 low beam is best used in a housing that shields the front of the bulb, still the tip of the 9012 is painted.
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  #14  
Old 11-19-2010, 04:51 AM
Vinci Vinci is offline
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Ah, the 9012's are painted? All the photos that I had seen showed them as bare.
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  #15  
Old 11-26-2010, 01:01 PM
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Hey
I have an 01 z 3 and I would like to do this bulb conversion.
1 were do I buy these. My local autozone just looked confused when I asked for them
2 nd. What brand name bulb
3 rd. When I install them. Go in from the front ( remove entire assemble ) or what. A little details please
With regards
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  #16  
Old 11-26-2010, 02:18 PM
rfeirste rfeirste is offline
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Do an internet search, they are not available at retail, although a Chrysler dealer would be glad to grossly overcharge you for a bulb. Try hirheadlights.com or candlepower.com. The hir 9012 low beam has a painted tip, but is still best used in a shielded reflector unit, such as that employed in a Z3 DOT headlight.

Richard

Last edited by rfeirste; 11-26-2010 at 02:22 PM.
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  #17  
Old 11-26-2010, 04:46 PM
T.K. T.K. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rfeirste View Post
Do an internet search, they are not available at retail, although a Chrysler dealer would be glad to grossly overcharge you for a bulb. Try hirheadlights.com or candlepower.com. The hir 9012 low beam has a painted tip, but is still best used in a shielded reflector unit, such as that employed in a Z3 DOT headlight.

Richard
Thanks
As for the install?
A little help please
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  #18  
Old 11-28-2010, 07:01 AM
rfeirste rfeirste is offline
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Smile

hirheadlights.com has detailed instructions for the easy modification needed to fit these bulbs into the bulb holder.

Richard
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  #19  
Old 02-25-2012, 11:30 AM
chase7 chase7 is offline
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Question Low beam lens craking

Hi
On my canadian Z3 2001,the samething
I m checking for desactivate the 'automatic low beam 'on' when engine is running
but,I m not sure for making the good procedure.

Somebody do that ?

Chase7
Québec
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  #20  
Old 02-26-2012, 06:45 AM
dougmcintyre dougmcintyre is offline
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Canada requires daytime running lights. What's the legal status of deactivating a required safety feature?
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  #21  
Old 02-26-2012, 08:27 AM
chase7 chase7 is offline
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Low beam

Quote:
Originally Posted by dougmcintyre View Post
Canada requires daytime running lights. What's the legal status of deactivating a required safety feature?
Hi

Because the low beam are fully 'on' when switch is on & run.
The heat become to high & yellowing & cracking the lens(plastic)

The headlamp must be replaced.(500.00$ each)
The solution would be ,disconnect the low beam when switch is 'on & run'
and add a dispositive for DRL,with lower intensity on headlamp on drl.
Or, some solution for vented the headlamp,

Thank's
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  #22  
Old 02-26-2012, 09:01 AM
dougmcintyre dougmcintyre is offline
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You have not addressed the legality of deleting a required safety feature. But, assuming you are a responsible adult, ...

Replacing the DRL module with the US high beam relay should (I've never actually done this) deactivate the DRL.
See http://www.unofficialbmw.com/e36/ele...ng_lights.html and http://www.leatherz.com/instructions/drl.pdf

Also, do a search on "daytime running light" for more info.

Last edited by dougmcintyre; 02-26-2012 at 09:03 AM.
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