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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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  #1  
Old 12-18-2010, 01:47 PM
mr-g mr-g is offline
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Dash Lamp failure indicator problem - Check Brake and Tail Light Indicator

For my 2001 530i the dash indicates that there is a right tail light out. All lights are OK. I swapped the left and right and the problem stays with the right side. I suppose it is possible that it is the sensor. Where is the sensor and how do I test it. Is there a reset procedure to reset the dash light? Thanks.
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  #2  
Old 12-18-2010, 02:35 PM
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540indiana 540indiana is offline
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The lights dont have to be out on the tail lights. It could mean that a light is close to going out. Im almost sure that is what I read. If I am wrong, trust me, someone on here knows.
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Old 12-18-2010, 02:59 PM
mr-g mr-g is offline
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Thanks but since I switched all the bulbs from one side to the other, and the problem stayed on the same side, I don't think it is the bulb. I hope someone out there has an answer.
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Old 12-18-2010, 03:47 PM
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MatWiz MatWiz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr-g View Post
Thanks but since I switched all the bulbs from one side to the other, and the problem stayed on the same side, I don't think it is the bulb. I hope someone out there has an answer.
The "sensor" is the bulb itself.



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Old 12-18-2010, 04:24 PM
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MatWiz MatWiz is offline
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The car tests for continuity. If the bulb filament is broken it triggers the light. If the continuity test senses resistance, it will trigger the light.

A disconnect is either a broken filament (you already eliminated that) or a broken wire.

A resistance is either an old bulb (you eliminated that) or a bulb that doesn't make a good connection with the socket. Check your socket.

Some cooper bulbs will create this problem quickly. They don't last long. Some after market bulbs are a little loose in the socket. Creating resistance.

My advice. If you want to make sure and this is driving you nuts, buy a couple of bulbs at a dealer (yes. Dealer) and replace everything on that side. If it solves the problem, great. If not, you'll have some spare bulbs.

mw

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  #6  
Old 12-18-2010, 04:34 PM
mr-g mr-g is offline
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Thanks for your input. When I did the swap, I took the socket and the bulb together. They twist in and make contact so I did check the socket
at the same time as testing the bulb. I suppose I could buy some bulbs but my engineering gut is telling me that it is something else because of the swap test.
I think I implied this but just in case, the lights are all working perfectly so I am thinking it is sensor issue. Does anyone know if there is a reset procedure like there
is for the oil change lamp for example??? One thing I did not swap is the side marker that is on the fender. It turns on when right signal is actuated.
I will check that next but any other ideas will be appreciated, especially about the sensor circuitry.
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  #7  
Old 12-18-2010, 04:42 PM
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QSilver7 QSilver7 is offline
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Did you look at your 3rd brake light (on the rear parcel shelf) and all of your other brake lights as well as tail lights? If you have the low instrument cluster that uses the "Graphic Display" to show warnings from the Check Control System...the owners manual explains that when the right rear indicator illuminates that you should check both the REAR TAIL LIGHT...and the (CENTER) 3rd BRAKE LIGHT.

Remember, there are TWO tail light bulbs + 1 brake light bulb in each rear tail light assembly...then you have the 3rd (center) brake light bulb on the rear parcel shelf.:

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Q {BMW CCA Member #191509}
2006 E53 X5 4.4i (Sterling Gray) 12/05 mfg date <<~>> 97 740iL (Arctic Silver) 3/97 mfg date
(SOLD)
99 540iT (Orient Blue) <<~>> 95 525IT (Alpine White)
91 735iL (Schwarz Black) <<~>> 85 325e (Bronzit)

http://imageshack.com/scaled/grid240/822/e38e532ndsigpic.jpg

Last edited by QSilver7; 12-18-2010 at 04:45 PM.
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  #8  
Old 12-18-2010, 06:42 PM
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540indiana 540indiana is offline
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License plate light???
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Old 12-18-2010, 10:16 PM
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There is no reset. There is no sensor.

mw
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Old 12-19-2010, 12:26 PM
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QSilver7 QSilver7 is offline
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So...did you get a chance to check if it was your 3rd brake light yet?
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Q {BMW CCA Member #191509}
2006 E53 X5 4.4i (Sterling Gray) 12/05 mfg date <<~>> 97 740iL (Arctic Silver) 3/97 mfg date
(SOLD)
99 540iT (Orient Blue) <<~>> 95 525IT (Alpine White)
91 735iL (Schwarz Black) <<~>> 85 325e (Bronzit)

http://imageshack.com/scaled/grid240/822/e38e532ndsigpic.jpg
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  #11  
Old 12-19-2010, 03:36 PM
mr-g mr-g is offline
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Yes...I checked it and it was the problem! Thanks so much for your help. I can see the filament broken. Unfortunately, I cannot get the bulb out but I will figure that out eventually and replace the bulb and I am sure it will fix the problem. Once again. THANKS!
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  #12  
Old 12-19-2010, 03:42 PM
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540 M-Sport 540 M-Sport is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr-g View Post
Yes...I checked it and it was the problem! Thanks so much for your help. I can see the filament broken. Unfortunately, I cannot get the bulb out but I will figure that out eventually and replace the bulb and I am sure it will fix the problem. Once again. THANKS!
Socket is accessed through the trunk. Crazy this comes up about once a month, someone has a problem with the "bulb out" warning and it is simply the third brake light. lol
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  #13  
Old 12-19-2010, 06:55 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 540 M-Sport View Post
someone has a problem with the "bulb out" warning and it is simply the third brake light
Funny that. I guess sometimes we don't trust what our equipment is telling us.

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  #14  
Old 12-19-2010, 09:49 PM
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QSilver7 QSilver7 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr-g View Post
Yes...I checked it and it was the problem! Thanks so much for your help. I can see the filament broken. Unfortunately, I cannot get the bulb out but I will figure that out eventually and replace the bulb and I am sure it will fix the problem. Once again. THANKS!
Great...and thanks for replying back with a resolution. Although there were 12 replies in the thread...they were only from 6 of us that actually were engaged in dialogue...but there were 125 VIEWS.

That means that approx 119 people were actually following/reading this thread (that never said anything...I think of them as our beloved "silent majority") and by replying back, your resolution helps others that may be searching in the future, and it probably helped some of those in the "silent majority", too.
__________________
Q {BMW CCA Member #191509}
2006 E53 X5 4.4i (Sterling Gray) 12/05 mfg date <<~>> 97 740iL (Arctic Silver) 3/97 mfg date
(SOLD)
99 540iT (Orient Blue) <<~>> 95 525IT (Alpine White)
91 735iL (Schwarz Black) <<~>> 85 325e (Bronzit)

http://imageshack.com/scaled/grid240/822/e38e532ndsigpic.jpg
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  #15  
Old 09-30-2012, 09:54 PM
Bungcarlo Bungcarlo is offline
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My third brake light went off. Upon replacing the bulb with a new one, the bulb stays off and indicator light stays on. Could it be the socket?
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  #16  
Old 10-01-2012, 01:55 PM
Jim Rolando Jim Rolando is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bungcarlo View Post
My third brake light went off. Upon replacing the bulb with a new one, the bulb stays off and indicator light stays on. Could it be the socket?
The socket gets hot and distorts enough to break contact. I'd sugget replacing it with the bulb routinely. It is cheap, six bucks. I also recently discovered the same problem can exist with regards to the plastic sockets for the high beam head lights, causing a failed bulb light on the dash. It drove me nuts for months. Finally I changed the socket for $13.00 and solved it.
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  #17  
Old 10-25-2012, 10:09 AM
Efdoyle Efdoyle is offline
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3rd light is the charm

You saved me hours with this simple suggestion of checking the 3rd light (middle) tail light.
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dash lamp indicator, lamp check, tail lamp check


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