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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 10-22-2014, 04:51 PM
Boyydee Boyydee is offline
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LCM or tail light problem (e39)

First time posting, I have thoroughly enjoyed this site prior to signing on. I've used it to supplement and reenforce thoughts about problems and fixing them. Also a great tool to use prior to taking in my car to get "bent over".

I have a black 02 540i (which I have tried to meticulously maintain while driving all year in MN)
The problem: The passenger rear turn signal, passenger brake light and passenger backup light quit...... The tail light(running light) is dim. I've read some forum threads that indicate a LCM problem however that seems to be frequented with a headlight issue? I spoke with a shop today and immediately he started to blame it on the whole tail light assembly.... that doesn't make sense to me because all the bulbs are separate?

Are there any other ideas or suggestions prior to taking it in? I've also switched out the bulbs from the other side and they work fine on the drivers side.

I've also read try disconnecting the battery for 30min (I did not try this) Seems kinda weird.?

Thanks for any help,
pb
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  #2  
Old 10-22-2014, 06:17 PM
bobdmac bobdmac is online now
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First, welcome to the forum. I wouldn't even have bought my car without the knowledge available here.

Your problem could be a bad ground for the tail light. I don't know where to find it, but you might try searching for "e39 tail light ground" in the forum's search box, the best links and wiki stickies, or simply in Google or YouTube, and you could probably track it down.

Failing that, take it apart and track the wires, looking for corrosion, since you're in Minnesota.
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Old 10-22-2014, 06:45 PM
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JDeGraff89 JDeGraff89 is offline
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Is there any condensation in your tail light? I also ask because a bad tail light seal may have corroded some of the contacts.. I also belive if you look around you can buy just the black plastic bit that all the bulbs are attached to.. "Tail light assembly" your tech said sounds stupid to me being that the E39 isn't an all enclosed system. You've got the tail light lense. A seal, and then the bulb board. You said you're getting power to the running light. But its dim. Which makes me think your LCM is fine. I agree with bob to check the ground.. The ground will be the brown wire as is BMW standard. Also the seals are cheap and easy to replace,
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Old 10-22-2014, 07:04 PM
Boyydee Boyydee is offline
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Thanks for the suggestions! There is no condensation in the assembly but i will look into it more to see if there is any corrosion and track down the ground wire. Thanks again, and I will keep you posted on what I find.
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Old 10-22-2014, 07:11 PM
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JDeGraff89 JDeGraff89 is offline
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When my seal went bad I didn't get condensation either, I was heading to my trunk to grab something and I saw sloshing, I has standing water in the bottom of the lens assembly.
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Old 10-23-2014, 09:39 AM
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johnstern johnstern is offline
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There is another common problem with the right side tail light besides the ones mentioned above. This problem has to do with the battery.

The battery produces corrosive gasses which can corrode the right tail light connector and internal parts. This corrosion must be cleaned up best possible. There is supposed to be a vent tube connected to the battery vent at the front of the battery and a plug inserted into the rear vent hole at the rear of the battery. The vent tube and the plug will insure that the gasses from the battery are vented to the outside.
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Old 10-23-2014, 10:07 AM
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JDeGraff89 JDeGraff89 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnstern View Post
There is another common problem with the right side tail light besides the ones mentioned above. This problem has to do with the battery.

The battery produces corrosive gasses which can corrode the right tail light connector and internal parts. This corrosion must be cleaned up best possible. There is supposed to be a vent tube connected to the battery vent at the front of the battery and a plug inserted into the rear vent hole at the rear of the battery. The vent tube and the plug will insure that the gasses from the battery are vented to the outside.
I never knew about this problem, do you have pictures of vent tube/ plug? My battery has no tubes coming off ot it that I've seen. But there is an air duct to the side of the battery. At least I can only assume its an air duct. Which I assumed was tovent battery gas.
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Old 10-23-2014, 10:16 AM
bobdmac bobdmac is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JDeGraff89 View Post
I never knew about this problem, do you have pictures of vent tube/ plug? My battery has no tubes coming off ot it that I've seen. But there is an air duct to the side of the battery. At least I can only assume its an air duct. Which I assumed was tovent battery gas.
Most auto parts stores don't know about this, and you have to ask them to track down the part. They may not even have it. There's a little plastic nipple that plugs into the vent hole on the top edge of the battery, and then a plastic hose attaches to a vent in the fender well. I don't have a photo handy, and I've still got to get a hose for mine.
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Old 10-23-2014, 10:23 AM
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JDeGraff89 JDeGraff89 is offline
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Originally Posted by bobdmac View Post
Most auto parts stores don't know about this, and you have to ask them to track down the part. They may not even have it. There's a little plastic nipple that plugs into the vent hole on the top edge of the battery, and then a plastic hose attaches to a vent in the fender well. I don't have a photo handy, and I've still got to get a hose for mine.
I'll have to track this down so I don't start killing tail lights. The vent in the well seems to be doing its job well enough for now. But I'll get on getting this hose and nipple. I think I saw CN90 had made his own once. So I can also try that. He just used vaccum tube and nipples I believe. I've been in my trunk a lot because I've got some odd wiring above my battery that I tried to trace and eventually gave up on. Someone spliced in some fuses for some reason and every 2 months or so it bugs me not knowing what its doing.
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Last edited by JDeGraff89; 10-23-2014 at 10:31 AM.
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Old 10-23-2014, 09:03 PM
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540 M-Sport 540 M-Sport is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyydee View Post
Thanks for the suggestions! There is no condensation in the assembly but i will look into it more to see if there is any corrosion and track down the ground wire. Thanks again, and I will keep you posted on what I find.
+1 on checking the ground to the tail light assembly. Also agree, worth inspecting the tail light and trunk for water intrusion. If you do find signs, it is pretty easy to remove the tail lights, clean the mating surfaces and reinstall. That in itself may seal them up...if not, you can redo them by replacing the foam gaskets. The gaskets have adhesive and stick to the tail lights, then you reinstall. The hard part is removing the old gaskets, and getting as much of the old adhesive off...it's a pain.
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