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E36 (1991 - 1999)
The E36 chassis 3-Series BMW was a huge hit among driving enthusiasts from the first moment the car hit the pavement. The E36 won numerous awards over the years it was produced and is still a favorite of many BMW enthusiasts to this day! -- View the E36 Wiki

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Old 11-14-2012, 12:25 PM
robant251 robant251 is offline
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Location: United Kingdom
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 10
Mein Auto: E36 328i Cabriolet
Question Spurious messages

The computer on my 1998 328i convertible has started displaying intermittent messages telling me I either have a tail light or brake light which has failed when, in fact, there is no problem with any of the lights.I have been told this sometimes occurs when a reasonably new bulb is paired with a reasonably old bulb and the computer wrongly thinks the older bulb has failed.With this in mind I have replaced both bulbs with new items but still have these messages. Can anyone please help?
Bob Riley.
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Old 11-14-2012, 12:51 PM
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ECSTuning ECSTuning is online now
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Location: Wadsworth, Ohio
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Mein Auto: Hover Car on Wheels
Bob check the bulb sockets for corrosion. I've seen numerous cases where a little build up still allows the power to flow to the bulb but doesn't allow the car to see the bulb.

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Old 11-14-2012, 12:56 PM
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johnf johnf is offline
John Firestone
Location: Bremerhaven, Germany
Join Date: Sep 2003
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Mein Auto: 1996 318is
The check control measures the current drawn by each bulb, individually: the measurement of one bulb should not influence the measurement of another.

You may be suffering intermittent connections from corrosion between the bulb holders and the sheet metal strips they twist into. Have you tried cleaning them?

Last edited by johnf; 11-14-2012 at 01:33 PM.
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Old 11-14-2012, 01:28 PM
jitsjaf2009 jitsjaf2009 is offline
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Location: Hemet, Ca
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 513
Mein Auto: 1995 325i Convertible
I found it was the socket seating that was dirty on mine and drove me "nutz" for awhile...changed lamps, checked springs etc....finally cleaned socket seating and been fine since...go figure???!!!???
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Old 11-14-2012, 02:22 PM
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dc_wright dc_wright is offline
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Location: Orlando, Florida
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Mein Auto: '06 Z4 3.0si, '11 128CiC
If you are getting the Brake Light failure message then what John F, jitsjaf, and ECST indicated should fix it whether it's the tail or brake light. If the message is Brake Circuit failure then you need to look at replacing your brake light switch which is another known failure item on E36s.
2006 Z4 3.0si Sport Package (But I'll still hang with my "homies" in the E36 forum)
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Old 11-14-2012, 02:39 PM
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mfisher0000 mfisher0000 is offline
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Location: Terre Haute, IN
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Mein Auto: 08 335i, 98 323ic, 05 V50
Same thing happened to me. I replaced both bulbs and cleaned the sockets and it cleared the message. I've also read that a weak or failing battery can cause this message.
Michael - Terre Haute, IN
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