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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 11-01-2010, 01:15 PM
Pensioner Pensioner is offline
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Rear Stop/Brake Lights- 528i

Good Day Gentlemen,
I have a weird problem with my Brake Lights. The Dashboard shows the car indicating that there is a problem with the right Stop Light. I checked and althought the bulbs are new, I checked it with a tester and found them to be good. The Left and Top Centre Brake/Stop lights are fine and operate normally.

However, I had the car with a BMW Dealer and it seems not so easy to fix. The left and top centre gets power and work when the Brake Pedal is pushed on, but the left has no power. The Mechanic then ran a cross feed from the lights on the left side of the car and although he said that it was OK, the little car display on the dashboard did not go away. Apon reaching home, I asked my wife to sit in the car and with the ignition ON, to press the brake pedal. No Right Hand Brake Lights at all. What is happening? What can be done and How can I get this problem go away??

I intent to go away this weekend and your fast answers will be appreciated.
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  #2  
Old 11-02-2010, 01:04 PM
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16valex 16valex is offline
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I heard there's some issue with the harness where the trunk goes up and down put some wear and tear to the harness, you have to look closely.

But before you start tearing this apart, are those bulbs from known good close to BMW specs.
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  #3  
Old 11-02-2010, 01:27 PM
Jim Rolando Jim Rolando is offline
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Some people say that the difference in resistance between brass and nickel plated bulbs is enough to cause problems, with the nickel plated ones being the preferred, if I remember correctly. But, I have had problems with turn signal lights and brake lights a couple of times. And simply taking the bulbs out, cleaning the contacts and reinstalling them has soved the issue. It doesn't take much scale to increase the resistance and tell the little car up on the dash that there is a problem.
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  #4  
Old 11-02-2010, 01:47 PM
five.two.five five.two.five is offline
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For testing purposes, take the bulb from the left side and plug it into the right side socket. This is to determine whether it's a bulb or socket issue. If it lights up, then you probably have a defective bulb. If it doesn't work, the center pin within the socket may not be making contact with the bulb. If that is the case, take a small pick or screwdriver and slightly bend the contact upwards.
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  #5  
Old 11-02-2010, 06:56 PM
lisamikechicago lisamikechicago is offline
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Check the entire tail light assembly. Could be corroded connector or even the metal prongs emanating from the light bezel. If so, get creative with a crimp tool and soldering gun or buy a new assembly. Ask me how I know.
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  #6  
Old 11-02-2010, 09:03 PM
Pensioner Pensioner is offline
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Hi Friends,
Thank you all for the assistance.To answer all in one reply, I must say that the bulds are the same as I put into the Hyundai and it works there. The base is Nickle Plated and I made sure of the connection on the Centre Power Pin. But LisaMikechicago made me really smile. I wonder how he knows?

Thanks again and I will advise all later.
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  #7  
Old 11-02-2010, 09:50 PM
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Ågent99 Ågent99 is offline
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Are all the connections clean? No rust? If there is any corrosion, clean it up. The computer in the car senses current flow to determine if a light bulb is out and corrosion build up could give a false positive and the light may still work okay.
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  #8  
Old 11-03-2010, 09:49 AM
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QSilver7 QSilver7 is offline
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Check the very top thread on the e39 home page or do an "advanced" search and use "trunk loom" as the search word.

When the rear tail lights start flaking out and the issue isn't due to a burnt out bulb...many times the culprit is that some of the wires in the loom that goes from the trunk lid up to the LCM have broken or frayed or shorted out.

Bluebee has posted many times with pics etc of this issue...so it should be easy to find using a simple advanced search of the e39 forum...use here name as well and you'll definitely get some results that show how to look into this issue.

Good luck.

See this duplicate thread for same reply: http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...23&postcount=7
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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; 11-03-2010 at 09:53 AM.
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  #9  
Old 11-03-2010, 10:40 AM
vytama vytama is offline
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I just had the same problem with the passenger side tail light. the contacts were corroded and while removing the connector couple pins broke. First I tried to clean them - did not help. I purchased new connector and wires - plugged to the old assembly. The result - I only got my turn signal back. Then I purchased the whole assembly . 200 USD later problem solved. Corroded, fried and broken pins caused issues.
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  #10  
Old 11-03-2010, 09:44 PM
Pensioner Pensioner is offline
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I examined the whole light assembly and see no corrosion at all. The fitting looks like new. I spend about 5 hours yesterday with no joy. I asked around and found an Auto Electrical Workshop who seems to know what he is talking about. Appointment is for this morning. I am fed-up and tired looking for the needle in the haystack. Next one to drop that bloody needle into the Haystack will have to deal with me!!

Will advice of the outcome.
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  #11  
Old 11-04-2010, 12:16 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pensioner View Post
The fitting looks like new.
As QSilver7 said, it's worth the five minutes to look at your trunk loom (which you need to do anyway, if you've never looked before).

Here's the main link:
- FRAYED WIRING: a badly designed trunk loom wiring harness certain to chafe causing all sorts of light and fuse blowing and locking problems (1) (2)

You can peel the snorkel down and inspect the wires in just a few minutes. It's worth your while to check this once a year anyway (since it's such a common problem).

Here's what one loom looks like (and there are LOTs like this).
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  #12  
Old 11-04-2010, 11:39 AM
Pensioner Pensioner is offline
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Hi Friends,
Problem with light fixed!!! Apparently the first owner of the car had a "Tracker Unit" installed and he had the system removed when I bought the car. But the "Tracker Unit" was badly removed and the fuses and open wire ends led to the problem that I had. The BMW mechanic in all his willingness to help me, also made a mistake when he tried to cross the bulb power from the left side to the right hand bulb, because this cause the "Light Controller" to read the short again in the left hand side then also shut down. So the controller shut the lights down if it read an eletrical short. Clever car!!

The Auto Electrical Workshop then removed all hazards and taped everything nicely. The bulbs are normal "Over the counter" stuff.

Once again, Thank you all for being there when I needed a shoulder to cry on. This is all very much appreciated.
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  #13  
Old 11-05-2010, 02:22 AM
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Piston_broke Piston_broke is offline
What was that noise??
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On a side note I recently had a 'Brake Light Warning' or similar come on. At first I didn't think of the 3rd brake light but after changing both bulbs from side to side soon realised what the culprit was.

I pulled the 3rd light fitting out, unclipped it from the wires, then went about removing the bulb (which looked ok btw).

It was then that I realised that the fitting itself had shorted somehow and was stopping the bulb from being removed.

A quick trip to my indy mate, who's currently wrecking an e39. He hands me a 3rd brake light fitting with an oem bulb (for free) and said 'that should fix it'.

Came home and fitted the used fitting, fix it, it did & warning light now gone.

What the hell would cause that? Is it going to happen again?

Anyone else find a damaged/burnt out 3rd brake light fitting?

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Last edited by Piston_broke; 11-05-2010 at 02:23 AM.
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  #14  
Old 11-05-2010, 02:32 PM
Pensioner Pensioner is offline
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I did what lisamikechicago above suggested. All my bulb holders were somewhat not holding the bulb tightly. So after the creative pulling in of the horn plates that locks the bulb, all the bulbs were nice and smugg. OK that did not solve my problem.

As far as your Centre Brake Light fitting is concerned, I can not see how it could have short circuted as it is plastic. I think you had some "loose" bulbs and they got hot enough to burn the plastic holder. Only a thought.
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  #15  
Old 11-06-2010, 02:44 PM
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nyclad nyclad is offline
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I found the same problem on mine as vytama. I had to press down on the snap connector and use plyers to remove it, as apparently the contacts had corroded together. One of the contacts had corroded so much that it came off inside the connector.

Here's the connector:
IMG_2202


The connector on the right tail light assembly. If you look close enough, you can see the third connector (they're numbered) heavily corroded and broken off.
IMG_2204


I'm going to have to see if I can just replace just the connectors. I hope I don't have to buy an entire new tail light assembly.


Quote:
Originally Posted by vytama View Post
I just had the same problem with the passenger side tail light. the contacts were corroded and while removing the connector couple pins broke. First I tried to clean them - did not help. I purchased new connector and wires - plugged to the old assembly. The result - I only got my turn signal back. Then I purchased the whole assembly . 200 USD later problem solved. Corroded, fried and broken pins caused issues.
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  #16  
Old 11-06-2010, 02:46 PM
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nyclad nyclad is offline
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Vytama (or anybody else that might know...)

Do you know if they sell the connector that's physically connected to the tail light separately? This one:
IMG_2204



Quote:
Originally Posted by vytama View Post
I just had the same problem with the passenger side tail light. the contacts were corroded and while removing the connector couple pins broke. First I tried to clean them - did not help. I purchased new connector and wires - plugged to the old assembly. The result - I only got my turn signal back. Then I purchased the whole assembly . 200 USD later problem solved. Corroded, fried and broken pins caused issues.
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  #17  
Old 11-07-2010, 01:30 AM
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Piston_broke Piston_broke is offline
What was that noise??
Location: Gold Coast, Australia
 
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Re: Third brake light (TBL) failing.

Well the replacement TBL bulb housing I replaced only 2 days ago has failed again.

Exact same results with the bulb holder shorting out/ failing at the exact same location, the bulb is fine and I can't remove this bulb either just as before.

Has anyone else experienced this??

Help appreciated.


2nd bulb light holder


Maybe this warrants its own thread.
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  #18  
Old 11-09-2010, 05:28 PM
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nyclad nyclad is offline
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Figured out a WORKAROUND!

I figured out a workaround for the corroded tail light connector problem. This is a temporary fix, as the connectors will not be 100% secure. I'm doing this because I'm saving up for CELIS LED tail lights, but until then, I still need the tail lights working so I don't get a ticket.

See previous post in this thread for photos of the corrosion. I looked at water marks and realized the gasket for the tail light had slightly failed and allowed a few drops of water straight down onto the connector. A few drops, but enough to corrode the leads.

My right rear tail light operates intermittently. When I removed the connector, one of the metal leads on the tail light side broke off. I removed the tail light assembly and realized that the little metal leads are part of the "circuitry" on the assembly. The tail light assembly has some wiring, but most of the electrical conductors are flat pieces of steel that are laid out loosely resembling a circuit board. I realized that if I removed plastic connector on the tail light assembly, you could have full access to the metal leads for cleaning off the corrosion and rust, as well as be able to stick in the trunk side connector further in for better contact, especially with the broken one.

The connector on the tail light side is secured by 4 plastic rivets. The conductors (metal circuits) are also secured by other plastic rivets.

Removing the tail light assembly by removing the 4 8mm nuts. Then I also removed the light bulbs (you don't need to, but I do so for the working room,) I used a utility knife to remove the top of the 4 rivets securing the connector by a combination of sawing, and "popping" them.
IMG_2210

After the 4 rivets are removed, I used a pair of needle nose pliers and a thin flat head screwdriver to carefully pry off the plastic connector. The metal leads inside the connector are part of the "circuitry" and I played around with it until the connector came up a little bit, then used the pliers to hold the metal leads under the connector while forcing/prying the connector up with the screwdriver.

I accidentally popped off another plastic rivet while doing so. Be careful.
In this photo, after the plastic connector is removed, you can see how the metal "circuitry" and the metal connector leads are one and the same.
IMG_2271

I used a small piece of emery cloth (used for cleaning copper pipes for soldering) to scrape off a good portion of the rust and corrosion from the leads. Then I straightened the leads so the connector from the trunk would fit in.

When reinstalling the tail light assembly, I found it helpful to pull the trunk side connector through the corresponding hole in the body so there's more room to align the leads. The pins are quite a tough fit, due to both some residual corrosion/rust, and the fact they aren't exactly aligned, so the connector shouldn't pop off easily. Once connected, I made sure it didn't remove easily, then reattached the tail light assembly, and put in the bulbs. I tested the lights, and they work perfectly fine!

Here's the photo with the trunk side connector attached to bare tail light assembly leads.
IMG_2270



Make sure you order a new gasket or else it will still leak when it gets wet. Part numbers per RealOEM are:
Left gasket: 63216911695
Right gasket: 63216911696

Good luck!

Last edited by nyclad; 11-09-2010 at 08:25 PM.
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  #19  
Old 11-09-2010, 05:37 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Great photos.

Make sure your battery is properly vented.
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  #20  
Old 11-09-2010, 08:35 PM
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nyclad nyclad is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
Great photos.

Make sure your battery is properly vented.
I'm quite sure the water leakage did the majority of the damage. See the first pic in my previous post. It clearly shows a whitish area at the top of the gasket where water leaked in.

But I can't argue with always properly venting the battery. I did check my battery, and it seems to be vented properly. But I do wonder about any correlation between the frequent reports of the right side tail light going bad (where the battery is stored) versus the left side (no battery.) Battery gases may play some part in this.
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  #21  
Old 12-10-2010, 07:12 PM
e39 bimmer e39 bimmer is offline
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im doing this right now great pics man thanks im having the same problem as you
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  #22  
Old 12-10-2012, 06:20 PM
rasbach rasbach is offline
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I know this is an old thread, but I had this issue and it helped me figure out a better way to fix it. I'm removing the harness and the pins from the equation by drilling into the metal circuit plates and screwing down some wire connectors. To connect to the wire loom in the trunk, I used some red solder-less connectors to join the wires. I used wires from an old computer and the colors are not relevant.

I used the blue painters tape you see in the pic to create labels and number each wire from left to right in the same order of the harness. This is necessary and made finding the right wire to connect in the trunk very easy. Wrap this up with electrical tape and it looks like it was done from the factory.


Last edited by rasbach; 12-10-2012 at 06:43 PM.
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