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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 03-13-2013, 06:01 PM
occhis occhis is offline
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Excessive Light Bulb Replacement?

Does anyone else feel that the light bulbs in E39s burn out at a faster rate than in other cars? Specifically, i'm talking about headlights (halogen), and rear tail lights & brake lights.
I've had many cars over the last 45 years and I swear I've replaced more bulbs in this E39 than in all the rest combined!
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  #2  
Old 03-13-2013, 06:16 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Location: San Jose, California
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by occhis View Post
Does anyone else feel that the light bulbs in E39s burn out at a faster rate than in other cars? Specifically, i'm talking about headlights (halogen), and rear tail lights & brake lights.
I've had many cars over the last 45 years and I swear I've replaced more bulbs in this E39 than in all the rest combined!
I've had my 2002 since it was still under the original factory warranty, and, in that time, I think I've replaced three or four headlight H7 bulbs (I don't have Xenon).

I've replaced the rear bulbs probably twice in that time, and of course, there's that fustugenagh center taillight bulb always melting...

Note that I always buy the longest-lasting H7 bulbs I can (which means the coolest, while most others buy the hottest bluest or whitest they can find), which, as a bonus, is usually the cheapest.

I researched H7 bulbs and concluded that it's all marketing, not surprisingly, unless color actually matters to you (light output & longevity is all that matters to me).


The good news is that, if you're also replacing interior bulbs, you can help flesh out this thread:
- How to cross reference all light bulbs for any BMW E39 including for the headlights, stoplights, backup, blinkers, dome, vanity, side markers, licplate, parking, fog, trunk/boot, glovebox, etc. (1)

See also:
- Headlight aiming DIYs (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) & how to physically remove the BMW E39 Hella headlights (1) & how to twist out the headlight bulbs (1) (2) (3) including HIDs (1) & which stock H7 'halogen' bulbs to buy (1) (2) (3) & how to physically remove the front turn signal bulb (1) (2) (3) (4) & what front turn signal bulb to replace it with (1) & how to remove the angel eye bulb (1) (2) (3) & which stock angel-eye bulbs to buy (1) (2) (3) & how to retrofit halogen angeleye bulbs to LEDs (1) (2) (3) (4) & how to modify pre-facelift headlights to angel eyes (1) (2) (3) (4) & headlight plastic polishing & refinishing DIYs (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) & replacing just the headlight lens (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) & how to cross reference all light bulbs for any BMW E39 including for the headlights, stoplights, backup, blinkers, dome, vanity, side markers, licplate, parking, fog, trunk/boot, glovebox, etc. (1) & more information if you really want to know everything about broken headlight adjusters (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15) (16) (17) (18) (19) (20) (21) & how to make your own headlight adjusters (0) (1) (2) (3) and a summary list of all your options when your headlight adjusters are broken (1) & headlight autopsy photos (1) (2) (3) & an explanation of the weird flat spot on the USA spec headlights (1) (2) & an explanation of HID versus conventional headlights and why the high beam is always a halogen H7 bulb (1) (2) (3) & the age-old argument of whether to buy aftermarket DJ Auto or Depo headlights (1) or OEM Hellas (1).
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See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 03-13-2013 at 06:20 PM.
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  #3  
Old 03-13-2013, 06:47 PM
mhobryan mhobryan is offline
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if you are only replacing the burnt out bulb, I would suggest replacing in pairs. This is esp. true with headlights. I don't know why, but not just on e39, but other cars that have used halogens (pretty much anything after the early 80's) I noticed that i have to replace bulbs frequently until i've replaced both within a month or two. And yes, went through the same thing with my e39....replaced 2 or 3 times until they were in sync. Brake lights however, not so much. Don't have any suggestions for rears.
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Old 03-14-2013, 06:15 AM
jygesq jygesq is online now
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Model year 2000 528 74 k miles

Quote:
Originally Posted by occhis View Post
Does anyone else feel that the light bulbs in E39s burn out at a faster rate than in other cars? Specifically, i'm talking about headlights (halogen), and rear tail lights & brake lights.
I've had many cars over the last 45 years and I swear I've replaced more bulbs in this E39 than in all the rest combined!
I had to replace only both left & right brake lights.
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  #5  
Old 03-14-2013, 07:18 AM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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If you used Sylvania Silverstars, that is the reason for premature H7 lifespan. Google them and you will see why. Try Philips VisionPlus next time. They last twice as long. Or upgrade to HID!
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  #6  
Old 03-14-2013, 07:49 AM
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Flybot Flybot is online now
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I went through "lots" of tail light bulbs for a few years. I finaly went to a different parts store (different brand bulb) and suddenly no more bulb problems. Try changing brands. For the headlights, I gave up on the "Super white" bulbs and just get the regular brightness Philips. They last years instead of a year.
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  #7  
Old 03-18-2013, 11:54 AM
jtperkins jtperkins is offline
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Location: Detroit Burbs, MI, USA
 
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Mein Auto: 2001 525i/auto Silver/Blk
Bulb Burner

I agree. Although in 8 years I've not had an inordinate problem with bulbs other than the headlamps and the fog lamps. It's unreal. Since I can't get replacements at Pep Boys, etc. I always keep replacements in the garage so I can replace before a trip to my local foreign auto supplier.
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Old 03-18-2013, 12:23 PM
85dave305 85dave305 is offline
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Mein Auto: 00 540i sport & 06 325i
try blub grease it does make them last longer
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  #9  
Old 03-18-2013, 06:10 PM
occhis occhis is offline
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I have not used dielectric grease, but will start now
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Old 03-18-2013, 07:19 PM
granlund granlund is offline
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An alternator producing too high voltage will cause the bulbs to burn out faster.
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