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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 3 Series / 4 Series > E36 (1991 - 1999)

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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  #1  
Old 04-22-2005, 12:53 PM
hunt1200 hunt1200 is offline
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'1 Brake Light Failure' Weird Situation

The message '1 Brake Light Failure' had been comming on and off intermittently, but none of the brake lights had failed, although one light is slower to come on when you press the brake and dimmer.

Yesterday the message stayed on constantly and when I checked, the brake light was completely burned out (not just dim). So I went and bought a new brake light. Installed it, started the car, and no '1 Brake Light Failure' message. So I thought it was over with.

But the next time I started the car, the good old '1 Brake Light Failure' message came back on and the new brake light was completely burned out again.

I have no idea what the heck is the problem and any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 04-22-2005, 11:02 PM
bim530mer bim530mer is offline
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mmmm....

Quote:
Originally Posted by hunt1200
The message '1 Brake Light Failure' had been comming on and off intermittently, but none of the brake lights had failed, although one light is slower to come on when you press the brake and dimmer.

Yesterday the message stayed on constantly and when I checked, the brake light was completely burned out (not just dim). So I went and bought a new brake light. Installed it, started the car, and no '1 Brake Light Failure' message. So I thought it was over with.

But the next time I started the car, the good old '1 Brake Light Failure' message came back on and the new brake light was completely burned out again.

I have no idea what the heck is the problem and any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks!
I had the same problem.. I replaced the old bulb with an after market one and the problem seems to be resolved for few days when it started again... Now it is ok... wierd...
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  #3  
Old 04-23-2005, 05:00 AM
Ronnie526 Ronnie526 is offline
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I've had my 99 328 cabrio for 2 years. Was getting same message intermittently (every couple of days) since day 1. After having my wife stand behind & check to see that brake lights WERE working every time message displayed ( about a dozen times), I eventually just ignored message. About a month later, left brake light DID burn out. Replaced & have not gotten message since. Very intuitive carputer
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  #4  
Old 04-25-2005, 05:35 AM
Paul Frey Paul Frey is offline
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Brake Light Switch problem

Hey guys,

I had the same problem and completely fixed it by replacing the brake light switch. See earlier messages for more details on how to replace it. I posted my reply with instrucitons in early April.
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  #5  
Old 04-25-2005, 05:39 AM
allen85t allen85t is offline
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Sounds like a short somewhere, could be in the switch, could be in the connector for the light itself.. of course could be anywhere in between, but usually not. The short would show up as, well, a short and thus trip the sensor.. and at the same time, could easily burn out the bulb.
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  #6  
Old 04-25-2005, 11:55 AM
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Bart001 Bart001 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Frey
Hey guys,

I had the same problem and completely fixed it by replacing the brake light switch. See earlier messages for more details on how to replace it. I posted my reply with instrucitons in early April.
My E36 needed a new brake light switch approx. every 3 years. The 'weakness' of those switches is pretty well documented.
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  #7  
Old 04-28-2005, 11:35 AM
Valk6pac Valk6pac is offline
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I had the same problem. After this happened several times and checking the bulb, I found that the ground on the light socket was not making a good conection. This will also cause some of the plactic to melt do to heat, (not good). Anyway I cleaned it reinstalled it and haven't had a problem since.
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  #8  
Old 04-28-2005, 02:49 PM
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crash8168 crash8168 is offline
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the circuit board melts on the lamp assembly leaving you with an intermittent/high resistance connection.
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  #9  
Old 05-03-2005, 07:21 PM
Cheslavo Cheslavo is offline
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Question same problem with brake light

It sounds really weird; I bought my '97 328i last February and one week after I went to the dealer because 1 break light failure was shown in the OBC; they changed the bulb and everything was fine...for a while. Same problem again, brought the car to my mechanic and they changed the bulb one more time; the next day, same problem again. I changed the socket which had une of the terminals burned and the problem was fixed...for two weeks; today, after a heavy rain, I turned on my car and OBC displayed "break circuit failure...see owner's manual" I did it but no useful information found...any clues? should I replace the break switch?

Last edited by Cheslavo; 05-03-2005 at 08:03 PM.
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  #10  
Old 05-08-2005, 10:43 AM
Valk6pac Valk6pac is offline
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I would search for the problem in the rear of your car where the original problem started. The light socket pops into a printed cicuit card. That could cause the reading on your OBC. If you've got power going in and out of your brake switch after the pedal is applied there's nothing wrong with you're switch.
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  #11  
Old 05-10-2005, 11:16 PM
topetambo topetambo is offline
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96 328IS repaired that problem by..

My 96 328is had that problem. I found that a couple of the bulbs had some buildup on the contacts. Took all the bulbs out and cleaned the connectors and the sockets in the lamp assembly and no longer get the brake light error.
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  #12  
Old 01-26-2006, 07:49 PM
TEALSE36 TEALSE36 is offline
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i have been gettin the break light failure. and chaged the break light switch, and now its back to break light failure, but non of the bulbs are out?....i kno this is a common problem, anybody got another fix other than break light switch?!
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  #13  
Old 01-26-2006, 10:37 PM
silverball silverball is offline
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I found by using2157 bulbs instead of 1157 bulbs it seemed to solve my problems, just a little change in the voltage draw.
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  #14  
Old 01-26-2006, 11:50 PM
Bmwcat Bmwcat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Valk6pac
I had the same problem. After this happened several times and checking the bulb, I found that the ground on the light socket was not making a good conection. This will also cause some of the plactic to melt do to heat, (not good). Anyway I cleaned it reinstalled it and haven't had a problem since.
I cleaned mine up with a small file and WD-40. Havent gotten a failure message in 2 years.
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  #15  
Old 05-20-2011, 08:23 AM
Mark Mustain Mark Mustain is offline
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Mein Auto: 1992 E36, 2002 E53
Tail Light Failure Fix

BMWCAT, Thanks for the great information. I am going to try this over the weekend. The message is very annoying and seems to happen to mine after a good rain, or when its cold in the morning.

Not to mention that I could be pulled over and given a fix it ticket for this. Besides, there is nothing more comforting that starting your car up in the morning and waking up to a "Failure Message" staring you in the face.

I'll let ya know how it works for me. WD-40, and a file, is that all you would think would be needed?

Thanks,
Technically Challenged (Mark)
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  #16  
Old 05-20-2011, 08:43 AM
Burning2nd Burning2nd is offline
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I had those same grimlins on my 328

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  #17  
Old 05-20-2011, 09:32 AM
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ZeGerman ZeGerman is online now
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Yeah, just check all of the bulb socket contact points. Also keep an eye out for moisture, since you said you get the warning after rain, etc. You may need a new seal.

Sometimes it can be a little tricky, but tracking down and eventually eliminating bulb out warnings typically isn't that hard.
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  #18  
Old 05-20-2011, 02:07 PM
Mark Mustain Mark Mustain is offline
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When you say new seal, is that a seal in the tail light housing itself? I am only asking because I was wondering if perhaps water was getting in from a trunk seal itself vs. the actual tail light house seal (if there is one). When I popped the trunk after a long rain, I could see water in that tray to the right (not sure what was supposed to be there but I guarantee my E36 didnt have it) . If it is a seal on the tail light itself, can I use some sort of caulk or adhesive or would you recommend just replacing it?
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  #19  
Old 05-20-2011, 02:08 PM
Mark Mustain Mark Mustain is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Burning2nd View Post
I had those same grimlins on my 328

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  #20  
Old 05-20-2011, 02:13 PM
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ZeGerman ZeGerman is online now
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Yes, the taillights do have a seal on the back of each housing. I'd imagine you could find some sort of sealant caulk to put around the seal to make sure nothing was getting by. If your trunk seal is leaking, I'd fix that, too.
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  #21  
Old 05-20-2011, 04:54 PM
tchavera tchavera is offline
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http://www.pelicanparts.com/bmw/tech...ake_Switch.htm
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