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  #1  
Old 09-16-2013, 07:11 AM
DangermouseX3 DangermouseX3 is offline
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Brake light bulbs – ID and type

I got the “bulb out” warning light this morning and I am trying to work out what’s going on back there and which bulbs I need to replace.

I have an 07 with this style of rear light cluster.



However my manual shows an illustration and description for this type, which doesn't help me as both red bulbs are on the outside:



So, ignoring the indicator and reverse lights I have an “inner” red light, located on the tailgate and an “outer” red light located on the rear fender. I understand that one is the regular brake light and the other is the “force” brake light but I don’t know which is which.

With the lamp selector switch ON, I have the three (LED?) bars across both Inner and Outer locations lit up as tail lights. Seems to be OK.

Just touching the brake pedal – left hand side Inner comes ON as well as right hand side Outer – what is the correct result for standard braking?

I did a search on the forum and found that the Inner one may be the "force" brake bulb?? Correct?? Does this car come with "back-up" bulb technology like some other cars? (not back-up as in "reversing" but back-up as in if one bulb goes out another bulb is used as a back-up)

Can you simulate the “force” criteria? I tried stomping on the pedal, while the car was parked but no change from just touching it. Possibly the car has to be moving, but then I couldn’t see the bulbs.



What are the part numbers for these bulbs?
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  #2  
Old 09-16-2013, 07:33 AM
usaret usaret is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DangermouseX3 View Post
I got the “bulb out” warning light this morning and I am trying to work out what’s going on back there and which bulbs I need to replace.

I have an 07 with this style of rear light cluster.



However my manual shows an illustration and description for this type, which doesn't help me as both red bulbs are on the outside:



So, ignoring the indicator and reverse lights I have an “inner” red light, located on the tailgate and an “outer” red light located on the rear fender. I understand that one is the regular brake light and the other is the “force” brake light but I don’t know which is which.

With the lamp selector switch ON, I have the three (LED?) bars across both Inner and Outer locations lit up as tail lights. Seems to be OK.

Just touching the brake pedal – left hand side Inner comes ON as well as right hand side Outer – what is the correct result for standard braking?

I did a search on the forum and found that the Inner one may be the "force" brake bulb?? Correct?? Does this car come with "back-up" bulb technology like some other cars? (not back-up as in "reversing" but back-up as in if one bulb goes out another bulb is used as a back-up)

Can you simulate the “force” criteria? I tried stomping on the pedal, while the car was parked but no change from just touching it. Possibly the car has to be moving, but then I couldn’t see the bulbs.



What are the part numbers for these bulbs?
The regular brake light bulb is in the fender. They are standard bulbs and the number is written on them somewhere. Probably should replace both while your at it as the other side will not be far behind. As far as I know there is no way to get the panic bulbs (which are in the hatch) it to illuminate unless you're moving. I have a european light switch which makes it easy to test the panic braking bulbs, which double as rear fog lights and are halogen.

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  #3  
Old 09-16-2013, 10:07 AM
DangermouseX3 DangermouseX3 is offline
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OK, then, resolved at lunchtime.

The Outers are the regular brake lights (I replaced mine with Sylvania 921LL bulbs - surprisingly only about 17W - the ones I took out was made by Toshiba; not sure if OEM). When a regular brake light bulb is out, the system uses one of the Inner "force" brake lights as a back-up. I replaced both sides as suggested.

Once I replaced the bulbs, only the Outers illuminated. The RHS Inner now doesn't illuminate under normal braking. As usaret says, these must be the "force" brake lights.


I also replaced my rear passenger vanity lights with Sylvania DE3423LL festoon bulbs as both were burned out, just for completeness

Last edited by DangermouseX3; 09-16-2013 at 10:08 AM.
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  #4  
Old 09-16-2013, 10:55 AM
Supercourse Supercourse is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DangermouseX3 View Post
...... I replaced mine with Sylvania 921LL bulbs - surprisingly only about 17W - the ones I took out was made by Toshiba; not sure if OEM........

I also replaced my rear passenger vanity lights with Sylvania DE3423LL festoon bulbs as both were burned out, just for completeness
The O.E. bulbs tend to be Philips.

Aftermarket replacements for the 21W bulbs are often slightly lower wattage, especially the Long Life ones.
Probably makes no difference that anyone would notice.

The face-lifted E83 has vanity lights for the rear seat passengers?
I would have thought vanity light bulbs in general last a really long time because of only occasional use.
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Old 09-16-2013, 11:23 AM
DangermouseX3 DangermouseX3 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Supercourse View Post
The O.E. bulbs tend to be Philips.

Aftermarket replacements for the 21W bulbs are often slightly lower wattage, especially the Long Life ones.
Probably makes no difference that anyone would notice.

The face-lifted E83 has vanity lights for the rear seat passengers?
I would have thought vanity light bulbs in general last a really long time because of only occasional use.
I would have expected them to be Philips, but in this day and age of global sourcing you never know.

Perhaps "vanity lights" is the wrong term - "reading lights" perhaps, though at only 6W "squinting lights" may be more correct. They have a switch for "always on' or "door activated" and are located beside the grab handle on each side. I guess if they were "always on", even though they switch off after 15 minutes when you leave the car, they could burn out more quickly.
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  #6  
Old 09-17-2013, 05:22 PM
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X3emist X3emist is offline
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One piece of good advice`

Don't run down to the local parts store and buy a bulb with a brass base. Something to do with resistance but they won't necessarily work, the indicator lamp will stay lit and/or they will blow pre maturely. You have to use a good bulb with the silver colored base if you are going to go to the trouble.
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  #7  
Old 10-05-2015, 05:46 PM
JimmyJam JimmyJam is offline
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FIX & TEST of the Force Brake Light Bulb

I had the warning dash light for bulb out on my dash too. I checked every outside bulb, side markers, turn signals, fog lights, hi and low beam, two license plate lights etc. etc. All perfect working condition. Thought it was the force brake. So here is how to test. If your rear standard brake lights go out (outer corner brake lights in fender) the Lights in the rear door hatch will take over (Force Brake Light Bulb). Here is how to test the bulbs. Take out one of the standard brake light bulbs, and leave out(Outer Fender Lights). Have some one test your brakes while you watch, the side you have the bulb out, now the Force Brake Light should come on, (light on rear door hatch) if it does not, that bulb is blown or there is a bad connection. Due to the slamming of the rear door over time, it can make the bulbs loosen from factory and they have some hot glue gun used to keep them in place. There you have it, I had the dash light, did this test, used a board to push the brake and look myself, found the left force brake was not lighting up but the right side was, so had to take the trim off the back just enough to get into the bulb take out and check, found that it was not making a good contact, tightened up the metal flanges that make the contact, and SUCCESS! After replacing the force brake light came on, put everything back together and now no more dash light bugging the crap out of me. Hope this helps.
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Old 01-27-2020, 07:11 PM
bmwx32010 bmwx32010 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DangermouseX3 View Post
OK, then, resolved at lunchtime.

The Outers are the regular brake lights (I replaced mine with Sylvania 921LL bulbs - surprisingly only about 17W - the ones I took out was made by Toshiba; not sure if OEM). When a regular brake light bulb is out, the system uses one of the Inner "force" brake lights as a back-up. I replaced both sides as suggested.

Once I replaced the bulbs, only the Outers illuminated. The RHS Inner now doesn't illuminate under normal braking. As usaret says, these must be the "force" brake lights.


I also replaced my rear passenger vanity lights with Sylvania DE3423LL festoon bulbs as both were burned out, just for completeness
Hi, would you happen to know the bulb size of the RHS? I asked the dealership and they don't even know. It's too cold to check right now but I want to start looking for the bulbs. Thanks in advance!
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  #9  
Old 01-28-2020, 08:46 AM
DangermouseX3 DangermouseX3 is offline
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Which RHS bulb?
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  #10  
Old 04-09-2020, 07:32 AM
bmwx32010 bmwx32010 is offline
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i found them actually. They are the H21W bulbs. Thank you for the reply!

https://imgur.com/a/caO2b6A
My fender left brake light (shown with white arrow) doesn't work even after I replaced the bulb so I had to take them out of both sides and just use the inner force brake light as my regular.

Also now sometimes my LED bars (the blue arrow) on the inner sometime turn on and off and seems to be going soon. Not sure of a fix for it. I am thinking something might need to be soldered again.

Last edited by bmwx32010; 04-09-2020 at 07:45 AM.
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