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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Note: This UPDATED DIY was compiled using a DIY that was half completed and unfinished 3 years ago by member called ADA. I've only updated and added to what he started so that it may provide a complete guide to those wanting to update their old style tail lamps. The reason for wanting to update from the 99 to 01 tails to the 02 and on tails are both for function in all cases and cosmetic for those that prefer that style. Pre-facelift tails carry only 3 bulbs, 2 of which share driving and brake lamp function. It also lacks a trunk lid/rear fog lamp bulb so the over all effect is less pronounced, dimmer and consequently not as funtional and safe as the Facelift tails. Facelift tails carry 4 main bulbs and utilize all of them for specific functions. In addition there is a working trunk lid/rear fog bulb serving to add brightness to the normal driving lamps and can be easily modified to have a rear fog lamp function.

Facelifted Tail Lamps on a Pre-Facelift Sedan -DIY- 1/4/2009 UPDATED

This DIY will discuss retrofitting post-facelift sedan tail lights (01-05) into your pre-facelift sedan (99-01).

Everyone can skip this DIY and go buy the "retrofit kit" provided by BMW. The retrofit kit cost a little under $400 and comes with everything you need to retrofit your car with the latest sedan tail lights. The kit has the tail lamps, trunk lamps, bulb housing for both trunk and tail, wiring harness for both tail and trunk lamps, and a instruction guide.

However, for those of you that bought the post-facelift tail lamps instead, this DIY will help you with your retrofit project.

Personally, I rather buy the post-facelift tail/trunk lamps than the retrofit kit. I bought my tail/trunk lamp set from SAM at auto-talent for $230 shipped! It is OEM.

Here are the facts:

-There is no dimension difference between the post-facelift and pre-facelift tail lamps

^^^ Post-facelift ^^^

- The physical difference is that the post-facelift tail lamps are divided into three section (RED-AMBER-RED or RED-CLEAR-RED). The pre-facelift sedan is divided into two section (AMBER-RED or CLER-RED).

^^^ pre-facelift ^^^

-The electrical difference is that the post-facelift uses 4 bulbs and the pre-facelift use 3 bulbs

^^^ Post-facelift bulb housing ^^^

^^^ Pre-facelift bulb housing

-The wiring difference is that the post-facelift uses a 8 pole connectors w/7 brushing contacts/wires. The connectors/plug for post has two columns. Each columns has 4 pole each.

^^^ Post-facelift plug/connector ^^^

The pre-facelift uses a 6 pole connectors w/6 brushing contacts/wires. The connectors/plug for the pre has one column with 6 pole running in single file line.

^^^ Pre-facelift plug/connector ^^^

The biggest issue is the wiring and the LCM lights out error. However, I have a solution for that. I will address that issue later on.

Everything else should be a direct bolt on since there is NO DIMENSION difference between the post and pre-facelift tail lights.

Retrofitting OEM requires a few more step because of the wiring harness and the LCM issue. However, my intent with this DIY is to use our existing
pre-facelift Wirining harness + LCM to make the post-facelift tail lamps work.

The post-facelift lighting scheme is different.

The bottom portion tail lamp and the bottom portion of the trunk light is use as your running lights. The top portion only illuminate when you brake

The pre-facelifted lighting scheme is as followed:

Both the bottom portion is use as the running lights and brake lights. When braking, the light bulbs illuminate brighter because they are dual filaments bulbs. The bottom portion of the trunk light is only use a rear fog lights (see my DIY for PRE-FACELIFT rear fog lightretrofit)


Inorder to bypass the LCM issue, my itent is to use the top and bottom portion (blue circle) as both my brake and running lights.

The middle section will only be use as my turn signal.

Additionally, I will use the bottom portion of my trunk for REAR FOG LIGHTS only.

Originally Posted by luckysnafu

Why would you want ALL the red portions to light up when you brake? That would not look good, IMO. I have mine wired so that both the bottom and top red portions are on for the parking lights, but ONLY the top portion lights up for the brakes, just like the OEM facelifted lights do. During the day my lights act exactly like the facelifted OEM ones do. I have not hooked up the red portion in the trunk yet but will get to it someday.

Also, to correct you about the pre-facelifted lights. Only the outside light on the red portion is the brake light, they both do not get brighter when the brake is pressed.

I will do the best I can here explaining the wiring (not near my car right now). Based on this picture of the pre-facelift bulb holder, there are six different pins and 6 wires to deal with.

I will start explaining the wiring from the top and work my way down.

1) Top pin/wire - not sure what this is for, I have to check my car with a voltmeter
2) 2nd pin/wire from top - Positive for the turn signal - this gets wired to the positive for the facelift turn signal
3) 3rd pin/wire from top - Ground wire for all lamps - this is connected to all ground (-) wires on the new facelift lights
4) 4th pin/wire from top - Positive for the light inside the trunk - connect to the positive for the light inside trunk for facelift light
5) 5th pin/wire from top - Positive for parking light (this is a parking light ONLY, not a brake) - for the new facelift lights, this wire gets hooked up to the bottom row of red (the two lower bulbs in the new light) so that the bottom row is only for parking lights. You have to tap this wire or split it to get a wire to both light bulbs.
6) 6th and last pin/wire from top - Positive for the parking AND brake light - connect this wire to the TOP red light in the new facelift light. This will serve as a parking AND be the ONLY brake light. This will operate EXACTLY like the OEM facelift version during the DAY, but will operate as a parking light also at night (different from OEM since the top red light serves only as the brake light)

When you have the lights on, all the red parts of the facelift light will light up, the top red and the bottom 2 red. When you press on the brake, ONLY the top red will light up and it will look just like the OEM facelift.

To get the parking light in the trunk to work, just tap a wire into the license plate lights and you should be good to go. I haven't done this yet but I will when I have the time and will post my results.
REPLY NOTE: I am not going to mess with my trunk lamp because I am only going to use it for REVERSE and EURO REAR FOG LIGHTS. I can care less about the trunk light being use as my "parking/running" lights.

639 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)

Thanks to Luckysnafu, I am going to revised my wiring plan:

I am going to use the top and bottom portion for running/parking lights.
The middle section is going to be used for turn signal
the top portion will be used for BRAKE lights (and running/parkling lights)

Below is a picture of the plug/connector you need to buy from the dealers

They run for around $0.75 each. You need to buy some brushing contacts too. You need a total of 14 brushing contacts. You can use your pre-exisitng contact from your pre-facelift bimmer but it requires some minor modification. The brushing contact cost $1.37 each

Plug housing: 12-52-7-505-271
Contact Brushing: 12-52-0-007-171

Originally Posted by luckysnafu

I took some pictures of the wires and can tell you what colored wires go to which lights for the pre-facelift tail lights. I do not have a new facelift bulb holder or wire connector so I can't tell you which wires to hook everything up to, but you should be able to figure it out by following the pins on the bulb holder. ADA - were you able to buy the 8 pin facelift plug at the dealer? If so, what is the part number, I can't find it on - I am thinking of buying the facelift bulb holders and lights.

Pre-facelift tail light wiring:
Drivers Side Wires
Pin 1 - White with a brown stripe - Ground for the interior trunk light
Pin 2 - Blue with a green stripe - Positive for turn signal
Pin 3 - Brown - ground for parking and brake lights
Pin 4 - Red with a yellow stripe - Positive for the interior trunk light
Pin 5 - Gray with a purple stripe - Positive for parking light only
Pin 6 - Black with a green stripe - Positive for the combined parking and brake light
(pin numbers could be reversed - I didn't check on the plug)
Picture of plug with wires

Passenger Side Wires
Pin 1 - White with a brown stripe - Ground for the interior trunk light
Pin 2 - Blue with a brown stripe - Positive for turn signal
Pin 3 - Brown - ground for parking and brake lights
Pin 4 - Red with a yellow stripe - Positive for the interior trunk light
Pin 5 - Gray with a yellow stripe - Positive for parking light only
Pin 6 - Black with a blue stripe - Positive for the combined parking and brake light
(pin numbers could be reversed - I didn't check on the plug)
Picture of plug with wires

Here are some pictures of how my tail lights look and work. My tail lights are not OEM, they were from ebay and do not have a bulb holder, the lights are integrated. It is a plug and play unit that just plugs into the existing 6 pin plug.

Tail Lights

Brake Lights Only

Parking Lights Only

Brake Lights with Parking Lights

Sorry for the crappy pictures, my digital camera sucks at night

SNA77 or LucksnaFu,

Is this normal?

1) My running/parking lights seems brighter than the brake light (when brake is not activated)?

2) When activating my brake, my brake light is as bright as my running lights. I figured that my brake light would be brightest but it is not. Again, when I depressed the brake pedal, the brake light has the same intensity as the running lights.

Originally Posted by luckysnafu
1) My running/parking lights are also slightly brighter than my brake light. This is because the top light is only getting 6 volts or so and the light is underpowered. The bottom lights are getting a full 12 volts, but they are smaller bulbs with smaller wattage so they are slightly brighter. I was thinking of putting a resistor in line with the top bulb to try and get it off when the parking lights are on but still work for the brake light.
2) My brake light is much brighter than my running/parking lights when it is on. I have a higher wattage bulb in the top which is very bright when the brake is on (full 12 volts).

The pictures don't really show the brightness since my camera does not take good pictures at night.

As I said in a previous post, the bulb wattage is the issue. You need the 5w filament in a 21w/5w bulb to get the brightness closer.

The DEPO aftermarket taillight kit, sold by ProCar Parts, uses this exact same lighting scheme (just not OEM tail lights). I actually had these before I bought my OEM ones--the exterior light pattern did not bother me, but there are no inside convers in the trunk, you saw the back of the lights... The basically, just split the wire for the brake light up top and bottom...

another drawback that the post 2002 3 taillights have is that they have adaptive brake lights that when the abs is activated the taillights get brighter, which cannot be duplicated in aftermarket facelifted lights for pre-2002 models, but who cares.
Bekkers has a OEM Retrofit Kit (where I finally got mine)

Or, you can buy just the taillights from bekkers

and then buy the cable harness at the dealer. Part # 61-1-20-140-220

Finally, here's the BMW retrofit instructions:

639 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
EDIT to above post.

This is actually the picture for Rear Parking Lights wired on the Depo Aftermarket R/C/R Tails by DIYer LuckySnafu. Where the DIYer spliced the wiring accordingly to get this vertical lighting effect below during normal driving with lamps on

Whereas the OEM Euro R/C/Rs or USA R/A/R Facelift Tails via the retrofit kit wll have this horizontal lighting effect when normal driving lamps are on and brakes are not pressed,

The main idea for the DIY upgrade is to get the independant brake lamp and not have it shared like on the pre facelift tail lamps. And also to get the trunk lid/euro fog lamp working either as a rear fog lamp or normal driving lamp.
One DIYer bypassed this lack of a rear fog lamp issue and added it to his pre-facelift tail. To do this he simply purchased a Euro rear fog bracket w/ bulb and wired it to operate as both a normal driving lamp & brake lamp. See pics below;

And he bought everything inside the part labeled number 9 in the picture below to obtain the rear fog bracket for his DIY.

You can even go further and order the LKM faceplate w/ the rear fog button as seen below labeled number 4 or 6

Command of the Rear Fog lamp adds extra brightness to the trunk lamp during normal driving so you can be seen sooner at further distances or in incliment weather by traffic behind you.

Pre-Facelift stylerear fogs

Post-Facelift style rear fogs
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