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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had the tail light warning come on my '01 325i. I replaced all the bulbs and plugged everything in and nothing happened. I messed with the wires and then everything came on. The problem is that the brake light socket will not fit the 21/4 watt bulb. It will only fit the 21 watt bulb like the blinker socket uses. I looked at the lights I removed to see what BMW or the previous owner had in there and there was also a 21 watt bulb in that socket. I think this would contribute to the blinker blinking fast ever since I got the car over a year ago. I think the wire may have something to do with it or is it the bulb that doesn't fit well because it is not the right size? I am afraid I'm going to have to buy a new bulb holder because it definitely does not fit the right bulb. Any ideas??
 

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Sky King
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Unfortunately, you can throw out the bulbs you got at AutoZone. They do not have the correct information for that model car, as I had a similar problem with my old 2001 325.

Go to your closest BMW dealer and purchase the bulbs there. Before you install them, double check to make sure that all connections are good, and there is no corrosion in the socket. You should also be aware that in some of those 2001 3 series owners manuals (like my old one, for example), there are misprints regarding the correct bulb size to use. The parts department at your dealer will have the correct information.

Good luck!

-- Greg
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
You're right about the bulbs. I called BMW and they verified that the after market bulbs (like at Auto Zone) do not work properly with the car and that this is a common problem. I have to go there and by the bulbs. The guy stated that he didn't know of any place in my area that sold the silver tipped bulbs they use. I will go by the dealership after work and get some and see if they work.
 

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Drummer4J2 said:
You're right about the bulbs. I called BMW and they verified that the after market bulbs (like at Auto Zone) do not work properly with the car and that this is a common problem. I have to go there and by the bulbs. The guy stated that he didn't know of any place in my area that sold the silver tipped bulbs they use. I will go by the dealership after work and get some and see if they work.
I got 2 bulbs at autozone that work fine the trick is the labeling! you have to match the bulb manualy cause BMW wants you to go and spend more at the dealer but you dont have to... My autozone bulbs work fine:)
 

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The Autozone database had the wrong bulbs listed, which was obvious when the salesman and I examined them.

But we did find bulbs that work just fine: Sylvania 7506 P21W. Used them in both our xi's. No problems.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Okay I found out what the real problem is. It is not the bulbs. The connector has gone bad. You can see where it is burned and some of the wires are bad also. I wiggled the wires and the bulbs worked. BMW looked at it with me and said the same thing. It is obvious the connector has gone bad. I'm going to have to get it and the wiring replaced. The parts aren't expensive, but they said labor is $95/hr!!
 

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bulb wiring?

Very interesting. I'm having what seems to be the exact same issue with my 2003 325i back right lights. It turns out that the bunch of different color wiring that goes into the electrical portion of the bulbs seem to be really loose or worn away? I jiggled them around a little which then all of the back right lights then illuminate. I do think I need to replace one of the bulbs which I was thinking of going to either the dealership or Auto Zone since they're only around $4.99 or so? Would anyone recommend how to go about fixing the wiring?...perhaps using electrical tape to hold them into place, or some type of electrical glue if one exists?...or would it be covered under my BMW extended warranty coverage that I have in not allowing the dealership to use some uncovered scam angle?
 

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Rambling Wreck
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Very interesting. I'm having what seems to be the exact same issue with my 2003 325i back right lights. It turns out that the bunch of different color wiring that goes into the electrical portion of the bulbs seem to be really loose or worn away? I jiggled them around a little which then all of the back right lights then illuminate...Would anyone recommend how to go about fixing the wiring?...perhaps using electrical tape to hold them into place, or some type of electrical glue if one exists?...or would it be covered under my BMW extended warranty coverage that I have in not allowing the dealership to use some uncovered scam angle?
Does the connector look burnt? BMW has issued (and recently updated) a service bulletin for the tail light connectors. Insufficient grounding can cause the connectors to burn up. Ask your dealer to look up bulletin number 63 03 06. The bulletin covers repair of the connectors and installation of an additional ground wire in each tail light.

My tail light connectors were not burned, but they repeatedly set the "bulb failure" warning light in the instrument cluster. Ever since I installed the additional ground to each tail light more than two months ago, the warning hasn't come back. :thumbup:
 

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Yes, the wiring does look burnt for my back right tail lights. I just tried to call one dealership now about looking up bulletin number 63 03 06 as you mention and their tune totally did a 180. Seemed like noone wanted to or was willing to answer my question and nervously hung up. Perhaps they're afraid of some possible lawsuit or main responsibility action?

So you installed the additional ground yourself or was the dealer able to do it? Good for you G. P. Glad to hear things went smooth for you. I'm kind of a newbie to cars and service guys and am growing fonder by the moment to hear another story of the customer not getting scammed by the dealer since I've been learning the hard way in dealing with those stealerships ;-)
 

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Rambling Wreck
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Yes, the wiring does look burnt for my back right tail lights. I just tried to call one dealership now about looking up bulletin number 63 03 06 as you mention and their tune totally did a 180. Seemed like noone wanted to or was willing to answer my question and nervously hung up. Perhaps they're afraid of some possible lawsuit or main responsibility action?
What a strange reaction to an easy fix for a common problem. :dunno:

The people you spoke to may not be accustomed to dealing with informed customers. The mere mention of burnt parts could have given them the mistaken impression that you were ready to sue.

Talk to the service manager about your problem, explain that you have learned about a potential solution, and see if they're willing to work with you to fix the problem.

So you installed the additional ground yourself or was the dealer able to do it?
My local dealer parts guy was kind enough to fax the bulletin to me. The parts needed for the repair are listed in the bulletin. I bought the parts from the dealer and installed the extra grounds myself. It wasn't difficult.
 

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I can't believe this...I've just called to about 5 dealerships in my area and none of them are willing to fax me the service bulletin giving me the run around that they're not permitted to fax it to me?! They're all playing hard ball saying I have to schedule an appointment (which I know by then they have my car and at their mercy in starting off charging me at least a diagonostic $50+ fee), transferring me around in circles with their co-workers and are avoid trying to help me.

Was that a special instance or favor that your dealer was able to fax the service bulletin to you? Or would you be willing to fax or email me a copy or photo of it? I'd be willing to pay you the fax cost plus a few more instead of the unecessary headaches with these shady stealerships :)
 

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Yeah, same here. My back right tail lights are slightly dimmer than my back left side when the lights do work after jiggling the wires. I tried to put electrical tape on mine but still goes out much and still having not much luck with a copy of the service bulletin 63-03-06. I'm pretty sure it's my wiring and was wondering if anyone knew if it's possible to buy replacing wires and how much? If there were it still seems like it'll be a major task since it looks like those wires run underneath and behind the main back panel and side as to how would one even access them?
 

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Rambling Wreck
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I can't believe this...I've just called to about 5 dealerships in my area and none of them are willing to fax me the service bulletin giving me the run around that they're not permitted to fax it to me?!

...Was that a special instance or favor that your dealer was able to fax the service bulletin to you? Or would you be willing to fax or email me a copy or photo of it? I'd be willing to pay you the fax cost plus a few more instead of the unecessary headaches with these shady stealerships :)
We have a good relationship with our local dealer parts guys. :)

I could send you the bulletin, but I don't have to. Someone posted this link over at Bimmerforums after I mentioned the bulletin number over there.

As for your wires, if the damage isn't too extensive, you should be able to repair the harness without removing much more than the tail light cluster. The interior panels in the trunk are fairly easy to remove if you need to get farther into the wire harness.
 

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Thanks a bunch for the link to the bulletin and wiring info. I totally appreciate it. I finally was able to get a copy of the bulletin yesterday from one of the parts dealer (thought the Service dept. would've cooperated more than the Parts dept.). As I was at the dealership I spoke to the service manager and filled him in on my situation. I showed him the service bulletin and mentioned my situation matches exactly this and I'm not going to schedule an appointment with them unless it's confirmed that this will be covered which he said yes (I even showed him my police "fix-it" ticket that I got because of this to add more to my momentum). So I have an appointment with them on Mon. hoping he won't go back on his word and say it's not covered and jack up the cost. Wish me luck as I'll be at their mercy once when my car is in their hands :) I'll keep you guys posted on how it goes in case it does go well and someone else has this problem. Thanks again G.P. and guys. You guys with this forums thing are awesome :)
 

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Just to give an update on how it went taking it my car to the service dealership for anyone else having this problem is I guess would consider close to good. But I went in there armed with the service bulletin printout (much thanks to the awesome G.P. Burdell) and a video tape of me testing the lights the day before proving it was that burnt brown wire that connects to the lamp connector) which I think had them on their heels knowing that there was not much wiggle room for an "uncovered" angle. Guess I was hoping for the best in a $0 fee since this is mentioned on the service bulletin that it's covered but didn't put forth the energy to argue when he said my car was finished and all I needed to do is pay the $50 deductible warranty service fee. Oh well, I'll take paying $50 versus hundreds or thousands any day as a no brainer :) It's finally fixed as they installed the new wiring and connector like the service bulletin mentions and a bit more relieved. Thanks again guys.
 

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Ubergeek
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We have a good relationship with our local dealer parts guys. :)

I could send you the bulletin, but I don't have to. Someone posted this link over at Bimmerforums after I mentioned the bulletin number over there.

As for your wires, if the damage isn't too extensive, you should be able to repair the harness without removing much more than the tail light cluster. The interior panels in the trunk are fairly easy to remove if you need to get farther into the wire harness.
Wow, thanks G.P. I missed this link the first time around. I'm going to add it to the wiki.
 

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Rambling Wreck
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It's finally fixed as they installed the new wiring and connector like the service bulletin mentions and a bit more relieved. Thanks again guys.
Excellent! Persistence pays off! :thumbup:

Wow, thanks G.P. I missed this link the first time around. I'm going to add it to the wiki.
Glad to help. :)

BTW, my tail lights have been trouble-free for the past three months. The fix outlined in the service bulletin works.
 
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