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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > BMW E90/E92/E93 3-series General Forums > General E90 Sedan / E91 Wagon / E92 Coupe / E93 Cabrio > Shaky, non-adaptive Xenons round 2



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      05-23-2012, 11:51 AM   #1
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Shaky, non-adaptive Xenons round 2

I originally posted about shaky Xenons in my first post here.

I have:
  • removed the bumper and checked that all of the headlight fasteners are tight.
  • verified that the auto-leveling motor is securely attached to the inner mechanism
  • verified that the manual height adjuster (i.e. aiming adjustment) is securely attached to the inner mechanism
  • obtained a copy of SI 63 13 07 and reviewed

The copy of the TSB I received was only for E92 and E93 - is that correct or is there an E90 version out there too? It made no mention of the reinforcement parts for E90s.

If I raise the hood and push down on the top of the clear part of the lights, I can observe substantial deflection downward. The rear black plastic are of the lights don't seem to move. I would think TSB-style reinforcements would help with this.

If I use the heel of my palm to bump the top of the clear lenses, I can hear and see the "brr-rr-rr-rr" of rattling inside. The entire Xenon/DRL/AE assembly seems to jiggle up and down. Worse on the driver's side. It seems like fasteners might just need tightening but they're definitely internal to the lights. I suppose that ball/socket joints at the aiming adjustments and/or auto-leveling could be loose too but they are attached and not broken or popped out since these adjustments work fine.

I believe that the fine print on my third party warranty excludes "headlights" (stated exactly like that) so I think I'm probably SOL on this one in terms of warranty.

So, what are my options? Anyone else have this or fix it? I'm not forking over for new lights out of my own pocket. I don't have any interest in aftermarket lights, unless it was just components that prematurely wear in OE lights. I think I've read references to "baking" the lights which I presume means that they are sealed shut from the factory and heat is required to open them. I would be interested in replacing the lenses too since the PO didn't put a film on them and they're a bit pitted, but I've been led to believe that these aren't available for E90s like for older BMWs.

What about the TSB - is there an E90 version for the sedan? Supports would help, but the components inside the light are loose enough that I think extra supports probably wouldn't fix the problem.

Thanks,
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      05-24-2012, 09:13 AM   #2
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They all shake a little. Even the lights in my X5 shake. Aim them up a little and it won't be as noticable
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      05-24-2012, 10:15 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David1 View Post
They all shake a little. Even the lights in my X5 shake. Aim them up a little and it won't be as noticable
This.

All BMW xenon lights "shake" bc they adjust to uneven roads. Since no road is 100% flat or defect free, they appear to habitually shake/flicker. It's all part of the adaptable/adjustable system...perfectly normal.
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      05-24-2012, 10:19 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChuckBMW3 View Post
This.

All BMW xenon lights "shake" bc they adjust to uneven roads. Since no road is 100% flat or defect free, they appear to habitually shake/flicker. It's all part of the adaptable/adjustable system...perfectly normal.
Took mine to the dealer last week for the same problem and since then the shake is gone. Mine is adaptive though. This may be due to one of two reasons:

1. The dealer fixed it. The service receipt however doesn't show what was done in detail (e.g replaced headlight, support mechanisms), and I forgot to ask the SA what was done since it was the 3rd thing on the list of checks I made for them.

2. I changes my tires to non-RFT's last Saturday (day after dealer visit).
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      05-24-2012, 10:58 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChuckBMW3 View Post
This.

All BMW xenon lights "shake" bc they adjust to uneven roads. Since no road is 100% flat or defect free, they appear to habitually shake/flicker. It's all part of the adaptable/adjustable system...perfectly normal.
With all due respect, I'm not sure that people who rush up to say "it's normal" are reading the entire post.

I don't have adaptive (i.e. steering) headlights which are known to shake more than non-adaptive. We all have self-leveling lights if we have xenons because it's required by law but I can assure you that it is not the leveling system that I'm seeing in action. I can see it at work too and it's not the same thing.

As I said, if I raise my hood and tap the top of the light housing I can HEAR the rattling and see that it's the entire DRL/Xenon/AE assembly rattling around inside the housing. When you thump it with your palm you hear the "brrrrrrrrr" of rattling continue for 1-1.5 seconds following the hit. Does "everyone's" lights do that?

If your lights rattle when you bump (not bang or smash) the housing with your palm then it's broken too in my opinion. When driving on anything but perfect roads I can see the left beam in particular bouncing and flickering around. It's not subtle, it's embarrassing and I'm sure in some conditions it's flickering right into driver's eyes. Other Xenon equipped BMWs (therefore also self-leveling) in the family haven't done this unless the adjusters were broken, which was common on the E39 and easy to diagnose.


Quote:
Originally Posted by SERI335 View Post
Took mine to the dealer last week for the same problem and since then the shake is gone. Mine is adaptive though. This may be due to one of two reasons:

1. The dealer fixed it. The service receipt however doesn't show what was done in detail (e.g replaced headlight, support mechanisms), and I forgot to ask the SA what was done since it was the 3rd thing on the list of checks I made for them.

2. I changes my tires to non-RFT's last Saturday (day after dealer visit).
I already have non-RFTs. It would be interesting to know if your dealer did something and what it was. Do you have a sedan or coupe/convertible? The TSB is not for sedans from what I can tell.

I'd just complain at the dealer if I had any warranty coverage, of course. The DIYs for opening these headlights look really, really nasty, error prone, and like they'll never be the same once you get them open. I notice that I can see the screws which fasten the outer lens to some interior component. Too bad they didn't just make these things easier to take apart using a rubber gasket and bolts instead of hot glue.
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      07-02-2012, 04:32 PM   #6
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So, I had a little time to pull the bumper and look around a little more.

To summarize, there are two components causing unacceptable headlight shaking while driving. The first is that the whole assembly is permitted to bounce and oscillate. Thumping the top with the ball of your joint causes a "boing" of the entire light assembly. This bouncing them allows any looseness inside the light assembly to go crazy. My driver's side lamp has some loose components inside which bounce around more than the passenger side, though both light assemblies bounce.

With things apart, I'm able to get an idea of what the problem is, and some of it may be design-related. Or, the PO (or service agent) has incorrectly reassembled the entire area after some sort of repair.

The lights are mounted into the body as two pieces. Using RealOEM as a picture reference:

There is the headlight which mounts atop/within the headlight arm/holder which runs along the bottom of the light itself.

Here's the fun part - the attachment points.

The headlight itself fastens to the body with two screws on the top. These are visible when you look down at the lights when opening the hood.

The headlight arm fastens to the body with two screws from the front which is hidden under the bumper near the kidney grills. There is a third screw inserted in the rear of the arm from the wheel well near where the bumper skin meets the fender. There is on screw which attachs the headlight to the arm from the side, near where the signal light is integrated into the headlight assembly.

That's it! The headlight fastens to the body with two screws from the top and then another screw which fastens to the arm. The arm is supported from the sides and not the top OR the bottom. There is no bottom support for EITHER the headlight or the arm. If I push lightly on the top of the headlight, it pretty easily deflects downward and will push down on the bumper skin at the same time. Tap it and it goes "boing" due to lack of support from the bottom.

Now, I believe the TSB about headlight shaking only applies to the coupe and the cabriolet. The sedan is in need of a retrofit here IMO. My dad's F10 doesn't have any flex or vibration in the same way my E90 does. I've looked at RealOEM and I don't think pieces were forgotten on my individual car during some repair. If this description doesn't sound accurate to anyone out there, please speak up! I see holes and places that other supports could be attached but there's nothing there.

If I could fix the "boing" of the whole light assembly, I bet that the internal vibrations inside of the light would be few enough that it wouldn't cause me any problems.

The other thing I noticed, is that my headlights contain part numbers that RealOEM has never heard of. The left side is 63-11-6-942-735.

Sorry these are just phone pics, showing my "unlisted" part number and the fact that there are no supports under the light or arm from the front or side.

Note also that parts 11 and 12 look like extra supports and neither is listed for my E90:click for RealOEM
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      07-03-2012, 12:01 AM   #7
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mine shake a lot on my E90 like to the point where on coming traffic are flashing their high beams at me. The 07 E92 I traded in for the E90 was perfectly fine. It's really quite annoying. I tried switching them to "on" instead of "auto" but it didn't help anything. My "active" headlights are a little too "active."
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      07-03-2012, 07:46 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alpine390 View Post
mine shake a lot on my E90 like to the point where on coming traffic are flashing their high beams at me. The 07 E92 I traded in for the E90 was perfectly fine. It's really quite annoying. I tried switching them to "on" instead of "auto" but it didn't help anything. My "active" headlights are a little too "active."
Yes, I've read that active lights are prone to shake even more, so I specifically state that mine are not adaptive. There's lots of misinformation out there. My Bentley manual even states in black and white that in order to have bi-xenon lights you must also have adaptive. That's simply not true.

I expect that adaptive lights shake more because there's yet another stepper motor and pivot mechanism (to sweep left/right) which adds more play and a potential area of vibration.

My biggest issue is that the lights are improperly supported in the body. If the entire lighting assembly wasn't rattling around it wouldn't promote vibration (and wear) inside the expensive lighting assembly itself.

I can't believe that the E90 is excluded from the retrofit with issues like this. I'm also surprised that more owner's aren't up in arms instead of just saying "it's normal". It's really bad, on my car at least, and that's without including any shake inside the light. As you can see from the thread, I've already checked that the light is properly tightened down. There's lots of space under the lights for additional supports, and even places on the light housings where these supports can attach (and possibly do on E91/92/93).

sigh

I guess I could just buy the parts shown in the TSB and see if there's any way they can be used on the E90, but it would be a crap shoot (and probably a waste of money).
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      07-03-2012, 04:20 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Surly73 View Post
Yes, I've read that active lights are prone to shake even more, so I specifically state that mine are not adaptive. There's lots of misinformation out there. My Bentley manual even states in black and white that in order to have bi-xenon lights you must also have adaptive. That's simply not true.

I expect that adaptive lights shake more because there's yet another stepper motor and pivot mechanism (to sweep left/right) which adds more play and a potential area of vibration.

My biggest issue is that the lights are improperly supported in the body. If the entire lighting assembly wasn't rattling around it wouldn't promote vibration (and wear) inside the expensive lighting assembly itself.

I can't believe that the E90 is excluded from the retrofit with issues like this. I'm also surprised that more owner's aren't up in arms instead of just saying "it's normal". It's really bad, on my car at least, and that's without including any shake inside the light. As you can see from the thread, I've already checked that the light is properly tightened down. There's lots of space under the lights for additional supports, and even places on the light housings where these supports can attach (and possibly do on E91/92/93).

sigh

I guess I could just buy the parts shown in the TSB and see if there's any way they can be used on the E90, but it would be a crap shoot (and probably a waste of money).
It's really strange that your E90 doesn't have adaptive Xenons.. I thought it was either halogen, standard on a 328, or the xenon package, which is the adaptive setup that is standard on the 335.

Do you have a small sensor connected to the front left suspension? Or just the load level sensor attached to the rear suspension?

Does the outside of the projector housing say "BMW DYNAMIC XENON" ?
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      07-03-2012, 07:55 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timmahh View Post
It's really strange that your E90 doesn't have adaptive Xenons.. I thought it was either halogen, standard on a 328, or the xenon package, which is the adaptive setup that is standard on the 335.

Do you have a small sensor connected to the front left suspension? Or just the load level sensor attached to the rear suspension?

Does the outside of the projector housing say "BMW DYNAMIC XENON" ?
I haven't checked for the front suspension sensor, but the lights say "BMW Xenon". They are definitely bi-xenons (the halogen is DRL and flash-to-pass only). The option sheet from that Russian site says that it has bi-xenons and does not list the adaptive option.

Take a look at my RealOEM page

It says the options are:
  • Valeo halogens
  • ZKW Bi-Xenons
  • ZKW AHL bi-xenons

The thing I find weird is that RealOEM says my driver's side PN is 63-11-7-161-665, but the light is a ZKW and shows 63-11-6-942-735 which RealOEM has never heard of on any car. The only google hit for that part number is Hella cross reference to a Xenon, non-AHL light. *shrug*

At any rate, I may price out the bouncy light TSB parts, but I suspect there will be enough body differences between the coupe/cab and sedan that it will be a total waste of money. This is enough of an issue I may try to rig something up, but it won't be sexy.

Has anyone taken the bumper off of their E90 and found anything other than the supportless setup I've found on mine?
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      07-03-2012, 08:41 PM   #11
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check the adjustor that goes into the inside body of the light, both of my headlights are broken inside there and if i didnt take my lights apart i wouldnt have known
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      07-04-2012, 07:08 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saxon View Post
check the adjustor that goes into the inside body of the light, both of my headlights are broken inside there and if i didnt take my lights apart i wouldnt have known
I presume that you mean the vertical and horizontal adjusters. These are very, very common failures on E39s (which I had until May). I *think* that mechanism is stable and fine. The lights respond to adjustments on either screw and seem well attached. I have re-aimed the headlights myself since acquiring the car so I have been using those adjustments. See http://www.danielsternlighting.com/tech/aim/aim.html

I would love to take the light apart, if only it was easier (like on the E39 - tired of me talking about E39s yet?) All of the DIYs I've read from people who want to put rainbow LEDs in their AEs or whatever make it look like the lights are never the same again after heating, prying, scraping etc...

Broken adjusters would affect the stability of the projectors in the light assembly. I want to make sure I'm clear that I'm getting vibration of the entire light unit that is unacceptable, as well as a certain degree of vibration in the projector (which could be broken adjusters, loose screws, whatever). When you lightly thump the top of the light (hood open) you can see the whole thing - including the exterior lexan covering - vibrates up and down due to lack of support from the bottom. I am reasonably confident that if I stopped the whole assembly from shaking, then the projector vibration would be acceptable but not zero. What's left may be the "normal" shaking people describe.

Last edited by Surly73; 07-04-2012 at 07:21 AM.
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      07-04-2012, 03:15 PM   #13
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not sure about canada but every U.S. E9x that has xenons also have the adaptive feature. BMW says it's "normal" because it is normal for them to do it a little bit, but mine do it a lot. It's hard to get them to replicate the problem too since it's always daytime when the dealer is open so I haven't even tried to get it fixed.
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      07-04-2012, 08:24 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alpine390 View Post
not sure about canada but every U.S. E9x that has xenons also have the adaptive feature. BMW says it's "normal" because it is normal for them to do it a little bit, but mine do it a lot. It's hard to get them to replicate the problem too since it's always daytime when the dealer is open so I haven't even tried to get it fixed.
Incorrect, adaptive feature means lights turning horizontally when you turn. This feature is optional in most cases. What you probably have in mind is auto leveling which translates to horizontal adjustment based on additional weight of the car.
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      07-05-2012, 07:17 AM   #15
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Incorrect, adaptive feature means lights turning horizontally when you turn. This feature is optional in most cases. What you probably have in mind is auto leveling which translates to horizontal adjustment based on additional weight of the car.
Well, I've seen other written sources (like Bentley) state that to get bi-xenon you must have adaptive too. That's not the case, my car and RealOEM prove that, but maybe it's how the cars were optioned in the US market? I dunno.

I do know that, as Virterm says, the auto-leveling setup is required by law in most jurisdictions to prevent oncoming drivers from being dazzled by every car with luggage in the trunk. If you've got xenons, you're supposed to have auto-leveling. In Europe they even have manual leveling controls on halogen-equipped cars, which I think is pretty cool (other than the fact that the leveling motors would cause more light shake).
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      07-16-2012, 07:42 AM   #16
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Well, a little more information.

Over the past weekend I had the opportunity to drive on a rough patch of road at night with a pre-LCI, Xenon E90 behind me. My lights were bouncing around, and no bouncing at all was detectable from behind. I followed an LCI car at another time - same thing. So, it's not "normal".

As I mentioned, I think a substantial contributing factor is the entire assembly bouncing around in the car. If anyone has a TSB# that's valid for sedans I'd like to hear it. I think next week I'm going to plan to put the front of the car up, remove the bumper and headlights, refinish my light lenses and look thoroughly for any improper assembly or opportunity to install additional supports under the lights when I put things back together.
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      07-16-2012, 08:44 AM   #17
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The LCI is a different design and not comparable.
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      07-26-2012, 02:05 PM   #18
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So I had my headlights out of the car yesterday to refinish the lenses as well as check out everything I possibly could with respect to how they are mounted to try to reduce the shaking. While I had them out I removed the back panel used for bulb replacement and thoroughly looked and fiddled around inside.

Both horizontal and vertical adjusters are intact and connected to the assemblies. The servo motor (non-adaptive, auto-leveling) is also intact and firmly connected. No internal components appear loose. There is some movement in the internal assembly if you push the bulb socket around but it isn't loose and rattlely, there is just some play because of the adjusters and auto-leveling linkages.

I studied how the light and frame mount to the body and tried some different positions. Everything leads to "sproing" when you thump on the assembly. I think this is 100% my problem and nothing is wrong inside of the lights. None of the mountings for the lights or light frame seem to be missing, damaged or improperly assembled.

Why is my car special? Both lights too, not just one.

I tried to take cell phone video of the problem with the bumper off and everything clearly visible. I haven't viewed it on PC but I believe that the reduced frame rate (15 fps I think) basically makes the vibration unviewable since it's too fast to be captures by 15 fps. I'll check it out and see as soon as I have time.
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