E90Post
 


European Auto Source
 
BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > E90 / E92 / E93 3-series Technical Forums > Cosmetic and Lighting Modifications (exterior/interior) > LCI LED tail lights, why they go bad.



Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
      11-13-2012, 10:51 AM   #1
brad bedell
Private
United_States
2
Rep
83
Posts

 
Drives: E90 335 and S54 Z3M
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: dallas tx

iTrader: (1)

LCI LED tail lights, why they go bad.

As these cars are going out of warranty, you guys might want to know about this cheap fix. I'll do the other light after I make sure this one is good. When I do, I'll write up a DIY.

History Overview:
Service bulletin:
"SUBJECT
LEDs in Rear Lamp Inoperative
MODEL
E90 (3 Series) from August 31, 2008 to February 2, 2010
SITUATION
The LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) in the outer left or outer right rear lamp are inoperative. Affected are the
LEDs for the parking lamp/tail lamp or the turn signals. No Check Control message is displayed.
CAUSE
Corrosion of an internal connection within the tail lamp
CORRECTION
Replace both outer rear lamps (left and right), even if only one side is inoperative. Refer to Repair Instruction
REP 63 21 180.
All lamps are to be retained intact by the dealer, awaiting either:
A parts 1. return request to send parts to BMW
An indication to scrap the parts based on information provided in the dealer's scrap report, at which time the parts are to be destroyed to prevent reuse."


That leads me to today:

I picked up some of these 'warrantied lights' recently for the purpose of trouble shooting. It's certainly NOT the connection in my case. However, if it were the connection, a bit of dielectric grease on the contacts will prevent the corrosion. BMW certainly knows this and would have 'cleaned the connection and used some grease' instead of replacing all the lights.

I suspected they had a bad solder joint. So I disassembled the lights and re-flowed the joints at the connectors between boards. I noticed when bench testing with a 9v battery that I could get them to all light up and flicker a bit if I put pressure on the solder joints.

The light came apart reasonably easy with a small screw driver. I pried them apart slowly by twisting the screw driver. They are glued on with a plastic cement or maybe even something like superglue. It's a very light bead, so breaking it apart was pretty easy. Sealing them back up will be a bit more of a chore, but not impossible. I'll get the big boy camera out to reassemble them after I repair the board.

Anyhow, this is the initial bench test:



I touched up the solder joints at all these connections shown by the pen. (at all the white wire connections)






I need to hook it up to a 12v power source to verify. I'm just using a 9v battery.


After testing a few times. I decided to stress test my 'fix' and toss it around on my desk a little and retest after each 'toss' to look for bad connections. I found I had to retouch a few of LED's. They were easy to identify by pressing down lightly with my finger on the LED itself.


Looking at the board, most of the connections are not shiny like a good solder joint. They are dull which leads me to believe the manufacturer of these boards didn't program their robot quite right. It probably needed a bit more solder and a couple more milliseconds of heat.
Appreciate 0
      11-13-2012, 01:28 PM   #2
JBizzle
Private
United_States
1
Rep
97
Posts

 
Drives: 2009 BMW 328i
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Houston, Texas

iTrader: (3)

Garage List
2000 BMW Z3 2.3  [0.00]
2009 328i  [0.00]
very nice work, Brad!
__________________
2000 Z3 2.3 - Silver - Black Leather - 5MT - Premium
2009 328i - Monaco Blue - Black Leather - 6MT - ZSP - Xenons - Logic7 - Premium
2006 325i - TiAG - Black Leather - 6MT - Sport Package - Xenons - Euro-Tails - 26k miles RIP
Appreciate 0
      11-13-2012, 11:32 PM   #3
brad bedell
Private
United_States
2
Rep
83
Posts

 
Drives: E90 335 and S54 Z3M
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: dallas tx

iTrader: (1)

I glued it back together. I'm not real comfortable about it being leak sealed. I'll be flowing some clear windshield sealant in there after I verify it's working 100%. I feels these things can come apart once at the most. The 2nd time might be doable if you used the correct type of glue/sealant.

Adding some more random peeksures:

Assembly without the LED bits:


LED bits, with chrome:


Another of the housing:

Just the lens:



Appreciate 0
      11-14-2012, 10:14 AM   #4
brad bedell
Private
United_States
2
Rep
83
Posts

 
Drives: E90 335 and S54 Z3M
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: dallas tx

iTrader: (1)

Caveat for those of you who might want to try this:

You know the TV CSI trick where they get fingerprints from super-glue vapor? Lets just say, it's not fiction.

I've got super-glue vapor prints inside the rear light now.... I guess I'll see if it comes apart a 2nd time.
Appreciate 0
      11-14-2012, 08:46 PM   #5
brad bedell
Private
United_States
2
Rep
83
Posts

 
Drives: E90 335 and S54 Z3M
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: dallas tx

iTrader: (1)

it's a parts light now.. bummer. Cracked the lens when I took it apart the 2nd time. those marks were NOT there before the superglue vapors. Pretty cool that it actually works.

Appreciate 0
      12-26-2012, 12:54 AM   #6
mapleridge
Banned
43
Rep
2,681
Posts

 
Drives: E90 N52 AT
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC

iTrader: (4)

Hi Brad,

thanks for posting this. I will make sure to wear gloves when dealing with my housings. Also, can you explain what you mean by reflowing and what the process is for adding solder to the points you mentioned? I need to repair my light.
Appreciate 0
      12-26-2012, 07:00 PM   #7
Dark_Knight_335
Came to the N55 Darkside
Dark_Knight_335's Avatar
United_States
156
Rep
10,681
Posts

 
Drives: 2011 335 E93 M-Sport
Join Date: May 2010
Location: NY/NJ

iTrader: (27)

Wow man, that is some badass work there. Wish I had your talent- I'm petrified to touch anything like that!
Appreciate 0
      12-26-2012, 07:06 PM   #8
GoRomeo
Colonel
GoRomeo's Avatar
26
Rep
2,367
Posts

 
Drives: 330i
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: San Diego CA

iTrader: (0)

Garage List
2006 330i  [2.83]
Indeed, thanks for sharing such great info. Though I dont have these issues....
Appreciate 0
      12-26-2012, 07:59 PM   #9
Game
Major General
Game's Avatar
United_States
85
Rep
5,145
Posts

 
Drives: E92 335i
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Lockport/Chicago, IL

iTrader: (15)

If anyone is looking for a LCI tail light project -

http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=785168
__________________
Appreciate 0
      12-27-2012, 01:01 AM   #10
taibanl
Brigadier General
taibanl's Avatar
65
Rep
3,647
Posts

 
Drives: BMW
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: NA

iTrader: (4)

Sub'd
Appreciate 0
      12-29-2012, 11:08 PM   #11
brad bedell
Private
United_States
2
Rep
83
Posts

 
Drives: E90 335 and S54 Z3M
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: dallas tx

iTrader: (1)

Quote:
Originally Posted by mapleridge View Post
Hi Brad,

thanks for posting this. I will make sure to wear gloves when dealing with my housings. Also, can you explain what you mean by reflowing and what the process is for adding solder to the points you mentioned? I need to repair my light.

Tin the tip of your soldering iron and touch the solder joint for a second. Too long and you'll overheat the surface mounts. On the wire contacts, I added a bit of solder. You'll want to use a high quality iron with a very fine tip.

When these were assembled they were likely baked in an oven or assembled by robot. They can be hand-repaired, but it's delicate work. If you've never done work like this before, expect to ruin the first light. However, if you're trying this, you've given up on the chance of a warranty anyhow.
Appreciate 0
      02-25-2013, 03:25 PM   #12
ERIC212NYC
Second Lieutenant
ERIC212NYC's Avatar
United_States
2
Rep
249
Posts

 
Drives: 2009 328i
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Queens, NY

iTrader: (1)

Could you post a couple of more pictures of where to solder the points? I had mine replaced twice, but now I am out of warranty and it the problem cropped up again.

I saw a picture of someone cutting the plastic on the inside to remove the board. Not sure if that is a good idea or not.

This is a very annoying problem.
Appreciate 0
      03-01-2013, 03:22 AM   #13
mapleridge
Banned
43
Rep
2,681
Posts

 
Drives: E90 N52 AT
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC

iTrader: (4)

Quote:
Originally Posted by ERIC212NYC View Post
Could you post a couple of more pictures of where to solder the points? I had mine replaced twice, but now I am out of warranty and it the problem cropped up again.

I saw a picture of someone cutting the plastic on the inside to remove the board. Not sure if that is a good idea or not.

This is a very annoying problem.
Removing the plastic might be easier to seal up. The mexican forum where that is listed the guy says he plastic welded it shut again. Sounds pretty good to me. I have this problem and I don't know which method I am going to try yet.
Appreciate 0
      03-01-2013, 02:14 PM   #14
elcheapoloco
douchebaggo
7
Rep
560
Posts

 
Drives: stick
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: CA

iTrader: (1)

Dull solder joint points to a few possibilities, most likely:

1. Not enough flux
2. Flux not sufficiently cleaned after reflow, causing oxidation.

Both will cause loose/weak solder joints. All you have to do is dab rosin flux on existing solder joint and apply heat with solder iron. You will see the solder joints turn shiny, immediately remove heat. Be sure to remove remaining flux with alcohol. Rosin flux won't cause oxidation as much as water-based flux, but it's acidic nonetheless.
Appreciate 0
      03-01-2013, 02:48 PM   #15
Dominus
First Lieutenant
Dominus's Avatar
United_States
5
Rep
388
Posts

 
Drives: 2009 Bmw 328i w/ XDrive
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Pittsburgh

iTrader: (0)

Garage List
2009 BMW 328i  [5.00]
I have a passenger set if anyone wants a cheap project one:http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=802015
Appreciate 0
      03-02-2013, 12:44 PM   #16
brad bedell
Private
United_States
2
Rep
83
Posts

 
Drives: E90 335 and S54 Z3M
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: dallas tx

iTrader: (1)

Quote:
Originally Posted by elcheapoloco View Post
Dull solder joint points to a few possibilities, most likely:

1. Not enough flux
2. Flux not sufficiently cleaned after reflow, causing oxidation.

Both will cause loose/weak solder joints. All you have to do is dab rosin flux on existing solder joint and apply heat with solder iron. You will see the solder joints turn shiny, immediately remove heat. Be sure to remove remaining flux with alcohol. Rosin flux won't cause oxidation as much as water-based flux, but it's acidic nonetheless.
Thanks for clarifying. They were dull from the factory. Not sufficiently cleaning the flux could cause the delayed failure. It's hard to say.BMW is collecting them and destroying them as often as they can on warranty.

For those who asked about getting them apart. I just used a small screwdriver and slowly worked around the lens mechanically forcing it apart. A hot knife or something else might be a better option. I don't have much experience at taking these apart. I'd lean toward a clear bead of tub and tile silicone for reassembly. It'd be water tight and could be pealed apart if necessary.

Like I said before, I cracked it the second time I attempted to take it apart. If you do take them apart, be prepared to crack them as it's very easy to do.
Appreciate 0
      06-13-2013, 09:40 AM   #17
Bobby Hated
New Member
United_States
0
Rep
6
Posts

 
Drives: 2007 328i Sport
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Los Angeles

iTrader: (0)

im having the same problem. im going to rehash this thread in case someone can advise me.

im gonna check with a family member, but say i cant manage to take my lights apart and rewire them like OP did, is my only other option to buy a whole new set? are there any shops you can take it to and have them fix it, short of buying a new set of lights?

these are the LED tail lights i have on my 07 E90: http://www.myhotbimmer.com/bmw/Optio...1-12129/609954
Appreciate 0
      08-03-2013, 06:15 PM   #18
charmin
New Member
charmin's Avatar
United Kingdom
0
Rep
20
Posts

 
Drives: 320i M-Sport June 2009
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Hampshire UK

iTrader: (0)

I recently did this repair to my 320i 09 LCi rear light cluster, posted elsewhere however I thought this may be of some help to others although the great post by Brad bedell got me started and wouldn't have tried without his input on here, these are just a few extra helping points.

It worked a treat and you would never know the light had been apart.

http://www.bimmerforums.co.uk/forum/...ml#post1102625
Appreciate 0
      08-20-2014, 03:25 PM   #19
dannypio
Registered
0
Rep
1
Posts

 
Drives: 2010 BMW 328xi
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Pittsburgh

iTrader: (0)

Photos please

I registered but still can't see the photos of your work Brad. Any way that I can view them? I'm gonna take a shot at doing this. thanks, Danny
Appreciate 0
      08-26-2014, 09:04 PM   #20
brad bedell
Private
United_States
2
Rep
83
Posts

 
Drives: E90 335 and S54 Z3M
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: dallas tx

iTrader: (1)

Photos were gone. I've looked on my hard drive and not been able to find them. Some others have posted up photos.

-B
Appreciate 0
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:37 PM.




e90post
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.7.0
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
1Addicts.com, BIMMERPOST.com, E90Post.com, F30Post.com, M3Post.com, ZPost.com, 5Post.com, 6Post.com, 7Post.com, XBimmers.com logo and trademark are properties of BIMMERPOST