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E90 335i LCI Reflector Replacement
Published by zzzbullseye
01-17-2010
E90 335i LCI Reflector Replacement

I thought I'd post a few pix of the reflector swap I did yesterday. This is a fairly simple DIY, which took me around an hour to do. A few flat blade screwdrivers and a hairdryer were the only tools used. I've read that other forum members have alternately used Goo Gone (or other similar solvent) instead of the hairdryer to loosen up the adhesive on the reflectors - I wasn't really comfortable with this method, but to each his own.

I removed the front wheels to get better access to the wheel well and although the reflectors can be removed without doing this, I highly recommend it for ease of access. I did take some of the pix before removing the wheels.

The front reflectors on e90 LCIs are partially covered by the interior plastic lining of the wheel well (you can see this in the fourth picture below). Three of the screws holding the lining in place need to be removed so the lining can be pulled away from the reflector. Screw locations can be seen in the first two photos below.

Location of screws #1 and #2




Location of screw #3




Pry the lining away from the top end of the reflector and use a screwdriver handle or other object to hold it open.




The photo below is of the backside of the reflector as seen from inside the wheel well. Notice the lining partially covering the reflector. As noted in the photo, I found the best point to start prying was at the bottom end of the reflector, it's much easier to access and once you get the reflector loose it's easier to use the leverage from the bottom. Heat the bottom part of the reflector alternately from inside the wheel well and out for a few minutes - this loosens/softens the adhesive that holds the reflector in place. I should state here that once you begin prying the reflector loose, you should proceed with caution, if you get over anxious and start prying with force and high angle against the bumper, you can very easily dimple the bumper. If the reflector is resisting, try heating again, and as much as possible, pull against the reflector perpendicular to the face of the bumper as opposed to levering against the inside of the bumper. Place a flat blade screwdriver or other thin prying tool where the arrow indicates and gently slide it under. Begin lifting here. As noted in the photo, be careful when prying along the outside edge of the bumper, this area is very flexible and can easily be damaged by a screwdriver if you get over aggressive. Continue to heat along the path of travel as you loosen the reflector.





Once the reflector has been removed, scrape off any remaining adhesive that didn't come off with the reflector from the inside of the bumper.

I'm probably missing a picture here, but the install of the new reflector should be fairly self explanatory. Remove the adhesive backing on the front flange of the reflector, then slide it into place from inside the wheel well. Press firmly in place. I heated the reflector/bumper a bit with the hairdryer to ensure a nice bond...I'm not sure this is really necessary.


The results...

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  #1  
By HsiangHsu on 01-17-2010, 02:36 PM
great diy installation guide! has anyone think about leaving out the reflector (not installing any reflector piece on the bumper)?
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  #2  
By zzzbullseye on 01-17-2010, 02:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HsiangHsu View Post
great diy installation guide! has anyone think about leaving out the reflector (not installing any reflector piece on the bumper)?
Thanks. Hmmm...I think that would look odd, kinda like it just fell out!
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  #3  
By Mr.Black on 01-18-2010, 02:42 AM
while painted reflectors looks much better, I'm hoping to do a smoked refelctor, but not seen any available for LCI E90 yet.
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  #4  
By barbagallo on 04-19-2010, 04:07 PM
Just a fair warning to anyone attempting to do this. Although this seems to be an easy DIY, it's not.

The potential of f'king up your bumper is rather high, all at the cost of having painted reflectors instead of real ones.

Anyone else have any tips? I'm done hacking away at the adhesive for now.
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  #5  
By zzzbullseye on 04-19-2010, 08:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arisemedia View Post
Just a fair warning to anyone attempting to do this. Although this seems to be an easy DIY, it's not.

The potential of f'king up your bumper is rather high, all at the cost of having painted reflectors instead of real ones.

Anyone else have any tips? I'm done hacking away at the adhesive for now.
Did you use a hair dryer and attempt to heat up the adhesive..? Once you get it started it becomes much easier to work the reflector the rest of the way.

Here's a link to another DIY explaining the "Goo Gone" method. As others in this thread have indicated, Goo Gone should be safe to use, just know that any exterior surface that you apply it to will have to be re-waxed. I've used Goo Gone in other applications and it works well. If it were me, I'd still use the hairdryer to heat up the area and soften the adhesive.

Not sure what else to suggest, it's definitely not worth messing up your bumper if you can't get the reflector to budge.
Last edited by zzzbullseye; 04-20-2010 at 07:15 AM.
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  #6  
By MeeTsenPu on 04-20-2010, 09:25 AM
Great write up and I will def agree it was a lot more of a pain in the ass then what it looks like on the surface. My tip would be to get a set of plastic trim remover tools ($10) from Harbor Freight and use that to pry it up and always work from the back of the bumper and not the front. That plus the hairdryer and LOTS of patience will lead to a successful mod!
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  #7  
By nycport on 04-20-2010, 09:49 PM
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I'm looking forward to using this post this weekend whe i do my swap.
Thanks for doing this!
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  #8  
By zzzbullseye on 04-21-2010, 07:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nycport View Post
I'm looking forward to using this post this weekend whe i do my swap.
Thanks for doing this!
No problem, glad to help. Good luck this weekend and feel free to report back your experience if so inclined.
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  #9  
By MassBimmer on 10-05-2010, 11:08 AM
Great write-up, just performed this mod last night. First reflector was a pain, took me about an hour but once I knew better what to do, second one went in no problem
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  #10  
By zzzbullseye on 10-09-2010, 09:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MassBimmer View Post
Great write-up, just performed this mod last night. First reflector was a pain, took me about an hour but once I knew better what to do, second one went in no problem
Thanks. That was pretty much my experience too.
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  #11  
By RacerUnderTheSon on 10-21-2010, 12:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arisemedia View Post
Just a fair warning to anyone attempting to do this. Although this seems to be an easy DIY, it's not.

The potential of f'king up your bumper is rather high, all at the cost of having painted reflectors instead of real ones.

Anyone else have any tips? I'm done hacking away at the adhesive for now.
agree 100% the 3M double sided tape is difficult to remove, and if you leave any behind the new reflector will not be flush... give it at least 30 min just to removed the glue
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  #12  
By Mywifes335 on 11-16-2010, 11:19 PM
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Has anyone tried to paint the reflectors?

I was actually unable to find the colored reflectors (the ones on Ebay are advertised for E90s, but they look like they're for the E92s), so I bought color-matched spray paint instead.

It looks like this DIY is pretty involved and has a high risk of either: 1. damaging the reflector or 2. damaging the bumper.

I was wondering if anyone has painted the reflectors while they are still on the bumper by just masking off most of the front quarter area?

Or, if anyone has removed the old reflectors, prepped and painted them, and re-installed them?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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  #13  
By zzzbullseye on 11-17-2010, 07:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mywifes335 View Post
I was actually unable to find the colored reflectors (the ones on Ebay are advertised for E90s, but they look like they're for the E92s), so I bought color-matched spray paint instead.

It looks like this DIY is pretty involved and has a high risk of either: 1. damaging the reflector or 2. damaging the bumper.

I was wondering if anyone has painted the reflectors while they are still on the bumper by just masking off most of the front quarter area?

Or, if anyone has removed the old reflectors, prepped and painted them, and re-installed them?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

For others that may be interested, I picked up my reflectors from the fellas at WSTO. They have a post in the sponsors section here on e90post as well, find it here. There are other well known BMW aftermarket merchants that sell them as well (Bimmian, jbspeed, etc)...

I wouldn't describe this mod as particularly involved or high risk, but this is an opinion...I believe the process to be fairly straightforward, and the prospects for success reasonably high, as is evidenced by the many forum members that have performed the mod without incident. However, there are no guarantees and I wouldn't encourage anyone with significant reservations to try this. Educate yourself and proceed accordingly.

@Mywifes335 - If you're gonna go to the trouble of removing the reflector, I would just replace it with a pre-painted replacement (see sources above). Painting in place by masking off the area is also an option folks have used with success. I have a buddy that has done this very thing that may be able to share some tips - he can be contacted on e90post at OM3G@. Good luck.
Last edited by zzzbullseye; 06-08-2012 at 06:22 AM.
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  #14  
By OM3G@ on 11-17-2010, 08:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zzzbullseye View Post
Painting in place by masking off the area is also an option folks have used with success. I have a buddy that has done this very thing that may be able to share some tips - he can be contacted on e90post at OM3G@. Good luck.
I did indeed. Only cost about $15 in materials (color-matched spraypaint, painter's tape, plastic drop-cloths and 100-grit sandpaper). The paint shop I went to had a book of factory car color codes, so no guessing or trial/error. The most time consuming part was masking off the reflectors. I went over them probably 8-10 times which may sound like a lot but took a few minutes for each coat to dry. I can post pics when I get home.
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  #15  
By OM3G@ on 11-17-2010, 04:39 PM
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as promised

As you can see, the color match is perfect but the paint job isn't. It doesn't concern me since you have to get up real close to see any imperfections and they're cheap to replace.
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  #16  
By Mywifes335 on 11-18-2010, 10:10 PM
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You guys are great!

OM3G@ - thanks for the anecdotal post, and the great pic. I think you did a great job. Don't mean to be a bother, but what steps did you take to prep the surface and how much of the area did you mask? Did you tape up to the edge of the reflector or did you try to tuck a bit of the tape into the edge?

zzzbullseye - Aw man, I should've checked on the forum beforehand. The paint got delivered today.

Thank you both!

Going to pick up the car from the body shop tomorrow. It got rear-ended but I took the opportunity to swap the stock bumper for the M-technic version. Hope that the body shop guys did a good job. New lip spoiler going on too. While the car was in their shop, I asked them how much to paint the reflectors and they wanted $350 to remove them and then paint/install. Crazy.
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  #17  
By zzzbullseye on 11-19-2010, 07:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mywifes335 View Post
OM3G@ - thanks for the anecdotal post, and the great pic. I think you did a great job. Don't mean to be a bother, but what steps did you take to prep the surface and how much of the area did you mask? Did you tape up to the edge of the reflector or did you try to tuck a bit of the tape into the edge?

zzzbullseye - Aw man, I should've checked on the forum beforehand. The paint got delivered today.

Thank you both!

Going to pick up the car from the body shop tomorrow. It got rear-ended but I took the opportunity to swap the stock bumper for the M-technic version. Hope that the body shop guys did a good job. New lip spoiler going on too. While the car was in their shop, I asked them how much to paint the reflectors and they wanted $350 to remove them and then paint/install. Crazy.
$350!? That's an "I don't really wanna do it, and if I do, you're gonna PAY" price! Good luck with the reflectors and congrats on the bumper/spoiler.
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  #18  
By OM3G@ on 11-20-2010, 11:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mywifes335 View Post
OM3G@ - thanks for the anecdotal post, and the great pic. I think you did a great job. Don't mean to be a bother, but what steps did you take to prep the surface and how much of the area did you mask? Did you tape up to the edge of the reflector or did you try to tuck a bit of the tape into the edge?
No bother at all. I was probably overly cautious with the masking, I think I covered about 3/4 of the hood, half the front bumper, all of the two front wheels and of course the entire quarter panel on both sides. I did my best to tuck the tape into the gaps between the reflectors and body as much as possible. Once I got it masked off I just roughed up the surface with sandpaper to get good adhesion with the paint.

$350 is effin' bananas.
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  #19  
By Mywifes335 on 11-20-2010, 10:59 PM
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So it's done - DIY painted reflectors

Foremost, I commend OM3G@ for his help and step-by-step instruction, it was very helpful.

Mine came out OK, but not as good as his. The paint job itself was pretty good, actually, as I took the time to mask (basically the entire front of the car too), sand, and prep the reflectors. I then applied several thin coats of primer and then paint; each pass allowing for adequate time to dry per the rattle can instructions. Finally, I put down two thicker coats of paint. I'll post the pics as soon as I can get it off my camera.

Where did it go wrong? The paint match wasn't 100% perfect even though Duplicolor claimed that their paint was "Jet Black, 668". Also, the paint and primer seeped a bit onto one edge of the driver's side fender area surrounding the reflector, creating a little bit of a line. I blame either the sanding or just crappy tape (http://frogtape.com/). This stuff wasn't cheap either. Being a bit inpatient, I tried to scrape the excess edge off with my fingernail and ended up nicking the freshly painted but dry reflector as well. It's not perfect, but from a foot away, it looks pretty good.

It took basically 2 hours to mask, sand, prep, and then primer and paint the reflectors. It took another 30 minutes to clean up and nick the freshly painted reflector on the driver's side.

My advice to anyone else who wants to undertake this DIY - use a thinner width tape that is specified for automotive paint (http://www.autogeek.net/3m-auto-masking-tapes.html). I imagine this will get you a cleaner edge. Also, use two layers of that brown paper to mask off areas where you think will be in the path of the spray. I had a little hint of overspray haze too (about 1/2 sq. in).

All in all, I bought more material than I actually needed, but only used the below:

1 can Duplicolor - $7.95 + shipping (used about 1/3 of the can)
1 can Krylon primer - $5.99 (can still seems pretty full)
1 roll frog tape - $12.00
1 roll brown masking paper - $4.00
assorted sandpaper - about $2.00 worth

Grand total - about $32 and 2 hours of labor.
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  #20  
By OM3G@ on 11-21-2010, 03:43 PM
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Sorry yours didn't come out the way you wanted. I always thought that maybe I should have primed, but after hearing of your experience perhaps not. I wonder how much a factory set from BMW costs, perhaps you could get a set and do them off the car now that you've had some practice.
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  #21  
By zzzbullseye on 11-21-2010, 06:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mywifes335 View Post
Foremost, I commend OM3G@ for his help and step-by-step instruction, it was very helpful.

Mine came out OK, but not as good as his. The paint job itself was pretty good, actually, as I took the time to mask (basically the entire front of the car too), sand, and prep the reflectors. I then applied several thin coats of primer and then paint; each pass allowing for adequate time to dry per the rattle can instructions. Finally, I put down two thicker coats of paint. I'll post the pics as soon as I can get it off my camera.

Where did it go wrong? The paint match wasn't 100% perfect even though Duplicolor claimed that their paint was "Jet Black, 668". Also, the paint and primer seeped a bit onto one edge of the driver's side fender area surrounding the reflector, creating a little bit of a line. I blame either the sanding or just crappy tape (http://frogtape.com/). This stuff wasn't cheap either. Being a bit inpatient, I tried to scrape the excess edge off with my fingernail and ended up nicking the freshly painted but dry reflector as well. It's not perfect, but from a foot away, it looks pretty good.

It took basically 2 hours to mask, sand, prep, and then primer and paint the reflectors. It took another 30 minutes to clean up and nick the freshly painted reflector on the driver's side.

My advice to anyone else who wants to undertake this DIY - use a thinner width tape that is specified for automotive paint (http://www.autogeek.net/3m-auto-masking-tapes.html). I imagine this will get you a cleaner edge. Also, use two layers of that brown paper to mask off areas where you think will be in the path of the spray. I had a little hint of overspray haze too (about 1/2 sq. in).

All in all, I bought more material than I actually needed, but only used the below:

1 can Duplicolor - $7.95 + shipping (used about 1/3 of the can)
1 can Krylon primer - $5.99 (can still seems pretty full)
1 roll frog tape - $12.00
1 roll brown masking paper - $4.00
assorted sandpaper - about $2.00 worth

Grand total - about $32 and 2 hours of labor.
Did I mention you can buy pre-painted reflectors and just swap them out..? Sorry to hear of your difficulties.
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