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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > E90 / E92 / E93 3-series Technical Forums > DIY Guides > DIY : 2007 E93 LED tail light repair



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      11-18-2017, 03:50 PM   #1
UK_Nomad
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DIY : 2007 E93 LED tail light repair

The LED strips in the rear lights have been out for a while, now the car is back on the road it's time to get them working as they should.

Background info :

I bought a spare pair of lights as one of my orignals was cracked, this made me a lot more relaxed about cutting the lights open.

Most of the lights on the car use normal bulbs (1 each), there are also 4 sets of LED strip lights (both back lights, and 2 in the bootlid).

The LEDs are part of a sealed light unit, if they fail, BMW expect you to buy a new light assembly

I have seen a light with 1 bar out and 2 bars working, mine had 1 faulty LED that stopped all 3 bars - fix the 1 faulty LED and all 3 work again.

The LEDs out didn't show any warnings on the dash so be aware you might have lights out and not know.

Tools required :
8mm deep socket to remove the light cluster from the car
Torx to remove the bulb holder from the light unit (thanks BMW - why make life easy)
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      11-18-2017, 04:08 PM   #2
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Time to dismantle the sealed light unit

1. Before starting, look carefully to see how the outer lens lines up with the light assembly !

2. Remove the black "eyebrow" piece (look for 3 simple "barb" fittings)

3. Cut around the outside of the light* - the red outer lens will then just drop off.

4. Unhook the 4 "barbs" at the back of the unit and push the middle moulding off the backing piece. It will need a bit of levering as it's a tight fit.

5. Note how the wires are routed then unclip the circuit board and remove it from the light.


Tips* :
I cut around the red outer lens (using a Dremel cutting tool) so I could remove it gently.
Expect it to crack if you try remove it using too much force, or if you try to use a knife or lever instead of cutting it loose.
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Last edited by UK_Nomad; 05-20-2018 at 07:31 AM. Reason: Add Dremel info
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      11-18-2017, 04:38 PM   #3
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Diagnostics time

I was expecting to find some dry solder joins ( I've see other folk say this was the problem with their lights, and we all know LEDs last forever ... right ?)

You can use a 9 volt PP3 battery to test the circuit on the bench (connect the blue wire to battery postive)

Connect the battery then either :
Option A - look around each LED, if you see any dry solder joints - resolder them and hope it's fixed (all of my problems were due to dead LEDs not dry joints).
Option B - use a multimeter to measure each LED, check the voltage across the pins of the 1st LED, then across the pins of the 2nd LED etc ... working LEDs give voltages under 3 volt, faulty LEDs show over 6 volts.
Option C - use a small screwdriver, short the pins of each LED in turn until the unit lights up.

Note. LEDs must be connected the right way around, if you connect them "backwards" nothing will work (think of them as a 1-way valve for electricity)

You should then know which LED is faulty.

You can hold a new LED in place across the faulty LED to check things work, then make a note so you fit the new LED the right way around.

replace the faulty LED first - retest and you should now have 3 working LEDs


Optional - replace the other LEDs so you have a matched set.
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      11-18-2017, 05:01 PM   #4
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LEDs come in all shapes & sizes ... pick one you like and hope for the best

Industry standard LEDs are 5mm but 3mm is also fairly common.
BMW have decided to do their own thing and use a size that nobdy has ever heard of (short, tapered, red, 4.2mm, superbright, a focussed light pattern) - which makes it impossible to get replacements.
This shouldn't be a problem but as the BMWs ones are failing within a few years (most other LEDs are expected to last forever), we have a problem

Process of elimination means I ordered replacements :
5mm
Red
Superbright
*NOT* diffused

I thought the BMW LEDs sent a tight beam of light so I got some that were viewable for about 40 degrees, if I was choosing again I'd pick something more like 90-120 degree range .

The original LEDs used a plastic mounting block, the new ones are fitted without the block.

Note where the orignal LEDs were mounted - the new ones have to be in the same place to work properly with the light bars :
a couple of mm above the board.
a few mm inset from the edge of the board (this is critical for the reassembly)
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      11-18-2017, 05:25 PM   #5
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Assembly is fairly simple but there are a couple of "Gotchas" :

clean / hoover everything before starting !
- the last thing you want is a fingerprint or chunk of loose plastic on view inside the lens when you're finished.

clip the repaired circuit board in place
- route the wires as they were

refit the middle moulding
- make sure the 4 fixing barbs click into place correctly.
- each lightbar has a recess at the end - the LED should sit in the recess. closely inspect each LED to make sure it's not been pushed out of place.
- use the PP3 battery to retest and make sure everything is working properly.

refit the black eyebrow piece so you have a good reference point for the next stage.

glue the red outer lense in place
- I used several spring clamps to hold the lens while the glue set.

refit to the car when the glue is dry (feeling rather smug is permitted at this point)


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      11-18-2017, 05:37 PM   #6
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Comments / feedback welcome, let me know if this type of guide is worth doing, what works best - what doesn't work so well ???

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      03-16-2018, 10:56 AM   #7
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Very useful thread! Thanks for this DIY, going to try this myself asap!
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      03-18-2018, 07:38 AM   #8
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Thanks, UK_Nomad.
Awesome manual!
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      03-18-2018, 07:56 AM   #9
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Thanks UK_Nomad for this DIY, going to try this on my E39 taillight
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      03-19-2018, 05:33 PM   #10
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Glad to know people are finding this guide helpful.
If you work out a better way of doing things when you try the repair please add a note here to help others in the future.
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      05-07-2018, 02:02 PM   #11
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Hey! Hello to all!
Thanks for your post!
I'm going to try your method soon but I have two questions:
1. What did you use to cut the red outer cover off? Will the paper knife do the work?
2. What type of led do you recommend to be as close as possible to the original as other two are ok (I guess)? I know you used 5 mm led but what color code should I look for? And how bright?
Thanks in advance.
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      05-07-2018, 03:33 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UK_Nomad View Post
Glad to know people are finding this guide helpful.
If you work out a better way of doing things when you try the repair please add a note here to help others in the future.
Could you comment on the light intensity when compared to the stock tail light leds, especially at night. Do they match? Is the repaired one dimmer or brighter or same as stock?

Last edited by Wolf 335; 05-07-2018 at 03:44 PM.
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      05-20-2018, 07:26 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoBro View Post
Hey! Hello to all!
Thanks for your post!
I'm going to try your method soon but I have two questions:
1. What did you use to cut the red outer cover off? Will the paper knife do the work?
2. What type of led do you recommend to be as close as possible to the original as other two are ok (I guess)? I know you used 5 mm led but what color code should I look for? And how bright?
Thanks in advance.
Just noticed your questions or I'd have replied earlier. Oops !

1. I used a Dremel cutting tool, this cuts a slot in the plastic so the lens drops off. Using a knife might work but I'd expect it to crack the lens.

2. What type of LED? see my explanation above :
Process of elimination means I ordered replacements :
5mm
Red
Superbright
*NOT* diffused

I thought the BMW LEDs sent a tight beam of light so I got some that were viewable for about 40 degrees, if I was choosing again I'd pick something more like 90-120 degree range .

Hope it helps, feel free to ask if you have any more questions
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      05-20-2018, 07:44 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolf 335 View Post
Could you comment on the light intensity when compared to the stock tail light leds, especially at night. Do they match? Is the repaired one dimmer or brighter or same as stock?
Just noticed your questions or I'd have replied earlier. Oops !
Daytime is fine, comments below are for dusk/night time.

The repairs work well but if I was doing it again I'd try different LEDS (or maybe use the stock LEDs I salvaged from my damaged lights).
Stock have an even light all along the lightbar, mine are lit for the full length but are brightest (and match stock brighness) at the end nearest the LED.

I think the difference is down to the LEDs I used. I deliberately picked ones with a narrow beam of light, if I was doing this again I'd just use a standard pattern.
All types should work but it would be good to find what type of replacement LEDs match the stock lights.

Hope it helps, feel free to ask if you have any more questions
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Last edited by UK_Nomad; 05-20-2018 at 07:50 AM.
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      05-20-2018, 07:49 AM   #15
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Post

If anyone tries this repair, can you add a note to this thread letting everyone know :
What type of LED you used (beam angle etc).
Results compared to stock.
Any other advice or suggestions you have, or if you notice I've missed anything when I wrote the guide.

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      06-04-2018, 06:33 PM   #16
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Hi - This looks like an excellent guide, I have the same problem as you, just with the n/s outer light.

I'm going to attempt your fix, but I have car booked in for MOT this saturday, is this likely to result in failure, if the other 3 leds are working(both inner/outer o/s are fine, as well as the n/s boot lid led.
I can reschedule it if so, as I probably wont have time to sort above before this weekend, but thought I would check!
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      06-12-2018, 08:26 AM   #17
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Just an update - I followed your steps, and am back in action with rear led cluster working again, same as your case there was one faulty LED.
Was a bit of a nightmare actually getting the cluster open though, didnt have a dremel tool, so baked it and worked it off with a screw driver!
Thanks!
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      06-13-2018, 12:32 PM   #18
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Talking

^ Thanks for the update, glad it fixed things for you !
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      06-13-2018, 01:57 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_ni View Post
Just an update - I followed your steps, and am back in action with rear led cluster working again, same as your case there was one faulty LED.
Was a bit of a nightmare actually getting the cluster open though, didnt have a dremel tool, so baked it and worked it off with a screw driver!
Thanks!
Could you share the steps for baking, temperature, duration?
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