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Again, just my understanding here (archive)

[ Follow Ups ] [ 5-series (E34) Message Board ] [ Msg. Board FAQ ]

Posted by Peter Warton on November 22, 2000 at 15:45:34:

In Reply to: Re: euro ellipsoids posted by EG on November 22, 2000 at 11:31:37:

In order to bet DOT approved, the beam pattern must match certain characteristics, and E-spec lights do not match those characteristics and therefore can't be DOT approved. With the recent introduction of HID lighting systems, supposedly there is now an altered E-spec which IS DOT approved, but it's not the "real" E-spec (which may very well be what the Mazda you mentioned has).

When you say "the beam pattern on my US e34 appears to be EXACTLY the same as that produced by e-code lamps" what lamps are you comparing them to? Can you verify that those lamps are E-code?

Again, all this is my understanding based various threads on various mailing lists, and summarized in the FAQ at Like I said, I will be sure to take before and after photos of the beam pattern so I can comapre US ellipsoids to Euro ellipsoids. If they are the same, I will have been royally duped.


E-spec lights are illegal in some states in the US, so I don't see how BMW could use the E-spec pattern on US ellipsoids.

Thanks for the response...

First, to sell the lights on the car in the US, it must be DOT-approved. No exceptions. Therefore, one would expect to find at least a DOT approval seal on the light.

However, there's nothing about an e-code beam pattern that's illegal in the US. Nowadays, you can find this same beam pattern on many cars with integrated headlamp assemblies. For example, I recently drove a 2000 Mazda rental car cross-country and back. The round trip was 6100 miles, providing me with plenty of time for thoughtful evaluation. I was pleased to find that it has exactly the same low beam pattern as my Ecode H4s and my US-spec ellipsoids. I thought the Mazda lights were far better than the ellipsoids on low beam.

Also, when you consider how cars are made these days, it would not be surprising to find the lamp manufacturers using a single design for worldwide use.

So, back to my point and question. I think that the beam pattern on my US e34 appears to be EXACTLY the same as that produced by e-code lamps. The only outward difference I see is the addition of the city lights. That's why I was wondering whether there's any real difference between the US and e-code lamps.

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