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Tips for headlamp replacement (archive)

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

Posted by John Feng on November 23, 2000 at 02:23:34:

I replaced a cracked ellipsoid low beam
tonight and wanted to share a few tips
for those of you who might have to deal with this in
the future. Leave it to the Germans to make changing
a headlamp such a convoluted affair.

(1) Removal of the Center Grill is a royal pain in the Axx.
The plastic retaining clips at each side (behind the
lowbeam lamps) are totally blind so you have to know
in advance which hidden plastic tab to push on
with a 10" long and narrow screwdriver. Hint,
cast a shop light on the back of the headlamp
assembly. Look down the access hole for these two
locking tabs. You will not see the tabs, but you'll
see a set of holes cut out of successive body panels.
Your screw driver passes thru these. Try to center it
in these holes laterally, and bias the screw driver
toward the front of the holes. If you feel it hit
something slightly springy, then the tip is on the
retaining tab. I had to push quite hard to get the
tab to release the side wing part of the center grill.
Even with the tab released, it too a LOT of prying
pressure to get those wings off. Bentleys shows a
picture of a guy prying those wings loose with a
screwdriver. Becareful, I put a few small chips into
the paint because I did not have dense enough padding
around the tip when I started prying. If I have to
do it again, I'm going to fashion a hooked pulling
tool from a piece of thin/flat spring steel (and
wrap it with a layer of electrical tape).

(2) You do not need to take the headlamp assembly out
to change either the low or high beam light unit.
Spritz with some WD40, heat with a hair dryer for
4 or 5 min, and carefully pry the unit off the
ball screws. As careful as I was, I cracked one of
the sleeves that holds the lens/reflector assembly
to those ball-tipped screws. Get replacements from
your dealer before you start (they can't be more than
50 cents or a buck each).

(3) When you put the lens/reflector assembly back onto
the ball-tipped screws, put the sleeves ON THE BALL
TIPS first, and then put the light onto the sleeves.
This will help prevent inadvertent cracking of the

(3) You can take off the whole headlamp assembly but
here's the trick (thanks to rob at uuc). After you
remove the 3 screws from the front, Bently's tells
you to remove the 3 rear screws. I found it much
easier to remove only the lowest of the rear screws
and then the screw that holds the turn signal lamp
to the inner fender. It was easier for me (540i)
because there is more room to work on that screw.

(4) I ordered new lights from Eurasian, and they
delivered the correct order on time. I paid about
as much for a new pair (L/R) as the dealer would
have charged for a single light.


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