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Thread: HID Fog Lamps for the 1996-2000 BMW E39 5-Series (Excluding M5)

  1. #1
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    HID Fog Lamps for the 1996-2000 BMW E39 5-Series (Excluding M5)

    Page 1 of 7

    INTRODUCTION
    A little-referenced and quite rare retrofit for 2001-2003 BMW E39 5-Series vehicles is the addition of an OEM xenon system into the front fog lamps, found here in the ETK. This retrofit isn't available for 1996-2000 BMW E39s, but a close approximation is made possible by the proliferation of inexpensive after market HID systems. The premier benefit of this retrofit is increased road visibility in low-lighting conditions. Additional benefits are cost (this DIY is about 1/10th the cost of the OEM retrofit) and cosmetic appeal.



    APPLICATION
    Though the information contained in this DIY is specific to the 1996-2000 BMW E39 5-Series US-spec model 528i with OEM xenon low beams, the parts and procedures are similar to those that would be needed for any other E39:
    • A vehicle without OEM xenon low beams would need the mounting point for the after market xenon ballasts relocated.
    • A 1996-2003 BMW E39 540i or M5 has less available space in the engine bay which may cause maneuverability problems while wiring.
    • A 2001-2003 E39 has a different fog lamp assembly and bulb size; the removal of the assembly is the same.
    • An E39 with the M5 or M-Tech front bumper has a different fog lamp assembly and bulb size, and also a different assembly removal procedure.



    DISCLAIMER
    The manual for a 2000 BMW E39 doesn't state under what circumstances fog lamps are recommended and those under which they should be avoided. As HID lighting systems project more lumens than traditional halogen lighting systems, care should be taken by operators to ensure that environmental conditions are appropriate and warrant the use for fog lamps without the production of unnecessary or excessive glare for themselves or other drivers, and should be used only in accordance with local laws. In no way does this procedure guarantee fitness for your vehicle; proceed at your own risk. If you need help with the polarity of the capacitor, don’t call defaz because he will get confused, you’ll end up at square one, and you’ll probably orient it backwards and explode it.



    PARTS, TOOLS AND MATERIALS

    H7 HID System (x1). The OEM halogen bulb size for 1996-2000 BMW E39 fog lamps is H7. OEM HID systems for any make or model car will use either a bulb size of D2S or D2R, with BMW almost exclusively implementing D2S. These two bulb sizes were created for - and only for - HID. Therefore, an HID system with any bulb size other than D2S and D2R is an after market application. In this case, an after market H7 HID bulb will fit directly into the fog lamp socket with little modification, and only a small modification to the rear of the assembly to accommodate wiring is needed. Color temperature is by preference, OEM color temperature being 4300 Kelvin (K).


    4700 Microfarad (μF), 35 Watt (W) Capacitor (x2): RadioShack Part Number 272-1022
    Automotive Inline Fuse Holder (x2): RadioShack Part Number 270-1213
    10 Ampere (A), 32 Volt (V) Blade-Type Automotive Fuse (x2): RadioShack Part Number 270-1081 (3-pack)


    Dremel Tool with drill bit and grinding bit or Electric Drill with 1" Bit
    Flat Head Screwdriver
    1/4" Ratchet
    7mm Socket
    Panel Removal Tool or equal


    Electrical Tape
    Rubber Cement
    Zip Ties (x2)


    Optional Tools for Wire Splicing:
    Soldering Iron RadioShack Part Number 64-2802
    Wire Stripper RadioShack Part Number 64-2984
    Heat Shrink Tubing
    Convoluted Tubing (3 ft.)
    Butt Connectors (not pictured)
    Wire Splicing Clamps (not pictured)
    Heat Gun or Hair Dryer (not pictured)

    Additional Not Pictured:
    Clean Container for removed parts
    Needle Nose pliers
    Philips Head Screw Driver

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    Page 2 of 7

    RETROFIT
    REMOVAL OF FOG LAMP ASSEMBLY[1]
    We will follow and expand upon the instructions for replacing the fog lamps from the Owner’s Manual. This is the relevant page in the Manual for a 2000 E39:


    For reference, following are the relevant pages in the Manuals for a 2003 E39 and 2003 M5:


    This is the passenger’s side fog lamp assembly. The instructions apply to the driver’s side as well. Locate the two plastic expanding rivets in the upper rail of the plastic cover panel adjacent to the lamp, as indicated by the two red arrows:


    Remove the center pin from the plastic expanding rivet (panel removal tool/flat head screwdriver) and place in container:


    Remove the plastic expanding rivet from the upper rail of the cover panel (panel removal tool/flat head screwdriver) and place in container:


    Pull the plastic cover panel forward and down from the top, swiveling at the base as indicated by the two yellow arrows:


    Remove the cover panel to expose the two fog lamp assembly mounting screws, as indicated by the two red arrows:


    Remove the two screws (ratchet, 7mm socket) and place in container:


    Remove the fog lamp assembly by pulling the mounting holes forward and pivoting at the opposite side, swiveling the assembly as indicated by the two yellow arrows:


    Disconnect the fog lamp housing electrical connection:

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    Page 3 of 7

    REMOVAL OF HALOGEN BULB AND SHIELD
    The removed fog lamp assembly:


    Pull the looped end of the metal spring away from the fog lamp assembly, pivoting at the other end, to release the front half of the housing as indicated by the red arrow. Separate the two halves of the fog lamp assembly by pulling them away from one another on the side with the metal spring, pivoting at the opposite end, as indicated by the yellow arrow:


    Remove the two electrical boots from the prongs of the halogen bulb by pulling away as indicated by the yellow arrow. IMPORTANT: Note the relative orientation of the boots:


    Release the metal clamp by compressing the ends down, in, up and out as indicated by the two yellow arrows:


    Remove the halogen bulb (needle nose pliers) and treat in a demeaning manner, including back-hand slapping, because it’s inferior technology and should be disrespected to the point of depression and self-doubt:


    In the following picture we can see the length of the H7 HID bulb (left) versus the H7 halogen bulb (right). Note the HID bulb is longer and will not fit into the fog lamp assembly due to the inclusion of a black metal shield. This shield must be removed prior to installation for the HID bulb to fit.


    Here we can the black metal shield, visible through the glass, in the reflector of the fog lamp assembly:


    From the rear side of the front half of the fog lamp assembly, remove the small, shiny, metal retaining clip (flat head screwdriver):


    Dislodge the outboard side of the fog lamp reflector from the front half of the assembly by popping out the nub from the rear (flat head screwdriver) as indicated by the yellow arrow:


    Remove the reflector by pulling the nub out and pivoting at the opposite side, swiveling the reflector as indicated by the two yellow arrows, and dislodging the two locating nubs as indicated by the two red arrows:


    The reflector liberated from the front of the fog lamp housing:


    Remove the spring clip from the reflector by pinching it closed and pulling it in the direction indicated by the yellow arrow. Discard:


    Remove the metal shield, discard. Installation of the fog lamp reflector is reverse of disassembly.

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    Page 4 of 7

    INSTALLATION OF BULB & WIRING INTO FOG LAMP ASSEMBLY
    Most after market HID kits have bulbs that are inseparable from the wiring. As such, installation of the fog lamp assembly wiring must coincide with the installation of the bulb.

    Orient the H7 HID bulb properly into the fog lamp assembly socket (needle nose pliers) and replace the metal clamp. Note that a pattern of corresponding notches on both the fog lamp assembly socket and bulb ensure a proper alignment. IMPORTANT: Do not touch the glass of the HID bulb with your bare hands. Oil from your fingers can create areas of heat concentration which will shorten the life of the bulb. If you touch the bulb with your bare hands, clean it by wiping with alcohol and a lint-free cloth:


    In order to accommodate the HID wiring and rubber sealing grommet, a 1-inch hole must be cored into the rear face of the fog lamp assembly (Dremel tool, electric drill with 1” bit, or equal). Approximate location of the hole is indicated by the red circle:


    As the rubber sealing grommet is soft and pliable, the size of the hole is negotiable and need not be perfectly circular. In fact, due to the turns in the plane of the rear face of the fog lamp assembly, the grommet will not sit on a perfectly flat surface. Thus, precision tools are not necessary. I cored the hole by first drawing a 1-inch circle, then drilling small holes (about 1/8-inch) close to one another around the periphery. Next I poked out the remaining “coupon” then ground and deburred the edges until smooth. See the following CAD schematic for the process (note the irregularities of the final hole):


    The final cored rear half of the fog lamp assembly:


    Route the wiring from the HID bulb through the cored hole and install the rubber grommet. I decided to apply rubber cement around the edge of the hole under the grommet as I wanted a permanent yet removable seal. Silicon caulking will give a stronger bond if desired, but will likely necessitate destruction of the grommet for removal:


    Secure the two HID electrical connections to the two rubber electrical boots of the rear half of the fog lamp assembly, taking note of the relative orientations from earlier steps:


    Assembly of the fog lamp housing is reverse of disassembly. Marvel at the completed fog lamp assembly:


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    Page 5 of 7

    MODIFICATION OF HID SYSTEM WIRING[2]
    The BMW E39 is equipped with a Lighting Control Module (LCM) that can, among other things, alert the driver to bulbs that have burnt out. This is accomplished by the LCM reading resistance values of installed bulbs and comparing them with preset values, returning an error if the resistance of any bulb falls outside of the acceptable programmed range. Due to the nature of the underlying technology, HID bulbs have a lower resistance than traditional halogen bulbs, which is different enough to trip an error in the LCM. The effects of this can be false alerts of burnt out bulbs to the driver, flickering of HID bulbs, or lack of current - and thus operation - of HID bulbs. Some of these conditions are discussed in this thread.

    There are different methods through which these failure modes can be rectified, all involving regulation of the current used by the LCM to check the bulb:
    • Install OEM resistor packs, BMW part number 63 12 0 010 309 (Euro)[3], item #1 in the following diagram (click the picture to go to the online ETK for a 2000 BMW 528i Euro):



    • Install Hella resistor packs[4]:

    • Install after market error-canceling devices[5]:

    • Make error-canceling devices[2]
    • Install a small halogen bulb in the circuit to provide resistance
    • Install a generic load-equalizing device in the circuit[6], such as these LED load equalizers:


    I chose to make my own error-canceling devices. Economics had a part to do with the decision; as of 08/2008 OEM BMW resistor packs have a list price of $193.07 before dealer markup and tax, Hella resistor packs are priced at $189.00 plus shipping, and after market error-canceling devices cost anywhere from about $30.00 to $50.00 shipped depending on the vendor. The parts required to make error-canceling devices cost about $18.00 before tax. Though the generic load-equalizing devices and the installation of a small halogen bulb are also inexpensive, they produce excess heat[6] and are not the most elegant solutions. However, my decision to configure my own was mainly driven by a desire to provide a basic, hands-on DIY and also out of curiosity. Out of banal pessimism I wasn't fully confident that any of products would work - including the self-crafted setup - because all of them were designed for the low beam system. I decided that if the fog lamp system is different enough to persist with errors despite installed products, I would first choose the least expensive option. Furthermore, note that the pictures of the resistor packs and error-canceling devices look similar, and the black box out of which the wiring protrudes appears to be sizeable enough to house a large consumer-grade capacitor. I wanted to find out if the expensive and moderately priced devices are merely configurations of simple electrical components. Knowing now that the DIY configuration does work as intended, I would probably opt in future installations to implement one of the after market error-canceling devices. If one has access to electronic tools and is proficient, it’s less costly to make one’s own devices. However, it may be worth the extra money for some people to simply purchase the after market error canceling devices instead of gathering the tools, materials and time required for DIY.

    Each fog lamp assembly will need one of the capacitors, one of the fuse holders, and one of the fuses:


    Insert the fuse into the fuse holder and trim the excess wire, leaving one side longer than the other. I left about 2-inches on one side and 3-inches on the other. Strip the ends of the wires and strip a small section of insulation from the longer wire (wire strippers):


    Each fog lamp assembly will have four wires exiting the rubber grommet: two wires of relatively short length terminate in two separate electrical connectors, and two wires of relatively long length run together and terminate in a common electrical connector. From the pair of long wires, cut the protective sheathing toward the connector end, as this end will reside in the engine bay. Strip a small section of insulation from the black wire, and cut and strip the other, colored, wire (wire strippers). The color of the wire varies among after market HID kits and is typically red or blue, but any kit should have a black wire and a colored wire:


    Insert the fuse holder inline with the colored wire, joining the longer wire of the fuse holder to the side exiting the rubber grommet, and the shorter wire of the fuse holder to the side terminating in the electrical connector: Use your preferred method of wire joining. I soldered the joints and wrapped them with electrical tape Any method should work, however, from twisting and taping to butt connectors and shrink wrap tubing:


    Connect either end of the capacitor to the two small sections of stripped insulation, effectively creating a bridge between the black wire and colored wire. IMPORTANT: To avoid damage and injury, the capacitor must be oriented with the correct polarity. Improper orientation may result in excessive heat, capacitor explosion, and leaking electrolyte. If using RadioShack Part Number 272-1022 or similar, orient the capacitor correctly by pointing the arrows away from the colored wire and toward the black wire, as seen in the following picture:


    I chose not to solder the capacitor connections in the event that the size needed to be increased. Tape everything up, including wrapping the cap of the fuse holder. Do NOT tape the fuse holder and the capacitor together. Add a little convoluted tubing to dress things up for prom night:


    Modify the wiring of the other fog lamp assembly in the same manner. They look kind of janky but somehow they work. Just like Paris Hilton:

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    Page 6 of 7

    INSTALLATION OF FOG LAMP AND HID SYSTEM WIRING
    This step can be the most frustrating if approximation of the factory wiring is desired. In the simplest and easiest configuration, the ballast and HID system wiring can remain in the cavity of the bumper behind the fog lamps. This arrangement, though, leaves the electrical components exposed to moisture and road debris, and the vibrations of the relatively weak plastic pieces may cause your brand new ballast to dislodge itself and come tumbling out of the car at freeway speeds so that you pull into Popeye’s Chicken with only one fog lamp illuminated and bystanders mocking you. The electrical components, however, can be safely mounted in the engine bay. By tracing the existing factory electrical connection for the fog lamps, a circular rubber diaphragm can be located just below each head lamp that functions as a pass-through. This diaphragm has two perpendicular slits that allow the factory fog lamp wiring access to the inner bumper cavity from the engine bay. A figure of the diaphragm follows, with the path of the wiring indicated by the red arrow:


    Here, from the engine bay, is a picture of the passenger's side diaphragm as indicated by the red circle, looking through to the concrete in front of the vehicle:


    Here is the driver's side diaphragm, as indicated by the red circle, with the factory fog lamp warning passing through. Optional: pulling the driver's side head lamp out slightly toward the front of the vehicle aids greatly with respect to maneuverability while routing the wiring. Complete removal of the head lamp is unnecessary. Additionally, various connections can be temporarily unplugged and wires moved for additional room.


    I started on the driver's side because it is the more difficult of the two. Route the wiring of the fog lamp assembly first, before the wiring of the HID system ballast, because it is easier to squeeze the fuse holder and capacitor through the diaphragm when it is as free of additional wires as possible. From the fog lamp cavity in the bumper, follow the factory fog lamp electrical wiring up until the diaphragm is located. Squeeze the HID system electrical connection through the diaphragm into the engine bay, then the fuse holder and finally the capacitor (this is why they were not fastened together earlier). This will be done blind as there is not ample room in the bumper cavity, and the diaphragm is not easy visible from that location as well.

    The driver's side fog lamp assembly electrical connections in residing in the engine bay:


    Route the HID system ballast in the opposite direction. From the engine bay down into the bumper cavity, squeeze the two electrical plugs through the diaphragm; the small black box and the ballast remain in the engine bay:


    The passenger's side fog lamp assembly wiring is less difficult due to greater room for maneuverability:


    Connect the three electrical plugs located in the bumper cavity: two small plugs for the HID system and the large factory connection at the rear of the fog lamp housing:


    Mount the after market HID system ballasts to the mounting brackets for the OEM xenon system. A single zip tie at the top of the bracket should suffice, depending on your after market HID kit. Here we can see the driver's side ballast just prior to mounting:


    And here we can see the passenger's side ballast just prior to mounting, and after mounting:


    Shown is the complete passenger's side, with the after market HID system ballast abutted against the OEM xenon ballast:


    Reinstallation of the fog lamp assemblies is the reverse of removal. Place the key into ignition position 2, power on the parking lamps, and power on fog lamps to test. If the lamps do not operate, check the position of the rubber boots on the after market HID system leads, as well as all other electrical connections.

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    Page 7 of 7

    ADJUSTMENT OF FOG LAMPS

    For the mounted fog lamps to function properly and appear consistent, the beams of the fog lamps must each be adjusted to a roughly equal height. Failure to do so may cause one of your fog lamps to appear notably brighter than the other, again, resulting in mockery by Popeye’s Chicken patrons. The fog lamps can be adjusted using a process similar to OEM xenon lamp adjustment. Adjustment is by the screw indicated by the following red arrow:


    The screw can be accessed through a hole in the plastic cover panel adjacent to the fog lamps, as indicated by the following red arrow:


    Position the vehicle head-on and close to a wall such that it is illuminated by the fog lamps and a rough cutoff of the beams is visible. A wall with horizontal lines aids in measurement. Note in the following picture the differential fog lamp cutoff heights, as indicated by the two red lines; when facing the vehicle, the fog lamp with the higher cutoff will appear brighter:


    Adjust each of the fog lamps by turning the screw (Philips head screw driver) such that their respective cutoff heights are roughly equal, as indicated by the following red line; ultimate height is by preference:




    RESULTS
    Before HID:
    Here is a picture of the vehicle with Höen xenonmatch H7 halogen bulbs installed in the fog lamps. The bulbs are great for matching the color of the OEM xenon system (which is what they’re designed for):


    HID vs. Halogen:
    However, tinted halogen bulbs simply don’t output as many lumens as an HID system. Compare the relative luminosity of the after market HID system to the Höen xenonmatch bulbs:


    HID:
    Here is the final installation:


    Here is a comparison of the color of the 6000K after market HID system versus the 4300K OEM xenon system:


    Parting shot:




    REFERENCES
    1. In addition to the Owner’s Manual, borrows heavily from http://www.540isport.com/DIYfoglamp.htm
    2. See http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum/showthread.php?t=873723, thanks to Doru, and http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=244010, thanks to tiunilohmu
    3. A discussion of this Euro part number (hilarious translation here) can be found at http://www.avtodom.ru/vb/archive/index.php/t-12044.html
    4. General and vendor information can be found at http://www.bmwdiy.info/resistor-packs/index.html
    5. See "Warning Code Eliminator" at http://ddmtuning.com/hidkihidbuhi.html
    6. See http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum...7&postcount=18

  8. #8
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    oh calm down. YOU blew up the caps. I just helped from a safe distance. and how many different license plates do you have? and put those shelds back in your foglights damnit! you're gonna kill some old lady's eyesight. go to sleep.
    Last edited by defaz; 10-20-2008 at 04:47 AM.

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    Boy you know you know you've had HID fogs for years.

    I adjusted the fog lamp level about three or four times over a given week after noting the reflection in other cars, the amount of light thrown without the headlights on, how they look from a distance at night, etc. At this point, they don't appear brighter than the OEM xenon low beams and they point down toward the ground.

    So you want my address to send some new capacitors????

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    Talk about a write up for a DIY and using the right tools!!!!

    One thing however: I have high obc and even I don't get a warning message with HID's in fog lamps. So I dont think you'd need those
    (oOO\(|||)(|||)/OOo) /00=[][]=00\

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    Sticky!!!!!!!!!

    Oh and i think you forgot to edit your license plate on the 3rd from last pic.
    Last edited by Kuane; 10-20-2008 at 11:38 AM.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevlar View Post
    Don't be an ass...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Orxan4ik View Post
    One thing however: I have high obc and even I don't get a warning message with HID's in fog lamps. So I dont think you'd need those
    Yea I never got the warning either and I don't have high OBC. PJ, Gimme your address, my dog made you some fresh warm brownies this morning.

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    Great Write Up!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Orxan4ik View Post
    Talk about a write up for a DIY and using the right tools!!!!

    One thing however: I have high obc and even I don't get a warning message with HID's in fog lamps. So I dont think you'd need those
    That's good to know. Since I have the LO-OBC I obviously couldn't test that. When I first installed the kit, though, the only way I could use them was to go through a silly routine of keys in ignition position 1, then parking lights, then ignition position 2, then fogs, then start the car, as described by quacktoduck in this thread. I couldn't turn them on while driving. This would have been unacceptable had the weather turned adverse and I was already driving. This configuration is really a cure-all for flickering and startup issues in addition to errors.

    Also it seems that different kits and different individual cars interact differently with one another. Errors vs. no errors is all over the place from what I've read.

    Quote Originally Posted by defaz View Post
    Yea I never got the warning either and I don't have high OBC. PJ, Gimme your address, my dog made you some fresh warm brownies this morning.
    Awesome, I'll trade you for the warm cream filled pastries my pitbull made!
    Last edited by PJB; 10-20-2008 at 12:39 PM.

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    im loving the nickelodeon cartoon arrows! haha, but great write up.

    question: does it take a minute for the fogs to 'warm up' or are they directly on?

    <-- wouldn't mind having 3k fogs...

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    Very detailed, great write uP!
    AW|Byzanz



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by NFS View Post
    Great Write Up!
    Thanks! There are plenty of new names around here and as time goes on our cars will get less expensive to purchase, and also the price of after market HID kits will fall, so there are going to be more people that are going to consider this mod.

    Quote Originally Posted by btmlinedan View Post
    im loving the nickelodeon cartoon arrows! haha, but great write up.

    question: does it take a minute for the fogs to 'warm up' or are they directly on?

    <-- wouldn't mind having 3k fogs...
    They turn on and warm up just like the OEM xenon system, that is they flash bright upon turning them on, then get immediately dimmer, then grow to full brightness in about 30 seconds; only slightly longer than my OEM xenon low beams which reach full brightness in about 15-20 seconds.

  18. #18
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    great write up for sure .. I guess im one of the lucky guys with a 1998 with no error message ..

    but i do have a question .. does anyone know if the after market error cancelling would work for hella ballast .. im looking for a quick plug and play ..




    1998 540IA Arctic Silver, OEM M-Tech Bumpers, Koni FSD/Eibach Pro Kit, MKII Motorsport 18x8.5 and 18x10, M5 Style Mirrors, ACS Style Trunk and Roof Spoiler, OEM Hella Xenon Headlights 4300k blubs, Slim HID 3K Projector Fogs, Euro Hella Celis Taillights, OEM M5 Kidney Grill, 35% tint, magnaflow 18415

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by veritas View Post
    intense fucking writeup. you're quite professional and the clarity is beyond most other DIY's I've run into.
    Thanks, there've been a few DIYs that I've followed where I've had to fill in the holes, and that usually takes time, money, and sometimes a few mistakes to get right. I wanted everything to be clear so people know what they're getting into.

    Quote Originally Posted by kaptom540 View Post
    great write up for sure .. I guess im one of the lucky guys with a 1998 with no error message ..

    but i do have a question .. does anyone know if the after market error cancelling would work for hella ballast .. im looking for a quick plug and play ..
    Thanks...

    I don't see why they wouldn't at least plug right up. The after market devices have the same electrical connectors and a similar size, shape, and design as the Hella devices, and if they plug in I think there's a good chance they'll work. The following picture from this page shows the Hella devices plugged into the OEM xenon Hella ballast, as indicated by the red arrow:


  20. #20
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    Great write -up. This needs to be a Fcuking STICKY!!!

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    The master at work!
    Amazing write-up/ DIY!
    Thanks again PJB!
    Jason

  22. #22
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    Damn dude. This write-up is awesome bro. PJB you are my F'ng hero! I did a complete half-assed job and going to redo the entire setup following these instructions. Thanks a million man.

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  23. #23
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    1999 540iT
    Thread subscribed for later, nice write up and pics.
    I was searching for a thread like this last friday, whatdoyaknow!

    Fuggins Wheat

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    NW Indiana
    Posts
    12,291
    My Cars
    00' 528i, 11' Legacy
    Top notch work here.
    Thanks you for sharing this contribution for the rest of us.


    - 2000 528i Sport
    -
    I hang out in OT alot, got any questions about my car? Feel free to PM me! Like electronic music? Check out my soundcloud!

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    carbondale, il, usa
    Posts
    103
    My Cars
    05 645CI, 97 528i, 92acc
    thanks for that right up man, you just solve a problem i was having with mine.

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