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Thread: 2003 Sealed Headlights Adjuster Replacement (no cutting)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    03' BMW 530i 5sp

    2003 Sealed Headlights Adjuster Replacement (no cutting)

    I have a 2003 530i and my headlights are sealed with the glue that can't be baked open. I wanted to replace the broken adjusters in my headlights myself in order to avoid paying somebody $$$ to fix it. It seemed that nobody knew how to replace the adjusters without cutting into the housing except for a special few. These people who know have decided to keep it a secret.

    Since it obviously could be done I decided to figure it out. After playing/poking around on a couple separate occasions I was able to come up with the following solution.

    You will need a reasonably long Number 15 Torx Screwdriver and your obvious sockets, wrenches, etc. I used a Craftsman Professional Torx Screwdriver. No need for any special handmade tools. You will also need to have pretty crafty sized hands. . . people with big hands/fingers probably wont be able to do this.

    Remove the headlight from the car and remove the fragile/crumbly trim piece on the top. You will also want to remove all bulbs and the xenon power supply. You should be about here at this point.



    Next step is removing the auto leveling unit. You will remove the 3 torx screws. Once the screws are removed you will pull the loose headlight piece inside the housing towards you (assuming your adjusters are broken). Then you will try to slide the auto leveling unit to the right. The pictures below of the unit removed should help you see how this thing works. It doesn't pull straight out.





    Now that you have everything removed we start removing the adjusters. Starting on the low beam side (easy side) you can see the holder for the adjuster has a torx screw holding it in place. You need to remove this piece. See below.

    ???Photo???

    Once this piece is removed you can then remove the actual adjuster by just turning the adjusting screw until the adjuster falls out. Note that the old adjuster may be in several pieces so make sure you get it all out. I also did all my turning with a socket wrench on the back part of the adjusting screw instead of using a philips screwdriver on the top part. (The back part is a lot stronger).

    Now it is time for the other side (high beam). This is the harder side by far. You will be going through the exact same process as the low beam side but access to the adjuster holder and torx screw is much more difficult. One of my headlights was a lot easier than the other. The pictures below are of the harder one.

    You will access this side through the angel eye bulb hole. You will have to move the inside headlight piece inside the housing until everything lines up. The cables running from the angel eye piece may be blocking your view of the torx screw so you may have to move some of the cables to gain access. Don't be too forceful or you may break the lines. I am not really sure how flexible they are. I was able to move mine just far enough to get access.

    You can see in the picture below that after some moving of my angel eye cables you can just barely see the torx screw that needs to be removed. Remove this torx screw and the adjuster holder.





    After you get the torx screw removed you can then remove the adjuster the same way you did on the other side. Here are my adjusters removed.



    Then you will need to take the broken pieces out of the adjuster holders. Take a look at how they are held into place and you can figure out how to remove it. These are kinda a PITA. You should end up looking like this.



    You will want to snap the high beam adjuster into the holder before putting it back into the assembly but leave the screw out . . . you will put this in later. Leave the low beam side separated.

    You will reinstall pretty much in the opposite order. Starting with the low beam side, you will put the adjuster in first and then put the holder in second.

    It is easier to put in the adjuster with the entire assembly upside down. Here is a picture. . . not sure how much it will help you.



    Once you get the adjuster lined up and on its screw you will need to back it up all the way so that it it isn't in the way for when you put in the holder. Make sure not to over tighten so you don't break anything. Put the holder back in its place and tighten the torx screw back down. You should look like this.



    Don't snap these together yet.

    Now moving on to the other side. You will have the adjuster and the holder already snapped together. Once you get the adjuster in place and back on its screw you will need to back it up almost all the way. You may need to tweak this as needed in order to get the right position so that you can get the holder to sit securely on its post. (This will make more sense once you are in there working on it.)

    Once the holder is on the post you will need to get everything lined up again through the angel eye hole and replace the torx screw. I don't have pictures for this since the space is so tight and difficult to photograph. (Be patient)

    I used some plastic bag on the end of the screw driver to hold the screw in place.



    You may want to tape the plastic to the screw driver so you don't lose the piece of plastic inside the housing. . . ask me how i know.

    Once you get the torx screw in place you are ready to snap in the low beam adjuster into its holder. You may need to adjust the low beam adjuster so that it can reach the holder.

    Once both sides are snapped in you are pretty much finished. . . you may want to back up both adjusters all the way in order to ease the re-installation of the auto leveling unit.

    Put everything else back together and you should be good to go! Don't forget to aim your headlights when you are finished.

    Good Luck!

    _____________
    Edit:
    Ben,

    I tried to replce all the photos, but I'm not sure where they go. I'm going to include them all and have you edit them into place.

    Cheers,
    James
    _____________






    Last edited by jamesdc4; 12-11-2011 at 08:59 PM. Reason: Fixed broken photo links.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    03' BMW 530i 5sp
    man. . . no love?

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    MDX, Prev 03 540i M
    Absolutely brilliant!!!! Shocked no one figured this out a long time ago. I've heard and seen of some really horrific jobs trying to make this happen on their later model lights that are "un-bakeable".

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    E39 hamster/ruberbandPWR
    Very nice write-up!
    Thank you!
    Why no aluminum adjusters?
    If you could bake open your headlights, would you?

    Thanks!
    Jason

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    99' 5Sp 528IT/10' Maxima
    Congrats! Somebody put this in the DIY section! I was looking at Ebay and there where some auctions where a company replaces the adjusters with out cutting or baking. I was going to study my lights and try and figure it out. Looks like you beat me to it! I was thinking I had to remove the actual projectors out the back to do it.

    1999 E39 Touring Sport and 3 pedals

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Nice job, Ben. Somehow missed this one.
    If you guys see a new or old DIY that hasn't been towed, please do me a favor and send me a PM about it. Pointing out that it needs to be moved to the DIY section in the actual thread does very little to bring it to my attention.

    Thanks.

    *towed*

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Richmond
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    '01 525iA
    Excellent thread. Subscribed for when my new-in-2009 lights fail.
    1984 318i/man./Tornadorot*
    1990 525i/man./Alpinweiß*
    2001 525i/SP/PP/man./Cosmosschwarz/Sandbeige*
    2002 X5 3.0i/SP/PP/man./Sirius/BT/Titansilber/Sandbeige*
    2006 330i/6sp man./SP/PP/CWP/Sirius/Blackline/Rear Fogs/Arktis/Grau*
    2001 525i/step./PP/CP/CWP/OEM Sirius/OEM BT/OEM AUX/M5 Rear Sway/Bilstein HDs/Rear Fogs/Schiefergrün/Sandbeige
    *retired

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Seal Beach, Ca.
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    2003 540s, 2000 740s
    Great job & thanks so much for writing up (with pics) your fix!
    Bluebee, have you seen this yet? Very good info!!
    <== Steptronic Sealbeach740
    2000 740i sport: 74k Green/Tan chrome MPars, clear corners, quad brake lights, AIC hi-beams, Hoen fogs, 16x9 screen, MKIV, TFT LCD screen in back, license plate backup camera with "on demand" switch, iPod audio/video (CDC/iPod audio switching, iPod video on 16x9 screen), Basslink, gauge rings, ///M pedals, switched steptronic +/- shifting mode, E46 paddle shifter steering wheel, Dinan engine & tranny software upgrade, DDEs controlled via Euro fog light switch, painted calipers with "BMW" lettering, windows up/sunroof close via remote.

    2003 540i sport: 81k, Sterling grey/grey, MKIV Nav, PDC & CWP - Added license plate backup camera with "on demand" switch, paddle shift steering wheel, windows up/sunroof close via remote, Akebono's, painted calipers with "BMW" lettering, quad brake lights, iPod audio via AUX mode/video via 16x9 screen, BMW TV tuner, ///M pedals & gauge rings.

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    2001 530i + 2004 530i
    That is a good DIY. I have been living with my broken ones as I had no intentions of baking the lights; will need to put this in the to-do list. where you got the replacement parts?

    (also, -Ben- If I may ask, you have style 42's in 18" ? what is your tire size ? staggered?)

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by cals View Post
    I had no intentions of baking the lights
    Why not? It's been done many times successfully. As long as you don't have the '03 permanently sealed housings, you'd be fine baking them. The rear portion of the headlight housing get's baked constantly by being in the engine compartment anyway.

  11. #11
    Join Date
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    03' BMW 530i 5sp
    Thanks guys! Glad I could help. I hope it makes sense. . . I think once you get in there and start it will all come together.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jason5driver View Post
    Very nice write-up!
    Thank you!
    Why no aluminum adjusters?
    If you could bake open your headlights, would you?

    Thanks!
    Jason
    I plan on getting an M5 within the next year so I didn't really see the point in spending the extra money.

    Quote Originally Posted by cals View Post
    where you got the replacement parts?

    (also, -Ben- If I may ask, you have style 42's in 18" ? what is your tire size ? staggered?)
    I got the replacement parts from a guy on ebay for around $50. They are supposed to be made from a better material than the OEM adjusters.

    I was surprised how the adjuster holders held up so much better than the actual adjusters. They were able to maintain their flexibility over time. This difference in materials leads me to believe that the issue with the OEM adjusters was mainly with the type of plastic used. This "improved" adjuster is probably good for the life of the vehicle.

    That picture of my car was from a long time ago when I was playing around with Photoshop trying to decide if I wanted to get bigger wheels. I actually have them in 17's. . . they look good bigger huh?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    ireland
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    530i m,clio williams
    Nicely done! One of my adjusters broke on my 03 530i only last week. Will give it a try soon

  13. #13
    Join Date
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    '01 530i Sport-Black
    This is for xenon self-leveling unit. Is there anything I should know for halogen non self-leveling unit? Is this write up enough to be helpful to me?
    Replaced mine ~ 3 years ago w/brand new Hellas due to adjustors. Got it back from windshield R&R with broken headlamp adjuster!? That is why I am the only one that works on my cars...
    Any input is appreciated. I have learned to ask questions.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    New Jersey
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    540i
    This is a great DIY. I just attempted yesterday and worked like a charm! The high beam adjuster is a bit tough with getting through the Angel Eye tubs but the write up is on point! The key is the T10 screwdriver which has to have a slim neck and be long enough to work with. That and manageable hands to be able to get in there to work. I'd recommend this for all angel eye headlights.

  15. #15
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    Orlando
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    '01 530i Sport-Black

    Thanks for the input 5ive40i!

    This is a great DIY. I just attempted yesterday and worked like a charm! The high beam adjuster is a bit tough with getting through the Angel Eye tubs but the write up is on point! The key is the T10 screwdriver which has to have a slim neck and be long enough to work with. That and manageable hands to be able to get in there to work. I'd recommend this for all angel eye headlights.


    Thanks for the input 5ive40i!

  16. #16
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    Apr 2011
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    530i
    Hey 5ive40i were your headlights xenon or halogen set up

  17. #17
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    '00 540i MT
    By the way, great write up.

  18. #18
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    Sep 2008
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    2002 540i
    Excellent write up! I would like to add a couple of pointers. Make sure you check the orientation of the high beam side adjuster before disassembly. It will make reassembly much faster. The flat side of the adjuster should face the high beam and the ball on the end of the adjuster should be closer to the fiber optics.

  19. #19
    Join Date
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    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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    2001 530i sport
    Quote Originally Posted by E39Convert View Post
    Excellent write up! I would like to add a couple of pointers. Make sure you check the orientation of the high beam side adjuster before disassembly. It will make reassembly much faster. The flat side of the adjuster should face the high beam and the ball on the end of the adjuster should be closer to the fiber optics.
    +1. The high beam adjuster slides in at a 90 degree rotation compared to the low beam.

    So they kind of look like this:


    ...=====..........................___||
    .......||...||.............................___||
    ................................................||
    Last edited by iblubyu; 05-10-2011 at 04:44 PM.

  20. #20
    Join Date
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    BMW 530i M-Sport
    Just want to bump this thread.
    I just used it to replace the adjusters in a 2003 headlight. I did it without taking the lense off at all. It's very tedious and time consuming, but it can DEFINITELY be done.
    This write-up gave me the confidence to try it in the first place.

  21. #21
    Join Date
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    BMW 525iT, 530d
    Thanks for the write up and pics. This is precisely what I was looking for.

  22. #22
    Join Date
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    BenPRunkle..you rock...thanks...

  23. #23
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    1999 540i sport and more
    Can the projector be removed from the back of the housing though if you have big hands?

  24. #24
    Join Date
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    2003 BMW 525i
    Hi Ben, You writeup was excellent and gave me confident to fix my broken adjuster on 2003 525i. I managed to fix low beam part but not able to manage to get the high beam fixed. I will give it a try again for high beam sometime later before winter. If you have any other suggestion for high beam adjuster replacement, that will be really appreciated.

  25. #25
    Join Date
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    2001 BMW 540iA Sport
    Perhaps a dumb question, but can this be done on 2001 headlights? Not sure if they are the same through 03 or not
    2008 Yamaha FZ6S cobalt blue/black
    2001 BMW 540iA Sport/Cold/Premium black/black, tinted tails, smoked side markers, 20% tint, M5 replica wheels

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