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Old 10-05-2012, 10:47 PM
Join Date: May 2012
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Bayerische E53 is on a distinguished road
Permanent E53 Brake Light Fix DIY

Hi guys and gals,

Both of my brake lights were out and after seeing this thread (http://www.xoutpost.com/bmw-sav-foru...light-fix.html) I undertook the DIY on my own. First, I want to acknowledge Mark///M3 as I wouldn't be doing this without his thread. This was his discovery, not mine. This thread is a sort of "addendum" to his, if you will.

I am documenting this in full detail because Mark///M3's thread did not really give specific instructions. While I did not find that to be an issue, I figured a more in-depth DIY would help some first-timers. My DIY also differs in that my procedure does not require cutting any wires at all - it is entirely plug-and-play for an OEM "look."

This "mod" fixes the common tail light issue by putting the bulb socket on its own circuit (i.e. it is hard-wired opposed to being a contact connection), eliminating the possibility of corrosion causing poor contact.

NOTE: The site is not currently letting me post the pictures I took of the process - please refer to the above link for some basic pictures that will give you a visual of the kit and how it's set up.

Here it goes:

This is a DIY to permanently fix the common E53 rear brake light malfunction.

Parts needed:
-Mercedes Benz Tail Light Update Kit (one per side; kit is not sold as a pair so you will have to order TWO kits): PN 164-826-00-07 (the pair was $34.90 shipped).

-8mm Socket
-1/4" Ratchet/Nut Driver
-A Good Set of Electrical Terminal Tools [(I have a SnapOn set and used only two tools from it: PNs SGTT2A & SGTT3A - they are available for only $11.60 each at SnapOn.com); actually, you can probably get away by using a VERY fine computer electronics flat-head screw driver].
-Cutting Instrument (to cut back any OEM electrical tape on the wiring harness; I used a razor blade but household scissors will suffice)
-Electrical Tape (Optional)

1. Disconnect OEM Wiring Harness From Tail Light Assemblies

2. Using SnapOn SGTT3A (or similar), carefully remove white pin retainer from each electrical connector - the pins should now be exposed..

3.1 - Left: Using SnapOn SGTT3A (or similar), carefully press down on the now-exposed pin retaining tab of the Black/Brown wire and push/slide the pin out of the electrical connector. The Black/Brown wire is now free from the electrical connector.

3.2 - Right: Using SnapOn SGTT3A (or similar), carefully press down on the now-exposed pin retaining tab of the Black/Blue wire and push/slide the pin out of the electrical connector. The Black/Blue wire is now free from the electrical connector.

4. Carefully replace the white pin retainer you removed in Step 2 onto each electrical connector; it will simply "click" into place.

Quick Summary: Each connector should now be fully assembled as it came from the factory except that the Black/Brown wire will be exposed on the left and the Black/Blue wire will be exposed on the right.

5. Separate the two halves of each Mercedes connector by pressing on the tabs on either side of each connector.

6. Using SnapOn SGTT2A (or similar), carefully pry open the black pin-retaining clip on each Mercedes electrical connector (this will allow you to slide the BMW terminal connector into it).

7.1 - Left: Slide the Black/Brown wire into the Mercedes electrical connector (The Mercedes electrical connector has 3 pin locations - the Black/Brown wire slides into the middle location [i.e. next to the green wire]). You may feel the terminal "click" in. NOTE: MAKE SURE YOU SLIDE THE PIN INTO THE CONNECTOR IN THE CORRECT ORIENTATION - SLIDE IT IN VERTICALLY, NOT HORIZONTALLY. Make sure that the pin is in the correct orientation by comparing it to the green wire's pin - they should both be vertical.

7.2 - Left: Once the Black/Brown wire is "bottomed-out" in the Mercedes electrical connector, push the black pin-retaining clip that you opened in Step 6 down into place - this secures the terminals into the electrical connector, preventing them from backing out.

7.3 - Right: Repeat Steps 7.1 and 7.2 with the Black/Blue wire.

7.4 - Optional for Left and Right Sides: Use electrical tape to tape up the Black/Brown and Green wires and the Black/Blue and Green wires if you want an "OEM Look."

8. Ground each green wire onto the lower outboard headlight assembly nut/bolt (no grinding to bare metal necessary - simply unbolt the nut with an 8mm socket and ratchet, slide the round terminal connector over the naked stud, and bolt the nut back in place).

9. Connect both halves of each Mercedes electrical connector back together.

10. Insert the brake light bulb into the Mercedes bulb socket.

11. Insert Mercedes bulb/bulb socket into the tail light assembly as you normally would.

Job Done.

That's how you permanently fix your X5's rear lights without cutting a single wire and retaining the OEM finish.

This whole job took me about 2 hours. Here's a caveat; it took me 2 hours because it took me a while to figure all of this out on my own (i.e. figuring out how to disassemble the OEM electrical connectors without breaking them, looking at wiring diagrams to make sure which wires to remove/use, testing the connections, deciding on an adequate ground location, and deciding on my fit/finish). The left side, which I did first, took 1 hour and 45 minutes (because of all the detailing). Once I knew what I was doing, the right side took me no more than 15 minutes. If I had this thread to read before I embarked on the project, I could have done both sides in around 30 minutes - definitely in under 45 minutes.

I hope this thread will be useful to someone in the future.

PS. Can a moderator please PM me? The site won't allow me to upload all the pictures I've taken of this DIY.

Last edited by Bayerische E53; 04-22-2013 at 06:45 PM.
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Old 10-06-2012, 12:51 AM
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Tampa, FL
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Elvis 3.0 is on a distinguished road

I think you may have helped out a lot of people. IF this has not affected you yet, it probably will at some point. SAVED! I'll be sure to let you know how it works when I have an opportunity.

Thanks! ^ and definitely big props to Mark //m3 as well, and to those before that have shown how to solve this issue.

Lots o good stuff on this site.
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Old 11-10-2012, 09:55 PM
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Thanks for the great write-up. I had the problem with my driver's side tail light. Followed the instructions and they were great and helpful, BUT my light still does not work. =( I double checked the ground wire and the orientation of the wire when I inserted it. Still nothing. Any other suggestions or possible thoughts on what I could have done wrong?
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Old 11-11-2012, 11:26 AM
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Or you could fix it for free by adding solder to the burned contacts and reassembling everything with electrical grease.

Nice write up but I think just using the grease would be enough to keep it from burning through again.
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Old 11-11-2012, 05:22 PM
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That might be true, but it's such a pain to get the solder down correctly and then sand it smooth. In my opinion, this is a bit easier. Plus, it's pretty fool-proof and doesn't risk getting a bunch of grinding media ending up in the assembly from grinding the solder.

Just my opinion, though.
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Old 11-11-2012, 07:55 PM
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Don't know. I did the solder method. Has been a year. I actually did this without looking for a thread, so I didn't think of sanding it. Which in my opinion is better not to sand anyway. The bump makes a better connection. It was absolutelly free, remains stock, and took me 15 min to diagnose and fix.
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Old 11-14-2012, 04:01 AM
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I agree with you Slick, I did the solder method too. It worked, for a while but had to re-solder about a year later. Then I found a good deal on LED tails, no worries now and they look and work better than stock. Not to mention they were a fraction of the cost of stock tails...

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Old 03-01-2014, 12:14 PM
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: nashville
Posts: 54
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an update for anyone doing this fix

if you have a small flat head screwdriver, (the size used to repair eye glasses or just from a small set), you don't need any fancy tool set. But you want it to be pretty small.

First remove the tail-light electrical connector, then you'll see the white cover. Remove the white cover on the connector. I broke a pin off on side before realizing you need two screwdrivers to squeeze the sides to remove. Even if a tab breaks, it will go back on correctly, so don't fret if this happens. Now that the pins are exposed, you simply push the flat head into the pin so that you can pull it out. Again, not too difficult and will make sense once youre in there. Once pin is pulled out, replace the white connector cover.

Then you separate the two halves from the mercedes part. The little cover just lifts off. Slide the flathead under the side nearest the end til it pops off. Then slide on the other end that has the U-shape and it pops off also. Slide the wire from the car into this connector til it 'bottoms out'. Reattach the cover, re-assemble, and youre done. Use the 8mm nut driver to attach green ground clip.

Very easy. Takes about 20 minutes max.

Thanks to the OP for the write-up!
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Old 03-01-2014, 12:59 PM
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Can these sockets also be used for the rear fog lights mod???

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Old 03-13-2014, 12:49 AM
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I'm not sure how to solder so i'm not surprised my soldering job failed when i tried on the worn spot. Youtube is great for learning but I guess it didnt help me that much
So could a guy use some metal tape that is used for duct work?
I may try the MB socket fix if i cant find metal tape
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