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      01-10-2013, 02:13 PM   #1
Rockstar1487
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Diy Replace Third Brake Light

Hey guys,

I've noticed that no one has actually replaced the 3rd brake light themselves. Well went ahead and did it. This is my 1st brake light that i am replacing since owning the vehicle. I just bought an 2008 135i and noticed it was cracked about 2 days later (probably cracked when i bought...no biggie). I've been searching for a while on here to find out a how to but could not find one. All of my images will be in thumbnails which hopefully all can view. If not please pm me and let me know that there are issues with the images. Okay so without further adieu here it is:

The first thing i did was i shopped around to find a good price. The dealership near me (Flemington, NJ) has the third brake light priced at 75.00. I found an OEM one on ecstuning and paid 65.00 to have it shipped. is the 10.00 difference worth it? We'll see in a couple months. The box that the brake light came in is straight from the factory.

So to start officially, there are several plastic rivets holding the liner in place on the trunk lid. Remove them very carefully so they do not break. I recommend using something plastic as a screw driver might break them. I unfortunately had to use a screw driver (flat tip) but did it very easily so they didn't break, all mine are still intact. Once they are all down, you'll notice that the trunk eject pulley will be holding the liner up causing a lot of tension on the line, to alleviate this i used painters tape and taped it to the edge (i did not take a picture of this sorry). There are 4 nuts holding the light in place that are also attached with springs. The nut is 8mm and i recommend having a deep socket 8mm as the screws are very long and a regular size one just won't fit it. (BE SURE NOT TO LOSE ANYTHING!!! I almost lost one of the nuts but saved it.) Using both hands i pressed up on the two screws on the light in the middle. It took a little bit of time to get this out but it does come out. Once out disconnect the cable that attaches to the light. When i pulled my light out a lot of the gasket was stuck to the trunk, i used acetone to clean it off and my finger nail to scrape the remainder. This works well but time consuming. With that done, i moved on to install the new one. Right in the middle of the opening of the 3rd brake light there is a small lip. Upon further examination, the factory light that was installed had been cut there to allow it to fit, mine however was not. FML. I used a dremel and carefully cut out the edges that were on the new one and matched it step by step with the factory one. (there is an image of the two side by side to see the cut).

NOW THE REALLY HARD PART.
Installing the new one was definitely way harder. This is when i almost lost my nut. Connect the wire and then line up the holes. It will take a little bit of pushing but once its in you'll be able to tell. I read on other forums that the spring might be causing the issue with why it cracks. I added an extra washer to help in my installation and to see if the extra washer makes a difference. Using the deep 8mm socket place the nut inside of it while holding the spring in place on the screw area. (I didnt have a deep socket so i was pretty screwed when it came to this part. GET THE DEEP 8MM SOCKET IT IS WORTH IT.) I worked from outside to inside when putting the nuts on. I started with the side that had the trunk release because it was a harder spot to get into because you do not want to put to much extra tension on the cable. Then i put on the other outside corner, followed by the two in the middle and voila. You're all set. No brake light out signs in my dash either.

Hope this helps anyone looking to replace it themselves.
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      01-17-2013, 10:36 AM   #2
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Hey guys,

Just wanna do a quick follow up...my picture quality sucks haha. Anyways, its been a week since i did the install and my third brake light is running strong. I use the trunk occasionally (like 2-3 times per week). I am not seeing any signs of wear and tear anywhere a long the light. I will keep you all posted when and if something happens.
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      01-17-2013, 12:46 PM   #3
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Good deal, glad you could DIY. This has been a problem for many members as some have have had the light replaced 3 to 4 times. For reference the fix by BMW dealers is to grind the medal tabs on the trunk and touch-up paint the bare metal instead of grinding the light. But whatever works
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      01-17-2013, 02:33 PM   #4
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Make sure you don't over torque your nuts and i would do a bit of research on the 'dealer fix' which supposedly involves filing a small portion of the tab on the trunk.

I changed mine when I switched to an aftermarket trunk.
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      01-17-2013, 02:54 PM   #5
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Why there is 2 different part numbers up to 2011 and from... Are the lights different?
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      01-17-2013, 05:49 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1Fasst1 View Post
Good deal, glad you could DIY. This has been a problem for many members as some have have had the light replaced 3 to 4 times. For reference the fix by BMW dealers is to grind the medal tabs on the trunk and touch-up paint the bare metal instead of grinding the light. But whatever works
yeah i read that on a different thread also. but after looking at the factory one and looking at the new, i figured i would just replicate what was on the factory one and trying that out first. I touch a pic of that metal tab but my pic that i uploaded does not do it justice. if this one cracks i will then do that next.
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      01-17-2013, 05:50 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ilikebmxbikes View Post
Make sure you don't over torque your nuts and i would do a bit of research on the 'dealer fix' which supposedly involves filing a small portion of the tab on the trunk.

I changed mine when I switched to an aftermarket trunk.
i mad sure not to. i also used a washer to help see if it helped out. when i was taking off the old one, the springs were compressed quite a bit. so i went about half of what the old ones had plus the washer. but also it is only a week so we shall see how it holds up.
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      01-17-2013, 05:52 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RimasRS View Post
Why there is 2 different part numbers up to 2011 and from... Are the lights different?
once bmw noticed how many people were coming in to get it replaced...they probably changed the design on the trunk to make it last longer. as far as two part numbers i am unsure of that but the new light clearly had a 2011 date stamped on it.
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      01-18-2013, 02:23 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rockstar1487 View Post
once bmw noticed how many people were coming in to get it replaced...they probably changed the design on the trunk to make it last longer. as far as two part numbers i am unsure of that but the new light clearly had a 2011 date stamped on it.
Why not 2012? That means it is an older part number.
Would be interesting to compare those two parts.
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      02-23-2013, 09:00 PM   #10
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Just did mine today

First, the screws are M5. An 11/32 wrench will do just fine. The plastic fasteners holding the trunk liner come off real easy (the top four with a flat screwdriver, the bottom four with a plier). It's helpful to have a partner to put the nuts back on the screws while you push the spring back. When putting back the plastic fasteners, separate the two parts and insert the bottom part first.

It's really ridiculous that a job that should take 15 min. took an hour because I had to make a trip to the hardware store to buy a dremel tool since BMW does have replacement parts that don't fit properly.

My next one won't take more than 20 min. + $68 for the part.

Bottom side. The ridge needs to be filed:


Top side. You need to cut out as shown:
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      02-24-2013, 03:01 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by germ View Post
First, the screws are M5. An 11/32 wrench will do just fine. The plastic fasteners holding the trunk liner come off real easy (the top four with a flat screwdriver, the bottom four with a plier). It's helpful to have a partner to put the nuts back on the screws while you push the spring back. When putting back the plastic fasteners, separate the two parts and insert the bottom part first.

It's really ridiculous that a job that should take 15 min. took an hour because I had to make a trip to the hardware store to buy a dremel tool since BMW does have replacement parts that don't fit properly.

My next one won't take more than 20 min. + $68 for the part.
Looks like the lens is all cracked now??
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      02-24-2013, 09:39 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by germ View Post
First, the screws are M5. An 11/32 wrench will do just fine. The plastic fasteners holding the trunk liner come off real easy (the top four with a flat screwdriver, the bottom four with a plier). It's helpful to have a partner to put the nuts back on the screws while you push the spring back. When putting back the plastic fasteners, separate the two parts and insert the bottom part first.

It's really ridiculous that a job that should take 15 min. took an hour because I had to make a trip to the hardware store to buy a dremel tool since BMW does have replacement parts that don't fit properly.

My next one won't take more than 20 min. + $68 for the part.

Bottom side. The ridge needs to be filed:


Top side. You need to cut out as shown:


other than that how did you make out?

the job is fairly straight forward. if my replacement ever cracks, i will do it the way BMW AG says to fix the problem and that is to shave down that metal tab on the trunk.
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      02-24-2013, 09:44 AM   #13
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germ,

about the screws being m5, mine came off with m8, if yours didnt than its different.

and in regards to the ridge that you shaved off of the light...i didnt find that necessary because the light went right in and it might even give it a more snug fit (not entirely sure about the fit but who knows). Did the cut help fitment for yours?
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      02-28-2013, 10:11 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rockstar1487 View Post
germ,

about the screws being m5, mine came off with m8, if yours didnt than its different.

and in regards to the ridge that you shaved off of the light...i didnt find that necessary because the light went right in and it might even give it a more snug fit (not entirely sure about the fit but who knows). Did the cut help fitment for yours?
There's no way those screws are M8. In Mx, x means the screw thread diameter. Just by measuring it you know what screw that is. Besides, I took the part to the hardware store and tried the sizing samples to make sure.

Yes, I don't think the light would fit without cutting that ridge unless you are trying to jam it in. Don't think that helps with holding it snug, either. The screws and rubber seal will hold it in place firmly.

I wonder how long the replacement will last.
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      03-01-2013, 09:44 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by germ View Post
There's no way those screws are M8. In Mx, x means the screw thread diameter. Just by measuring it you know what screw that is. Besides, I took the part to the hardware store and tried the sizing samples to make sure.

Yes, I don't think the light would fit without cutting that ridge unless you are trying to jam it in. Don't think that helps with holding it snug, either. The screws and rubber seal will hold it in place firmly.

I wonder how long the replacement will last.
I did not have to jam it in. With the ridge still attached, mine slid right in no problems. There was no forcing or jamming action required. If you want to be very critical of the DIY then I will remove this one and you can post your own with all the proper things you wish to see in it. I was merely trying to be helpful to the community for those who are out of warranty.

I'm going on two months now but thanks for the advice and education on screw sizes.
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      03-01-2013, 10:07 AM   #16
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Quote:
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There's no way those screws are M8. In Mx, x means the screw thread diameter.
The bolt/studs are M5. ie: 5mm thick/shank. You can see that on RealOEM.com See #2...

http://realoem.com/bmw/showparts.do?...55&hg=63&fg=25


Rockstar1487 - probably meant he used an 8mm socket on them. That's no big mistake. At least Rockstar was nice enough to make this DIY bc it was needed. We are all a community and we need to be helpful instead of spiteful.
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      03-20-2013, 10:18 AM   #17
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Well, mine cracked in half and fell out this weekend. It's an '08, so way past warranty time. yay.
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      03-21-2013, 05:34 PM   #18
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Ok, so I replaced my third brake light last weekend and here are a few tips:

1. The bolts/studs are 8mm on my 3/09 build 1er. RealOEM might say 5mm, but they're 8mm on both the old PN light and the replacement light. It will help with a deep socket, but I did not find it necessary.
2. I found it much easier to install by shaving down the bottom "ridge" on the new light. Took an extra minute to do.
3. Have a steady hand with the rotary tool and take your time. It was my first time using one and it came out perfectly; I just didn't rush anything.
4. Move the rubber gasket out of the way on my new light to trim the plastic closer to the edge (you'll understand this when you see what you're working with).

Enjoy! And good luck!
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      03-23-2013, 08:16 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SlickShift View Post
Ok, so I replaced my third brake light last weekend and here are a few tips:

1. The bolts/studs are 8mm on my 3/09 build 1er. RealOEM might say 5mm, but they're 8mm on both the old PN light and the replacement light. It will help with a deep socket, but I did not find it necessary.
2. I found it much easier to install by shaving down the bottom "ridge" on the new light. Took an extra minute to do.
3. Have a steady hand with the rotary tool and take your time. It was my first time using one and it came out perfectly; I just didn't rush anything.
4. Move the rubber gasket out of the way on my new light to trim the plastic closer to the edge (you'll understand this when you see what you're working with).

Enjoy! And good luck!
Glad to hear your install went well!!
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      03-23-2013, 11:11 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SlickShift View Post
The bolts/studs are 8mm on my 3/09 build 1er. RealOEM might say 5mm, but they're 8mm on both the old PN light and the replacement light. It will help with a deep socket, but I did not find it necessary.
Nuts and bolts are specified by thread size (and pitch), length and head type, so the thread is 5mm (as specified in RealOEM), the socket size required for the nut is 8mm.
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      03-24-2013, 08:11 PM   #21
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My taillights are cracked too, but not really noticeable. When it comes time to replace it, this thread will be useful.
Shaving metal, not sure how the heck I'm going to do that haha
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      03-26-2013, 06:43 AM   #22
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My taillights are cracked too, but not really noticeable. When it comes time to replace it, this thread will be useful.
Shaving metal, not sure how the heck I'm going to do that haha
what year is your 1er?
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