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Dim tail / brake lights - my remedy
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MisterFixit



Joined: 06 Sep 2006
Posts: 38
Location: Golden, Colorado

PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 3:52 pm    Post subject: Dim tail / brake lights - my remedy Reply with quote

Hello all,
BMW seems to delight in making inadequate tail lights, and I have suffered ... oh, how I have suffered ... under the onslaught of big, steel bumpers of old pickups, Lexus, Dodge, and even Audis. Thankfully I have not been hurt too badly, but still... my inner voice kept telling me to 'Make it STOP!'

I HATE being rear ended, and since my 2002 was totaled five times, I thought I better do something. It occurred to me that if I made it easier to see the car, maybe I would increase the odds that the (idiot) driver behind me would have a better chance of seeing me, and braking when I brake - before the crunchy sounds began. Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles...

I noticed that BMW does not make their own lights, but uses two vendors for rear lights - Hella, and another one with an 'RS' kind of logo in a circle that I have yet to identify. One thing I DO know is that there is plenty of room for improvement in rear lighting in just about all the older models.

I mean, I like meeting new people and all, just not by the side of the road to exchange insurance information.

I planned to drive my car for a good long while, and had made some really nice upgrades to the engine, drive train, suspension, and electricals. It was an absolute ball to drive. Returning to Denver one night on US 285 from the mountains (really nice curvy mountain roads) I had dusted a well-known BMW guy in his new E39, totally embarassing him and his equally well-known passenger. You'd know them if I named names. I really liked my car, I know you understand. You may feel the same about your baby.

After all, I can't drive the car behind me, but I can make my car more visible, so I took my brains out of the closet and put them to work, starting with my 1972 2002 (round tails). My first solution was a little heavy-handed, involved machine work, and melted part of the lens, so I went back to the drawing boards to take a different approach. Well, it paid off, and the outcome is a very nice little round tail light that makes much more light, looks bigger because more lens area lights up, and is far more reliable with multiple bulbs lighting in parallel - redundancy! Yeah, I know it sounds a bit geeky, but the results speak for themselves. Besides, geek is the new cool, right?

To see if I could help others, I went at the E30, E28, E24, and E3 tail light assemblies (and even some Audi, Volvo, VW, and M-B models) to make them brighter and easier to see. Since then, I've added more - 3, 5, 6, and 7 series lights as well. And Euro models with working rear fogs, too - no need to lose that feature. I even adopted an odd sort of Auto-Hippocratic oath to 'First, do no harm;' "All reversible without hassle, maintain check panel working, cut no wires, melt no lenses, blow no fuses," that kind of thing.

Yes, where there's a will there is a way! Using factoy parts, high output bulbs (nickel base as required by BMW), and clever redesign, I have a way to safely double the visual size, triple the output, and vastly improve reliability of rear lights on cars from the 60's to the 90's. Ten years experience building and perfecting them as 'plug'n'play' kits, and 30 years designing them. I now have developed several kits, and would like to offer the options to anyone who doesn't want a Lexus in their trunk, as I've had. Pretty much everything I do costs less than a new tail light lens, let alone an extensive repair and/or hospital stay. And if I were King, totalling a priceless old car like the 3.0CSi would be punishable by death, or something equivalent.

My motivation? Being rear ended by some 'inattentive driver' really sucks, and losing even one more of these fine old beemers is a crime and a shame. I am throwing this out there to see how many folks I can help preserve their favorite vintage Beemer from assault, maybe make a few bucks on the side, to help me pay for internet and maybe a little front suspension repair.

It's open season, people - we're under attack from every side; let's see if we can put a stop to it!

Andy the tail light guy,
Mo Brighta in Golden, Colorado


Last edited by MisterFixit on Wed Mar 04, 2015 11:54 am; edited 7 times in total
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beejay



Joined: 18 Nov 2002
Posts: 1158
Location: Eastern, Pa

PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is an extra spot for a bulb in my (later) tail lights. It was for euro rear fogs I think. It would be easy enough to piggy back off another lamp for a brake or tail (or both).
Also, maybe a switch to LED or Halogen bulbs might brighten things up a bit.

But I regress, even if you had a red traffic light mounted on your trunk, people wouldn't see it. They are too busy, with everything like cell phones, ipods, sirius, nav systems, to drive and pay attention.
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Ben V



Joined: 02 Nov 2006
Posts: 50
Location: Vancouver,BC

PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 10:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have tried the LED bulbs. They do not draw enough power to latch the check relay that is part of the Active Check Control Panel. This leaves the LED on the panel lit up. You have to bypass the relay if you want the have the LED out.

I haven't tried two LED bulbs to see if there is enough current to the panel LED work correctly.

Ben V - 89 325ic
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cmcon98



Joined: 13 Nov 2002
Posts: 1844
Location: Boston

PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 7:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just put 1156 bulbs in the taillight sockets. Much brighter than the stock ones, and available cheaply everywhere.
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bimmerjo



Joined: 24 Jun 2006
Posts: 389
Location: Aurora, Mo

PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 10:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ben V wrote:
I have tried the LED bulbs. They do not draw enough power to latch the check relay that is part of the Active Check Control Panel. This leaves the LED on the panel lit up. You have to bypass the relay if you want the have the LED out.

I haven't tried two LED bulbs to see if there is enough current to the panel LED work correctly.

Ben V - 89 325ic


if they don't draw enough current themselves then you can also bypass the bulbs with another wire with a resistor to ADD more current, and "trick" computer
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Ben V



Joined: 02 Nov 2006
Posts: 50
Location: Vancouver,BC

PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 9:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I realize that but like to know when the rear lights are not working. I could install a lower current relay to keep the ACC LED working but I will save that for another day. More pressing stuff to deal with on the car.

Ben V
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bimmerjo



Joined: 24 Jun 2006
Posts: 389
Location: Aurora, Mo

PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 10:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

you have a really good point there i didn't think of that....but something tells me with LEDS you wont ever really have a problem of them not working unless something really bad happens to the wiring...
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MisterFixit



Joined: 06 Sep 2006
Posts: 38
Location: Golden, Colorado

PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2008 10:14 pm    Post subject: Brighter tail lights Reply with quote

Seems there is some interest, OK, I'll have a stab at it.

I have a couple of designs for E30 lights, early (+ convertible) and late versions. I'll be glad to fix you up with a light that is easy to install, effective, reliable, and cheap to buy. My E28 setup adds a BMW lamp socket and rewiring to get full voltage, double tail light and brake light bulbs on both sides, and a happy bulb monitor. Works great, despite it's a BMW E28, with really bright rear lights!

Any interest?

Andy, the Tail Light Guy


Last edited by MisterFixit on Fri Aug 01, 2014 10:15 am; edited 1 time in total
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bimmerjo



Joined: 24 Jun 2006
Posts: 389
Location: Aurora, Mo

PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2008 1:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hey! i might be interested for some for my e24 and my e30, my e24's tail lights are REALLY dim.. (probably cause they are dirty on the inside and i'm too busy to clean them), but yeah, post pictures of the finished product... and we'll talk Wink
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1988 BMW 325iX - Grey - Soon will be black
1986 BMW 325ES - Black
2008 Kawi ZZR600 - Black
1977 Custom Deluxe - Red
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dale



Joined: 22 Aug 1999
Posts: 3085
Location: Seattle, WA USA

PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2008 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Both early and late styles of tail lights have a spot for a rear fog light.
If you'd like to improve your brake light visibility, you can double up on the brake light bulb by adding a second 1156(single filament) to the housing.

Just taking off the rear panel, cleaning off the bulbs and cleaning out the housing will help brighten things up.
Make sure you have good solid, non-rusty, grounds, or they will be dim.

One issue with running a 10watt(?) 1156 bulb for the running light is the space is designed for the small 5watt bulb, and I've seen many panels that were melted from the extra heat. If you really want to try this, maybe a few small holes drilled in the plastic near the top will prevent the over heating.

Dale
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cmcon98



Joined: 13 Nov 2002
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Location: Boston

PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2008 4:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My 1156 tail bulbs have been in for years with no ill effects. No guarantees your results will be the same, tho.
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bimmerjo



Joined: 24 Jun 2006
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Location: Aurora, Mo

PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2008 5:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

does this extra one come on with the breaks? or are they always on?
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dale



Joined: 22 Aug 1999
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2008 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Regarding the extra one, use it to come on with the brakes.
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MisterFixit



Joined: 06 Sep 2006
Posts: 38
Location: Golden, Colorado

PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2013 1:58 pm    Post subject: Phoenix post - five years old ? Reply with quote

bimmerjo wrote:
hey! i might be interested for some for my e24 and my e30, my e24's tail lights are REALLY dim.. (probably cause they are dirty on the inside and i'm too busy to clean them), but yeah, post pictures of the finished product... and we'll talk Wink


Hey, there's been lots of water under the bridge, and I am happy to say the E30 and E24 light upgrades have been totally developed - and bought by lots of folks on the forums!

Bump to the top for details on the E30 sedan, early and late, verts too, and the E24 sharks, US, Euro, all flavors.

IN Both Cases:

Double the size of lens area lighting for tails AND brakes.
Triple the output of both tails AND brakes.
Perfectly Happy check panel.

Anyone with dim lights that wants to light up the night?

Want to keep out of trouble, avoid bumpers in your trunk, and avoid trips to the emergency room???
_________________
Andy, the tail light guy: "Be Seen, and Not Hurt!"
Safe Lighting Upgrades for 2002, E3, E21, E23, E24, E28, E30, E32, E36, E39 & more.
Tail Light upgrades keep them off your tail.
Headlight protection keeps your 'eyes' from being punched out.


Last edited by MisterFixit on Fri Aug 01, 2014 10:16 am; edited 1 time in total
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MisterFixit



Joined: 06 Sep 2006
Posts: 38
Location: Golden, Colorado

PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 12:03 pm    Post subject: Brighter lights - good cheap insurance Reply with quote

Because I hate hearing about rear end damage, I am going to continue making the double tail light + double brake light upgrades.

If you love your Bimmer, buy it a present, keep your tail light lenses un-cracked, your health good, and enjoy you bimmer more each day!

In addition to doubling the number of bulbs lighting with tail and brake lights, I use High Output bulbs that also triples their output! Perfectly safe because they have nickel base (as required by BMW) and are practically the same wattage as stock lamps, so no melting lenses, no blowing fuses, no toasted wiring.

And no False-Negative check panel warnings, either!

Also possible to make lower-priced upgrades adding just another tail light, or just another brake light, but the hot setup is adding BOTH.

I've done these improvememnts with new and old style lights, convertibles, and several other style BMW cars like E12-E28-E39 fivers, E3 coupes, E10 (2002), E21-E30-E36 threes, E23-E32 Sevens, even a stray Volvo, Audi, and Mercedes Benz with Hella lighing fixtures.

What's your need - brighter tails, brakes, turns, headlights, or brighter EVERYTHING ?

How can I help ???
_________________
Andy, the tail light guy: "Be Seen, and Not Hurt!"
Safe Lighting Upgrades for 2002, E3, E21, E23, E24, E28, E30, E32, E36, E39 & more.
Tail Light upgrades keep them off your tail.
Headlight protection keeps your 'eyes' from being punched out.


Last edited by MisterFixit on Fri Aug 01, 2014 10:19 am; edited 1 time in total
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