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DIY: Do It Yourself
Post here to share or improve your wrench turning skills! All BMW E46 DIY tips, tales, and projects discussed inside. Learn to work on your car and know the right BMW parts you will need!

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Old 10-18-2011, 02:21 AM   #1
trj
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DIY: Eagle Eyes Tail burnt LED replacement.

Guys. I am very new to the forum and very new to BMWs.
So don't flame me if this DIY sounds stupid to you.

Special thank to intelone for his guidance and expertise.

Background: Bought the car a couple of weeks ago. Car came with the Eagle Eye LED tails installed. But there were a couple of rows not working on the tails and turn signal indicators. Only 3 LEDs were working on the driver side turn signal indicator and two rows of LED were not working on the driver side indicator. I am sure you guys with EE tails have experienced it.
More than an eye sore, it was absolute safety concern.

Instead of buying new tails for ~$200, I wanted to try repair it first.

This is how it looked before the fix:
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Cant really see the passenger side tail, but 2 columns were out.

If you have tools, then this DIY will not even cost $20.

Tools:
10mm socket or whatever you want to use.
Philips head screw driver
dremel cutting tool
soldering iron
Multimeter with diode test setting.

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Parts and items needed:
Black silicon $5 (ace hardware)
electrical tape $1 (ace hardware)
3m trim adhesive $5 (ace hardware)
de-soldering braid $3 (radioshack)
Amber and Red LEDs 19 cents each(digikey) (I ordered 20 each)

RED : http://search.digikey.com/scripts/Dk...KS-CL0P0AA4-ND

Amber : http://search.digikey.com/scripts/Dk...KS-CM0Q0264-ND

My purchase sheet:

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Time required: ~3 hours depends on how good you are with the dremel.

Take the tail lamps out by pulling the trunk carpet and unbolting the 3 bolts.
There are two wiring connectors that you will have to disconnect to get the tails out of the trunk.
I am sure there is a DIY on this.

This is how the tail lights look after you take it out.
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Remove/Peel the weather protection foam slowly. You don't want to tear it out.
I had the top LEDs out on one and the bottom LEDs out on the other side.
Hence I removed only half of the weather protection stuff.
The tails will look like this.
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Cut at the middle, follow the gap between the top LED PCB and the bottom one. You can see the LED PCB boards from a little gap in the casing.
Careful with the dremel, you don't want to cut the cables.
Cut along the outer side of the case lining. If you cut it inside the case lining then the gap will not be big enough remove the PCB board.

It will look like the pictures below after you cut the half. I cut the top portion of the driver side/ bottom portion of the passenger side. If you have to work on the both top and bottom LEDs, then you can cut the whole thing out.

Driver's side with the top part cut
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Passenger side with the bottom part cut

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Remove the 4 screws on the casing.

Remove the 2 screws holding the PCB for the top.

The bottom board is made of two parts. Each held by 2 screws.
The above pictures are with the screws already taken out.


Test the LEDs with multimeter with diode test setting. Test all 4 ports on the LED. The top 2 pins are positive and the bottom 2 are negative. Use Red pin for the top 2 pins and use the black pin for the bottom 2. Didnt take the pictures but its super easy. But you will need both hands, no third hand for the camera

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In my case, The turn signal indicator had 5 LEDs out, and the tail light had one LED out. Since the LEDs are connected in series, a single burnt LED takes out the whole row.

Desolder the non working ones.
I didnt take the pictures while desoldering or soldering them. I got a picture from the internet for using de-solder braid to remove the solder.
De-soldering process:
-Let the soldering iron heat up.
-Lay the de-soldering braid over the solder point you want to remove.
-Put the soldering iron on top of the braid(not on the solder). Be careful that the braid is not touching other solder joints on the board, because once it gets hot it might pull out other solder joints too.
-Once enough heat is applied, the solder melts and the de-soldering braid sucks the solder.
-Remove the soldering iron and the braid at the same time from the solder joint.
-This process will leave you with a clean hole to resolder.

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Replace them with new LEDs.
Make sure that you put the positives on the TOP and the negative ports at the bottom. You can test the other LEDs on the board and follow the same pattern.
Solder them carefully.
Again, I didnt take he pictures, both my hands were busy

Put the screws to attach the PCB back to the lens housing.

Test them in the car before fitting them all up.


Make sure you clean, the plastic dust from the casing. Use a small vaccum or blow hard. Else you will have plastic dust inside the lens. Ask me how I know

After testing, put the cut part back on the lights. I used black silicon to seal it up. Use whatever glue you want to use.
Allow it to dry for at least a couple of hours.
Then seal it up with a layer of electric tape.
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Stick the weather protection foam with adhesive.

Put it on the car, connect everything and enjoy all working LEDs and hope you never have to do it again

Finished picture:
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Last edited by trj; 10-19-2011 at 11:05 AM. Reason: Adding pictures and desoldering
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Old 10-18-2011, 08:18 PM   #2
phamine
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Old 10-19-2011, 01:52 AM   #3
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This is what I was looking for !!! Thanks man !!! Appreciate your work
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Old 10-19-2011, 08:07 AM   #4
Drewfus2101
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Glad to see that some people are working to fix these lights rather than trash them.

That said, you really need to go into more detail on the tough parts here. Such as the desoldering of the LEDs. You need to point on that this is not for the inexperienced to attempt. Trying to desolder a 4 pin LED in a through-hole board is going to be tough for the inexperienced. I've got some experience, and I wouldn't want to do this.

If you can add more pictures and details on how you did this, it might help others. Thanks
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Old 10-19-2011, 11:10 AM   #5
trj
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You are welcome.

@drewfus2101, I didnt take the picture while soldering and de-soldering because both hands were busy.
but I added the steps in my DIY and put a picture I found over the internet.
Its not that hard, this was the first time for me doing any de-soldering, and it went pretty smooth.
There are lots of videos and guides on how to use de-soldering braid or solder remover guns.
I do agree that its the pain in the butt to do all this for a single burnt LED, but hey it worked and saved some $$$ and got the satisfaction of DIY with all the LEDs working again.
Cant complain.
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Old 10-20-2011, 08:55 AM   #6
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Old 12-31-2011, 04:33 PM   #7
Killabeast
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Awesome! As soon as I get the motor back together in my car I'll get all those damn leds working again. Thanks!
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Old 12-31-2011, 06:02 PM   #8
trj
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reliability Update:
After more than 2 months, LEDs holding good. All lights working, exposed to all kinds of weather here in colorado. Now I can say, it was well worth it and I will do it again if required.
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Old 01-03-2012, 08:01 AM   #9
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Legend! Just caught this thred in time. Have one row gone on my indicator and was almost going to order a new set.
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Old 01-19-2012, 05:24 PM   #10
helveticaXi
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Awesome DIY! I was able to resurrect a set of my eagle eye's that I thought were history! I actually originally acquired them from a guy on here who sold them to me broken! He claimed he didn't know they weren't working, and then never got back to me...

Anyway, I bought a few extra LED's for future repairs since they were only $0.19, and the site trj mentioned to purchase them from, DigiKey, had incredibly quick shipping. Got some de-soldering braid from the shack, and I had my 4 bum led's out and replaced in no time flat.

Big thanks for this!!

Last edited by helveticaXi; 01-19-2012 at 07:59 PM.
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Old 02-26-2012, 04:29 PM   #11
Killabeast
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Well I just did this. I had 2 leds out that were making like 6 others not light up. Pretty simple if you know how to use a soldering iron. The Leds used in this DIY are a little different from the all the leds in the tail light and that makes it look goofy when lit. So it would be good to find something of a closer match. Definitely a great DIY though! Thanks!
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Old 02-28-2012, 11:14 PM   #12
trj
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Killabeast View Post
Well I just did this. I had 2 leds out that were making like 6 others not light up. Pretty simple if you know how to use a soldering iron. The Leds used in this DIY are a little different from the all the leds in the tail light and that makes it look goofy when lit. So it would be good to find something of a closer match. Definitely a great DIY though! Thanks!
Great it worked for you. I tried to find the closest match and found those LEDs. I hope you got the right LEDs though.
For me it does look a little different when lit, but it is only because I know which LEDs I changed. For any other person looking at it, they can only notice any difference if they come really close and scan each row. But for the price I'd do it again if needed.
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Old 03-04-2012, 01:13 PM   #13
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I've had my right rear light opened for a while now but couldnt find the right LED! thank youuuuuuuu!!! do you know if any other side would work?
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Old 03-04-2012, 01:51 PM   #14
trj
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Originally Posted by taurus_tem View Post
I've had my right rear light opened for a while now but couldnt find the right LED! thank youuuuuuuu!!! do you know if any other side would work?
I am not very familiar with the LED specifications. I got help from another fanatic on this site for the right(almost) LEDs.

I see you are from UK, so shipping might be a killer for you.
Just check the specs from my chart and see if you can find something locally. Even the local electrical shops might have them, if not then there should be plenty of european sites to offer LEDs.

Sorry couldn't be of much help.
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Old 03-04-2012, 02:12 PM   #15
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Dont worry, i have lots of sites with those kind of LED's already, plus ebay for one. but They don't have that size... might have to have another look at my light and work out which would be best suited. Much appreciated for this and was going to do a DIY my self once i figured out the LED part... lol someone beat me to it!
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Old 03-04-2012, 10:21 PM   #16
trj
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Originally Posted by taurus_tem View Post
Dont worry, i have lots of sites with those kind of LED's already, plus ebay for one. but They don't have that size... might have to have another look at my light and work out which would be best suited. Much appreciated for this and was going to do a DIY my self once i figured out the LED part... lol someone beat me to it!
Sorry I had to do it first because my turn signal indicators were totally shot. You can see from the first posts. Else I would have waited for you to do it


Yup, just try to get the fitment and the color right and you should be fine. If you really want to go cheap way, you can just solder the connections straight and get that row working. LOL.
But please don't do that.
Good luck with your search
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Old 03-22-2012, 04:32 PM   #17
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Now make one for the OEM LEDs! :)

I took my OEM tail light apart after ordering the same LEDs....they are NOT the same...not even close. (I should've known better)

The OEM LEDs are SUPER tiny so these ones don't fit. Trying to find smaller LEDs now so I can de-solder the burned out ones and solder in new ones. Water got in mine due to a failed seal and caused half of the red ones to burn out.

It DOES look like the turn signal use these type of LEDs, the yellow ones of course, so that's good to know.

Also, the OEM lights come apart in pretty much the same fashion, same basic dremel lines, but there are two layers of plastic to get through.

I am fairly confident that once I find some suitable replacements, I will have my own refurbed OEM LED tail light saving me from dropping $200 on a new one.

For most people though, just buy a new light, this is indeed a major PITA and there is no guarantee you will fix it either. I am only continuing for two reasons:

1. I got this far.

2. The challenge (Im an IT guy, I like tinkering)

Ok maybe 3....saving $200 bucks.
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Old 03-22-2012, 04:37 PM   #18
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Awesome post! Great job

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Old 03-22-2012, 04:44 PM   #19
trj
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Knightmare007 View Post
I took my OEM tail light apart after ordering the same LEDs....they are NOT the same...not even close. (I should've known better)

The OEM LEDs are SUPER tiny so these ones don't fit. Trying to find smaller LEDs now so I can de-solder the burned out ones and solder in new ones. Water got in mine due to a failed seal and caused half of the red ones to burn out.

It DOES look like the turn signal use these type of LEDs, the yellow ones of course, so that's good to know.

Also, the OEM lights come apart in pretty much the same fashion, same basic dremel lines, but there are two layers of plastic to get through.

I am fairly confident that once I find some suitable replacements, I will have my own refurbed OEM LED tail light saving me from dropping $200 on a new one.

For most people though, just buy a new light, this is indeed a major PITA and there is no guarantee you will fix it either. I am only continuing for two reasons:

1. I got this far.

2. The challenge (Im an IT guy, I like tinkering)

Ok maybe 3....saving $200 bucks.
I don't have OEM LEDs too, so I don't know what LEDs would take. Sorry about that.

My reason to do this DIY was just your reason 2.
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Old 03-23-2012, 10:55 AM   #20
Knightmare007
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Pics of OEM LEDs

2005 vert OEM LED tail lights torn apart...







Anyone have a link to some LEDs I can purchase that may be a good replacement?

Last edited by Knightmare007; 03-23-2012 at 10:59 AM. Reason: fixed URL IMG tags
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