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-   -   Headlight Woes (https://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=1111392)

jeng 08-24-2016 12:41 PM

Headlight Woes
Hi everyone. I drive a 2001 330ci. Lately, when I'm driving at night the right headlight will go out after 20 - 30 minutes of driving. I'll switch the headlights off and then back on again. The headlight will come back on...but then it will go out again. It will go out faster the longer the drive is.

I'm speculating that the problem is either a contact one or a temperature-related one or perhaps both AND I'm hoping there's a simple solution to this problem that doesn't require prying off the dashboard console.

Has anyone experienced a problem similar to the one I'm having now?

Much appreciation.


fw_fw 08-24-2016 12:52 PM

Type of headlight?? Halogen, Xenon, Factory, aftermarket??

Way to many variables......

jeng 08-24-2016 01:04 PM

Factory headlights.

fw_fw 08-24-2016 01:38 PM

Type of bulbs?? Halogen or Xenons??

Assuming low beams, try swapping the bulbs from right to left. If the problem follows then it's the bulb. If it doesn't follow and it's a halogen, then the lighting module, wiring or the headlight switch could be the issue.

If its a Xenon bulb then try swapping the ignitor. If it follows with the ignitor, replace the ignitor. If swapping the bulb and or igniter has no effect, you are looking at the lighting module, wiring, or the switch....

Solidjake 08-24-2016 03:51 PM

^ In addition to that it can also be the ballast going bad

jeng 08-25-2016 06:59 AM

I should have mentioned that they are Xenon bulbs. Will try what you advise. Thanks for your assistance. Will look into all of these variables!

Zorro SN 09-08-2016 09:51 AM

Had the same issue. Mine turned out to be a defective Xenon bulb. Did you figure it out?

jeng 09-10-2016 03:20 AM

i think i'm close to figuring it out. thanks for writing.

i'm going to replace the bulb and see if that fixes everything. i spent a day switching the ballasts from left to right and the problem was still in the same light so i knew it wasn't the ballast. i next thought it was the igniter but getting that thing out was a no-go for me. it was too ridiculously complicated and i didn't have the time to futz with it. it's my wife's car, actually, and she took it to the dealer and at first they said they couldn't find anything wrong with it and the light was working fine. five minutes after she left the dealer the passenger side light went out. so she took it back. they switched the bulbs and now the problem happened in the driver's side light. it was much simpler than switching the ballast and attempting to switch the igniter.

what threw me off thinking that it was a bulb issue was the fact that the bulb WOULD light, albeit for like 10 or 20 minutes. i thought a bad bulb WOULD NOT LIGHT AT ALL. that was the impression i was operating under. so i'm going to replace the bulb and see if that works.

if it's NOT the bulb and the problem persists, i would consider buying a used, complete headlamp assembly and just swapping the whole thing.

or my wife says that another possible solution is to buy a new M3 and be done with it. i think she has a covert agenda in mind though...

MacNeon 09-24-2016 01:13 PM

I have exactly the same problem with my Xenons. Light flickers, then dies, and switching the lights off and on will bring it back to life. I replaced the Bulbs and the Ballasts so far, the problem stays on the right light. I also did the earth wiring in the trunk, as I read on another thread it can be an issue, no change. Tomorrow I am swapping the ignitors around to see if the problem stays on the right side, or move to the left. Will keep you posted as to what I find.....

jeng 09-25-2016 06:03 AM

ack. swapping igniters. i was originally going to try to do this to find the problem but those igniters seemed virtually impossible to reach. i'm glad i didn't do this as switching the ballasts was also time-consuming for me - one of the screws holding the ballast in was rusted on and i had to drill it out. it was a pain.

ultimately, i was just a bulb issue. good luck with your lights, though.

maybe just buying a new/used headlight assembly would be the most time-efficient solution?

jeng 01-13-2018 06:37 AM

the saga continues. the headlight went out again shortly after replacing the bulb. i actually DID switch the ballasts and the light problem switched from light to the other. aha! it MUST be the ballast. i bought a new one and installed it and the headlight worked! BOTH OF THEM!!!

i felt like an all-conquering master of the universe.

until the light that had the NEW ballast stopped working after about 40 minutes of driving.

switching the headlight off and then turning it back on a second later will start the headlight working again only to have the problem become more frequent the longer the car is driven.

i've read that it could be a question of taking out the LCM (LKM?) and resetting it. which is the next step when i have some time (it's winter here in NJ so the 330ci is sleeping under a car cover most of the time these days).

could this be some kind of temperature-related issue? a part of the headlight overheating and shutting down. how could it be a wiring issue (as in a frayed wire) if the headlight will still work for about a period of 40 minutes? it is quite confounding as i'm sure many folks out there have come to realize.

could it be the igniter?

Razz617 01-27-2018 06:58 PM


Originally Posted by Solidjake (Post 17051569)
^ In addition to that it can also be the ballast going bad

I am having the same problem in my '04 330Ci. I am starting to think that it is the ballast too. They are FACTORY, never touched lights. Is the ballast easy to get at & replace?

Sent from my [device_name] using E46Fanatics mobile app

jeng 01-28-2018 04:54 AM

maybe it's just the bulb
1 Attachment(s)
here's the current status: passenger side headlight has new bulb socket for the non-xenon bulb, new ballast and i just switched out the xenon bulb for another one because we had taken the car to the dealer and they said that it was a defective bulb causing the problems.

the dealer wanted $285 to switch out the xenon bulb so i decided to do it myself, which i did yesterday morning. going to drive it tomorrow to see how the bulb switch works.

if it doesn't work then we're going to get new oem xenon bulbs and try that. the ballast is not that hard to get to, but you'll need to remove the headlight assembly. if you have the time and patience, it isn't that difficult. for us, it turns out that putting in a new $357 ballast might NOT have been necessary.

jeng 01-30-2018 03:19 AM

drove the car to and from work yesterday (45 min. each way). headlight worked fine both ways. BUT (You didn't think it would be THAT easy, did you?)...this has happened before when the car has not been driven regularly in a while. it's winter in NJ so most of the time the car sits in the driveway. if a few decent days come along then the car seems to not have the headlight problem for a day or two. if more successive days of driving are added then the headlight will start to exhibit problems.

it's supposed to snow today so i can't test the car again today. if the headlight issue persists then the next step is to replace BOTH xenon bulbs with OEM ones and see what happens.

Adventman 09-25-2018 11:39 PM

Same issue.
Hello. I came across this thread during a search as I have the exact same problem. First with the right light, then with both. They re-ignite but turn off again in a few minutes. This problem really manifests when it's raining. I'm researching this before I tear into the car in hope of finding a direction. If you figured out your problem, please let us know. Thanks in advance.

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