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2004 330CI
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all- 4 issues that have me wondering. Thanks in advance.

2004 330CI ZHP coupe with a 6MT and 117K miles.

Issue #1:

On spirited to hard acceleration periodically the traction control kicks in and stutter steps the car. I can flip off TC and it doesn't have a problem but that doesn't fix it.

Background: The issue started when I changed wheels. Car came with 19" square CSL repro's. Swapped them for square 18" MTechs from a later 3. Then lucked into a set of OEM style 135's 2 months later. Running the 135's and Michelin AS4's.

Issue #2:

Incessant low speed brake squeal.

Background: Last year I swapped whatever was on the car to Hawk HPS pads and performed a full flush of the braking system and new pad wear sensors. After a thousand miles I noticed a very strong squeal at 40mph and under. I did some digging online and consensus was regrease their contacts with purple Permatex (a lot). It held up a bit but its been back and it drives me nuts. Car sounds like a hooptie. I may return them to FCP but I'm hoping there's a fix out there first. Best I can tell OEM rotors and in very good condition.

Issue #3:

Factory bluetooth/stereo goes randomly dead in cold weather.

Background: In colder weather randomly the BT goes out and the stereo drops out, some dash indicator lights flash like a startup, and the trip odometer resets. I have a BlueBus I want to install but I want to sort this out first.

Issue #4:

Back left tail light is half out. No warning light in the dash.

Background: Brake lights bottom half of red portion. Noticed some condensation on them recently and my neighbor was behind me and took the pic. Called FCP today thinking I needed a whole tail light assembly but may not. Could just need a new gasket or bulb carrier. Then I read up on the tail light harness melting and wondering it that's the issue? From what I read the warning light goes on. Mine hasn't.

I haven't dug into the light yet but I thought the bottom was also LED? FCP guy today said otherwise.

Thanks!

Car Automotive parking light Land vehicle Tire Wheel
 

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1. The TC is very sensitive to an out of alignment suspension. I replaced tie rods once, and made absolutely sure each was identical in length to the original rod. Still got TC issues like you.

2. Brakes squeal can be caused by several issues. Did you bed the pads in properly? Also, make sure the caliper slide bolts are perfectly clean. Don’t use lube on the slide jolts as the lube gets contaminated by brake dust.

3. This sounds like a bad connection or a bad solder joint. The latter is caused by the solder that was used during manufacturing. Modern solder does not contain lead. As such, modern solder is less flexible than solder that contains lead. So, I’d inspect the BT module for cracked solder joints.

4. The brake light being intermittent sounds like corrosion in the socket. I don’t think it’s a grounding issue as that would affect all the lights in that assembly. Pull the bulb and thoroughly clean the contacts with emery cloth and contact cleaner. Also, if the bulb’s contacts are brass go to the dealer and buy an OE bulb.
 

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#4. I had almost exactly the same thing happen to my left tail light. I have an 2004ci Coupe, just like you. The way I fixed it was to replace the tail light. The tail lights are all LED on my car. No warning light shows on the dash because the entire LED array is on the same circuit and part of the LED array is still functioning. I found no water or electrical wiring issues on my car and it has been in the family since brand new. Your experience might be different, but that is how I fixed my problem.

PS: I live near Baltimore.
 

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2016 340i xD 6-spd
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Tail light 'could' also be an issue inside the elephant trunk--loom from body to trunk lid...and if one wire has failed or is failing, others won't be far behind.

For your TC issue, maybe also consider your shocks' condition...bad shocks you'd hop around, step out, and get TC coming on.
 

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'04 330ci 6MT
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The factory LED tail lights can suffer as they age from a separation of the clear lens plastic from the rest of the housing, which lets water in, which corrodes the internal contacts. First rows of LED to fail when this happens are the lowest rows, since water always collects at the lowest point in anything.
 

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E30M3 Race F10 535 R1150Rt M Coupe
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1. The TC is very sensitive to an out of alignment suspension. I replaced tie rods once, and made absolutely sure each was identical in length to the original rod. Still got TC issues like you.

2. Brakes squeal can be caused by several issues. Did you bed the pads in properly? Also, make sure the caliper slide bolts are perfectly clean. Don’t use lube on the slide jolts as the lube gets contaminated by brake dust.

3. This sounds like a bad connection or a bad solder joint. The latter is caused by the solder that was used during manufacturing. Modern solder does not contain lead. As such, modern solder is less flexible than solder that contains lead. So, I’d inspect the BT module for cracked solder joints.

4. The brake light being intermittent sounds like corrosion in the socket. I don’t think it’s a grounding issue as that would affect all the lights in that assembly. Pull the bulb and thoroughly clean the contacts with emery cloth and contact cleaner. Also, if the bulb’s contacts are brass go to the dealer and buy an OE bulb.
Mostly agree with MM

Hawk pads and brake squeal, fugghedaboutit.
Fact of life for the increased friction.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you all for your suggestions!


1. The TC is very sensitive to an out of alignment suspension. I replaced tie rods once, and made absolutely sure each was identical in length to the original rod. Still got TC issues like you.
That makes sense. Far as I can tell I'm sitting on the OEM suspension from 17 years ago. Had I not just done a complete and total cooling system refresh, I'd be doing suspension based solely on age. Looks like that may be the next logical step.

2. Brakes squeal can be caused by several issues. Did you bed the pads in properly? Also, make sure the caliper slide bolts are perfectly clean. Don’t use lube on the slide jolts as the lube gets contaminated by brake dust.
Yes. I bedded them at initial install and again when I regressed the connection, and those pins are spotless without a speck of grease on them.

3. This sounds like a bad connection or a bad solder joint. The latter is caused by the solder that was used during manufacturing. Modern solder does not contain lead. As such, modern solder is less flexible than solder that contains lead. So, I’d inspect the BT module for cracked solder joints.
Makes sense. I figure because the ambient temp is colder the joints are contracting and reducing conductivity. Hopefully swapping to the BlueBus corrects this.

4. The brake light being intermittent sounds like corrosion in the socket. I don’t think it’s a grounding issue as that would affect all the lights in that assembly. Pull the bulb and thoroughly clean the contacts with emery cloth and contact cleaner. Also, if the bulb’s contacts are brass go to the dealer and buy an OE bulb.
I'll have to disassemble and check this morning and see what we're working with. Still confused as to whether it is all LED's (it looks like it from the outside) or a mix of LED and bulbs.

#4. I had almost exactly the same thing happen to my left tail light. I have an 2004ci Coupe, just like you. The way I fixed it was to replace the tail light. The tail lights are all LED on my car. No warning light shows on the dash because the entire LED array is on the same circuit and part of the LED array is still functioning. I found no water or electrical wiring issues on my car and it has been in the family since brand new. Your experience might be different, but that is how I fixed my problem.

PS: I live near Baltimore.
Hi there hon! :p

When you replaced the light, what parts did you order? I'm still a bit confused on this end. This is what I was thinking I'd need but the FCP guy I spoke to yesterday indicated there's a bulb carrier part that may be needed as well and I didn't see a part number on their website. https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/bmw-tail-light-assembly-left-63216920699

For that matter, if the housing is fine and its just the gasket and bulb carrier that need to be replaced, well... that's under $100 in parts instead of $260 for the light assembly PLUS those two items. I'm not trying to cheap out here but I'm also not trying to spend money I don't have to.

Tail light 'could' also be an issue inside the elephant trunk--loom from body to trunk lid...and if one wire has failed or is failing, others won't be far behind.

For your TC issue, maybe also consider your shocks' condition...bad shocks you'd hop around, step out, and get TC coming on.
I'll check the loom this morning and think you and Markusmarkus are onto something on the suspension.


The factory LED tail lights can suffer as they age from a separation of the clear lens plastic from the rest of the housing, which lets water in, which corrodes the internal contacts. First rows of LED to fail when this happens are the lowest rows, since water always collects at the lowest point in anything.
That's what I am worried about. If that's the case then everything in there needs to be replaced because its gotten wet. Best I can tell the full assembly from FCP may be all I need, but I don't want to get into the job and be missing important parts: https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/bmw-tail-light-assembly-left-63216920699
 

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That's what I am worried about. If that's the case then everything in there needs to be replaced because its gotten wet. Best I can tell the full assembly from FCP may be all I need, but I don't want to get into the job and be missing important parts: https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/bmw-tail-light-assembly-left-63216920699
Yeah, if you'd been lucky and realised they'd got water in them before any LED rows had failed they could have been rescued, by tipping the water out, drying them and resealing. Yours are passed that though and, unless you're an electronics hobbyist who's happy to source and solder replacement LEDs in, you're best off just getting a replacement tail light. Your link is indeed what you'd need. Always check the dealer price too though before assuming third party suppliers are necessarily cheaper. That wasn't the case over here when I needed to replace one of mine after being rear-ended..
 

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When you replaced the light, what parts did you order? I'm still a bit confused on this end. This is what I was thinking I'd need but the FCP guy I spoke to yesterday indicated there's a bulb carrier part that may be needed as well and I didn't see a part number on their website. https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/bmw-tail-light-assembly-left-63216920699

For that matter, if the housing is fine and its just the gasket and bulb carrier that need to be replaced, well... that's under $100 in parts instead of $260 for the light assembly PLUS those two items. I'm not trying to cheap out here but I'm also not trying to spend money I don't have to.
When I did my replacement, I had to replace the light as a unit, which is the part you quoted just above, 63216920699:
I also had to get one of these because the one on my car fell apart when I removed the old tail light assembly, 63216933017:

I use these photos from ecs tuning only because they seem to be good photos. I actually bought my parts for this job from Bavarian Auto, who are no longer in business.

As far as I remember, there is no practical way to replace just the segments of the LED array that no longer function. I can also say this. There is no need for any ’bulb carrier’ as I remember. HTH
 

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E30M3 Race F10 535 R1150Rt M Coupe
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"I use these photos from ecs tuning"

EVERYBODY does. Including many of the W/D's I buy from....
 

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Sorry, one more thing. I'd pick up a new gasket for the new tail light whilst you're at it. For the couple of extra bucks that'll cost, it's good insurance against finding your battery box is full of rain water in 6 months' time. My experience suggests they don't always seal as well the second time.

Part 63 21 8 383 898
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Sorry, one more thing. I'd pick up a new gasket for the new tail light whilst you're at it. For the couple of extra bucks that'll cost, it's good insurance against finding your battery box is full of rain water in 6 months' time. My experience suggests they don't always seal as well the second time.

Part 63 21 8 383 898
Yes, good call. I may just replace both left and rear gaskets while I'm in there. Seems that I'm catching up on all the typical wear bits of a car that saw 16 years of Texas and Arkansas heat. I've replaced a lot of rubber items thus far.

Big question now is whether I want to go with an OEM ZHP setup or OEM+ with adjustable Koni's. I think once I'm in there I'm replacing every rubber anything I see.
 

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the trip odometer resets
this makes me think you have a supply issue that might be upstream of the radio.
www.bmwteka.com has the diagrams- take a look and see if there's a common supply
that provides a voltage to the dash and the bluetooth module. Maybe the 'keep alive' line?
Or anything downstream of a relay, of course.

As to squealy brake pads, yes- but also check to be sure you don't have binding calipers.
Easy to test by going for a drive where you hardly have to use your brakes,
then feel the hubs. They should be cold.
 

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or that matter, if the housing is fine and its just the gasket and bulb carrier that need to be replaced, well... that's under $100 in parts instead of $260 for the light assembly PLUS those two items. I'm not trying to cheap out here but I'm also not trying to spend money I don't have to
Just for giggles, since you and I are sort of in the neighborhood, I sometimes buy my parts from the BMW store in north Silver Spring, MD Just off US29 in the Autopark. You can pick parts up at that dealership and pay a minimal service fee instead of paying shipping. They used to be called Tischer. Their web site now is getbmwparts.com. Here is their listing for the tail light assembly:
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
The "OEM plus" option will probably be less expensive that the Sachs stockers and in addition will be, well, plus.
Probably so, but any savings from OEM to OEM+ are getting dumped into the various chassis reinforcements these cars need. No issues yet but figure since its going to be in the air and getting a full suspension replacement there's no time like the present... so that means camber plates and a front strut tower bar, too. Last fall I replaced my diff bushings with poly's from AKG. What a difference. I figure stiffening up everything I can will make this car handle better than ever.

this makes me think you have a supply issue that might be upstream of the radio.
www.bmwteka.com has the diagrams- take a look and see if there's a common supply
that provides a voltage to the dash and the bluetooth module. Maybe the 'keep alive' line?
Or anything downstream of a relay, of course.

As to squealy brake pads, yes- but also check to be sure you don't have binding calipers.
Easy to test by going for a drive where you hardly have to use your brakes,
then feel the hubs. They should be cold.
Thanks for the link. I'll have to dig in and see if I can trace that down.

I thought initially I was hanging up on a caliper so I completely disassembled everything, cleaned it all, and put it back together switching from OEM brake grease to purple Permatex. Lasted about a month. DOH!


Just for giggles, since you and I are sort of in the neighborhood, I sometimes buy my parts from the BMW store in north Silver Spring, MD Just off US29 in the Autopark. You can pick parts up at that dealership and pay a minimal service fee instead of paying shipping. They used to be called Tischer. Their web site now is getbmwparts.com. Here is their listing for the tail light assembly:
Good call there. I was a big fan of the former Tischer BMW when I had an e34.

Are you certain your battery and alternator are good? Cold can affect the battery
Pretty sure they are, that thought definitely crossed my mind. I'm getting consistent voltage down the line and when the cooling system was replaced a couple weeks ago had them check line voltage as well. The battery in it came with the car and is only a couple years old... might be getting close to time.

I bought it for $8K with 102K miles and zero service history. It had an OFHG leak and PS hose leak and a broken driver's side door lock actuator. Previous owner put cat-less headers on it but didn't code out the SES. I fixed all of that and had a Kassel tune done to code it out with zero SES or issues otherwise. DISA was done before I bought it, and I have a spare just in case. Not bad for a ZHP, especially what they're going for now.

I've put every bit of $5-6K into the car in deferred maintenance and repairs since I bought it in Sept 2020 and the suspension work will put me at or above the purchase price. You have to love these money pits or else you'll go crazy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Small update: Took everyone's advice here and inspected my suspension. Though there's nothing visibly wrong at the moment, the rear bump stops are showing their age and I noticed some odd creaking noises driving at low speeds. Figured this is as good time as any to get in there and start replacing parts since it is highly likely this is the original from the factory, just like the cooling system was.

Took advantage of Black Friday sales to get a Rogue Engineering strut bar, Sachs shocks/struts, new control arms, tie rods, end links, and more bushings than I care to think about. Looking forward to spending an afternoon installing a brand new suspension and getting this car back to its proper form. I'm going to have a shop install rear subframe reinforcement plates as well. Not because there are cracks but now is as good time as any to do some preventative work before next years's Auto-X/HPDE season.

I'll be picking up a new tail light at Tischer/BMW of Silver Spring tomorrow. I'm likely to replace the pins and caliper guides this coming spring ahead of my first auto-x date when I bleed the system.
 
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