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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I want to check the circuit's fuse, but license plate illumination is not mentioned on the directory that resides in the fuse box in the glove compartment. Is there another fuse box?
The bulbs are on either side of the exterior trunk latch. The trunk latch is actually an electrical switch. It works.
I'm asking for help finding the right fuse to check. If the fuse turns out to be ok, I plan to look for a problem in the plastic housing that contains the bulbs and trunk latch switch. Maybe slamming the trunk shut over the years has broken the circuit in there.
If that is not the case, I'll check the trunk lid's wire harness at the point where it flexes as the trunk lid opens and closes.
I would appreciate some tips for accessing these locations without damaging anything.
Other information:
I hit a deer months ago and most of the functions of my dash board ceased to work. I looked for broken fuses at that time and did not find any, and, oddly enough, simply accessing the fuse box solved all of the problems. The warning lights for bulbs have been effective since that time, leading to at least one necessary replacement, and now there is a pair of alerts for bulbs at the rear of the car. They led me to test all of the obvious bulbs back there, and all seemed to be well. The car even passed the Texas required annual inspection. Neither the inspectors nor I thought to test the license plate illumination, however. A policeman stopped me one night to tell me about it.
 

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It is very likely the terminals for the lamps have corroded, pull the trunk handle assembly off and inspect.
 

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Hopefully cleaning the terminals and checking for voltage will fix them. If not, as you mentioned, check the body-to-lid wiring. Lots of info on this; search for elephant. Most of these:
  • no license lights
  • no reverse lights
  • trunk won't open
  • trunk won't stay closed
  • "trunk is ajar" indicator
  • convertible top won't operate/car thinks trunk is open
...can be traced to broken wires in your elephant. It happens to all E46 cars, and the damage isn't always apparent as it can hide inside unbroken insulation.

As far as fuse numbers go, there's no one fuse for these license plate bulbs, just a general light circuit fuse (number 9 and number 32). If other lights work then this isn't the problem.
 
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