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  #1  
Old 08-06-2016, 06:00 PM
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Headlight wiring falling apart... see pictures...

Hi,
I've had my 2006 X5 3.0 for nearly 10 months. The car has been great, just had to do some minor maintenance. Quite happy until now.

One of those "minor maintenances", was to tape some wiring when maybe 6 months ago I got some "check low beam light" alerts, for my passenger side.
Some of the cables were showing the wiring where the plastic cover had frayed, so I was able to isolate them with some electrical tape (see white taped wires in the first picture below).

Well, a couple of weeks ago I got the alert again. I noticed a few more copper wires showing, so I taped those the best I could, but it still failed sometimes. I.e. some days it would work, others, the low beams wouldn't turn on and I would get the alert.

So today I decided to dedicate some time to this. My findings:
- it's also the passenger high beams and not just the low beams anymore
- I picked inside a little round plug behind the high beams and saw more frayed wires.
- I search for more than one hour for wiring harnesses that could replace the whole thing and got nowhere...
- I found some good information on checking first the voltage coming from the 12 wire connector, to check if the problem isn't in the LCM module.
- The connector has some weird shaped pins, so it wouldn't be easy to use the voltmeter. Anyway, I went for the wiring, as the damaged parts I saw meant that even if it wasn't from them, it would be good to fix it...
- I went ahead and started removing the headlight assembly.
- I then noticed that the front bumper also had to be removed.
- Partially removed the bumper (took all the screws off, but pulling out the passenger bumper side gave me enough space to remove the headlight)
- Removed the headlight plastic back cover
- Did not like what I saw: the complexity of cables and the amount of fraying...

South Florida is rather hot and humid, but never thought cables in a BMW could get like this after 10 years...

Anyway, below are some pictures of what I found.
Has anyone had similar problems? Any recommendations on how to go at it? Is there a part number for this wiring harness?





Zooming in:




Thanks for your help!
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  #2  
Old 08-06-2016, 06:35 PM
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Yes it's a common problem on this series. I have it too.

Most (including me) just tape it up. Some have mentioned rewiring the entire headlight, but I havent seen documentation or pics yet.

I havent seen any mention of availability of the harness. I dont recall seeing it available on realoem.
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Old 08-07-2016, 12:37 AM
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liquid electrical tape would do the job I would think.
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Old 08-07-2016, 04:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by g300d View Post
Yes it's a common problem on this series. I have it too.

Most (including me) just tape it up. Some have mentioned rewiring the entire headlight, but I havent seen documentation or pics yet.

I havent seen any mention of availability of the harness. I dont recall seeing it available on realoem.
Is this due to environmental exposure/temperature? It looks awful!

Will check my car at the next opportunity as this sort of thing looks like a fire hazard.
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Old 08-07-2016, 08:01 AM
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There is no excuse that this should happen in this day and age. It looks like the rubber insulation used on home wiring back in the 40's. There are Yugo's rusting in wreaker's yards with better wiring insulation.
Liquid insulation or heat shrink tape for a quick fix but it really needs all the wiring looked at in case the whole loom is made with this "save a penny" cheap junk.
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Old 08-07-2016, 08:32 AM
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Do any of the wiring sets/bundles have a tag wrapped around them which would have the BMW part number written on it?

The part database does give the wiring set part nbrs for the headlight up to 10/03 build date...but the diagram for the facelift doesn't list the wiring sets (the numbered triangles in the diagrams). You can walk in to a local BMW dealership's parts department and ask if they can identify or find the wiring set in their system. The BMW ASAP (after sales assistance portal) program may provide more specifics.


Again, the pre facelift diagram/part number index does list items #21-#24....but if you enter a facelift e53...then the part number index doesn't list those part nbrs...BMW ASAP may, but you'd need to inquire at a BMW parts dept counter:

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Old 08-07-2016, 11:06 AM
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if you know what kind of plug that is .there is a slight possibility you could get the connectors to go into the plug and make up your own harness.you will need a special tool to get the plug ends out I think.
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Old 08-08-2016, 11:23 PM
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I agree with Zulu95, that is ridiculous! I wonder what BMW's response would be for this!??
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Old 08-09-2016, 10:30 AM
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Thanks to all for the replies.
If you thought those pictures looked bad, once I started mending the cables, it got a lot worse, with a lot of the insulation just breaking apart on touch...

Anyway, as I needed the car to go to work, I spent some 5 to 6 hours isolating the cables as well as I could with electrical and liquid tape .
Some learnings from the whole thing:

- Even if there is a replacement loom/cable, it will not be easy to substitute it. It likely needs a special tool to connect it to the plastic piece where the engine wire harness connects (not sure as visibility wasn't the best), and it also seems likely I would have to completely remove the Xenon assembly to reach some places where the cable is locked onto...

- As some areas were very hard to reach, I'm not sure they got properly isolated. For me this is a temporary fix.


After assembling everything back in the car, I tested it and all worked!
Still, on the way back home later that day, I got the "check low beam" alert again, several minutes after it had been on without a problem. If I switched it off and waited a bit, it would go on again for a few seconds...

This morning, I had it on for about 5 minutes without any problem (then I got to work, so couldn't test it further).

This leads me to believe there might be other reasons for the alert... Or the electrical short only happens once the headlight gets hot enough...

Does anyone have an idea of what else might be happening here? Would any of the BMW software tools give me a more detailed status of what is going on with the headlight?

Also, any recommendations on where to get a replacement headlight? How much do these usually go for? Sorry, first time I actually need BMW parts...

Thanks,
PR
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Old 08-09-2016, 02:05 PM
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I haven't had a problem. My X5 has been in Texas since new.

Often when there is an issue like you are having the insulation will be fine some distance from the problem. If that is the case, I would get a used harness and spice it it from the good part so I don't have to mess with the connector. Are the headlights OE? Seems that Depot is the aftermarket choice for headlights as they are also an upgrade.
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