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Old 03-26-2020, 06:40 PM
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LCI Permaseal Headlight Opening DIY

I've been wanting to do this for years now. But with the current lockdown I finally had the time to work on it. I am probably wasting that time as I doubt many people are going to attempt this, but this helps to take my mind off the constant barrage of bad news, conflicting information, and polar political discussion. I do have this in Word format doc as well if anyone wants to just download it. It also covers bumper and headlight removal as a bonus. E53 Permaseal Opening Word Doc

First, I accept no liability for any damage or injury caused by attempting this installation. I tried to document as well as possible while still making decent progress on my installation. I may have missed something here or there so use this as a guide as I'm sure it's not perfect. And now that that's out of the way...

What I am hopefully going to help you do here is mod your "permaseal" headlights on your LCI 2004-2006 E53 X5. If you follow the guide and exercise restraint/patience you should be able to accomplish the same results (or better) I did. I polished and sealed the headlights after completing all the work. I won’t include instructions for that but they are fairly easy to find online.



Tools/Things You Might Need/Want
  1. Panel removal tools are handy around BMW's. Pick some up... they are cheap and save a lot of time.
  2. Dental style pick set or equivalent. Mine is from Harbor Freight. ~$10
  3. Torx bits: T10, T15, and T20
  4. New razor blades. The box cutter type. Get a whole box of refills.
  5. Dremel w/ cutoff wheels. Not entirely necessary, I only used it on a couple of things.
  6. Phillips and slotted drivers. Varying sizes and lengths.
  7. Exacto knife was really handy.
  8. Soldering iron if you pass your halo wires outside of the headlights like I did.
  9. Electric tape - one roll should suffice... use quality 3M stuff or equivalent.
  10. Heat shrink - this is really only if you are soldering, and could be subbed for the above electric tape.
  11. Heat gun - not strictly necessary, but really helps out when cutting the plastic housing and for heat shrink.
  12. At least a full weekend's worth of time. I took ~30 hours taking my time, painting, and headlight refinishing.
  13. Hot glue gun and silicon gasket maker. I use permaseal black, but others will work.
  14. 1 can Duplicolor silver wheel coating.
  15. 1 can Duplicolor clear coat.
  16. 3M 08578 Strip Caulk.
  17. 8mm and 10mm sockets with ratchet (or driver) and extensions.
  18. Patience - you will definitely need a bunch of it. Take your time and it will be done right the first time. You don't want to have to reopen these headlights.
  19. LED Halo Rings - I purchased from hid.lighting seller on Ebay. Have used their lights for years with great results. Sizes are 128mm (fit perfect for low beams) and 160mm (little big for high beams). 155mm would probably be about perfect if you can find them.

Opening/Modding Permaseal Headlights

1. With the headlights off, take them to a clean workbench or area where you will be working. You will make a mess with all the old silicon gasket maker used on these. So plan accordingly for those of you with significant others. Clean the outside of the headlights well, front/back and the entire housing. Nothing too fanatical, but trust me you don't want your hands getting too dirty when handling the lens or inside of the headlight after separating it.

2. Cut or melt off the two plastic nubs that are retaining the rubber trim around the corner of the headlight. I used a dremel with a cut-off wheel to accomplish this task. Go ahead and pull off the rubber/plastic trim now by pulling it forward off of the plastic nubs on the top of the headlight that it clicks into. You can also remove the metal clips that encircle the headlight to clamp the lens onto the plastic housing. Mine had 4 or 5 per side I think, but there appear to be provisions for more so YMMV.




3. At this point you can remove the ballast and module adjacent (dynamic headlight module possibly) to it using a torx bit. There are 3 screws per module. You can also remove the 2 torx screws from the rear of the headlight near the corner of the lens at this time. The torx bits are either T10, T15, or T20 throughout the headlight. I did not make not of which sizes were where while working unfortunately so just try until you find the right one.

4. The fun part begins. You have to cut all the way around the outside of the headlight's "u-channel" that the lens fits into using a carpet knife style razor blade. Shown below is an exacto knife but I am using that just for cutting through the silicon after completing the u-channel cut. Heating up the razor blade /and or the plastic itself using a heat gun really helps this process. Removing this outer section of the u-channel will allow you to get your hook and pry tools under the lens to cut/scrape/dislodge the factory silicon sealant under the lens. When making your cut, try to stay on the top part of the u-channel as much as possible so as to not disturb the places where the metal clips fit onto as that will help you clamp your lens back in later while the new sealant is drying. Also try not to disturb the nubs that the rubber/plastic trim piece clips onto at the top. When you are done, you will be left with an outline as shown below. If you do get some pieces that break, no worries, you can silicon them back into place later. The bottom middle is difficult (maybe impossible) to get out as one piece as you can see from my attempt. I just saved the pieces for reassembly.






5. Now clean out the top of the u-channel as much as possible. I used a flat head screwdriver almost the perfect width of it and scraped the old silicon off. The more you get off now, the less you'll have to get off later after the lens is separated. It should look something like below once cleaned. This gives you good access to the back of the lens where you will use your 90* hook pick or other utensil of your choosing to cut the original silicon.




6. Now for easily the most frustrating part of this DIY. You have to cut a seam all the way around the headlight in the original silicon sealant. You don't have to remove it at this point... just cut through it. You will get to points where you think you've gotten it all the way around and the lens still won't move as much as you think it should (or at all). That means you're wrong and don't have it cut all the way around. DON'T FORCE IT! Just go back and work your way around the headlight again. Try to separate the pointed side of the headlight first and work your way around to the corner of the lens as that is the most difficult spot to remove the sealant from. It's difficult to see, but I am holding a 90* hook/pick in the picture below. The hook is underneath the lens and I am working my way around the headlight making a cut. This will take a long time. The first headlight took 6 hours and the second one took 3 hours. Pictured below is the pick set I used from Harbor Freight. Just keep going around and around the headlight until you get more and more movement of the lens.






7. Hopefully you were able to separate the lens without too much cursing (not likely). At this point I removed the factory reflector and prepped for painting. I elected to go with a silver paint with metal flake in it that I have previously used on wheels. To remove the reflector simply grind/melt off the retaining pins and unclipping it from the black frame. If you go this route, tape off the reflector and then sand it lightly with 600 grit(ish) sand paper to prep it. I used 2 coats of primer, 3 coats of color, and 3 coats of clear. All Duplicolor brand to avoid any reactions. During the painting process (between coats) you can also clean all of the old silicon from the lens. Get it as clean as possible since this will help the new butyl rope seal better, or silicon if you choose to make them permaseals again.






8. While waiting for the corners to dry go ahead and remove the black frame that holds the OEM halo lenses. It just pulls forward after removing some small T10 torx (I think) screws and is held on top with some silicon. The OEM halos can be removed by simply unclipping them from the black shroud. You will not be re-using either the lenses or the chrome surrounds. Go ahead and electric tape over the end of the light tube (permanently secure the tape with small zip ties) that sends the light from the factory bulb into the tubes. Otherwise it will scatter light all over and ruin your new LED halo effect.


9. Now you have to mount your new LED halo lenses to the black shroud. The low beam 128mm rings are easy as they fit about perfect and require no trimming. I use Permatex silicon gasket maker to mount my rings. I always have and over 10 years haven't had a ring come loose. You can use whichever method of attachment you prefer. A bonus to using the black silicon is that it acts as a barrier that keeps light from the LEDs bleeding backwards into the black shroud and scattering unwanted light around. The 160mm high beams however require trimming, fitment checking, trimming, fitment checking, trimming, and you get the idea. The picture below will give you a rough idea of where to start with how much material to remove. I used a dremel with heavy duty cut-off wheel to make the cuts. Pro tip: I like to use hot glue in 3 or 4 places around the ring to hold it in place while the silicon sets up (takes 24 hours). Works great and you don't have to worry about the rings moving around.






10. You can either wait until the rings setup before proceeding or trust the hot glue to keep everything in place. I like to leave them for 24 hours in case there are any gases released during curing of the silicon. You don’t want the inside of your headlights coated in film. Now you can reinstall the shroud with the LEDs. Reinstall the sidemarker lens onto the headlight lens. Give the lens another cleaning. You are shooting for nothing on the inside of the lens by the time it goes back on. I used the combination below for reinstalling the lens. I recommend a thicker butyl rope though than I used (I doubled it up). They sell a nice kit on Amazon that I later used on my wife’s E70 that I much prefer that won’t require doubling.


11. Now the lens should be ready to go back on. Install the butyl rope in the bottom rear of the U channel before pressing the lens back on. After pressing the lens on put a nice bead of the Permatex Ultra black along the back side of the lens and housing. This thick bead will help to seal the headlight but also allow the top of the U channel that was removed in step 13 to be glued back on. You can use the hot glue dabs again to hold it in place while the silicon sets up.




12. Place the U channel upper portion on and secure however you choose. You can also install the metal clips and torx screws that hold the headlight lens to the body at this time. Essentially, your headlight is done. Wait for it to cure.


13. Now you need to make a way to pass through the wires for your new halos. I chose to use the OE halo bulb access panel and drill 4 small holes to pass the wires through. Then I used the silicon to seal the small holes. This method requires soldering and heat shrink but if you are undertaking the lens removal process you are probably okay with a small amount of soldering.


14. Now you can reinstall rubber/plastic trim on the headlight using your adhesive of choice where you drilled out the nubs and then install your headlight. Congratulations! You only have one more headlight to do (insert chosen expletive here). Take that BMW with your permaseal adhesive! As a finishing touch you can polish and seal your headlights using the DIY I used here: Subaru Headlight DIY



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2005 X5 4.4i Build 04/05 Maintenance/Build Log
Nav, Pano, Sport (Purchased 06/14 w/ 109,000 miles) (Sold 8/15 w/121,000 miles)


2006 X5 4.8is Build 11/05 Maintenance/Build Log
Nav, DSP, Pano, Running Boards, OEM Tow Hitch, Cold Weather Pckg (Purchased 08/15 w/ 90,500 miles)

2010 X5 35d Build 02/10
Nav, HiFi, 6 DVD, Sports Pckg, Cold Weather Pckg, HUD, CAS, Running Boards, Leather Dash, PDC, Pano (Purchased 03/17 w/ 136,120 miles)

Last edited by crystalworks; 03-26-2020 at 07:25 PM.
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Old 03-26-2020, 07:15 PM
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Nice work CW. I like the modified corners, look so much better
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Old 03-26-2020, 07:30 PM
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Good job!

Though I would have used Philips Silver vision indicator bulbs.
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Old 03-27-2020, 06:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Overboost View Post
Nice work CW. I like the modified corners, look so much better
Thanks OB. It's one of my favorite mods on any BMW. I don't think many will use this writeup but maybe it will prevent someone from messing theirs up thinking it is an easier task than it is.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clavurion View Post
Good job!

Though I would have used Philips Silver vision indicator bulbs.
Thank you. Most people would agree with you. I actually like the egg yolk look so never use the silver/chrome bulbs. I've since switched to LED bulbs which hide a little more but still have a little yellow on them.
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2005 X5 4.4i Build 04/05 Maintenance/Build Log
Nav, Pano, Sport (Purchased 06/14 w/ 109,000 miles) (Sold 8/15 w/121,000 miles)


2006 X5 4.8is Build 11/05 Maintenance/Build Log
Nav, DSP, Pano, Running Boards, OEM Tow Hitch, Cold Weather Pckg (Purchased 08/15 w/ 90,500 miles)

2010 X5 35d Build 02/10
Nav, HiFi, 6 DVD, Sports Pckg, Cold Weather Pckg, HUD, CAS, Running Boards, Leather Dash, PDC, Pano (Purchased 03/17 w/ 136,120 miles)
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Old 03-28-2020, 01:39 AM
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Wish I could join you in productive isolation brother, god knows I need it, both in mechanical and spiritual therapy. I've long complained how being automotively driven has led me to be financially handicapped, but this seems like the right time to be positively distracted about real life issues with an enthusiast DIY diversion. Still need to make sure I have my spare set of headlights to mod tho. Looking forward to the wifey's headlights progress as well. (That came out wrong)
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Old 03-28-2020, 03:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mouse View Post
Looking forward to the wifey's headlights progress as well. (That came out wrong)
1. I like the way you think..
2. I tried to convince my wife that it would be a nice thing to do and she pointed out that we have three kids already and I apparently don't "need" anymore more encouragement!!
(she said it seriously)

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Old 03-28-2020, 09:07 AM
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CW, very neat job. I like those LED rings a lot better than the makeshift ones I produced for my mod. Would you PM me the name of ebay seller so I can get a set like this?

This has me thinking I might even try open my e70 lights as they are really dim, and implant some improvements.

TIA
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2003 4.4i black ext./black int./black headliner
2009 E70 35d, black ext./black int./black headliner (shipped to Europe and back to USA)
2006 4.8iS Le Mans blue/cream int./black headliner, SOLD sadly...

Hmmmm, love those black headliners!

Other hardware:
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2015 Cayenne S (wife's new DD and definitely wroooommmmm)
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Old 03-28-2020, 09:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EODguy View Post
1. I like the way you think..
2. I tried to convince my wife that it would be a nice thing to do and she pointed out that we have three kids already and I apparently don't "need" anymore more encouragement!!
(she said it seriously)
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Old 03-28-2020, 11:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mouse View Post
Looking forward to the wifey's headlights progress as well. (That came out wrong)
Fine... here's a peep show, she likes showing off her headlights.























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2005 X5 4.4i Build 04/05 Maintenance/Build Log
Nav, Pano, Sport (Purchased 06/14 w/ 109,000 miles) (Sold 8/15 w/121,000 miles)


2006 X5 4.8is Build 11/05 Maintenance/Build Log
Nav, DSP, Pano, Running Boards, OEM Tow Hitch, Cold Weather Pckg (Purchased 08/15 w/ 90,500 miles)

2010 X5 35d Build 02/10
Nav, HiFi, 6 DVD, Sports Pckg, Cold Weather Pckg, HUD, CAS, Running Boards, Leather Dash, PDC, Pano (Purchased 03/17 w/ 136,120 miles)
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Old 03-28-2020, 12:13 PM
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CW, I showed your post to my wife and was trying to say that how good our lights could look...

All she said was don't even think you're put stuff from the car anywhere inside this house with the baby

I said nothing, because I may be stupid but I'm not dumb

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