Fall is setting in and daylight hours are getting shorter and shorter, so therefore we rely on our headlights on our BMWs more and more each day. If your BMW doesn’t have LED or Xenon headlights, changing just the bulb is a great DIY upgrade for better and brighter light from your BMW’s existing headlights.
I recently ordered a set of PIAA Xtreme White Plus bulbs from Bavarian Autosport for $74.95. The most important thing to keep in mind when changing headlight bulbs is not to touch the actual glass part of the bulb. Care must be taken even when simply opening the new headlight package. The oils from your fingers can get on the bulb and when installed and on, it can cause them to fail.
Pop the engine bay hood and right behind the headlight you will find a small black plastic housing cap. For our case in the 2007 X3, it was a black plastic hexagon shaped cap. It snaps off from the top. Once the cap is laid back, reach in and carefully work the base of the bulb and wire out of the housing. Simply unplug the old light bulb and you are half way there.
As they love to say in the Bentley manual “Installation is reverse of removal.” Though that may be true in most cases, extreme care must be taken not to touch the new bulb anywhere but on its plastic base. This made reinstalling a little more cumbersome. I plugged the new PIAA bulb into the wiring harness and gently worked the new bulb back in through the plastic housing taking care not to touch anything with the new light bulb.
Once the bulb was back into the base of the headlight, it took a few times to make sure I’d seated the new bulbs correctly to keep them pulling back out. Once I was convinced it was engaged correctly, I turned the headlights on to double check. Everything looked good, so I snapped the black hexagon cap back over the inside of the headlight on the engine bay side.
I have replaced before the entire light housings to upgrade from a standard BMW headlight to a xenon, but this is a much bigger process and much more expensive. Given the low cost and the ease of changing, adding these PIAA Xtreme bulbs as well as making sure your clear lens housing are not hazy helps keep your older BMW lighting up the road.
If you have an older BMW, upgrading the headlight bulbs makes a great cost effective upgrade. With not much difficulty and a little care, you can do it yourself in less than an hour.
We’re pretty lucky to be living in the golden age of automobiles. Cars are more comfortable, more capable and more efficient than ever before. One of the technologies that has improved vastly even in the last ten years is exterior lighting. It seems the stock headlights on cars become more powerful every year, the high beams on a modern sedan are quite simply blinding to look at. It’s not often that you can retrofit older models with the latest and greatest technology, but in the case of headlights, the aftermarket provides some outstanding options.
Love The Lights You’ve Got Maybe your car came with a stellar set of headlights, but they’ve just become fogged over. It doesn’t matter how bright a set of bulbs you’re running if the lens in front of them is grimy and yellowed. Pick up a headlight buffing kit and lay into those puppies with some polishing compound. You’ll be amazed at how well a dirtied set of lights come back with minimal effort if you have the right tools.
Replace Your Bulbs If the lenses in your car are clear, but the beams simply don’t provide much light, the bulbs might be burnt out. Replacing old bulbs is a straightforward operation you can do yourself, and your local auto parts store can likely point you in the direction of the correct replacement bulbs.
Upgrade To HIDs HIDs make a great option, offering a drastic improvement in output compared to traditional halogen lights. They last much longer than conventional halogen, burn cooler, and require less energy from your car’s battery. HIDs have been available since the early 2000s, so you can find an easy-to-install set for nearly any car on the road
Upgrade To LEDs LEDs are probably the best overall option for your money in terms of conversions. They offer outstanding performance advantages over just about every other technology save for lasers, enjoy many of the same maintenance advantages that HIDs do, and you can easily find conversation kits for most cars. LEDs don’t even have to warm up, they’re producing peak output as soon as you flip the switch.
Upgrade To Lasers The most advanced lights currently available in cars use lasers. Lasers offer a higher color temperature and last much longer than HIDs or LEDs, but you will need the help of a skilled technician to install these. There are currently no over-the-counter conversion kits, so this is a considerably higher degree of difficulty, or price of entry. Then again, you can tell your friends your car shoots laser beams, what’s that worth?
Light it Up! With the exception of the last option, these are all upgrades you can do in an hour or two at home. If you’ve never worked on cars before, lights are actually a great place to start. You’ll be making your commute safer by helping other motorists spot you, and improving your ability to see what’s in your path.