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      12-15-2011, 03:00 PM   #1
Jmanscotch
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.::DIY - Third Brake Light Replacement::.

Like many of you, my third brake light had seen better days as it was cracked down the center and chipped off on one edge. I contemplated keeping the standard red lens, but ultimately went with the clear as the replacement.

Parts/Tools Needed:

From Mike at TheBMWPartStore.com:

- Red OE Third Brake Light - P/N 63256917378 - $74.62
----OR------
- Clear OE Third Brake Light - P/N 63256930246 - $61.86

- Three (3) New 40N retaining springs - P/N 63256900698 - $0.41


- 8 MM Deep Socket
- Ratchet
- Phillips Screw Driver (normal size)
- Magnet (Optional but potentially handy)

Start by opening the trunk and locating the panel that houses the Emergency Trunk Release handle. This panel will be held in place be two (2) obvious phillips head screws.







Remove both screws and pull the panel down (is still connected, can tape it to hang out of the way). You will then need to locate the electrical connection for the third brake light and unplug it simply by pulling the plugs apart from eachother. (Hint: It's not the one I'm holding, but rather up and left of my hand).







Now, you will need to access the three (3) bolts/nuts that secure the brake light to the trunk lid. Those three nuts can be access in the holes seen here:






Using your 8 MM deep socket, access the nuts via the three aforementioned access holes and unscrew each one, taking note that there are NO washers to loose, just a nut and the spring, as pictured below.

It's worth noting, this is where the magnet may come in handy. If you have bigger hands like me, you might find it difficult to retrieve the nut and spring if you accidentially drip it out of the socket before removing it from the inner workings of sheet metal in the trunk lid. Before just fishing around in there, use a magnet to retrieve the items since there does exist the posibility of knocking the nuts and/or springs deep into the sheet metal voids that exist in the trunk lid and you will be f*cked....atleast in the sense of a potential rattle source and needing new parts to replace those lost.







All three sets of nuts and springs removed, here is the parts we're working with (shown with the new brake light). To remove the brake light housing, you simply pull (or push on the bolts) out and away from the trunk. Make sure you mind the electrical connection and that you free the plug from any thing it may catch on. Also take note of the route in which the plug is snaked through, as you will need to fish the new one through there as well.

* My old light housing was cracked and simply broke when tugged on. I imagine there maybe some clips on the housing that would need released if it's integrity is intact, but I cannot speak to this unfortunately.



My broken setup.






With the old unit removed, we are ready to install the new brake light. Begin by orienting the light in the correct direction and fish the electrical connector through the gap from which the old one was routed, as shown:






Once the plug is routed correct, you will need to install the new light assembly, making sure the three bolts are aligned to their respective holes and that once flush, the seal on the light housing is seated properly on the trunk lip.

Next, you will need to reinstall each spring and nut, taking note that the springs largest end (largest in diameter) will rest closest to the brake light itself (away from the securing nut). I'd recommend beginning with the middle bolt and then reinstalled the outside two, making sure to only secure the nuts and not actually fully tighten them down before the others are installed and lightly tightened.

This part can be tricky, more so on the two driver side bolts, but take your time and you'll get the springs on there and nut started.

The torque for these three nuts is listed as 2.5 NM, but I simply hand tightened them. Take care not to overly tighten them or you will be back to a cracked housing after some rough road use.







Once you are happy with the tightness of the nuts securing the housing on, reconnect the electrical connection, place the Emergency Trunk Release handle back in place and screw the two phillips head screws into place....done.

Before and After shots:


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Last edited by Jmanscotch; 01-10-2012 at 09:05 AM.
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      12-15-2011, 03:08 PM   #2
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Also, if anyone could use the old circuit board/LEDs that came out of my busted setup, hit me up and you can have them for the cost of shipping. All LEDs work, but would obviously need to be transplanted into your setup if you're looking to replace burnt out ones.
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      12-16-2011, 03:14 PM   #3
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I looked for this the other day but couldn't find it until now.



The SIB for how to prevent the third brake light from cracking yet again:
Attached Images
  
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      12-21-2011, 11:19 AM   #4
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I don't know if I like the clear. I think I like the red better. The clear reminds me of Rice tail lights. Am I the only one? Thank you for the DIY. Both corners on my light are busted off. Guess I will be changing out the springs when I get a new light. Do I still have a choice on the light color or is clear the only option?
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      12-21-2011, 12:07 PM   #5
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I think I agree with you. I originally didn't think the clear would be too Altezza looking, that it might blend well, but after walking up to the car and looking at it a few times I think red is going to replace it soon. Its not only that it's a bit ricer, it just looks out of place and doesn't flow well with the rest of the rear end.

You can get OE in red or clear, part numbers for each are in the first post.

You could get clear and put smoked tint over it.....I'd give you a good deal on mine! ($50 shipped?)
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Last edited by Jmanscotch; 12-21-2011 at 12:17 PM.
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      07-14-2012, 04:20 AM   #6
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success

I also implemented this DIY, with the red middle tail light. It was relatively easy to do, even for a newbie like myself. The only catch is that because I did not read the later post and order the 3 washers, I found it useful to manually spread the "wide end" of the new-model 40N springs by prying the last loop of the spring a bit wider than what it shipped as. Otherwise, they would fall into the cutout for the bolts, which would not have happened with the older, larger springs.

It's pretty easy to destroy the reflector plastic as you pry it out, but the PC board that it is attached to is pretty robust and comes out intact. If you're bored, you can attach it to a 7-9 volt power source to get a nice row of superbright LEDs.
(See attached.)
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      07-14-2012, 05:54 PM   #7
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you have to hope the bolts to mess up the plastic they are held into the light or you'll be able to get the light off. Mine does this, I have to, at some point, break the light apart from the outside to get to the bolt heads to Ican hold them in the place to remove the nuts.
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      07-20-2012, 03:09 PM   #8
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Hi Jake,

Great thread. Do you still have the clear, and are you still willing to sell it? If so, let me know!
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      07-20-2012, 03:53 PM   #9
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Thanks for this thread, I brought up the bulletin and dealership is covering my rear light under warranty. Split right down the center and then started working it's way toward the passenger side of the car. But the way it did it, unless you popped the trunk and looked at it that way you could not see the cracks.

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      08-04-2012, 03:17 AM   #10
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Third Brake light electrical connector doesn't seem to just come off by pulling

Do you need to use some specific tool to remove connector or just pull off using some persuation thnx for a great post
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      08-06-2012, 05:39 PM   #11
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No special tools required outside of fingers. If you have trouble with fingers, try some light persuation with a small flat screwdriver.
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      12-22-2012, 03:50 PM   #12
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ah my clear 3rd brake light cracked on the right edge, just like the picture the OP posted with the red 3rd brake light.

po'ed considering I got this with the retrofit clear lens kit ($140 clear sides, rear, & 3rd). Now i have to pay $70 just for the clear 3rd. I didn't know about the service bulletin before, going to make sure i get the 40N springs
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      12-22-2012, 06:45 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jmanscotch View Post
I looked for this the other day but couldn't find it until now.

The SIB for how to prevent the third brake light from cracking yet again:
Thanks for the write-up and pics. I have a slight crack in mine in the middle so I may end up having to do this one day.

I was pretty sure that I had this in PDF format so here it is:
Attached Images
File Type: pdf SIB 63 05 03 - Third Brake Lamp Cracked.pdf (718.4 KB, 413 views)
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Last edited by SD Z4MR; 12-22-2012 at 06:52 PM.
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      12-22-2012, 06:51 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ftlaudm3 View Post
I don't know if I like the clear. I think I like the red better. The clear reminds me of Rice tail lights. Am I the only one?
Apparently the M Division didn't think so because the clear center lamp is standard on the M Roadsters. Not sure about the M Coupes.
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      11-16-2013, 10:53 AM   #15
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Great write-up, thanks! I'm a moron and ordered the light before reading this, so now I'm stuck with the original springs
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      11-21-2013, 11:11 PM   #16
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where can i order the spring for a reasonable price,since the dealer is kinda far from me?
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      11-22-2013, 12:13 AM   #17
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getBMWparts.com or TheBMWpartStore.com

About 80 cents each.

I need to add some to my next buy list. My light has small cracks all around the perimeter, and they're slowly getting bigger.
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      12-01-2013, 07:12 PM   #18
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sorry to bring this up
today I noticed the 3rd brake light gasket for my 03 2.5i started to crack
what's the part number for this particular gasket?
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      12-02-2013, 01:48 AM   #19
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Doesn't look like it's available as an individual part.
Probably comes with the light.

See if you can find some similar material and make one yourself.
X-acto knife and a steady hand.
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      12-26-2013, 12:07 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jmanscotch View Post
I think I agree with you. I originally didn't think the clear would be too Altezza looking, that it might blend well, but after walking up to the car and looking at it a few times I think red is going to replace it soon. Its not only that it's a bit ricer, it just looks out of place and doesn't flow well with the rest of the rear end.

You can get OE in red or clear, part numbers for each are in the first post.

You could get clear and put smoked tint over it.....I'd give you a good deal on mine! ($50 shipped?)
hey, ill buy the clear one off you, if you still have it, let me know asap please and thank you!
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      08-11-2014, 11:15 PM   #21
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NUTS!

I just replaced my third brake light 2 weeks ago and already it's developed a crack across the top edge over an inch long.
I installed it per the tech bulletin with the new 40N springs and washers (but I didn't have any dum-dum, so I used gum-gum).

So I stopped by Lowes tonight and got some M5 Nylock nuts.
Used additional washers on the nut side of the spring, because the nuts are small, and only tightened them 1/2 way up the threaded portion of the studs.
Then I super-glued the crack best I could.

We'll see what happens:
a) It will continue to crack, because the stress is due to the lens and the housing it's glued to expanding/contracting at different rates, and not pressure from the car body
b) It'll leak water, since it's just short of flopping loose
c) Both A and B
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      08-26-2014, 09:57 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StickMon
I just replaced my third brake light 2 weeks ago and already it's developed a crack across the top edge over an inch long.
I installed it per the tech bulletin with the new 40N springs and washers (but I didn't have any dum-dum, so I used gum-gum).

So I stopped by Lowes tonight and got some M5 Nylock nuts.
Used additional washers on the nut side of the spring, because the nuts are small, and only tightened them 1/2 way up the threaded portion of the studs.
Then I super-glued the crack best I could.

We'll see what happens:
a) It will continue to crack, because the stress is due to the lens and the housing it's glued to expanding/contracting at different rates, and not pressure from the car body
b) It'll leak water, since it's just short of flopping loose
c) Both A and B
Any update on what happened?
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