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      02-21-2014, 09:02 PM   #1
AmmarYasirA's Avatar

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DIY: Z4 Halo/Angel-Eye Bulb Replacement

Before I start, I would just like to say that I will try to detail my post as much as possible because I always forget to take pictures.... so sorry.

Problem: My passenger side AE bulb was out so I decided to replace them but didnt want to buy the new housing from BMW.

Bulb Needed: The bulb type you need for your AE's (Angel Eyes/Halo Ring(s)) is a BA9S bulb. BA9S refers to the base of the bulb. There are always different names for the same base type, but BA9S is generally what you'll want to search to get what you need.
You can either go with the OEM halogen bulb or LED's. (check bottom of post for some comments on LED's)

But before I get to that, here's how to replace it:

Step 1: For whichever side you're replacing - turn the wheel all the way out of the wheel well (Example: when working on your passenger side bulb, turn your steering wheel all the way to the right). Inside the wheel well, towards the front of the car, you'll see two panels or "doors". The top one needs to be undone and removed. (Number 12 on the diagram)
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Step 2: For that panel, you'll need a quarter or similar (flathead screwdriver works as well) to turn the "locks" loose. These locks will be round and have a flat bottom. If the panel hasn't been opened before, you'll notice that the round part of the lock is on the outer edges of the panel and that the flat bottom is on the panel itself. To get the panel off, rotate both of the locks to where the round part of the "lock" is mostly on the panel that needs to be removed. Meaning, the flat part of the lock should be on the edge of the panel. So roughly a 180 degree turn, given your locks are in the correct position at the start of this.
The reason I personally like using a quarter, is because the locks on the panel don't really require that much force to turn, and for me atleast, it's just easier. So basically just something small and that has flat sides to turn the "locks." (something thick preferably)

Step 3: After that, the panel requires a small tug here and there to get it out. When you see it, you'll know how to do it. It'll get frustrating if it won't work the first time you pull at it, but you'll get it eventually. Don't go crazy with it, but a small tug shouldn't kill anything. Do note that the panel has teeth that slide into the fender itself to hold the panel in place, so DONT tug on that side- you might break those. Tug on the side with the locks instead.

Step 4: Once the panel is removed, you'll see the back of your headlight housing. The back of the housing is basically just a black plastic cover with a metal wire going over it.
NOTE: That wire needs to be pulled UP and OVER the brackets where it is locked into.
Think of removing it as gesturing someone to come to you with your index finger. But this time use your middle finger as well to get more force (get your head out of the gutter lol).
This metal wire is a little tough (very tough actually) so it does require a decent tug. Don't get pissed at it though and start yanking at it. It's pretty strong, but it might break so don't take your anger out on it. This part of the DIY isn't necessarily the hardest, but definitely the one that takes the most amount of force to remove.

Step 5: Once that wire is off- the black cover needs to be removed. The cover for the headlights is tricky because it'll need to be angled out in a specific way to be removed.
NOTE: it's VERY important to remember how you removed it (you have to put it back on too).
I found the passenger side 28494902219392929 times more difficult to remove because the washer fluid reservoir is in the way (you could remove it and save some time), but it'll still come out if you fiddle with it.
Comments: to me, this step is the hardest since the cover is a little tricky. It'll make you want to punch a wall (trust me, I was pretty close to it). Infact, this was probably the most annoying thing I've done on my Z. The angle needed to remove it is a little difficult to put into text, but even if I had a video to show you guys, I couldn't see it helping much. Its just one of those things you'd have to figure out yourself. But if you're at this step and it seems impossible to you, just TRUST me, its totally possible. Just look at it for a bit and have a little patience.
~A little OT~, but if things on this car weren't so damn fragile I wouldnt be afraid to just yank it out and use excessive force. However, not everything needs to be handled rough, and theres always a method to the madness. Dont give up just yet!

Step 6a: So after you've got the black cover from hell off, you'll want to go to the furthest inner opening in the headlight housing (towards the center of the car) and reach down inside and find the holder/housing for the AE bulb. A little cheat to seeing what's inside is to get your phone, put it on video and turn the flash on, gives you a good visual as to what you want. This will be a huge aid.

Step 6b: Once you see the AE bulb holder/housing, you'll want to reach in and turn it counterclockwise and pull it out. After that, take the wire for the bulb out from the back and move on to the next step.

Step 7a: Now that you've got the AE/Halo Housing removed and ready to modify (to replace the bulb) you have 2 different ways to remove and replace it with the new bulb. The way I did it is 10 times easier to do but it MIGHT break the stock bulb (mine did). If your bulb is already broken, you shouldn't have to worry about it and just pull it out. Get some pliers (very thin ones) and you'll see the small metal part of the bulb's base sticking out from the top of the AE housing. Twist the bulb by the metal base counter clockwise until it starts to push up (There's a spring/ejector mechanism inside the housing that pushes the bulb out once its twisted). This part is a little bit of a grey area for me since I was so pissed (from the previous step), that i just got the pliers and yanked the damn bulb out (after I twisted it and the bulb pushed up), and I honestly didnt care what happened at that point because I was swearing everything that came to mind. I know this method is a little crude but after nearly throwing the thing on the ground, and stomping on it from being pissed off, this seemed (at the time) to be the best way to do it.

The OTHER way (less crude way) to do it, would be to find the contact points of the BA9S bulb and use a very very tiny drill bit to clear the path for those contact points so the old bulb can come out.

"Why does the housing even need to be modified?" : Basically the problem with the AE housing is that the BA9S bulb has those two little contact points at the sides of the bulbs and there isn't an opening at the top of the housing to take the bulbs out without modifying the housing. I guess BMW thought itd be a great way to milk more money out of their customers, so they didnt want it to be too easy to just replace the cheap bulb with another cheap bulb. Instead, they want their customers to purchase a wholeeee new AE housing/bulb combo for $40+. (Imho)

Step 7b: Once you pull the bulb out of the AE housing out you'll see the grooves made in the housing for the contact points of the bulb. It shows where the bulb rides into the housing and lock into place (an L-shape and its black)

(This part is only for those who didnt use the drill bit to get the old bulb out)- get those pliers out again and just pick at the top part of the housing where the grooves for the contact points travel up to the top of the housing. Just make two little openings by picking away at the top of the housings for the contact points of the new BA9S bulb.

Step 8: The new bulb should go in smoothly and all you'll need to do is twist it at the end (Once pushed) to lock it in place. The AE housing has an ejector type of mechanism to push the bulb out or hold it in place in the "L." So you HAVE to twist it to lock into place. When you're doing this you'll understand what I'm talking about.

Step 9: Plug the wire back into the AE housing and MAKE SURE it lights up.

The rest is just steps 1-6 in reverse:
Spin it clockwise back into the headlight.
Put the cover(s) back on.
Pull the wire back over the top of the headlight cover and lastly, put the "door" back in place inside the wheel well, turn the locks and you should be done.

Ta da!

Now, we'll go back as to why my halos are blue.... If you were working on these in the daytime and happened to get a look into the headlights, you would have noticed a blue glow coming from the ring lens for the AE/Halo bulb. I guess BMW wanted to get a closer color from the halogen bulbs to match the xenon's (even though they never even got close) , so if you put in bright white LED's in the headlights, they're going to look bluer than the actual color of the bulb.
Another reason: Cheap ass Ebay LEDs. Thats why. (Ebay seller claimed white... not blue) Just do yourself a huge favor and find quality ones. I personally didn't want the blue so these are temporary. (Hate them)
So, PLEASE don't buy cheap crap on eBay. Might seem tempting to get the cheaper ones vs. more expensive ones, but from my experience after ordering three different LED's, I found the more expensive ones to be far superior in quality. (this is never the case for all LED bulbs, but it definitely applies to all the BA9S bulbs Ive bought so far.

Tips for getting a brighter, whiter light from your AE's:
The oem halogen bulb for the AE's emit light all around, with LED's (if youre going for those) they only emit light in the direction the diodes are facing. This is a problem if you get an LED bulb that only has the diodes facing forwards. Since the lens for the AE's are around the bulb, an LED bulb with front facing diodes wont light up those rings at all. From what I remember, the bulb, if long enough, sits into the dummy projector. So, SIDE mounted diodes on an LED bulb would light up the rings better than ones with front facing diodes. The thing you have to look for when getting an LED bulb, is to make sure they have powerful side mounted diodes. You could have the brightest diodes on the front and you might get lucky with ok light output, but nowhere near as close as mediocre diodes all around the sides of the bulb. Again, I implore you to just get the best possible BA9S bulbs you can find because those cheap ones just didnt meet my standards.
Lastly, since I mentioned the lens for the AE's were blue, I would probably recommend getting an LED bulb that had a warmer white color temperature <5000k as opposed to one with a pure white/blue color temperature >5000k. Reason being, since I first started this thread, Ive gone through about 3 sets of LED bulbs and the ones on it now are still too blue for me, but much brighter than stock. The LED bulbs themselves match the xenon headlamps perfectly, but the blue lens of the AE's give it a ~6500k color temperature as opposed to the ~5000k color temperature it should have had.
So good luck!

Things to keep in mind: Nearly all LED bulbs WILL give you a bulb out warning. Generally speaking, there are very few LED options for the BA9S bulb type, and even fewer with built-in resistors. So either code the bulb out (to ignore the computer's resistance requirements), or just live with the orange light on your instrument cluster.
You COULD solder in your own resistor for the bulb as well. However, it may be a little tricky figuring out where to place the resistor in the headlight housing. Theres plenty of room, but depending on the type of resistor you get, you could cause some serious damage to your headlights, so just be smart, and safe. (Been there, done that )

Happy Modding!!

(oh, and point out anything you see that you dont get in this post, ill edit it to make it clearer.
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Last edited by AmmarYasirA; 08-07-2016 at 10:31 PM..