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.
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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.