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Xenon nightmare

Discussion in 'E39 (1997-2003)' started by 330indy1, Sep 16, 2009.

    • Member

    330indy1

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    The other night I turned on the headlights of our 530i (107k miles) to discover the driver side light is pointing down. I try to adjust it to no avail. I take it to the dealer to get the plastic adjusters replaced after reading about this common issue. After they take apart the assembly I get a phone call that the version in my Feb. 2001 production car, the adjusters are NOT replaceable and I need new assemblies, at the price of $1700+ (and that is a "deal", less than the 2600. list price).
    How ironic I just paid it off to BMW Financial services and just got the title. I am trying not to freak out as we have our second baby due in November.

    How in the #$@%$ does BMW justify these 'high performance' lights that go south (literally) after only 8 years and then expect the owner to fully replace them at this outrageous expense? The bulbs haven't even burned out yet, and the crappy plastic parts inside have totally disintegrated.

    Buyer beware of older BMWs even if they have been pampered (like mine) --- they will hurt your pocketbook in new and imaginative ways! I am being "punished" for keeping this thing for the long term.:(
    Oh yeah, from BMW NA: "Sorry, but your car is out of (CPO) warranty. Good Luck though."
    • Member

    dms540i

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    Sounds like they have you by the short hairs. Once you take it in and they have it apart there's nothing much you can do other than grin & bear it. But if you are still trying to decide what to do you take a look at this link. You may find that you can remove that lens cover after all. Good luck!

    http://www.odometergears.com/subpages/E39_Headlight_FAQ.pdf
    • Member

    330indy1

    Post Count: 675
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    Actually they did take it apart, thinking they could replace the plastic parts. Turns out the replacement parts for the levelers in my production run 'don't exist', at least not in the BMW repair parts bin.

    M3Driver guest

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    Have you tried talking to the Service Manager (not the Service Advisor) in his office? If you are a good customer,they can sometimes split part of the cost with you as a 'one-time goodwill warranty repair'. I'd go negotiate with him one-on-one and see what he can do; got nothing to lose at this point.

    Or go buy the parts, make a deal with the tech of your choice and pay him direct for labor have him do it in your (or his driveway).

    I'd also shop the parts prices around....
    • Member

    eam3

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    Further proof that BMW is getting as far away from their old customer base as they can. Their main focus is, and apparently will be, short term owners (leases) that will quickly trade up towards another BMW and keep the cash flowing. Whatever happens to the old cars is the new owner's problem and BMW could not care less about them.
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    CSBM5

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    This is profound. Apparently you are doing business with a dealer who is intent on keeping his employees paid well by using customers as ATM machines.

    The entire headlight unit BMWNA MSRP is $1019.09. So your dealer is marking up that parts price by 70%??? And that is at their "discounted" price???:eek::D:D:

    You can get the headlight from www.getbmwparts.com (Tischer BMW) for $815. Buy it yourself as it is very easy to remove/install...just a few screws. The new unit comes with both high beam and Xenon bulbs, but you do have to move the Xenon ballast from the old headlight to the new one and also move a bracket on the bottom of the headlight housing to the new one as I recall -- very simple and easy to do. Whatever you do, don't pay your dealer a 70% markup or accept his claim that a part that lists for $1019 is really $2600...especially when you can buy BOTH front headlights from Tischer for $1630.;) Your dealer is paying somewhere in the range of $650-$700 for that part they claim is $2600 list. Perhaps you should contact the parts manager and ask him to verify in writing they are marking up a part by 160% above BMW list price?

    If you don't want to fork over the $815, there is a fix available in the aftermarket. You can get metal adjusters, but it is a REAL pain to get the 2001-2003 headlight units apart (oven, time and lots of patience is required). I seriously doubt if your dealer who claims a $1019 part has a list price of $2600 took your headlight apart as you indicated.

    By the way, the damaged headlight unit has value. When I replaced one on my M5 a while back (paid ~$750 at the time for the part as I did not want to fool with the oven/time/patience process), I sold my old unit for $150 in two days when I put it up on the M5board. A lot of older, preface-lift, E39 owners want the later headlight design, and they will buy your unit, buy the aftermarket adjuster kit and then do the repair themselves. Hence you could likely be out only $650 or so if buy it from Tischer and sell the old one.
    • Member

    330indy1

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    "team" : thanks for the replies. :)
    To clarify I got both left and right assemblies installed for $1700.
    I had BMW NA on the phone with the dealer service manager and parts guy-- both are great guys who I also know personally. They did what they could for me, with discounts, coupons etc. Still, a lot of friggin' money.
    I blame the manufacturer here. :mad: This is irresponsible engineering.

    This is likely my last BMW, unless something happens after the fact to turn the tide. Likely, I think not. Who knows.

    ViolinARC guest

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    mose121 guest

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    This statemenet could not be more false. BMW is one of the only manufactures that actually does care about providing support and parts for their older vehicles. They have an entire division (BMW Classic, formerly BMW Mobile Tradition) whose sole purposes is to stock parts for older vehicles. Of all the manufactures I've worked for, not one has had this kind of commitment to older vehicles. BMW also frequently steps up and does take care of client's when they are deserving of goodwill gestures. Which honestly, I do not believe this situation warrants goodwill assistance. The car is old, been around the world 5 times over on miles, and these headlights usually need some provoking to break...ie the car was in an accident or some other force was applied causing the failure.


    • Member

    az3579

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    One thing, despite not really being relevant to the thread...

    Excuse me? I don't know about you, but an 8-year-old car is anything but old. And high mileage? Are you serious? Maybe for a Ford, but for a Bimmer, it's in its prime.



    You want an old car? Use mine as an example, not a "spring chicken" like this rather recent 5er.
    • Member

    330indy1

    Post Count: 675
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    [/QUOTE]
    This truth is that this car is old and has high mileage. I could probably rattle off another half dozen things that this car needs without even looking at it. I assume he would blame BMW for that as well. At some point you just have to take responsibilty for the things you own.[/QUOTE]

    you assume wrong, mose121

    (you have a lot of nerve; we are CCA members here)
    I have taken exceptional 'responsibility' and care of this car, but thanks for the lecture. For example, I don't 'blame' BMW for the new water pump, radiator & thermostat housing I put in proactively at 90 k miles. It's called 'maintenance' on a paid-for car. This is not an old car --- it drives better than a new Acura or whatever.
    I do blame the manufacturer for having to replace both/entire headlight assemblies at this interval. You work for BMW (?) -- you obviously don't have a clue that $1700. is outrageous, on a car by the way that has never been wrecked.

    I guess you'll just go on your way with your 'company-lease' every 3 years. ooops. Did I just assume that?

    ViolinARC guest

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    Yes...BMW repair at the stealer is expensive.

    Typical BMW service pricing from my experience. I did some major work on my old '89 750iL before she was stolen and totalled...suspension, cooling system and a few other choice items. I shopped around on the web and found the parts for the same wholesale price that my buddy could get from the shop. It was about $2k for everything and 5-hours on a Sunday afternoon on a lift. After completing the work successfully, I contacted BMW's service department to get a repair quote...it was $11k+ so YES, the service costs at the stealership are high and so are they for having those outrageous rates! For that kind of money, I could've bought a new car or every specialty tool needed to fix my bimmer and then some...learn how to DIY and use your own skills IMHO.
    • Member

    eam3

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    I respectfully disagree. You mean to tell me that oil changes every 15K miles and "lifetime fill" fluids for the transmission and differential sound like a company that wants you to drive your car for many, many years? Yes, BMW Classic is wonderful for keeping old BMWs on the road, no question about it. But what about the BMWs from the last decade or so? That's what I'm referring to when I say that BMW only wants people to trade in and keep the cash coming in. They're hoping that by following their ridiculous service schedules, the life of the vehicle will be shortened and trading in. Look at an E30 or E28, they're still plentiful for one reason: they were built to last. I don't get the same feeling from the E90 (my mom has an '08 335i) or even the E60 (my own '08 535i).

    That's just my .02.
    • Member

    eam3

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    If your E39 is an old car, then my dad's 19 year old 750iL is a relic. My dad loves his relic to death and will not part with it. I agree 100% with you, my dad has replaced wear and tear items and done all the preventive maintenance possible. That's normal. Replacing $1000+ headlight assemblies because they fail and cannot be easily repaired is poor engineering (or like I said before, BMW's way to guarantee people will trade in as soon as the warranty is up). BMW is not the only one guilty of doing this, Mercedes has turned it into an art form as well.
    • Member

    330indy1

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    thanks guys for the empathy... do appreciate it.

    Man, these new lights just look *fantastic* at night.
    nice and bright




    and they SHOULD! :cool:
    • Member

    adam1979

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    Do dealers seriously charge 1.5-2 hrs per side? This takes 10 minutes. Maybe 30 minutes would be reasonable if you include aiming.

    I know this ship has sailed and the new lights are installed, but Depos would be another option for someone short on cash. I realize they don't look great and the light output isn't quite as good as the OEM Hellas, but they are still pretty good and would save tons of money.
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    bmwfxr

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    The adjusters do exist, just not at the dealer. Odometergears.com does have them and he is the only one in the states that has them. How do I know this? Well Jeff Kaplan, the owner of this company is a friend, and it was actually at my urging that he produced them. They are very affordable and will definitely fix your vehicle. The dealer doesn't know or care whether they exist because they would rather sell you the whole headlight assembly. We have replaced several dozen pairs of these since the adjuster became available and what we charge is much less than what a new one cost. For a shop that will fix these for you if you don't want to try www.bimrs.org or shoot me a private email and I will help you find a local independent that will get you taken care of.
    • Member

    eam3

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    I can vouch for this company. We ordered the E36 gears for the seats. They were perfect and fixed a problem that BMW could not (or would not) be able to fix in an affordable way.

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