BMW E46 Tail Light Repair

On the E46 models, BMW has issued a recall to fix their E46 tail light fault. We created a step by step procedure to show the damage that is done and how to perform this repair yourself.

The kit below has both bulb holders and the repair cable (100K10107).

You may also find damage to the bulb holder connector (12527519956) and wire terminals (12521433217), at which point replacement is highly recommended to complete the job and prevent any further issues.

This was done on a 2004 BMW 330xi experiencing the intermittent tail lamp out indicator on the dash. BMW has issued a recall to repair all affected vehicles. This walk through was done on the driver’s side as that was the side that was bad. The passenger side had no issues, but was still upgraded to prevent this from happening there. The repair kit (100K10107) comes with everything to do both sides.

This is the<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />

Remove the bulb housing for the left tail lamp and disconnect the plug. This is the culprit. The ground terminal is too thin to support the amount of current flowing through it causing resistance and heat to build up. A melted connector and corrosion is the outcome.

This is the<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />

The ground pin slid right out. Notice the green corrosion on the wire also. This is exactly why the ground wire needs to be upgraded. That will be cut off and the new ground wire attached to it.

The ground pin slid right out. Notice the green corrosion on the wire

BMW does not cover replacing the bulb socket housing, but it should be replaced especially if it’s corroded like this one. The #2 pin is the black corroded ground pin in the top row.

The #2 pin is the black corroded ground pin in the<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
top row

These are the parts I used for the repair. I also replaced the corrector that was melted along with the #3 pin for the red/yellow wire since the ground wire melted through and that pin was corroded also.

These are the parts I used for the repair

I repaired the ground wire on the vehicle’s harness with a new terminal.

Repaired the ground wire on the vehicle's harness with a new terminal

The long brown wire is the new ground wire with a larger spade connector that can handle the current demands. The bottom part as you can see is to connect to the vehicle’s ground wire. If the connector was still good the factory ground wire would have been cut in half and both ends attached to the new ground wire.

larger spade connector that can<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
handle the current demands

Plastic housing for the bare connector.

Plastic housing for the bare connector

The last step is to attach the new spade connector to the ground pin on the circuit board. BMW was kind enough to leave an attachment point there, as if they saw this coming. Because of the damage the ground pin had I just bypassed the connector all together and went straight to the grounding tab. Now this piece can be reinstalled. Always check all light functions after this repair.

The last step is to attach the new spade connector to the ground pin on the circuit<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />

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14 thoughts on “BMW E46 Tail Light Repair
  1. jon

    hey nice diy! and the only one! btw Im also experiencing the same thing but instead all my taillights are always on as soon as I put key in ignition smh… checked the brake switch, not it… fuse, not it.. took one of the panels out in the back on my passenger side and sure enough it was burned and looked exactly like yours, now checked the other side and it was new like.. so I was going to ask you, where did you get those ground wires and housing..?

    • Adam Goral

      It sounds like you need: 61129281435 ground wire upgrade. 12527519956 plug to the bulb holder. 12521433217 wire terminals. If you have any other questions or want to buy parts, give Eric a call at Extension 316, he’s our resident BMW guy!

  2. Eric Nelson

    My passenger tail light doesn’t work except when I physically push the bulb down and it’ll light up. It’s a 2001 325Ci. Assuming just a simple connection is missing.

    • Adam Goral

      Hey Eric,
      That sounds a lot like a basic connection issue. The most likely possibility is that the part of the contact immediately touching the bulb has some corrosion, and when you push the bulb down, it shifts the contact slightly so the bulb touches a non-corroded spot, allowing the electricity to flow enough to illuminate the bulb. Make sure all contacts are physically touching the bulb, and then start cleaning. Rubbing alcohol and a q-tip is sometimes enough, but more corroded contacts might require you to scratch the corrosion off to reveal good contact metal once again. Hope that helps.

  3. Jon T

    I also have a ’01 325Ci. I was told by the dealer that it was a recall issue but not for my year vehicle. So they want over $400 to fix it. I’ve read this and other DIY and it seems like an easy fix. I just can’t for the life of me get it done! My dash board shows both tail light indicators but it’s only drivers side that has the burnt ground wire. I bought the repair kit from the dealer and followed all the DIY steps for driver side with no luck. The replacement ground wire that the dealer gave me was not as thick as the original. Could that be the problem?

    • Adam Goral

      Hi, the problem is usually due to corroded and overheated terminals. The ground handles the most current, and typically is the one that suffers this issue. If you have burns and corrosion appearing on wires, its quite possible that the taillight boards are also melted/corroded. Because of this, our kit contains both the boards and wiring needed for the fix. You may also want to check all of your fuses as well. Hope that helps.

  4. Ken Scalf

    I assume this issue does not impact later models, mines a 05, with led tail lights
    Thank for the e46 common problem issues

    • Eric Hirschberg

      The recall is for ’02-’05 325 and 330 models, but other 3-series models from 1999-2005 may experience the same fault. I don’t think this should effect models with LED tail lights since they draw much less current.

  5. Frankie

    Aw. Thought I found the solution to my problem. Mine is on the passenger side too but it’s the reverse and fog/running light (light underneath the reverse light) that isn’t working

  6. Nick

    Hello. I have a bmw 2004 325i model with no boot lights. I have followed the repair and still no luck. On the passenger side the connector has a burnt out white and black striped cable on it. Please can you indicate what this cable relates to.

  7. Mina

    OK Guys,

    Here is my case. the taillight is on at my cockpit dashboard but the light is working perfectly now – it use to blink so fast then after adjustment its ok but the Red light is on my cockpit still!

    What should I look for for troubleshooting.? By a new lamp and try?

    Thanks for your feedback!


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