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5-Series (E12,E28, E34, E39, E60) Chat relating to the BMW 5-Series of all generations. Specific models include: BMW 518, BMW 520, BMW 520i, BMW 530i, BMW 528i, BMW 530i, BMW 518i, BMW 524d, BMW 525i, BMW 525e, BMW 528e, BMW 540i, BMW 535i, BMW 520d, BMW 525td, BMW 525d, BMW 530d, BMW 525i/xi, BMW 530i/xi. (BMW 5-Series Forum)

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Old 11-08-2006, 05:38 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Perplexing E39 headlight problem

I'm installing P39 projector headlights with angel eyes from jlevisw.com into my (Eric's old) 1999 540i. I'm also installing HIDs. Here's the problem:

I have four ballasts, four igniters, and four bulbs. I have verified with the passenger's side wiring that all of these pieces of equipment work.

When I was plugging the ballast into the stock wiring on the driver's side, the plug for the stock wiring broke apart in my hand as I was pushing it into the ballast's plug. Undeterred, I lined up the electrodes and slid together the plugs. No matter which ballast I try, I cannot get the driver's side HID bulb to ignite. So I figured that the wiring harness itself was phuxxored.

I was wrong.

I plugged in the halogen bulb to the stock wiring harness plug, carefully lining up the electrodes etc. The bugger lit right up. So the halogen bulb gets electricity, and the xenon doesn't, or at least not enough to ignite.

FYI, I took a long look at the wiring harness plug and the wires leading from it. I was interested to note that they were covered with electrical tape, while the other side's plug wires were not. I stripped off some electrical tape to discover bare wire that had been sautered together. It looks like someone chopped off the plug at some point and sautered on a new one.

Suggestions????
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Old 11-08-2006, 07:45 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Man, that IS weird! I never noticed anything different about the driver's side wiring, altho the only thing I ever did was replace a bulb once.

Having worked for awhile in car stereo, I must point out that a joint that is soldered and taped is usually as good a splice as you can ask for. From your description of the problem, it sounds as though you may have a bad xenon ballast on that side. Did you try it with the passenger side's ballast on the driver's side wiring?
used:

I would also measure your voltages, but I'd bet you'll see a full 12.4V (car off) at all of the appropriate places.

It also sounds like you ought to try to get a new harness plug, maybe from a junkyard, and splice it in to replace the one that broke. Make sure you solder and tape those joints! Seriously.
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Old 11-08-2006, 11:00 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I have an idea.

A halogen bulb would not care about polarity. A xenon ballast sure as heck might. What if the person who soldered in the harness plug accidentally switched polarities? That would enable the halogen bulb to work and not the ballast.

I'm going to go try it right now....where are those wire cutters....
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Sold 2-28-07: 1997 E36 M3/4, 8-30-05 RIP 1997 528i


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Old 11-08-2006, 11:54 PM   #4 (permalink)
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That was precisely the problem. Some fool had reversed the polarity on the plug. Works just great now. The proof is below. I have not had time to wire up the angel eyes yet (and I had faulty directions, as I discovered when I tried to wire up one side and discovered my angel eyes blinking with my turn signal!!!). For now everything is twisted and taped, but hopefully will have a chance to sauter it up soon.

Don't tell anyone, but I wound up using one of my cigar cutters to sever the wires. Couldn't find my wire cutters. lol

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1995 E38 740i. Highly modded. Faster than you.

Sold 2-28-07: 1997 E36 M3/4, 8-30-05 RIP 1997 528i


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Old 11-09-2006, 08:11 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks for at least the one pic!

Glad you got the problem worked out. I guess whoever taped those wires in there never had the proper Bentley Manual! LOL

Anyway, I still think it'd be a good idea to get a new plug from a junk car and splice it in so you've got a good connection to your ballast.

Now - more photos, more photos, more photos!!!!
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Old 11-10-2006, 02:36 AM   #6 (permalink)
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haha cigar cutter.. thats great!
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