E24 Tail Light Refurb

Cost: ~$14
Pros: Very easy repair, Brighter/more visible tail lights?
Cons: None
Time: ~1.5 hours

If you hadn’t noticed, the 6ers have a deserved reputation for rather dim tail lights… particularly in bright light.

I had the necessity to remove the tail light lenses in order to track down a brass base tail light that was suspected of causing some erroneous check panel faults.

I noticed that the reflector area of the tail light assembly was, in some cases, completely gone; and in other places was faded or partially missing. Still other areas of my right tail light had dirt on the bottom of the reflector area…no doubt the symptom of a bad tail light seal (another item to add to the 6er shopping list).

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One stop at Home Depot and I have the chrome spray paint, masking tape, and masking paper I need for the job.

I removed the light bulbs (there are only 2 sizes, you can’t mix them up) and shoved bits of masking paper in the holes. As long as the inside of the light bulb socket is covered, don’t worry too much about getting all of the outside of the socket covered.

After cleaning in and around the reflector areas well, I used the masking tape to mask off the detail area immediately around the reflectors making sure to cover all chrome and seals. I also masked over the electrical connectors and stuffed the sockets with newspaper to keep paint off these parts.

I then used paper to mask off the larger area around the tail light assembly to protect from over spray. I would recommend spray painting inside so as to minimize over-spray. Watch the wind if spraying outside.

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A couple of quick coats of the spray paint and they were done.

I had a couple small runs. I tried to clean one, and probably made more of a mess. Unless your anal-retention factor is higher than normal, a few runs and such inside the tail light assembly isn’t going to mess with your head too much.

After about an hour of drying time, I removed the masking and replaced the bulbs and tail light lenses.

Evaluating the result of the repainting, the lights don’t really seem brighter per se. Before the repainting, the light being emitted was essentially limited to the center of the reflector area where the bulb was. After the repainting, the light emitted was about the same brightness, but it was now being reflected and refracted as it should to fill the entire light area. They may not be brighter, but they are certainly more visible…so its definitely worth the small amount of time and coin to do it.

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After the last heavy rains, I noticed more degradation of the coating. Since the reason for the initial degradation of the coating was due to weather intrusion from bad seals, I ordered a new set of seals. A pair of BMW part number 632 1 13 608 07 Gaskets ($6.25 ea list) was ordered. Each of these come as one complete circle. I think the idea is that you cut them to fit (both the original gaskets removed from the tail light were cut)…however, I decided to fit them whole as the degradation of the previous gaskets started where they were cut. They were a little longer than necessary, but by fitting them loose in the channel, the gasket fit fine without bunching. I had to work the lens cover back over the gasket so that the lens crushed against the entire gasket.