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Dual Brake Light How To (Slight Return)

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  • Dual Brake Light How To (Slight Return)

    Having just installed a set of nice Startec tailight lenses, I couldn't help but notice a missing bulb/socket in the factory tailight assembly. With a perfectly good lense available for such a bulb, I thought it would be nice to have dual brake lights instead of the lone light on each side. Knowing that many might want to follow suit, I decided to take photos and make a proper 'how-to' for those who might be interested.

    Time: <1 hr

    Tools:

    Spare E30 tail light bar
    Flat Screwdriver
    Soldering Iron
    Solder
    Wire Cutter/Stripper
    (2) 1156 Clear Bulbs


    When I first installed the Startec lights, this is what I saw:




    When I hit the brake lights, I saw this:





    When the M3 tail light bar is removed from the lense via the two plastic retainers, we see an empty plastic socket and no provision for wiring:





    What we need to fix this is a sacrificial light bar from another E30 BMW. This one came from a car that apparently had a rear fog light:




    The first thing we do is remove the metal strip from our sacrificial light panel. The proper way to do this is to gently lift one end while applying mild pressure to the plastic retaining tabs closest to that end, and work your way to the other end. If you are gentle, it will pop right up without breaking the plastic tabs. There is one plastic retaning tab that comes through the center of the metal strip, so don't forget about that one! When you lift the strip, you will find how simple each socket actually is:





    The metal strip serves as the ground, and contacts each bulb sleeve. There is one wire to each socket, and a metal tang that serves as the contact at the base of the bulb. The tang is held in place by being partially wedged into a slot in the plastic backing.

    When we lift the strip from one of our M3 tailights, we see the empty socket and provision to anchor the tang is there. We just need to supply the wiring:




    So what we do is remove two socket tangs/wires from our sacrificial light bar. We take the two that are furthest from the main connector, which gives us enough wire to work with for each.

    In this photo, I am pointing the first of the two assemblies that I will remove:




    Clip the wire very close to the main connector. Then turn the plastic cover over. Using the screwdriver, insert it into the small hole directly behind the tang, turn the screwdriver slightly sideways, and press directly onto the bottom of the tang. It will pop out:

    2003 Mitsu EVO VIII - 2.0L / 600+whp
    1988 BMW M3 turbo - Work in progress. . .
    1986 SVO Mustang - Work in progress. . .

  • #2
    Next, take the tang/wire and anchor the tang into the M3 plastic housing by pushing it into the anchor point at the empty socket:




    Next, using your soldering iron, solder the cut/stripped end of the wire onto the terminal of the existing brake light tang:



    When you're done, you get this!





    I took the time to go into great detail, but it really is quick and easy. You'll have it done in less than an hour, and I'm sure you'll be pleased with the result.



    2003 Mitsu EVO VIII - 2.0L / 600+whp
    1988 BMW M3 turbo - Work in progress. . .
    1986 SVO Mustang - Work in progress. . .

    Comment


    • #3
      Good write up... I did mine many years ago after some one decided to kiss my bumper!!!

      Comment


      • #4
        Does it throw a fault on the OBC due to the change in voltage/resistance?

        Neat write-up.

        -Chris
        Chris L.

        Spray paint and tire shine doesn't equate to a "restoration!"

        Comment


        • #5
          No, no codes, no faults.
          2003 Mitsu EVO VIII - 2.0L / 600+whp
          1988 BMW M3 turbo - Work in progress. . .
          1986 SVO Mustang - Work in progress. . .

          Comment


          • #6
            Nice work Ted.

            -Dietrich

            Comment


            • #7
              nice, when this dang weather clears up might have to do this

              Comment


              • #8
                Great write-up! Thanks!
                In the pic of the sacrificial light bar, is it the middle socket/bulb that was the Fog light?
                I would be interested in a fog light addition. By the way, did the Euro models come with the fog lights?
                Mike
                wtb-e30 M3 (blk)
                ex-'86 e30 325
                '97 e39
                '86 911 Carrera

                Comment


                • #9
                  Looks great Ted! Thanks.

                  Are you a hand model? :hee:


                  Disclaimer: Remember, I know absolutely nothing, but it doesn't prevent me from having an opinion or suggestion. :

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Looks great! I will do the same to my Startec tail-lights. Thanks for the detailed write-up.

                    Cheers, Daniel.
                    - 1987 M3 (e30)
                    -- BeastPower Motorsports: www.beastpower.com
                    - -Eisenmann Exhaust Systems: www.eisenmann.us

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by MIK911 View Post
                      In the pic of the sacrificial light bar, is it the middle socket/bulb that was the Fog light?
                      Yes. But you wouldn't care about that particular socket for the conversion (just to be clear). On a regular panel, the center bulb is the tail light that stays on when the parking or headlights are activated.

                      Originally posted by Magnus View Post
                      Are you a hand model?
                      No, but I was sure to wash them before taking these photos (I know my mother would want that).
                      2003 Mitsu EVO VIII - 2.0L / 600+whp
                      1988 BMW M3 turbo - Work in progress. . .
                      1986 SVO Mustang - Work in progress. . .

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Good job on the write up. Kudos.

                        Comment

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