BMW E46 Xenon Headlight Replacement | BMW 325i (2001-2005), BMW 325Xi (2001-2005), BMW 325Ci (2001-2006), BMW 325ti (2001-2004)

bmw e46 vehicles with optional high intensity discharge (hid) or xenon headlights utilize a special high voltage bulb and control unit for low beam headlights. conventional halogen bulbs are used for high beams. the aim of the xenon low beams is controlled by stepper motors in the headlight assemblies, which respond to vehicle loading as detected by the headlight vertical aim sensors at the front and rear suspension.

if the vehicle is equipped with optional adaptive headlights, the bi-xenon headlight is equipped with an electrically activated shutter
who directs the low beam cone of light in the same direction as the high beam. bi-xenon headlights are also equipped with an adaptive headlight control system, which uses stepper motors to rotate the headlights slightly as the front wheels are steered, providing an enhanced lighting path as the vehicle travels through a turn. 

You're reading: BMW E46 Xenon Headlight Replacement | BMW 325i (2001-2005), BMW 325Xi (2001-2005), BMW 325Ci (2001-2006), BMW 325ti (2001-2004)

the headlight assembly seals can wear out over time resulting in water leaks and repeat bulb failures. on models with xenon lights, the hid module is located at the bottom of the headlight. water can enter the module electrical connector causing headlight faults. if this happens to you, you will have to replace the headlight, the electrical harness and the hid module. the procedure below highlights xenon style bulb replacing. halogen bulb replacement is similar, but not covered in this tech article.

replacing xenon headlight components is different than standard halogen bulb-equipped models. the parts are much more expensive, so be extra careful when working with them.

you can test your xenon components by swapping parts side to side. for example, if you have a bulb
who is not turning on, you can swap the bulb side to side. if you find the bulb is not the problem, you can then swap the xenon module side to side. this will help to avoid replacing parts that have not failed. the bulb and xenon module are the most common failures with bmw e46 xenon headlights.

to avoid marring the trim if you need to pry anything, work with a plastic prying tool or wrap a screwdriver tip with masking tape before prying out trim panels, switches or electrical accessories.

keep in mind that when your car was serviced before, parts may have been replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. the sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have, so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches. 

protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. if you are working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. do not work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability. 

vehicle models change and evolve, as they grow older, so the vehicle shown in our illustrations may vary slightly from yours. if something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. do you have questions or want to add to the article? leave a comment below. when leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

xenon headlight bulb replacement:

remove key from ignition switch and wait five minutes. be sure headlights are switched off.

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working at rear of headlight assembly, remove xenon bulb cover by pressing tab (green arrow) and pulling cover up and off headlight assembly.

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next, rotate xenon headlight bulb ignition unit counterclockwise and remove (green arrow).

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next, rotate xenon headlight bulb retainer counterclockwise then pull out of headlight assembly with xenon bulb.

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replace bulb (green arrow) and reverse removal instructions to reassemble.

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xenon headlight transformer replacement:

the driver side xenon headlight repair is highlighted. for the passenger side, remove the washer bottle from the vehicle for access to the headlight assembly.

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remove the air filter housing assembly fasteners (yellow arrows) and disconnect air flow meter electrical connector (green arrow).

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loosen air flow meter clamp (green arrow), then disconnect duct from air flow meter and remove air filter housing from engine compartment.

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working at back of headlight assembly, disconnect headlight electrical connectors (green arrows).

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models with headlight washers: next, remove the headlight washers. to do this, use a plastic prying tool and lever washer out.

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models with headlight washers: then grab and pull straight out of headlight. when nozzle is pulled out a small squirt of washer fluid is ejected; be careful, it may squirt you.

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working at top corner of fender, insert a phillips screwdriver into hole and remove turn signal lens fastener, some models do not have a screw, they will have a retaining tab instead. to release this style, insert a flat-head screwdriver into same hole, and release tab while levering turn signal lens out.

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slide turn signal lens out of fender, disconnect electrical connector and remove turn signal lens from vehicle.

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pull out and remove lower headlight trim. you can release the retaining tabs by hand or using a small flat-head screwdriver.

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remove four 8mm headlight mounting fasteners (green arrows) then remove headlight from vehicle by pulling straight out toward front of vehicle.

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place the headlight on a work bench. to replace xenon transformer, remove three t20 torx fasteners (green arrows).

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then lift xenon module off headlight to replace. to install xenon module and headlight, reverse removal instructions.

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Category: Headlights