528i Parking Light Madness

After the front end of the 528i got smashed in it needed new headlights, so I bought a set of aftermarket lights with Angel Eyes in them. I didn’t want to pay the body shop for the time to wire up the eyes, so the eyes haven’t been working.

Since it’s finally warm enough out to work outside, I decided to try and wire them up this afternoon.

Well.

Those damned Germans.

I got the wiring all cleaned up and hooked up according to the instructions. Then I turned on the parking lights. The angel eyes glowed a dim orange. That’s not right. So I re-read the instructions and checked the wiring. Yes, it’s wired according to the instructions. So I turned them on again and just for giggles I tried a turn signal. The angel eyes flashed bright white in sync with the turn signals. (They looked great, but they aren’t supposed to flash.)

Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot?

The next thing to do is look at a parking light. The parking lights bulbs are also the turn signals on this car. On most cars if this is the case the manufacturer will use a dual filament bulb, with a dim filament for the parking light and a brighter one that flashes for the turn signal. This requires three wires. (Ground, parking light and turn signal.)

Sure enough, there are dual filament bulbs in the parking light sockets. But there are only two wires. One for power and one for ground. How do they flash the second filament?

Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot again?

After playing around a bit, and scratching my head a bit, I discovered that only one filament is being used in the dual filament bulb. I put my multi-meter on the contacts and it appears that when the bulbs are in parking light mode the car is sending a lower voltage, possibly A/C signal (the meter was freaking out a bit trying to read it.) And when they flash the turn signal they send the full 12 volts DC.

What the hell? Way to complicate things BMW.

They way the eyes are wired up it sends the (supposed) 12V from one of the parking lights to them. There is also a relay so that when the light is flashing as a turn signal it sends a straight 12V to them. It’s a bit convoluted and it took me some head scratching to to figure out how it was supposed to work.

Unfortunately, since the BMW engineers aren’t sending a full 12V to the parking lights, the eyes glow dimly until you turn on the turn signal, then they get straight 12V when the turn signal is on, flashing on and off.

That’s not going to work at all…

I suppose before I go all crazy trying to figure out a different way to wire these up I should contact the people I bought them from and see what they say.

Grrr.

Just as an update I’ve been doing some googling and just discovered that there are SIX different fuse locations in this silly car. I only knew about three of them.

The locations are:

  1. In the glove box.
  2. Behind the glove box!
  3. Under the passenger seat. (Requires pulling seat, carpet and other stuff.)
  4. Under the passenger side cabin air filter located under the hood.
  5. Behind the sub-woofer in the right rear of the trunk area.
  6. Just above the battery in the right rear of the trunk area.

Wow. Just wow.

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