LED Interior Light Upgrade Install

I’m torn: I love the warmth of incandescent bulbs but I love the piercing brightness and white point of LED lights. I especially love LED for license plate illumination because I think the brightness makes the the entire car seem better cared for, like a well-lit porch on a dark street.

For the e36 I ordered what should be a complete kit. This is not a top-of-the-line kit and the price reflects that; less than $30 for everything. Unfortunately my kit was short 2 bulbs so I used and extra LEDs I had lying around. I didn’t feel like wasting time taking it up with the vendor.

e36 LED Interior Light Kit

Some of the light panels come off with finger pressure but most will require some help from either a screwdriver or a trim removal tool. Generally the Bimmian guide is accurate. A few notes:

  • You will need a screw driver to remove the footwell lights. However, if you have trouble with the driver’s side you can open the OBC port to get access to the clip that secures the light if for some reason the screwdriver cannot reach it.
  • The dome light has a circuit board that needs to be removed to replace the map lights. Ideally this requires three hands: push both plastic clips inward while simultaneously backing the circuit board off it’s connectors.
  • Be very careful removing the rear C pillar lights. Bracing the C pillar with your hand whenever you pull on the lights will avoid accidentally pulling the C pillar trim off and breaking it’s retaining clips. A trim removal tool works best to work the engine-facing side loose, then working on the other sides by hand.
  • Installation of the C pillar LEDs was very difficult because the socket portion is a couple millimetres too long but trust me, it can be done.
  • The LED license plate lights were supposed to be “error free” but generated an error on the check panel. A lot of cheap mods generate errors but I’m a detail oriented fellow so this bothered me.

BME e36 M3 License Plate Light Fail

To solve the license plate light issue I decided to gamble on some top-of-the-line lights. I say gamble because no one likes it when expensive parts generate errors. I ordered the WeissLicht LED License Plate Illumination Upgrade from JLeviSW which is the same as Bimmian. I ordered the upgrade for the e36 M3 and our e39 touring. The lights appear well made and are complete housings and lenses, not just bulbs.

WeissLicht LED for BMW e36

Above: e36 version.

WeissLicht LED for BMW e39

Above: e39 version.

The lights were installed on the e36 first. I noticed that the connector plugs into the back of the LED housing instead of the side like OEM. This reduces the slack in the wire but is not a problem.

BMW e36 License Plate WeissLicht LED vs. OEM

BMW e36 License Plate WeissLicht LED vs. OEM

If you have OEM lights you may find that the new lights are a little loose: this isn’t a fitment issue, it’s just that the rubber seal on your old lights was probably stuck to the car creating the illusion of better fit.

The lights are held on more but the trunk handle than anything else, so once the handle is re-installed fitment should not be an issue.

BMW e36 License Plate WeissLicht LED fitment

It’s very important with these kits to install and test right away: warranty is usually 30-90 days but if you want to claim a warranty on a DOA part and save shipping costs you usually need to report it within 5 days of receipt. Unfortunately one of the lights has a short in it, but thankfully I just received these 2 days ago.

Until I get a replacement I’ll have one really bright light and one dim one.

BMW e36 License Plate LED WeissLicht vs. Other LED

I also installed the e39 version for our 2000 540i touring. They look great but fitment was difficult: the left side light kept crushing the bulb contacts which required some adjustment (bending) until they would contact properly.

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October 24, 2013 cosmetic, e36 m3, e39 touring