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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So I was involved in a collision that required me to get a bunch of new front-end stuff for the M5; new hood, headlights, bumper, etc.

The headlights they got me look different than the old ones (from an engine bay view). This is what the new ones look like:


The beam pattern is also AWFUL. They barely extend a car length in front of the car, making it IMPOSSIBLE to drive at night. I have to drive with my high beams on to see more than 10 feet in front of the car. I've tried aiming them manually with the adjuster screws, but they don't go up; they'll only go down. If I adjust them lower, I can adjust them to the height they were previously set at, but I can't adjust them any higher.

Look at this terrible beam pattern.



First off; did my M5 originally come with a different headlight than the replacement units the bodyshop got me? I don't remember seeing the HID ballast box exposed like they are now, I seem to remember it being a one piece unit? I also don't remember seeing the xenon light through it when it's turned on, in that little plastic window (this could be wrong). Were there more than one type of headlight available for the M5? These ones have angel eyes & HID lows, but they just seem to look different in my memory than they did before the accident.

Second off; how do I fix this god-awful beam pattern? I'm going to go back to the body shop and see if they can fix it, but I got stuck overnight at a friend's house because it was simply impossible to drive home last night with the headlights aimed almost straight down. The adjuster screws don't do anything!
 

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read the link to the previous post. Very useful information. Sounds like your adjusters are broken. Are the current headlights new or used? Did you pick out the lights or did the body shop? I know the halogen headlights housing has a different fitting for the bulb and require an adapter to raise the beam of the headlight. I doubt that this is your problem but it may be something to check out if you didnt make the purchase on your lights. There are people out there trying to scam and make a quick buck off of people. just a thought. best of luck to you.
 

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Could be something as simple as re-attaching the level sensor to the suspension if the body shop forgot to do so.
 
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Don't the headlights across the pond have the left/right hand drive switch under a cover on the top? These don't, which immediately rings alarm bells with me that they aren't OEM items..

YG
 

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Don't the headlights across the pond have the left/right hand drive switch under a cover on the top? These don't, which immediately rings alarm bells with me that they aren't OEM items..

YG
I think euro headlights have this option, not too sure about the US version.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
They did mention that they had originally ordered "used" headlights to replace my broken ones. One of the used headlights had a broken auto-adjust, so they ordered a new one from BMW and had it overnighted.

The sensors auto-level when they turn on, they just level WAY too low. I've tried adjusting the vertical level screws as high as they'll go, but the level sensor still adjusts them to the same level. (The driver's side headlight adjusts higher, but it's just a "shadow" in the beam pattern, not the whole beam. Does that make any sense?) The other thread talks about adjusting these screws; mine don't go any higher.


There seem to be two beam patterns. A "ghost" pattern (maybe 20% as bright as the main pattern) projected by the driver headlamp, and the "both sides" pattern projected by the passenger headlamp (the main beam pattern you see in the picture). I can get the "Ghost" pattern to adjust higher, but it barely lights up the road at all. The "passenger" headlight (which happens to be the brand new one they overnighted from BMW) is the one that looks like it's supplying light on both sides of the beam pattern, and it won't adjust any higher. It goes lower, but not higher.
 

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Have you mentioned this to the shop or given them a chance to address it?

Your pictures don't actually look awful, but it's very hard to tell based upon your angles and what not. You can also find another e39 with xenons and shoot your lights at a wall from an equal distance of ~50 feet and see how much different they are....
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'm taking it to the shop today. I didn't find out about it until Saturday night, when they were already closed, so I'll be heading in today to figure it out.

It's hard to get an accurate picture of the beam angle, but suffice it to say that if it was pitch black outside and I was pointing the headlights at a wall 50-ft away, you wouldn't even be able to see it.
 

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Why would you let them order used parts for your replacement? Is this on an insurance claim?

The auto adjuster was likely not the problem, and manual adjuster likely is. They are known to be very brittle after time and heat cycles as ours have, and they put in a used part, it sounds like, which says to me that this is probably the problem.

edit; just reread and saw that they overnighted from bmw, so likely not used
 

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Did you check the suspension leveling arms at all?

Sent from my DROID BIONIC using Tapatalk 2
 
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The ghost pattern is probably the Lateral or horizontal adjusment from your driver side being off. When I got my M5 the lights lateral adjusters were both broken, so it ended up where the "cross eyes" kind of action was happening. My right light would actually focus off left, and the left light would focus off right.

Now that you have one focused somewhat straight, and the fact it is new and likely brighter, you are noticing how different your original is. I would do this:
If you go to the driver's side light under the hood (lights on if you want visual stimulation) and grab the back of the lowbeam bulb, can you move it forward and back or does it stay essentially tight where it is? If you can and you notice it rotate a small bit, this is confirmation that your horizontal adjuster is broken, and therefore not focused well when driving along at night, and if like mine, pointed off to the right, making the pattern in front of you quite dim.
 

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Why would you let them order used parts for your replacement? Is this on an insurance claim?


Some states allow for insurance companies to be slimy jerks. Like in MD where there is no law requiring them to get new, or even OEM parts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Also, the beam pattern vibrates a hell of a lot when I'm driving on anything but the smoothest of roads. It's ridiculous.
 

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Another sign that the adjusters are broken. Do the test suggested by bibledriver. If there's play either up/down or left/right when you move the light, it's an adjuster.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The low beam bulbs flop all over the place by hand when the car is off. When the car is started and lights are on, the low beam on the used headlight (the one making a "ghost" pattern) is stiff and doesn't wiggle, but the low beam on the brand new headlight still flops all over the place just like before.

Body shop is making an appointment with BMW to have them take a look at the lights and "program" them if necessary. Sigh. Another who knows how long without the M5...
 

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I'm just going out on a limb here, but when I bought my car, the PO had installed some crappy aftermarket facelift headlights. He still had the original MY00 lights so I had him put those back in when I picked the car up. I had the same vague low beam that didn't seem to illuminate anything. Upon closer inspection the bulb wasn't seated properly in the headlight. I took the rings off, slid the bulb in all the way like it was supposed to then put the ring back on and BAM! HUGE difference. You may want to check that out (assuming I'm understanding your posts correctly).
 

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The low beam bulbs flop all over the place by hand when the car is off. When the car is started and lights are on, the low beam on the used headlight (the one making a "ghost" pattern) is stiff and doesn't wiggle, but the low beam on the brand new headlight still flops all over the place just like before.

Body shop is making an appointment with BMW to have them take a look at the lights and "program" them if necessary. Sigh. Another who knows how long without the M5...
Lets get some clarification, just to make sure we're on the same page. replaced HL setup is New, or used but replaced?

If it is indeed new, then I think that the problem is the new autoadjuster is a bit tricky to get into the right position. Now, being that I didn't try installing mine wrong, I can not confirm that it is possible, but if the ball at the end of the shaft is not seated properly, the vertical adjustment will just be way off. Again, I am not sure its possible to insstall them wrong, but if it is, being that it takes some finesse to get it right, I could see somebody missing that (bodyshop).

If it is a used part and the part that was overnighted was merely the auto adjustment motor, then I believe your manual adjusters (1 for vertical and 1 for horizontal) are shot; which is no stretch, they're basically all shot by now if original. If it needs those, then buy all 4 on the black market here and have fun cooking some headlights in your oven after dinner; just what the HL Dr ordered for dessert. There are threads here about how to.

And even better, if the HL you got from the autoshop is indeed used, then this exact problem is an argument IMO as to why you need OEM replacement!
 

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Just as a point of reference, when I bought my '03 the previous owner had two invoices from the dealer of requests to aim his headlights. When I got the car the headlight aim was horrible, pointed down like yours. I discovered with the help of a friend that the auto adjuster in front was missing. The PO must have run something over and the adjuster had gotten broken off. Why the dealer didn't catch it is beyond me.
 
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