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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
For a long time after hearing about different folks who have tried putting in LED bulbs in their M5's only to face an error message in their dashboard. This was because of the different amperage required by the LED lights as opposed to regular incandlescent bulbs. Total current required by the LED bulb is 90mA at 13.8 Vdc -Verses- 2.6A for incandescent. I happened to stumble upon a possible solution thanks to a friend from the MB board. An elegant solution presented itself in the form of using an aluminum based load equaliser (comes with blue quick connectors from 3M)($5) and a set of red LED bulbs at $38 a pair. Both can be purchased from Myroadster.net. You'll need a load equaliser for each brake light. I did not put one in the third stop light because the bulb goes in vertically and the LED bulbs are directional meaning that they would not be that visible from the sides. Another thing to note is that you can also get amber LED bulbs for the turn signals. One of the nice thing about using those LED bulbs is the fact that they remain clear when they're off so you would not need silvervision bulbs. I haven't tested those so I can't tell you if this will work or not. I do know that you would need additional load equalisers for those too. Only one per side (driver and passenger). You would not need to put a load equaliser in the front and rear for the turn signals since they're on the same circuit. One other good piece of good news is that the HID foglights still work too.

Main benefits of getting LED bulbs:

1) They light up instanteously (no delay for filament to glow on/off)
2) Safety
3) Very red compared to incandlescent
4) Looks good

Images can be found here.

Instructions on how to install them (refer to the album for images):

It should be noted that these instructions are for M5's with the newer LED type taillights. You'll also need a plier, 4 tiedowns (zip ties) and a scissor/wire cutter.

1) Pop open the cover on the driver's side. Replace the incandlescent bulb in the brake light with the LED bulb.
2) Unplug the connector attached to the taillight assembly (push down on the tab on top and pull straight out)
3) Look at the connector end and you'll see numbers from 1 to 6. On the driver's side what you need to know is the brown (common ground) and the brown/black (positive) wire. Those are marked #1 (positive) and #3 (ground).
4) It does not matter which end of the red wire from the connector you put in the middle of the blue quick connector and then put the outside part on the brown/black wire. It's a bit tricky so take it easy and go slow. After you've gotten everything lined up, use the plier to push down on the metal piece on the quick connector and then lock the plastic tab into place. Do the same thing for the brown wire with the other red wire on the other side of the load equaliser. On the passenger side, its blue/black #1 and brown #3.
5) After you've put the load equaliser in place, use the tiedowns to secure the load equaliser in place so that it "floats" without touching any of the other wires. This is necessary because the load equaliser gets searing hot (they're designed to do that)!
6) Double check everything and cut the extra length from the tie downs.
7) Test the lights. You should not get an error message in your dashboard anymore!
 

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Well done Jason! I think this deserves to be copied into the Tips and Tricks section as well :) I'm sure many people will find this handy.
 

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Nice post...

Sorry about jabbing your cheek when we were installing the load equaliser on the driver's side, LOL. Limited space!!
:pop:

Here's my own truck (vehicle on the right side) with all LED taillamps; brake, parking and rear signals as well as the 20" LED strip. The vehicle on the left only has regular incandescent bulbs.



Close-up of parking lamp:
 

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Discussion Starter #4
polvoronn said:
Well done Jason! I think this deserves to be copied into the Tips and Tricks section as well :) I'm sure many people will find this handy.
Done! And a special thanks goes to Drew_BW for helping me install these LED bulbs up in Vancouver! :D
 

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Ahahha man... at it again Mr. Lighting Guru... LOL NICE... how many LEDs are there?
 

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atomic80 said:


Done! And a special thanks goes to Drew_BW for helping me install these LED bulbs up in Vancouver! :D
Anytime! Though from the sound of it, it will be a PITA to install the front signals. Then again, I had to remove my headlamps to get to them too.
 

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Jason,

are your new bulbs like the ones found on the Z8......I think mine are neon...No???
 

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Discussion Starter #9
2001's X5/Z8 said:
Jason,

are your new bulbs like the ones found on the Z8......I think mine are neon...No???
Mike,

I'm not sure exactly what technology is used for the turn/brake signal lights on the Z8. Perhaps they're LED based as well. Can anyone else verify this?
 

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2001's X5/Z8 said:
Jason,

are your new bulbs like the ones found on the Z8......I think mine are neon...No???
No, these are LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes). The Z8 utilises Neon technology, basically miniture high pressured gas tubes for the signal and taillamp lighting. This is why the lights can be so narrow but yet bright at the same time.

I think the response time of the Neon and the LEDs is about the same, with perhaps an advantage going to the LEDs. The LEDs are much more intense than the mini-Neon tubes when close up especially. Basically they're both instantaneously though, with none of the fading on/off of a filament as with normal tungsten bulbs.

Oh one more thing, LEDs will last for basically the lifetime of your vehicle. No worrying about having to change a bulb every again (well, practically).



 

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Hi Jason,

Do you know the candlepower difference between LED and incandescent? On your comparison pix, it seems like the old one on the right is brigher.
 

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01M5 said:
Hi Jason,

Do you know the candlepower difference between LED and incandescent? On your comparison pix, it seems like the old one on the right is brigher.
It's not brighter, however, the incadescent bulb has more spread in the picture due to the fact that it is less directional and uses more of the reflector (since the filament doesn't exactly point straight back in the same manner as LEDs do). This is why it appears brighter in the picture. Keep in mind though, that the LED is a lot more intense and redder than the incandescent, and doesn't have to rely on the reflector to project the light backwards.
 

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Jason,

I like them. Good work. I tried several different LED combinations and mine effected the foglights as well. I want to put them in all five places. Yes, there is space for two extra brake lights in the rear foglight locations that are unused currently.

I would like to talk more about this with you. Thanks for the details.

Mark
 

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I got those same LED's installed in my car but my car didn't have a bulb out indicator so I just switched the regular incandescent with the LED's and it works just fine with absolutly no flickering. They really give a distinctive look and it'll also be a good topic of conversation at the next Mini meet here in Vancouver.

Looking forward to installing the turn signal LED's!:D
 

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If I want to replace my rear turn signal bulbs and my brake lights, exactly how many load equalizers do I need? Two? Four?
 

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Discussion Starter #18
DZeckhausen said:
If I want to replace my rear turn signal bulbs and my brake lights, exactly how many load equalizers do I need? Two? Four?
Dave,

You'd just need a total of four load equalisers. One on each side for each circuit. The turn signals on either side operates on the same circuit.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Gustav said:
Here they costed $15 :confused2

http://mywebpages.comcast.net/liquid99lx/led.html

The same?
Those bulbs would be perfect for the turn signals in the front end of M5's with the US spec headlights on both 2000 and 2001 models. Those use the stick in wedge types. Those with the Euro angel eyes like myself still would need the bayonet type bulbs that I used.

The rears however all uses the bayonet type bulbs.
 

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The "load equalizer" is nothing more than a resistor placed across the + and - leads to the light, in parallel with the light. The math is simple - a 5 ohm resistor at 13V will draw 2.5A of current (E=IR), perfect to make up the difference. You need a resistor with BIG power-handling capability, however. 2.5A at 13V means 32.5 watts of power will be dissipated by the resistor as heat (P=EI). This is not your garden variety 1/4 watt resistor at Radio Shack. At $5 a piece these "load equalizers" are reasonably priced. I'll bet they get plenty warm, though - so be careful that they have some breathing room and aren't touching any plastic.
 
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