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BMW E46 Rear Tail Light Warning Fix

BMW E46 3 Series Rear Tail Light Bulb Warning Earth Issue Fix.

This seems a common problem, but BMW’s recall just replaces the connector with a like-for-like component, so the problem will arise again in a year or 2.

My connector wasn’t too bad, but was still giving me an intermittent bulb out warning light error on the dash:-
e46_rear_tail_light_dash_warning

E46 rear tail light connector. Shows earth starting to deteriorate:
E46 rear tail light connector. Shows earth starting to deteriorate.

Other sites advised earthing directly to the unit, by-passing the connector, so this is how I did it.

The tab to attach the earth to, is the one nearest to the main connector and the cable-tidy clip. If you follow it round the light cluster it is one continual bar that connects to the metal body on all the bulbs – circled here:
e46_rear_tail_light_earth_spade_location

The spade connectors you’ll need are Blue 4.8mm female not the larger 6.3mm. The cable I used to extend the sorter lead is 32/0.2 un-tinned copper, brown.

On the near-side light cluster, I had enough excess length on the cable, so I cut the current earth cable (as close to the connector as possible), stripped it and then cut it back until the copper wire was good, with no black or green discolouration – then put on the 4.8mm blue spade connector and fixed it straight to the earth on the light cluster as shown here:
e46_rear_tail_light_earth_spade

Other bloggers have spliced wires onto the earth and left it on the connector. I chose to cut the wire completely so no more current is passing through the damaged connector:
e46_rear_tail_light_earth_removed

On the off-side, there was not enough length on the cable by the time I had stripped back the bad copper cable so I extended with a blue butt connector and approx. 10cms of brown 32/0.2 un-tinned copper cable:
e46_rear_tail_light_earth_spade_butt

All fixed and I’ve had no issues for the last 3 months.

Hope this is of help to you.