Clear Rear Turn Signals, Side Markers and Front Bumper Lamps

Pros: Neat looking upgrade without much cost or effort
Cons: Not sure if this is officially street legal
Cost: $135.73 (each)


BMW Part#: 63-21-2-493-616 (left), 63-21-2-493-615 (right)

This lamp replacement is more difficult than the side markers or front bumper lamps. If you do not feel handy, or if you do not own a Dremel-type tool or feel comfortable using it to cut through plastic in a small hole, you should ask your dealer to replace the tail lights for you. I’m not terribly handy, and I had never used a Dremel tool before (bought one just for this), and it took me about 2 hours to do this upgrade. If I had to do it again, I think it would take less than an hour.

The way the tail lights work on a Z3 is that there is a pod with all the bulbs in it. You must remove this pod by unscrewing the plastic knob in the center of it. Just open your trunk and you will find the pod for each tail light right inside your trunk.

Once you have unscrewed the knob, the pod will feel loose in your hands but will not immediately come out. You may need to bend back the carpet in the general area of the pod at this point. You must pull the pod straight towards the front of the car. Don’t use too much force as the pod has all the bulbs attached to it, and you don’t want to break one against the metal holes they are being pulled through.

After you have the pod loose, just lay it on the floor of the trunk. If you now lean over and look at where the pod was, you will see there are two nuts which must be undone. Use a 5/16″ wrench and they should come off easily.

You can now remove the old tail lamp lens from the rear of the car. It may feel like it won’t budge–this is because part of it that is towards the center of your trunk is trapped under the rubber seal there. Don’t worry about it– it will come loose with some force and you won’t hurt anything. I suggest banging on the bolts that you just took those nuts off of with a hammer–light to medium hits–and the cluster will start to come out. Once it has started to move, you should be able to grab the whole thing with both hands and pull straight back.

Congratulations–you are halfway done. Note the tiny bulb in this picture–and note the tiny hole in the next picture. This little bulb goes in this hole in the tail lights that came with your Z3. Apparently whatever Z3s that come with clear lenses do not use this bulb, because the little hole it goes in is sealed. What you do here is up to you–you could remove the bulb and not worry about it, or you can drill out the hole. Since I didn’t know what the bulb was for, I drilled out the hole (see next picture).

If you want to drill out the hole, use a Dremel-type tool with a drill bit and very carefully drill out the floor of the hole. Then, put on a cone-shaped sanding bit and widen the drill hole you made until it is the same diameter as the opening for the bulb. You will now have tiny plastic shavings everywhere, including inside the tail lens! Use a vacuum cleaner with a small attachment to suck out the plastic shavings. Try to seal the attachment as best as possible against the hole, and you will suck out most of the shavings. You may need to bang on the lens to loosen some of the shavings. Before vacuuming, you may wish to take the lens to the car to make sure you widened the hole enough for the bulb.

Now, you just have to put everything back together. Slide the lens into place on the back of your car. You will notice that the black plastic part of the lens towards the center of your trunk is on top of the rubber seal on your trunk. You will need to bend this seal back and work it on top of the black plastic part of the lens. When you have done this correctly, the lens will seat properly in the car.

Then, screw back on the nuts–don’t use extreme force–you don’t want to crack any plastic. Just use the wrench to screw them on until it feels like they really want to stop. You’ll have half to three quarters of an inch of the bolt sticking out past the nut.

Now, insert the tiny bulb into the hole you drilled out with the Dremel tool. Then, guide the pod with the bulbs back into place–note the holes the bulbs go into and push straight into place. You will need to adjust the carpet around the area at this point because it probably got moved out of place when you first removed the bulb pod.

Finally, screw the pod into place with the black knob, and you are done!

Replacing the side markers with clear lenses

BMW part numbers: 63-13-2-493-613 (left), 63-13-2-493-614 (right)

Push the side marker lamp towards the rear of the car. Pull out on the front of the lamp after you slide it towards the rear. It should come out without too much effort.

Once the side marker lamp is off of the car, it is easy to disconnect the wire to it. You will need to pull up slightly with your fingernail on a little clip on the connector for it to come apart easily. Be careful at this point not to drop the wire through the hole in the side of your car.

Attach the wire to the new clear side marker lamp and install the lamp in the hole in the side of your car. Start by placing the rear of the lamp in the hole first, pushing towards the rear of the car. Then, push the front of the lamp into the hole and push the whole lamp towards the front of the car to secure it. Check the rubber seal around the lamp at this point to make sure it isn’t folded or crimped under the lamp.

Replacing the front bumper marker lenses

BMW part numbers: 63-14-8-400-409 (left), 63-14-8-400-410 (right)

Push the front bumper lamp towards the front of the car. Pull out on the back of the lamp after you slide it towards the rear. You may need to exert a bit of force–I broke the plastic of one of my yellow lamps as I tried to get it out. Don’t worry–the clear ones go back in much easier.

Once the front bumper lamp is off of the car, it is easy to disconnect the wire to it. You will need to pull up slightly with your fingernail on a little clip on the connector for it to come apart easily (just like the side marker). Be careful at this point not to drop the wire through the hole in the side of your car–on my car, on the left side the wire barely made it to the hole.

Attach the wire to the new clear front bumper lamp and install the lamp in the hole in your bumper. Start by placing the front of the lamp in the hole first, pushing towards the front of the car. Then, push the rear of the lamp into the hole and push the whole lamp towards the rear of the car to secure it.