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      07-20-2016, 05:53 PM   #1
gulewamkulu
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Urgent help with lighting issue (NW Indiana)

Good evening,

I have had my E93 M3 since last Friday, and I must say, it's been a blast!!! I picked the vehicle up in AZ and drove it back to Indiana (1890 miles), had BMW of North Scottsdale perform a PPI and the vehicle checked out very well, with no issues noted. The vehicle was also washed several times along the way to remove the bugs that would collect on the front bumper cover, and did not observe any condensation, or water propagation in the headlight housing.

Monday morning after a mild storm late Sunday night, I noticed some moderate-severe condensation build-up. I left the car for the day...came back in the evening, and the car still had about the same amount of condensation. At this point I decided to turn on the lights in effort to evaporate out the condensation from the heat generated in the housing, but unfortunately the light went out a few minutes later.

I took the car to a local BMW dealership in which they are quoting me $ 1,200, to remove bumper and further investigate issue. They also noted that the headlight control unit had no signal.

Please advise on what I should do in this case? I don't want to dish out a lot of money for them to just tear it down and further investigate.

Also, please recommend reasonably priced replacement HID bulbs and control unit. For those that are in the Indiana/Michigan/Illinois areas, please recommend any reasonable shops I can utilize for assistance with said issue.

Unfortunately, the gold-plus extended warranty I purchased with fidelity will not cover this issue.

Thank you all in advance
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      07-20-2016, 06:43 PM   #2
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Hi there,

This is my first post ever, so I just want to say Helllooo to everyone and hope everyone is doing great.

For the OP I'm in the same boat. I just picked up a MY11 E92 M3 DCT, less than 39,000KM, no accidents, one owner. It's been a week of ownership and it has been great. Well the only bad thing I can say is condensation has started to build up heavily inside the left headlight housing. I have read all the forums on the internet on this matter and everyone either said it was replaced under warranty (which is not an option for me as it was a private sale and out of warranty) and the other people said you should check the headlight caps. Which I did check, and the rubber seals look fine and it was perfectly dry in the hood, which is very very odd. However, everyone seems to be in the same boat, that is, no accidents, or damage to the housing, but suddenly they have water inside their housing. I personally believe there is a manufacturing defect in the housing as I had many Mercedes vehicles prior to this and never had a single drop of water in a headlight housing. I read that everyone is saying the housing is mean to be NOT sealed, but does that mean we have to put up with water inside the housing every time from an expensive luxury brand like BMW? I find it really odd.
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Last edited by 16044395; 07-20-2016 at 06:52 PM.
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      07-20-2016, 06:43 PM   #3
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$1200?. They are ripping you man. Why not take it to a reputable Indy. On another note I noticed condensation after washing my car last week but went away by itself, no issues with the lights though.
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      07-20-2016, 06:54 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 16044395 View Post
Hi there,

This is my first post ever, so I just want to say Helllooo to everyone and hope everyone is doing great.

For the OP I'm in the same boat. I just picked up a MY11 E92 M3 DCT, less than 39,000KM, no accidents, one owner. It's been a week of ownership and it has been great. Well the only bad thing I can say is condensation has started to build up heavily inside the left headlight housing. I have read all the forums on the internet on this matter and everyone either said it was replaced under warranty (which is not an option for me as it was a private sale and out of warranty) and the other people said you should check the headlight caps. Which I did check, and the rubber seals look fine and it was perfectly dry in the hood, which is very very odd. However, everyone seems to be in the same boat, that is, no accidents, or damage to the housing, but suddenly they have water inside their housing. I personally believe there is a manufacturing defect in the housing as I had many Mercedes vehicles prior to this and never had a single drop of water in a headlight housing. I read that everyone is saying the housing is mean to be NOT sealed, but does that mean we have to put up with water inside the housing every time from an expensive luxury brand like BMW? I find it really odd.
Thanks for the response. I actually removed the cap for several hours just to get the condensation out, otherwise everythig looks good from the top of the headlight assembly.
Best of luck to you, I hope that we can both collect good insight on what to do to repair this issue.
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      07-20-2016, 06:55 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M'EM View Post
$1200?. They are ripping you man. Why not take it to a reputable Indy. On another note I noticed condensation after washing my car last week but went away by itself, no issues with the lights though.
I am currently shopping around and looking for Indy shops in my area. I just don't know if any that are reputable.
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      07-20-2016, 10:03 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gulewamkulu View Post
Thanks for the response. I actually removed the cap for several hours just to get the condensation out, otherwise everythig looks good from the top of the headlight assembly.
Best of luck to you, I hope that we can both collect good insight on what to do to repair this issue.
I am going to open the top cap and blast it with a heat gun, but at a low setting so I don't damage anything, just to get flowing warm to medium-hot air to circulate inside the housing and push the water out. My only problem is it will be a temporary fix unless we are able to locate the way water or humidity got in the first place.
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      07-21-2016, 12:38 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 16044395
Quote:
Originally Posted by gulewamkulu View Post
Thanks for the response. I actually removed the cap for several hours just to get the condensation out, otherwise everythig looks good from the top of the headlight assembly.
Best of luck to you, I hope that we can both collect good insight on what to do to repair this issue.
I am going to open the top cap and blast it with a heat gun, but at a low setting so I don't damage anything, just to get flowing warm to medium-hot air to circulate inside the housing and push the water out. My only problem is it will be a temporary fix unless we are able to locate the way water or humidity got in the first place.
Those lighting units are glued together.. Would strongly recommend not to apply heat with a heat gun.. You are likely to make it worse. Let t air dry and examine for cracks
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      07-21-2016, 11:19 AM   #8
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Headlight Condensation Issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peertwelve View Post
Those lighting units are glued together.. Would strongly recommend not to apply heat with a heat gun.. You are likely to make it worse. Let t air dry and examine for cracks
Well, I was letting it air dry but it was not going anywhere.

I know you are right, the heat from the heat gun would melt the glue.

However, what if you could control the heat levels that are close to what a vehicle would experience on a hot day? I'm sure parts of a housing would be able to withstand fairly hot temperatures before it reached its melting point.

So I used my digital thermometer to make sure the heat gun was on a low and controllable setting that wouldn't damage the components inside and the housing itself. I had the heat being circulated inside the housing around the housing for 40 minutes at 66 degrees Celsius (150 degrees Fahrenheit) to 72 degrees Celsius (161 degrees Fahrenheit). I could have reduced the heating time to 20 minutes if I increased the heat but as above, I did not want to exceed natural environmental heating temperatures.

You notice a difference in the first 15 minutes and its pretty much exponential after that up to the 40 minute mark. However, I suggest to keep the heat gun running inside for another 20 minutes after you see the last droplet disappear as you may still see some light condensation still form after.

Make sure the heat gun does not touch the wires inside, pull them to the side, especially if you have additional wires from a Lux LED H8 kit etc.

I had a look at the headlight cap again, and I kinda feel the water is getting into this section like everyone is saying, and even though the rubber seals look fine as some people in other forums have suggested that there is more to it than that, but rather poor design overall. As the plastic rim in which presses on to the cap's rubber seals is very low in height. This would mean two things. 1. There would not be enough pressure to stop water from getting into the cap in some areas, and 2. Water can easily over flow and press into this area and eventually rolling into the housing. Please see annotated picture.

For me, at the moment, this is the only area that is obvious that I can see that water can get into the housing, without taking the bumper then housing apart. I have taken some pictures to illustrate what I did to restore the headlight from the condensation, however, you can see water spots on the inside of the housing which is really annoying. My previous Mercedes SLK never had these issues. But then again, every car has their own issues, and I feel this is pretty annoying.

Thank you for your help everyone. If you know more about how to prevent this headlight condensation issue, please share your knowledge. Thank you for everything!
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      07-21-2016, 04:55 PM   #9
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^ Love the detail on the picture!
Check the fitmet of the lid. Make sure the underside doesn't have any damage to the seal surface.
Also check the alignment and install of the cover when placing it back on the headlight. I can't remember off the top of my head but it doesn't just snap on flat. I think the back end needs to be seated first and then the front.

Condensation should not be normal. I have Lux in mine and I still don't have an issue with condensation build up. Possible that the previous owner modified the light prior. You'd know by looking at the seams of the headlight. If it looks like crap, it's been messed with. The factory weld is neat and clean.

Maybe try a thin bead of silicone lubricant (like Vasoline consistency) to the seal surfaces NOT SILICONE SEALANT
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      07-23-2016, 09:26 AM   #10
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Great write up and solution, MODS - could you make this a sticky?
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      07-25-2016, 09:42 AM   #11
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Testing to find open cracks for water re-entry

So I decided to test if I could get water to get into the housing, and where it got in the first place.

I did a 20 minute flood test on the bonnet/hood gap, and I tried to simulate what heavy rain would do and where the water would come down. I noticed during this test that not much water would roll into the the top headlight cap area everyone has been mentioning.

I inspected the the housing afterwards and didn't notice any water droplets or moisture entering inside the housing.

So I decided to flood 20 minutes of water directly above the cap and the seal joints along the top of the housing, seeing if there was issues with the housing glue/seals.

Again, after 20 minutes there was not a single drop or evidence of water entry.

I was quite disappointed despite my efforts, water did not enter inside the housing. There doesn't seem any other possible explanation why water entered the first place, unless the cap wasn't sealed properly from a service or that water could possibly be entering from beneath the housing from the rising moisture. However, that theory doesn't make sense as there would be plenty of moisture in the morning yet I have not been able to find any condensation build up since I performed my heat gun on low setting repair.

I have attached photos. I'll let you all know if I encounter this rather bizarre mystery if it happens again. Cheers.
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Last edited by 16044395; 07-25-2016 at 09:51 AM.
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      07-25-2016, 09:49 AM   #12
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Washing your car with cold water on a hot humid day can produce said condensation.
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      07-25-2016, 09:56 AM   #13
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Quote:
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Washing your car with cold water on a hot humid day can produce said condensation.
Hi, Currently, in Australia, it's not hot or humid. It has been pretty darn cold for a few months.

The amount of condensation build up (if you see the photos above from OP and mine) would mean the humidity in the housing was 300%. Not possible. There has got to be a crack or leak we haven't been able to discover somewhere or it was a loose cap from a service or Lux H8 install. Well those are my theories anyway. I've just never seen humidity impact housing that much as I have in these headlights. And the question is, why didn't the other headlight build up condensation as well. It's a mystery at this point still.
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      07-26-2016, 02:21 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 16044395 View Post
So I decided to test if I could get water to get into the housing, and where it got in the first place.

I did a 20 minute flood test on the bonnet/hood gap, and I tried to simulate what heavy rain would do and where the water would come down. I noticed during this test that not much water would roll into the the top headlight cap area everyone has been mentioning.

I inspected the the housing afterwards and didn't notice any water droplets or moisture entering inside the housing.

So I decided to flood 20 minutes of water directly above the cap and the seal joints along the top of the housing, seeing if there was issues with the housing glue/seals.

Again, after 20 minutes there was not a single drop or evidence of water entry.

I was quite disappointed despite my efforts, water did not enter inside the housing. There doesn't seem any other possible explanation why water entered the first place, unless the cap wasn't sealed properly from a service or that water could possibly be entering from beneath the housing from the rising moisture. However, that theory doesn't make sense as there would be plenty of moisture in the morning yet I have not been able to find any condensation build up since I performed my heat gun on low setting repair.

I have attached photos. I'll let you all know if I encounter this rather bizarre mystery if it happens again. Cheers.
Bravo!! very good practical experiment. It rained again by my area recently and the condensation was significantly less than as noted in my picture at the start of this post. I am actually in the process of ordering replacement bulb and ballast and plan on applying some sealant around the headlight assembly to eliminate any potential leak points not obvious from a visual inspection.
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