Here is the best DIY guide we could find online for installing ours (or any) LED Interior light kits for the BMW E46 3 series sedan and coupe. The convertible is the same, just a few less steps. You really don’t /need/ this DIY as you truly can just look at each interior light and pop the cap off and switch the halogen to LED, but incase you have any issues here you go! (This DIY is written by the amazing E46fanatics member ‘sillieidiot’ and was only modified slightly to be true to our plug and play option. You can read the original DIY thread: http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=640683)
– BMW screw driver (or any flat head and phillips screw driver)
– A precision screw driver (or something really thin and strong, you’ll see in my DIY why)
– Gloves (optional really, i didn’t use them because i couldn’t find them)
First, we are going to replace the vanity mirror lights. These are so easy, you don’t even need to you tools. If you do, go do some finger exercises now. You want to place your hand like you are going to open the glove box (with the thumb on the long side facing you, and the rest of the fingers on the other side) and dig your fingers into the gap a little bit and pull on it like you were opening the glove box.
Here’s a picture of where your fingers should go (without the thumb in position):
Yea I know, Xenon interior bulbs FTL. Thank god I replaced them with these
Find the bulb that matches the length of these. It should be the longest one:
How it looks in the housing:
Keep in mind. The LEDs are polarized. So if you put them in and it doesn’t work, flip them 180 degrees and it should come on. So don’t start crying when it doesn’t work. The bulbs are not defective.
Also to note, you need to have your key in the second position in order for the vanity mirrors to light up. And make sure the visor isn’t bent all the way back or else it won’t come on.
Put it back. Test it out, make sure it works. What do you think?
**They aren’t this blue, it’s just my camera. There are more like pure white, I would say they are about 5500k in color**
Repeat steps to do the other side.
Now for the dome light. You will need a flat head screw driver for this. You want to wedge it in at the side where the buttons are. About 1″ to 1.5″ from the side. Here you will be pressing some metal prongs in and them pull it down. Takes little force really.
Picture of where to put the flat:
Here’s what you are pressing (circled in blue):
Now you have it out. Just unplug it. There’s 2 small tabs on the plug. Nothing too bad.
If for some reason yours doesn’t fit from the back, just go at it from the front with the same method describe above. Should look like this when you’re done:
Yes I know the middle one is still blue, I didn’t do it in the order I am writing the DIY. Plug it in and check to see if all the lights are working once again, now put it back. You want to place the side opposite of the buttons in first and then push up on the side with the buttons. Here’s a refresher picture in case you were too lazy to scroll up:
Next we move onto the footwell. You’ll need a flat head for this. Well not really, but it’ll just make it easier still. There’s a small notch on the side for you to put in the flat, just stick it in and pry it out. It should pop out with ease.
Picture of the driver’s side footwell:
Unplug it and take it out. On the back you will see a metal piece. It has arrows on it to tell you how to slide it. Just slide it to open, it will only let you go one way (depends on what orientation you are holding it, it will slide left/right)
Here it is with the metal piece slid open:
The festoon you need is the shorter, blockier one. You may need to bend the prong out to fit it in, then bend it back a little to make it stay fit. Should look like this:
Plug in, and check. If it doesn’t come on, flip 180 degrees and try it again. Then put it back. Now you are done with the front. Gather all your tools and head to the back seat, now for the hard part. Ok not really, but you’re going to have to put a little more effort for these.
For the rear, you’ll need a flat head. You’ll want to put it on the little notch (it’s not really a notch, but if you look at it closely, you’ll see a space for the flat head to go) and push on it and pull it out. Again you will be pushing on one of those metal prongs. There’s 2 of those places (circled in blue). What I did was start on the side facing the front of the car, pop it out a little bit, then take my finger and hold the housing there. Then go to the top notch and pop that out. It make take you a little while to get this, so take your time. Don’t do it too hard, you might dent/scratch the surrounding carpet.
Placement of flat head:
Close up. You see the rectangular indentation looking spots?
Whew, that was hard work huh? Take a look at the housing, most likely you sorted bent the metal prongs. Just take a pair of pliers and bend it back into shape. The prongs should look like this:
You still with me? I hope so, because we are almost done. Again, the 194 bulbs won’t fit through the back of the housing, so we will have to open the covers. That’s not a problem.
There are 2 plastic clips that you will need to pop up and push off. One side is the easy side where you can you your regular old flat head, the other side is where that precision (or what every thin, strong tool you got [in my case, i used a sharp knife lol. I don’t recommend you use a knife though] flat head will come in handy. What you want to do is pop the clip up (circled in blue), then use the screw driver to push on the tab (while keeping the clip up) forward (direction shown with blue arrows). You should see the cover start to create a gap. You want to do this to both sides.
You want to push them enough so that both sides have an even gap and big enough so that your fingers can fit in. Then pry them apart with your fingers. It’s a little harder than all the others, so use more force. It should snap apart (well you’ll kind of hear it, and you’ll know once it’s apart).
You should have 2 pieces when you’re done:
Again, like the method used for center dome light. Twist off the bulb and bulb holder, take the bulb out, and put the holder back on. Then put in the 4 194 bulbs. Plug them in and test to make sure they work before snapping the covers back on. Then put them back in, you want to put the side facing the rear windshield in first and then push the other side in.
Now you are done with interior
Oh yea, I forgot about the glove box Well that’s easy. Just like the footwell, take a flat, put it in the notch and pop it out. Then just replace it, you may need to bend the prong. Sorry I don’t have any pictures for this.
Ok, you’re not totally done, you need to do the ones that light up your trunk. Pretty easy. Just like with the footwells, there’s a notch (circled in white), just stick a flat in there and pop that out. and replace the bulb. The 2 remaining long festoons goes here. You might want to take the whole black piece out, might be easier. I was lazy so I just did it while it’s in there.
Here’s the final product for the trunk:
Ok now, you are officially done. Now go have a beer or whatever you want to drink. It shouldn’t take you too long. It took me like an hour because I had to stop and take pictures for you guys long the way.
The problem is the LEDs draw so little power the car thinks there are no bulbs installed therefore sends no power to them. To fix this you either need to install the 2 stock footwell lights back but since that was the main place I wanted I said f that. Another option is to buy 2 higher powered LEDs for the footwell lights, these should be strong enough to draw enough power to all of them. Another option is to buy the resistor on khoaltys website and install it on one of the footwell lights, I think it’s $4.50 and is by far the cheapest solution. Hope this helps!