2011 BMW X3 LED Tail Light Repair
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Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver’s best auto service experience. I think now it’s 19 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers and serving and repairing, maintaining vehicles in Vancouver for 38 years. How’re you doing this morning Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So congratulations.
Bernie: Thank you
Mark: And I guess we’re going to talk about a BMW X3 that has a fairly common problem, the LED taillights needed repairing. What was going on with this 2011 BMW?
Bernie: So on this 2011 BMW, the right taillight was not functioning and through doing a little research, we found, so it’s an LED taillight that there’s a repair available to do this job, besides just changing the taillight.
Mark: So with an LED, can you just change the bulb?
Bernie: No you can’t. So an LED is basically, well it’s like a bulb but it’s an electronic bulb and they’re all a molded assembly, so the LED’s are generally molded right into the plastic of the taillight and the neat thing about it is when the light’s illuminated, it gives a kind of a nice band of light. You see a lot of new cars with kind of uniquely sculpted lights nowadays and that’s thanks to LED technology. They are individual lights but when you put a number of them together and put the right glass over the top of them, it looks like one strip of light. So no, you can’t just change the bulb unfortunately.
Mark: So what is the repair?
Bernie: So the repair is, there’s a little electronic driver module inside the LED taillight on this BMW and they tend to fail over time. If you look on the internet, there are repairs where you can re-solder the boards, but you know this is a fairly new repair to us, what we found in many cases is there is nothing to re-solder on the boards. They’re just basically, they just basically fry and wear out and according to some of the information I’ve read, if you re-solder them they eventually burn our again anyways. Again, it’s an engineering issue. They just weren’t built robust enough to last for a long time and this affects every X3 from 2011 up to at least 2016 or 17. So there’s a lot of models and a lot of years that’s out there.
Mark: Ok this seems a little bit, how do you repair it I guess?
Bernie: Yeah well, how do you repair it? Let’s have a look at a few pictures. So there’s an example of a nice 2011 BMW X3, 3 litre twin turbo model. There’s a photo of the culprit taillight. So this vehicle has inboard taillights, as well as outboard, and you can see, this is a nighttime shot, the right rear taillight it’s not functioning in this particular case. So the repair. So this is the unit that died, this is the board here. It’s a Valeo driver module essentially, has four electrical connectors on it with a pin. This is very small. I actually took this picture on a little carpet in my shop so you can see, this is a little pine needle that’s lying or little chunk of wood that’s lying beside so you get an idea of the scale. This is really small, it’s only about three quarters of an inch by two inches in size. The repair that we found is this particular thing here, it actually doesn’t look all that interesting compared to the original board, but basically all that’s out here is inside this module and the repair is to basically just snip the old connector out, solder in this new unit, and away it goes. So of course, after the repair, there’s our functional taillight.
Mark: So I guess we haven’t really mentioned this, but I guess in most cases what people do is if they can’t replace that board, if they can’t do it themselves or they try and solder it themselves and it doesn’t last, what they have to end up doing is actually replacing the entire taillight assembly. Is that what happens?
Bernie: Exactly and if you go to BMW, no doubt they’ll just sell you a complete light assembly, they’ll never do a repair like this at a BMW dealer. I mean, there’s a lot of shops that don’t even know to do these kind of repairs. But yeah that’s basically it and it’s incredibly wasteful. I mean you’re throwing away a perfectly good unit that, you know, that’s otherwise good with the exception of this little module that’s dead.
Mark: And does this save money?
Bernie: It’s huge, I mean it’s much less than half the price of a new one to take, you know for us to actually replace this particular unit, and it works every bit as well. So it’ll last just as long or longer than the original.
Mark: Yeah, LED lights being rated for anywhere from 10,000 to 25,000 hours of use, which is a long time, 10 or 20 years.
Bernie: They last a long time and you’ll see on certain vehicles, I mean LED lights are getting more and more popular and a lot of them say on a truck for example, you can see they have a round light assembly and it’ll have, you can see like you know, 20 little LEDs and after a while one will burn out, and another one and you know, once I can’t remember the specs, once a third of them burn out, then the light’s junk and you throw it away. But for a lot of cars I mean the LEDs will last you know, 20 years, the light, the actual light assembly. So, they’re very, very durable.
Mark: And is this a repair you only offer in Vancouver?
Bernie: No, I mean of course if you’re in Vancouver and you have a BMW X3 with a taillight, please bring it to us, but if you live somewhere else and you want it repaired, you can mail it to us, we can repair it and send it back to you.
Mark: And how about LED lights, since they are so much more popular these days, what about LED light failures on other cars? I know a lot of other BMW’s have this same issue.
Bernie: Well you know, this is something that’s fairly new to us. I mean, LEDs, they have been around for quite a while but they’re starting to get to the point of failing on a lot of cars. So the answer is wherever possible, we’ll repair them, and it’s a need to research each individual car as we go. So certainly if you’re you know, if you need something done, contact us. We’ll look into it, see what we can do and its definitely, I’d say an area that we’ll be doing a lot more of because we can you know, it saves resources, saves money to fix it but it again, it’s a matter of how easy is it to disassemble. With the BMW, fortunately it’s a board that’s not hard to remove and it’s separate from being molded inside a piece of plastic. So they’ve fortunately made it repairable, unfortunately not as durable as it should be in the first place.
Mark: So there you go. If you’re looking for a repair on your BMW X3 taillight assembly, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book an appointment, book ahead, they’re busy. Check out their website at pawlikautomotive.com, our new Podcast on iTunes, Pawlik Automotive Repair or you can check us out on YouTube. Thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks Mark