improving E30 lighting

Morning all.
I noticed the headlights on my 1990 E30 318is were a bit dim. The reflectors are showing their age so I rang BMW to find out how much new ones
cost. Around $500 to $800 EACH, depending on whether I want Bosch or Hella. That's scary.
Any suggestions for reasonable price upgrades/replacements?
Thanks
James
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Brasso polish. You'll be surprised what half an hour's polishing can do. --scott
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On the reflectors? ;-)
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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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London SW

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Check out Ebay - aftermarket angle eye complete units should cost a lot less than original replacements. About 150 gbp a pair.
Or you could just try some new bulbs - halogen types age, and higher efficiencey ones are also available. Check also you have the full battery voltage at the bulbs - old connecters etc can inroduce voltage drop.
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Ignore this - I didn't realise the E30 was still made in '90. I was thinking of the next model.
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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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wrote:

My buddy recently tried a set of Toshiba 9012 HIR bulbs on his 87 M6 and really likes them! The supposed advantage of these bulbs is you get more light with the same wattage, i.e., Toshiba HIR bulbs are 55w rated. If anyone is interested, here's a link:
http://www.hirheadlights.com /
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As I recall, the E30 takes a standard sealed beam (in the States, European models may get something different) that is simply a round lamp with a filiment inside.
You can get any of several different brands of after market headlamps to fit that car and they all work well. When I was a kid, I installed Cebie (Cibie ?) lamps into my '65 Mustang, and my brother has Hella lamps in his '83 Jeep.
You can buy replacements for your car pretty much anywhere where quality auto parts are sold. You might have to visit a "speed" shop, but no matter where you go, they will be less than at the BMW dealership. Since you "rang up" the dealership, I assume you to be in England, in which case you have to be sure if yo ubuy online, the lights you get are euro-spec, so the beam pattern fits driving on the wrong side of the road ... (hehehe)

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Is it different from the E28? My brother who still has a few of those reckons only OEM units fit.
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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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I have an American E28 and I have been using the cheap Wagner and Sylvania replacements for years and years. Dunno about Europe. --scott
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I'd guess the US version uses US units? The UK one doesn't have the standard 'Lucas' fitting that pretty well all others with conventional size round lamps use here.
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Yes, the US version uses the three flat lugs like many US cars of that era did (and VW bugs too). I don't know what the UK version uses.
Changing the connector out is easy, though..... comedy, that's hard. --scott

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wrote:

I don't know for certain, but the old round and rectangular sealed beams are only available in two sizes. There are large ones if the car has two headlamps, and small ones if the car gets four headlamps. In the two-lamp installations, the high and low beams are in the same lamp, in the 4-lamp installations, the low beams are on the outside and the high beams are on the inside (top and bottom, respectively, if the lamps are mounted vertically).
When headlamps started to be molded to the body lines, they became model specific to the car. This generally did not begin until the early 90's. Before then, the lamps were either round or rectangular and came in two sizes. In the USA, the lamps were sealed beam, meaning the entire lamp unit had to be replaced. Europeans, and others I assume, got a separate lamp and lens, where the lamp could be replaced by removing a clip on the back and taking the lamp out and putting a new one in. When I bought european style headlamps for my '65 Mustang (in about '75), I had no trouble getting them in the proper size.
In any case, the OP's E30 takes round lights, and there are four of them. These ought ot be readily available at any autoparts store, or perhaps a high-end speed shop. I see no reason why one could not find replacements on eBay.
They are held in by metal rings that you remove from the front of the car, there are three small screws on each ring (with larger screws nearby that are for the purpose of adjusting the aim of the beam). This mounting method is typical, the specific method used by BMW could be different, in which case the mounts will be released from inside the engine bay.
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I tried the Brasso. It cleaned up the reflectors, but I was suprised by how much additional difference there was when I used window cleaner on the inside of the glass cover, and on the lens. Their first clean in 19 years, I think. Now they look like new, and the reflectors sparkle.
I've also ordered a set of the Phillips 80+ H1 bulbs, so I'll see how it all goes with everything cleaned and with new bulbs.
Thanks for the tips - especially the voltage. I should have thought of that. It's good value having a 'brains trust' to remind me of the obvious.
BTW - I'm in Australia, where we drive on the correct side of the road. Don't Americans 'ring up' their BMW dealers? Maybe they just prefer to get in their cars and drive down to their dealers :) Or is it that they 'phone' or 'call' their dealers? I hadn't really noticed that quirk of American English.
James
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I'm amazed. The plating on these is usually so thin that any attempt to polish it removes it. Although of course they can be washed. You learn something new every day. ;-)
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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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You gotta be careful, but you can do it. The thing is the plating oxidizes and you get a layer of white schmutz on the top. You can remove the schmutz but now you have a thinner reflective layer. When you have to do it again in 2029 or so, you may have to replace the thing completely. --scott
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