Z3 Heater Bulb Replacements - Published in the BMWCC Mag

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Mike Fishwick
Joined: Fri 19 Jun, 2009 11:27
Posts: 1991

  Z3 roadster 2.8
Location: Daglan, France

Z3 Heater Bulb Replacements - Published in the BMWCC Mag

Post by Mike Fishwick » Tue 16 May, 2006 18:38

REPLACING Z3 HEATER CONTROL BULBS Mike Fishwick

As is the case with most of the Z3, the heater controls are ‘borrowed’ from the E36 series, but in their new home there is far less space behind them than in the original application. This, coupled with the tight fit of the bulbs in their mountings, makes replacement less than easy. While the side panels of the centre console can be flexed sufficiently to permit touching the bulbs, their removal is impossible, and even BMW avoid the provision of any information on their replacement. The procedure is, however, not too difficult.
The first step is to extract the radio from the centre console, ideally leaving it connected to the power supply, in order to avoid the necessity of reprogramming the plethora of available options. Users of non-BMW radio units will find this easier, due to the additional length of the adaptor cable used to convert the connector provided by BMW to the standard DIN socket used by other manufacturers.
Extraction of the metal radio mounting sleeve uncovers a screw at each lower corner of the aperture. With these removed, a pair of ‘staple’-shaped plastic latches on the lower edge can be slightly raised (using finger nails only) after which gentle thumb pressure on the heater control dials will move the upper edge of the control assembly inwards, leaving three holes in the console.
Continued movement will disengage a pair of pins on the lower edge of the heater controls from holes in the lower mating surface. The controls can now be pushed into the console and rotated to find the illumination bulbs. The base of the right-hand bulb is at the top of the assembly facing forwards, while that of the left-hand bulb faces downwards from the bottom.
The electrical connectors can be easily withdrawn, but removal of the bulbs requires a really good pull, using long-nosed pliers. Fitting the new bulbs is, however, quite easy. Even if only one bulb has failed, replace both together as a preventative measure.
There are no real problems in this task, but precautions should be taken against dropping either the screws or their associated spring clip ‘body nuts’ inside the console. A couple of spares would be a good precaution. The Bowden cables between the controls and the heater are very springy, making rotation of the control unit difficult, and promoting damage to the back of one’s hand, but thin rubber gloves offer good protection from the otherwise inevitable abrasions.
Although this is one of those tasks where anticipation is worse than reality, it is not something to be done more often than necessary. With this in mind the best policy is to avoid leaving the instrument lighting at maximum intensity, as even a small reduction will extend the life of the bulbs dramatically.

Pictures:

(a) Bulb
(b) Screws & Clips – screw and plastic ‘staple’ latch at RH side
(c) Lower Bulb – base of bulb is shown in centre aperture
(d) Upper Bulb – base of bulb is shown in RH aperture
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R80TER
Joined: Tue 04 Oct, 2005 09:05
Posts: 462

  M roadster S50
Location: newbury village

Post by R80TER » Wed 17 May, 2006 08:32

If you have small hands you can do this job by only removing the head unit. trust me, i have done it. its fiddly! but i did it!
Now Car less :-(

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c_w
Joined: Thu 19 Aug, 2004 17:50
Posts: 4032

  M roadster S50

Post by c_w » Wed 17 May, 2006 12:20

You don't have to actually remove the screws fully, you just slacken them off a bit and the heater control unit can slide back when the clips are lifted, this removes any risk of them falling in the dash.

This was on a facelift model, not sure if the older one is different though and the screws go through an actual hole instead of a slot.

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stussy
Joined: Wed 23 Feb, 2005 20:30
Posts: 103

  Z3 roadster 2.2i
Location: Bury

Post by stussy » Tue 06 Jun, 2006 20:34

I replaced the fan speed bulb, but only removed the radio and used a pair of long nose pliers to grip the bulb and pull it out (it was hard to pull out) :head: .

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Robert T
Site Admin
Joined: Mon 12 Jun, 2006 11:35
Posts: 9997

  Z3 roadster 1.9
Location: Cheshire

Post by Robert T » Sun 22 Oct, 2006 23:18

Despite Mike's excellent article, I was defeated at the first hurdle of getting my non-BMW stereo out. In then end I asked my $tealer to do it as part of a service - £3.96 for the bulb and holder and £5.73 to fit it (inc VAT). For the sake of my knuckles and my sanity - I thought that was a pretty good deal! :D
Arctic Silver '99 Z3 1.9 & Black '59 Frogeye 1275cc
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Robert T
Site Admin
Joined: Mon 12 Jun, 2006 11:35
Posts: 9997

  Z3 roadster 1.9
Location: Cheshire

Re: Z3 Heater Bulb Replacements - Published in the BMWCC Mag

Post by Robert T » Mon 09 Jul, 2012 23:07

Well, the bulbs lasted almost six years, one had blown and the other had gone intermittent, so I have been somewhat braver this time and have replaced both bulbs myself. Inflation seems to be rather high on these bulbs as they are now £6.20 plus VAT each from my local dealer.

I was initially going to just follow Mike's excellent guide, and having recently replaced the stereo with a new one myself, I was reasonably confident at getting into the stereo aperture. It turns out that the cage on the new stereo is held in place by bending parts of the cage outwards, so as this looked rather awkward I investigated the driver's footwell approach.

The back of the console as seen from the driver's footwell


It was relatively easy to reach up to the back of the right-hand bulb (between the fan control and the temperature control) and unplug the connector from the back of the bulb. However on my car this bulb was stuck fast and no amount of pulling or wiggling would get it to come out. We will come back to this one in a moment.

The position of the right-hand bulb


I had trouble finding the left-hand bulb, but once you know where it is, it should be possible to replace this without having to remove the heater controls. If you look at the first photo you can just see the yellow label on the bottom of the heater control panel - the bulb is at the opposite end of the label - nearest to the passenger footwell. This bulb removed very easily though with what I am about to do, I actually found it and fitted it after removing the heater controls - hopefully these pictures will mean you don't have to. Note that there is some metalwork for the glovebox on that side, so there is no access from that side.

The position of the lower left-hand bulb


We now come back to my problematic right-hand bulb. As I couldn't see how the bulb was held in place (it is a little piece of the socket that acts like a spring clip and is just a push fit) I decided to remove the stereo cage and the heater controls as per Mike's article. Having done this, I managed to get some pliers onto it, but could not exert enough force to remove the bulb. In the end I found that if I unplugged the large round connector on the back of the fan control, I could rotate the entire heater control so that the dials were facing downwards and swing the far and (with the direction control) round and partly out into driver's footwell with the three bowden cables limiting the movement. This left the bulb suitably exposed and I could give it a good yank with the pliers.

I then reassembled the controls and checked everything worked before refitting the stereo. One thing that Mike describes above is the "pair of pins" and these can be seen below - so the only fasteners you need to worry about are the two screws and the rectangular plastic "staples" into which two plastic tabs locate. You just need to line the pins up first when reassembling.

One of the locating pins for the heater controls


Now I know how to do it, I hope that the next time I have to change them, it will be a lot simpler.

R.
Arctic Silver '99 Z3 1.9 & Black '59 Frogeye 1275cc
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