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5 Series E39 xenon lights problem

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Hello everybody, another problem with my 2 weeks new 530d touring,

the xenon lights aren't working, when turning them on they flicker for 2 seconds and then turn off, in other case they don't even flicker.

do I face here a beginning of series electronic problems in my car? :-?

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Take it back ASAP! The electronic starter of the xeon lights is broken.


Thanks again GIR :wink:

the car is already in the garage since I can't use it during night,

it will be checked on Monday.

what I don't like is that this car is only 2 weeks old and just like that the

xenon starter is gone???


Like you said, the xeon lights blink twice and then turn off which means there isn't enough power going through the lights to get them started.

There is a 80% probability that the starter has defective capacitors. The electronics market was flooded with capacitors from Taiwan. These capacitors were cheap to produce and had highquality characteristics. Turns out they stole the plans from an experimental Philips capacitor, after testing Philips came to the conclusion that this elco could break very very easily. Because Taiwan stole the plans before Philips testing was complete they never knew about it. Since Germany doesn't have a real electrnoics producing industry they import most of the components, there's a high probability that they bought Taiwanese capacitors.

Now 6 months later we start to see devices failing, motherboards in computers is the prime example. These capacitors were used in a whole range of appliances and I'm guessing that they were also used in the BMW electronic starters. The problem is that there is no sure shot way to tell when a capacitor is failing unless you desolder it and measure it's ESR. Most capacitors have an almost infinite life, way longer then the life of the device it's in so there is no real need to monitor a capacitor.

The capacitors in the starter are used to build up huge amounts of power and then release it at once, kinda lick kickstarting the xeon lights. If there isn't enough power going through the lights in the beginning then the lights will flicker and then stay out.

It's either defective capacitors or the charging curcuitry is faulty. Anywayz like I said I'm 80% sure that BMW used the capacitors from Taiwan.

The scary part is that these capacitors are used almost everywhere, even in airplanes. Manufacturers have ordered a call back of crucial equipment (like airplanes and such), household appliances were not called back because it would be too expensive, they're just going sit it out. If it breaks you get a new one, if not then you're lucky. The thing is they're also trying to cover this up in fear of mayor lawsuits. They even threathend several hobby sites which kept a list of electronics which contained capacitors from Taiwan. A good example on this it the site of one Gray Headlee, he decided that he wasn't going to bend to the will of the Corporate assholes and fight them in court.

Here are a few pictures of bad capacitors on Motherboards:






For more pictures and magazine scans you can visit this site.


Today I went to pick up my car from the garage after they called me that they fixed the problem, eager to know what was the problem I drove to the garage and ther I was told that the electronic box of the xenon was defect and that it was replaced by a new one, they also said that it's there first case!

happy tp get back my car I started the engine and the xenon lights and guess what?

the xenon doesn't work!!! :evil:

the electrician was shocked more then me, and then he told me that he got no idea what is the problem!?! :-?

so I'm still with my rental car and tell you the truth I'm starting to hate BMW especially the service!

I wonder what will they do now in the garage.


Like I thought they replaced the starter but the new starter broke again, that opens up the possibilities.

1. Mostlikely one of the bulbs hasn't been vacuumed correctly or the gas mixture in it is wrong. This will cause that the lights need much more power to start and stay lit. This in turn could overload your starter and destroy it very quickly. My bet is they will replace the lightbulbs, the starter, the cables and see what happens.

2. Your car isn't properly grounded. This will cause that in time all electronics fail, because of the high power flowing through the xeon circuits they are more sensitive to this. I have seen this happen a few times before. Here in NL there are magnetic coils in the road. When a car moves into the magnetic field of this coil the field is disrupted and you know there's a car there. This can be used to operate trafficlights or speedtraps.

One of my friends bought a brand new Mercedes E320, he's driving home from the dealer, he's at a trafficlight and bam everything just dies. He calls the dealer from his cellphone, they thow the car to the garage, fix it, he's driving home and again at the same light bam everything dead. Turns out his car wasn't properly shielded and everytime he moved into the field his ECM died.

The dealer returned the car to the factory and he got a new one.

3. The power regulator of your car is broken. This in turn means that there is too much fluctuation or too much power flowing to the circuits. This means that in time all circuits will fail, again because of the high power going throught the xeon circuits they are more sensitive to this.

4. Very unlikely but maybe your battery or dynamo is broken which in turn would mean a wrong voltage though out the car which will destroy the cuircuitry.

Keep an eye on all the electronics in your car. If anything else fails in your car within the warranty, demand that either all the electronics in your car are replaced or you get a new car. A second opinion by another independent garage or dealer will help you alot.


a bmw e39 has so many electronic devices on board, it has to be specific to the xenon assembly, otherwise, one of the more sensative devices would have caused some sort of more catastrophic failure. I would say at this point, it is something odd, easiest of all of course replacing everything, but expensive. they should be able to tell where the problem is though, a xenon light assembly can be trouble-shot easily enough (for god sake, I've done it before!!!).

On the caps, quite a few people in all fields got burned by this issue. prominent motherboard manufacturer Abit had to recall tens of thousands, and replace tens of thousands more motherboards due to bad capacitors on them.

BMW should be using top-shelf real philips on their cars.


currently I have 4 problems in my car :

1. brake system problem, while standing and pressing the brake pedal

there is a fitback to the pedal every 2 seconds.

the service said it's normal I think they don't know what they talk

about, I'm the only one with BMW that have this "normal" thing!

2. xenon won't light ( worked the first week ), no solution from the


3. the 4 turn signal blinked without any reason and I couldn't turn them

off, this happend when I tried to play with the xenon switch hoping

they will work. for this the service just ignored me!

4. when you turn the switch off the GPS DVD player still spin and read

data non stop??? again the service said it's normal! I don't believe


something is serious wrong with this car! :evil:


Some news from the garage:

I just got a call from the garage and here the current situation,

1. brake system - after checking the problem deeply and not just saying

it's normal, they found out that the pipe or valve of the heating system was touching the pedal of the break and causing this pulse that I felt.

they separate them and now it's gone!

2. they ordered a new mother board that control all the lights including the turn single lights, the part will arrive tomorrow hoping that it will solve the problem.

3. as for the GPS DVD they claim that after you switch off the car it's running for about 15 minutes and then switching to a sleep mode, is it true? I don't know.


Hmmmzzz I wonder how many more BMW's there are with the same problem with the brake pedal. I've seen 2 similar cases but both disapeared after breaking the car in. Maybe it was because of wear on the heating system or the pedal.

I don't know the exact electronics layout of the BMW system but I thought the main computer controlled the lights. Any of the points I mentoined earlier could apply.

I'm not sure what exact problem you are describing you have with the DVD/GPS system. If you could be more specific I can check this one the BMW of a coworker.



in the back of the car a DVD player for the GPS system is installed.

when turning off the motor and taking the key out ( most system are

shutdown ) the DVD player still spinning and reading data from the DVD.

this action consume energy and may drain your battery, lets say you were in 2 weeks vacation you come back and your battery is dead.

the garage claims that it's running for extra 15 minutes and then switch

to a sleep mode that hardly consume energy ( kind of standby ).

what I would like to know if it's behaving like that in other E39 with Navi.


Good news!

finally the xenon lighty are working.

they had to change the motherboard for the xenon lights and the motherboard of the check control both were defect, why??? nobody knows!

the next test is to see that the problem doesn't repeat again.


yeah, i'm glad its working. apparently yours is the one in some really huge number who has both failing. i wonder what the defectiveness rate is on those boards?


Well okay today I checked that DVD thingy. The light of the player kept blinking for some time after taking the key out but the activity wasn't that intense. I forgot to time it but I would say 5 to 10 mins or so.

The light blinked once every second or so.

The owner of the car said something about the owners manual. The owners manual sais that the onboard computer stays on for a time so when you go away and come back real quick it won't have to boot up again.

I think because BMW uses Microsoft CE for their systems it takes alot of time to boot.


First I really really hope that BMW doesn't use any Microsoft product

what so ever.

in the past days since I got the car back from the garage I tested it

and especially the check control unit, I must say everything is working

fine and I'm satisfied :)

one thing that I didn't know is that BMW doesn't have a seatbelt warning,

you can drive without your seatbelt and you won't have any warning

such as text, beep or some warning light on your dials.

I don't know why BMW doesn't provide it ( maybe only in Europe ) I do think it's very important.


Well, I guess I don't have it in my car, my car is to "old" for this *%&ç


soon we will find microsoft in our microwaves, vacum cleaners, hospital equipment ( can you imagine ). :evil:


win2k is the last windows I plan on buying. If they put it in my vacuum, my house will get hella-dirty.

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