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Rectangular tail light gasket on the cheap


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Hi all,

As many of you have done, I am currently going thru my new to me 76 and making sure all of the safety related things are taken care of. Today I started on the rear tail lights as two of the bulbs were not working properly. Later, I will wire up and install a third brake light from an older 325e. So today I started the rehab process on the rear tail lights.

So I went online parts shopping and nearly fainted when I saw the price for the rear tail light gasket. The gasket between the outside colored plastic piece and the chrome tail light frame (or whatever its called).

So to cut to the chase, I went to Lowes and looked for an exact substitute but there was nothing to be found. Scanning the aisles i finally found what I think will work: window screen spline. I went with the 0.160 diameter spline. It fits perfectly throughout most of the channel and has somewhat of a large hollow section so it will squish and compress. While its not as soft as the OEM rubber gasket, it's pliable enough. The corner parts do not fit perfectly but good enough once you lay down and screw down the outer plastic cover.

In order to compensate for the screen spline's peaks, I plan to lay down a very thin layer of silicone into the channel, squish in the spline material into the channel, a bead of clear silicone on the top of the spline, and then bolt down the cover accordingly.

Pic attached.

Has anyone done this? If yes, what were the results? From my first attempt, it looks it will work. That said, I'm trolling Mcmaster.com for similar but smooth (no ridges) rubber gasket material



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IIRC it was Esty who found a small round soft foam at her LHS that was very close to the BMW round seal. The lens needs to be able to press into the material to seal out moisture and, most importantly, exhaust fumes.

Be careful how tight you crank the thumb screws down in order to get a seal, the posts can pull out and take a good chunk of lens with it.

Here is the BMW version for reference.. Old vs. new. And its just oval'd from being cut just before the pic. it is actually round.


2002 newbie, and dead serious about it.
Smart Audio Products for your 2002


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i am into the same issue, i didnt found anything at local stores that was soft enough. I tink i will drop the cash for the oem stuff.

2006 530xi, 1974 2002 Automatic summer DD
1985 XR4TI, 22psi ±300hp
1986 yota pick-up, 2006 Smart FT diesel

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is no water inside the lens or in the trunk (lay some newspaper under each lamp in the trunk as a telltale) then it works.

Those lenses must be watertight to prevent corroding the bulb sockets and rusting out the spare tire well...


'69 Nevada sunroof-Wolfgang-bought new
'73 Sahara sunroof-Ludwig-since '78
'91 Brillantrot 318is sunroof-Georg Friederich 
Fiat Topolini (Benito & Luigi), Renault 4CVs (Anatole, Lucky Pierre, Brigette) & Kermit, the Bugeye Sprite

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I'm looking at a McMaster Carr cat and wondering if this will work part # 6322K11. Not sure what the diameter is tho. Is on page 3524 in the paper catalog or online (of course). I buy parts for the factory I work for and deal with McMaster, Grainger, Fastenal, MSC, etc on a daily basis.

1995 Toyota Landcruiser

1975 2002A

1989 Dodge Raider (sold)

1974 Toyota Landcruiser (very sadly sold)

1994 BMW 530i (sold)

1992 BMW 325i (sold)

1970 2002 auto sunroof (sold)

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I did the same thing, I went to Lowes and got some screen gasket and used a tiny bit of sealant at the bottom and ran the stuff aroung to join at the othe side. works great to bad the rest is leaking around my cracked lens.

75 2002: weber, ANSA, lowered, 14" wheels, new engine, new suspension, rust free & square.

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I used the 6322K111 that autobon7 referenced and it appears to be working just fine. If you have any of the plastic body panel tools, they work well to push the foam into the taillight frame groove. Otherwise, a popsicle stick should do the trick.

Now I need to find a good source for the uber-expensive gaskets that go between the taillight frame and the body!

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Hey give me a call I think I have a work around for that with an OEM part.

I'm no longer affiliated with Maximillian Importing Company in any way, please address any questions directly to them.  -Thanks.

2002 "tii" coupe 1970
E21 320/6 2.7 Stroker 1981
E23 730 1978

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did you use any silicone or just use the gasket?

i'm going to test by running under water in the coming days. i have too much interior work going right now, so not sure exactly when

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