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Tanktheory

Tail light bulb keep exploding?

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Bone stock 1975 '02. When I purchased the car, the passenger side tail light bulb (top bulb) was broken. I figured, old car.. no big deal. I replaced it with the correct, copper plated bulb along with the drivers side at the same time. I'm not sure when but at some point, the bulb exploded again. The filament is still intact, but the glass popped. 

 

Could it be the reflector inside is hitting the bulb? Wiring issue? I'm absolutely baffled. 

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Does this happen after it's rained or the car's been otherwise wet (car wash, big puddle etc)?  A hot bulb can shatter if suddenly doused with cold water, and the seals/gaskets between the lens assy and the body don't last forever...

 

mike

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Mike,

 

Just got back from being in CT for a week and drove the car for the first time tonight. I has been fairly dry. Maybe I'll replace the seals around the outside lens and see if that does it.

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I don't think this has anything to do with your immediate problem, but, it's recommended you don't use the bulbs with the brass bases because they corrode more than the chrome/stainless/nickle plated base versions. 

 

http://www.bmw2002faq.com/articles.html/_/technical-articles/electrical-and-ignition/light-bulb-replacement-guide-r100

 

Curious that your bulb is breaking... do you think it may be on all the time and overheating?

 

Ed

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Zinz,

 

I don't believe the problem is bulb selection.

51Ge3bMyXaL.SX307_SY500_CR,0,0,307,500_P

I've been told these are the perfect replacements. I will admit, for safety I do tend to drive with my lights on all times. It's just an out of habit thing I've always done. However, it doesn't explain why my passenger side has popped twice and my driverside is a-okay. 

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Check for a short near the tail light wiring and make sure the grounds are clean, recommend replacing the fuses too. If that doesn't resolve it, get a volt meter and check continuity of that circuit.

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I had this same issue when I first purchased my 76.  It turns out that the housing was getting to hot from the wrong bulbs being used and it was melting the plastic just above the light.  The plastic would drip on the bulb after a few days and boom, a new bulb was needed.

 

I took a dremmel and smoothed the melted area down because it was a bit severe and then put the correct light bulbs in place and have not had an issue since.

 

I guess my advise is to check out the housing and see if there's any damage just above the light bulb.  Even if you have the correct ones in now, if it touches that plastic the bulb will pop.

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I had this same issue when I first purchased my 76.  It turns out that the housing was getting to hot from the wrong bulbs being used and it was melting the plastic just above the light.  The plastic would drip on the bulb after a few days and boom, a new bulb was needed.

 

I took a dremmel and smoothed the melted area down because it was a bit severe and then put the correct light bulbs in place and have not had an issue since.

 

I guess my advise is to check out the housing and see if there's any damage just above the light bulb.  Even if you have the correct ones in now, if it touches that plastic the bulb will pop.

 

I'll need to do this then. I think the PO had the wrong bulbs installed because my reflector is melted. I had a weird feeling that the reflector may have been hitting the bulb since the filament hadn't popped. 

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Yup, what mmichalik said. I had the same issue when I got my car many years ago, the PO had the wrong bulb in there and it melted the reflector, it drooped down and touched the light which caused it to break, I unknowingly replaced the bulb with the same one that came out and the same thing happened, then I got wise and decided to check the book for the correct bulb. The bulb that was in there was too hot, a little work with the dremel to fix the reflector and the correct bulb fixed the problem.

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Am I using the right bulbs? The ones pictured above are what I currently have in. They are nice and bright and don't get very warm.

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1156 / 1157 are the US spec light bulbs (US meaning, US automotive.)  BMWs take a different bulb and the keys on the base are slightly different (although both will fit into the socket with a little pressure)

 

I don't have the correct European spec number in front of me but, I'm sure someone out there does. I'll check around and see if I can find it.  I just purchased some a few weeks back but, I can't remember the number off the top of my head.

Edited by mmichalik

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I believe this is a link to the correct bulb on the O'Riely website:  http://www.oreillyauto.com/site/c/search/Stop+Lamp/01590/C0010.oap?model=2002&vi=1010822&year=1976&make=BMW at least for the 76.  you might want to verify but, the bulb number is 7506

 

I hope that helps.

 

You can also call the dealership and ask them.  Realoem.com shows them as available but, will have a slightly higher pricetag.

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The wattage is too high on those bulbs, the spec is a 21w bulb and that one is 26.9w so it is too hot.  You want the Sylvania 7506 bulb, the bulb you are using is the one that was melting my reflector.post-36452-0-81450500-1451582634_thumb.j

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