E36 - Install OEM "MoodLights" on your interior dome unit/cluster from E39/E38
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  1. #1
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    E36 - Install OEM "MoodLights" on your interior dome unit/cluster from E39/E38

    Background:
    While i was browsing some e46 pictures on the web for inspiration, I learned that their dome lights had some very nice orange moodlights which come on when the car is in motion. During night-time driving, these orange lights (aka. moodlights) gave the center-console this "cinema" style dimm. It wasn't too dark nor distracting either, it actually helped locate any thing during darkness (such as finding a button on the radio). I was inspired!.

    I learned e46's weren't the only ones with moodlights ontheir dome-unit/cluster, e39's and e38's also had it. (Why didn't BMW put it on the e36 ?: )

    Custom retrofit
    Because of the varied designs of the domelights from e46/38/39 , they will not fit e36. Nobody want's to cut their domepanel just to fit these dome clusters.
    Also another problem is the wiring :: either the colors are very different or the plugs are different too.
    Last problem :: The middle switch in e36 is a simple click type (on/off/always on) , whereas the e46/39/38 use momentary switches controlled by their own modules (that module is expensive to buy and it is TOO complicated to work with)

    Keeping it OEM:
    - The idea of this retrofit was to keep everything as OEM as possible. We don't want to be using anything aftermarket. I am an OEM freak (recently turned in to one) and i'n sure you are too.

    Notes:
    This project was done in 15 minutes or so. But it requires some knowledge and some common sense to avoid making any mistakes. If you follow the pictures, you should be okay but I don't want to be responsible if anything breaks!

    What you need:
    - Any dome light from e46/e38/39 (In my project I used e39 as it was cheaper to get)
    - Power drill and some small incremental drill bits (eg. different size drill bits until the light fits in the hole) (I forgot the specific size, aplogies)
    - Superglue (not required, but optional)
    - Flat head screw driver (to remove the domelight face)
    - Nose pliers (to pull out certain bits which the fingers can't do)
    - Tape measure (or ruler)
    - Marker pen
    Let's begin:
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Remove your E36 domelight and have your donor domelight next to you. (I used an e39 donor dome cluster)


    /
    /

    I forgot to take pictures on this step (apologies!) but i'll grab an image from another forum...
    - Strip everything from the DONOR dome cluster until you have this LED unit (it should be in one piece!)

    /
    /

    Little write-up....
    - Grab a tape measure and mark the distance between each light on to YOUR dome cover
    - Try to keep both dots central
    - Then find a drill bit that is a (tiny little bit) smaller than the diameter of the LED tube/holder (This helps keep things tight when fitting the LED's)
    - Drill the holes where you marked then (Make sure the holes are away from the switch) (aka. oposite of switches)
    - Here's my end result

    /
    /

    - The "middle" of the LED housing stops the cover fully closing as it conflicts with the reflector cone of your dome unit. We need to get rid of it.
    - Using any "hand" cutting tool (eg. nose pliers) "CAREFULLY" make your way by breaking apart the middle housing WITHOUT BREAKING THE WIRES! (Use common sense here)
    - This process is tricky so take your time.
    - You should end-up like this....

    /
    /

    - Notice that the middle is covered in yellow ? That stuff is insulation tape which helps prevent any fire or hazards. Plus we want the voltage resistor to be safely hidden.
    - You are welcome to use heatshrinks if you want to. Just make sure the wires never touch each other. (or you'll end-up blowing the LED's or shorting them)

    /
    /

    - Here is how it finally looks after fitting it throught the holes. (If it feels loose to you, this is where you can add a "TINY" drop of super glue so it doesn't come off)

    /
    /

    - I made a little wiring diagram of how the lights work.
    - REMEMBER: Both LED's will light up when there is a resistor in the middle and ONE side of resistor is (minus) and other side require (plus) from other LED.
    - In other words :: Try to keep everything original when you destroyed the middle housing (on the previous steps)

    /
    /

    - Test your lights on any 12v source (you can also do this at your car's battery)

    /
    /
    - Once the lights work, now let's join them up with YOUR dome light's wiring.
    - Take a look at my wiring diagram and join your LED's according to that.
    - Once that is done, cover any joins with a heatshrink or use insulation tape as you wish.
    - Return to your car and fit the whole unit back on!



    Here are some shots, when restored to the car
    /
    /
    - Ignition OFF , Doors are Closed

    /
    /
    - Ignition ON , and DOOR is open

    /
    /
    - Ignition ON, Door is Closed


    /
    /
    I forgot to take a NIGHT-TIME shot but i found an image from Google which shows you how an E36 center cockpit looks , during night-time driving!

    /
    /
    /
    /
    This is one of my favourite OEM mods done on the Interior;; I hope you like it as much as I did. . You're welcome to share any thoughts on this project. Thanks for reading!

  2. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to wanda For This Useful Post:

    Chris Marron (08-08-2012),Devil (08-08-2012),Ferret (08-08-2012),oiljames (22-04-2013)

  3. #2
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    How have I only just come across this?? Wow... I've been craving the orange mood lighting!! Definitely going to give this a go

    Thanks bud!

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    Quote Originally Posted by oiljames View Post
    How have I only just come across this?? Wow... I've been craving the orange mood lighting!! Definitely going to give this a go

    Thanks bud!
    LOL, thanks mate!

    Actually, i've got 5 subtle Moodlighting projects that i'm planing to do on my vert & trust me all mods are OEM to other cars


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    Quote Originally Posted by wanda View Post

    Actually, i've got 5 subtle Moodlighting projects that i'm planing to do on my vert
    Will be keeping an eye out for these...

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    Hey im trying to figure this out i have a 94 316 your post is ok but the pictures are gone can you repost or something? Im new to this thnks


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