Changing BMW Z3 to clear front indicators.
This guide should give you an idea of what's required if you want to change your amber front indicator lenses to clear. I've split it into sections to make it easier to follow.
Buying/locating the clear indicator lenses:
After a lot of searching I discovered that there was only one source of clear front indicator lenses for Z3's - this was from a guy called Erwin Mettlach (aka Metty) who is based in Germany - you can contact Metty through his website: Home
The clear lenses cost £70 Euro's plus shipping and he only accepts direct bank transfer (IBAN - not paypal). But once payment is received he's very fast at shipping. Depending on the type of bank account you have - fee's may vary - it cost me £10 GBP to send the cash to him though.
Fitting the clear indicator lenses:
The tools/items I used to fit the lenses were:
8mm socket (with long extension)
19mm spanner (or adjustable wrench)
Latex gloves (saves getting glue on your hands or fingerprints on the lenses)
Oven/thick high temp resistant gloves (saves burning your fingers!)
Large flat bladed screwdriver
UHT transparent glue
I also had to carry out a repair to 2 of the lugs on the headlight units so also needed (so these could be deemed as optional unless you are unlucky like me!! LOL!):
Old CD case (or any other suitable, thin strong plastic)
Dremel with cutting and drilling attachment
Prior to removing the headlight units - you need to measure and take note of the distance between the 2 red marks (both sides) in the below pictures (this is because these are adjusters which alter the position of headlight units in relation to the bumper and the bonnet - i.e. the shut lines):
There are 4 x 8mm bolts which hold the headlight units in place. The position of these are highlighted in the green boxes in the below picture:
To remove the 2 x 8mm nuts on the front of the headlights - place your wrench or 19mm open spanner on the adjuster bolt to keep it still and use your 8mm socket to remove the 2 front bolts. The other 2 are a little more tricky and are got at through access holes (looking down into the slam panel) - I was unfortunate in the fact that the bolts closest the wing (on both sides) were extremely rusty and prone to rounding off - with a little patience and perseverance they were soon out though:
Once all 4 bolts have been removed you can pull the headlight forward and disconnect the wiring harness - you have 3 multi-plugs to disconnect (adjuster motor, headlight and main beam) and you also need to remove the indicator bulb holder (this twists anti-clockwise) - once everything is disconnected then you can remove the completed headlight unit from the car.
Turn the headlight round so you are now looking at the back of the unit:
Now you need to remove the adjuster motor and the 2 bulbs - I'd recommend having a clean cloth or kitchen towel ready to place them on. They are all removed with a gentle twist anti-clockwise:
Remove the 7 metal clips which are placed around the headlight unit - these are easily removed by placing a flat headed screwdriver underneath and then twisting (you can see 3 of the 7 metal clips in the picture below):
Once all 7 clips are removed place them to one side along with your bulbs and adjuster motor:
This step involves the unbinding of the headlight unit. There are several ways you can do this - I've heard of people using heat guns (paint strippers before) and hair driers to various degrees of success, what seems to be the best option is to chuck them in the oven for 10 minutes at 85c (pre-heated fan assisted oven) - which is the option I went for.
Once the unit has been heated up - removed from the oven (or heat source) and gently work your way around the headlight unit with a large flat screwdriver - twisting as you go to begin the separation process. The stuff they put the headlights together with is pretty touch and sticky (a bit like mastick) and it also sets/hardens very quickly - so doing this step fairly quickly is essential. I found that once the initial separation had began - it was beneficial to use the wall paper scraper to slice/cut the bond between the front and back unit and to also shape the glue whilst it was still fairly pliable. You should now have a headlight unit separate into 2 sections - the clear front plastic section and the black plastic rear unit:
Now you have the headlight unit separated - remove the indicator section. This is done by removing the 2 phillips screws which hold it in place:
Once the indicator unit is separated - you can now remove the amber lens - this is held in place with 2 clips (one top and one bottom) - press the points together and slide the lens forward:
Take your clear lens and offer it up to the indicator unit to check any fitment issues - you'll also note that the clear lens does not have clips like the amber OEM lens - but has tabs instead. I then proceeded to run a thin bead of UHT glue around the outer edge of the indicator unit and pressed the lens in place. After the lens had initially set - I also glued the top and bottom tabs of the lens to the unit:
Once the glue has set - install the indicator back into the headlight assembly and tighten both the phillips screws in the rear to secure it in place:
Put the headlight unit back together again (n.b. you won't be able to get a perfect seal/join at this stage as the factory glue has now hardened/reset) - the aim here is just to line the front and back up as best you can so when the glue becomes pliable again it will require less effort to bond it together.
Put the headlight unit back into the oven at 85c for another 10 minutes - the aim here is to soften the factory glue so we can bond the headlight unit back together again. Have your 7 metal clips to hand and after 10 minutes have passed - remove the headlight unit from the oven and begin to press the front and back sections together re-clipping the 7 metal clips as you go. Once you have the first couple of clips on it becomes easier as the clips pull the unit together under pressure.
Once the headlight unit has cooled down, re-attach the 2 bulbs and the adjuster motor - these just twist clockwise into place. You should now have one completed headlight unit:
Now all you need to do is complete STEPS 4 to STEP 14 for the other side!
When both units have been completed you can then re-fit them to your car. This is fairly straight forward - just ensure that when re-torquing the front 2 bolts that you hold the adjuster in place with your 19mm wrench or spanner to stop it moving and remember to reattach all of the multi-plugs!!