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No Headlights!!!!


Uncle Beemer

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Call me Lucky? Here's the deal.Yesterday I stopped for supper after getting back home from a 4 day ride to the Blue Ridge PKY. I shut the bike off and went in to eat. When I got ready to leave,I fired the bike up, which is a 2004 R 1150 RT by the way,and I noticed that I had no headlights. No low beam,no high beam, but the high beam indicator light burns. The fog lights burn as well as the parking light. Before I start replacing bulbs, anyone have any ideas? What are the chances of both the high beam and low beam blowing at the same time? The fuses are good and there are no other issues with the bike.I've consulted the owners hand book but if offers no help. So,what do you guys think?

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Bad load relief relay is another possibility.

 

It is the small black one closest to the larger yellow starter relay. Swap it with the next one over (horn) for a test.

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Well I tried switching the relays with no luck. The fuses are all good. In the process of tinkering with it the lights began working perfectly, but when I turned the switch off and back on I got the same result. No lights!!

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Same thing happened to me on my '04 R1150 RT last month. Entire headlight assembly had to be replaced. No high or lo beams. I was riding up in Vermont and had to do a couple of hundred miles with just the fog lamps.

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Well it's somewhat comforting to know that other bikes have this problem. However, the reason I bought a BMW was because of the reliability factor. Headlights going out is not reassuring at all.It kinda becomes a deal breaker to me.But,the bike is in the shop now, so I will wait and see what the dealer advises. I will post an update on Tuesday.

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Well it's somewhat comforting to know that other bikes have this problem. However, the reason I bought a BMW was because of the reliability factor. Headlights going out is not reassuring at all.It kinda becomes a deal breaker to me.But,the bike is in the shop now, so I will wait and see what the dealer advises. I will post an update on Tuesday.

 

If the fault is the ground tag give your dealer these part numbers:

 

63122305859--Lamp Socket--$9.95

63122305854--Plastic Lamp Holder--$8.75

 

They are from a K-Bike but fit the RT lamp and are a much cheaper fix than the whole headlamp assembly that is listed for the RT.

 

Andy

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Does that solve the problem once and for all or just until the ground tab burns out on those parts?

 

That, I'm afraid is a question to which I have no answer.

I suspect that the problem is one of electrolytic corrosion, which often afflicts ground connections on negative ground systems.

 

Andy

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Sorry to say, Boffin, this is NOT the fix for the poster's problem.

 

I had the ground tag problem too, much earlier in the life of my '02, so I know from painful experience.

 

The fix you referenced has only to do with the HIGHBEAM socket, which in my case got munged up.

 

The poster's problem stems from the connection of the ground wire's connection to the entire headlight assembly.

 

What happens is this:

 

Once inside the headlight assembly, the three hot leads branch off to the low beam, the high beam, and the two foglights (that lead is split).

 

One slightly larger guage ground wire connects to a tab on a ground "bus", grounding the high and low beams, and branches off to the bfoglights. It's at this point that corrosion or a slightly bad install seems to cause resistance, heat, and burnout--acutal melting!.

 

This kills the low and high beam, but ususally leaves a path for the fogs.

 

It's a really STUPID design. Too much power (the total wattage of all 4 bulbs) is forced through this bus connection. Up the wattage of your bulbs and the problem, potentially, gets worse.

 

I don't know if later headlight assemblies have been redesigned or not. As I was out of warranty when my assembly failed, I opened it up and rewired it with heaverier guage wire and more direct connections.

 

But again, to avoid confusion, this is not the same problem I had with the highbeam, which was just physical damage--not electrical--in nature.

 

For some reason, the Light God does not like me....

 

Sam

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My 04 had this exact same problem at 3000 miles. turned out to be some grounding problem with the headlight assembly that required replacement of the complete assembly. I saw the billing (under warranty), came to over $500.

 

Interesting they are all 04's---bad batch of headlight assemblies that year ???

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Jim, how long ago was that? And did that solve the problem? My bike has been in service since August 2004,a little over 2 years.Still under warranty but still a great concern to me.This is very disturbing that the damn headlights go out!!!

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About 2 years ago--around October as I remember.

 

Bike now has 30k and problem has not reoccurred.

 

There is at least one other thread about this in the archives. I remember posting to it.

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You could always do what a number of others here have done: install enough aux lights not connected to that circuit so that you won't notice if your main headlight goes out -- even in the dark of the night.

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Mad Max, Yes, I could do that but, the 1150 RT is the premier Sport Touring bike and as expensive as they are,I don't expect the freakin' headlights to go out. I have plans to tour the U.S. and Canada on this bike and it concerns me a great deal for this to happen!! I for one expect more from a BMW!!!

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Well, the dealer has had the bike since Tues. and finally today called and said that the headlight assembly would have to be replaced!! DAMN!! We knew that!! Any way it will probably take another week to get it back. And it's all covered by warranty.You guys are a great help to the motorcycle community!!Thanks to all who chimed in!!

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My head light failed on me on my 96 R1100rt last week I found that the yellow and white flex coming, that supplies both dipped and head lights form main light switch, It is soldered to tiny brass spud that is pushed into plastic body this had arked with slider and heated up and dislodged its self from alotted hole. I cleanded all contacts and sliders and contacs and re incerted it back inhole with samall dab of super glue. Everything back working and going well since.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Uncle Beemer

Well here is the final result, the Tech replaced the headlight assembly under warranty. He showed me the burned ground wire that was apparently too small to carry that amount of current. However, he said and the BMW Rep. supposedly agreed with him, that the clear plastic headlight protector that has been covering the headlight for the past two years may have contributed to the problem!!

The cover has the same basic shape as the headlight and sits about 1/4 inch off the surface, which I think would be enough space to allow the headlight to cool if need be. Any one have any thoughts on this matter? Also, as an aside, the 2004 1150RT has a small bulb at the very front of the headlight assembly, BMW calls it a parking light, and the ignition switch has a position marked "P" on it too give power to it, this light is now on all the time. I don't recall that bulb being on when the switch is in the run position. Could someone with a `04 model check their headlight and let me know if their light is on? As usual thanks for the help.

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ShovelStrokeEd

As I recall, that bulb is powered whenever the switch is in the ON position and also in the P position. I have used the wires for it to power a radar detector and GPS in the past.

 

The ground tab connection is one of the dumbest things I have ever seen. How difficult/expense would it be to wire each of the sockets with a ground connector and then run multiple leads to a good solid ground point. You could do it yourself using a multi point Molex connector. Couple of hours of fooling around to get enough tupperware off to provice access and a little extra work with a heavy duty solder gun and your potential problems will be gone.

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... burned ground wire that was apparently too small to carry that amount of current. However, he said and the BMW Rep. supposedly agreed with him, that the clear plastic headlight protector that has been covering the headlight for the past two years may have contributed to the problem!! The cover has the same basic shape as the headlight and sits about 1/4 inch off the surface ...

 

I can believe it.

 

A choice of wire gauge depends on two things: the current to be carried, and how much heat is trapped in the vicinity of the wire. That's why in a building you would use a heavier gauge wire inside a metal conduit pipe than for a power cord that's well-exposed to the atmosphere.

 

I don't doubt that BMW chose a wire gauge that was okay for the stock configuration. (Maybe not with a lot of margin, but that's understandable because copper costs money and adds weight.) You changed that configuration in a way that unwittingly added some thermal insulation.

 

So your wire melted.

 

Ironic, that something you bought to protect your headlight ended up doing the opposite.

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ShovelStrokeEd

It is unlikely that the wire melted. BMW, or one of its first year engineers, chose to ground the entire light assembly through a tab with a 1/4" spade connector. 110 watts of power through a little spring clamp slid onto a piece of copper no thicker than about 0.040". Any wonder why it would get hot? The heat acts to accelerate corrosion of the connection thereby adding its own resistive heating. Bye bye copper tab.

 

You could probably solder a heavy gauge wire to the tab and then use a bullet connector, or better yet something like a Gerbings coax connector for the ground and make the problem go away.

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