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Thread: Fogging headlamps

  1. #1

    Fogging headlamps

    I accidentally deleted two threads I was trying to merge on the subject, so here is what we know about this problem so far.

    The lens units are meant to be sealed, but they let in moisture, and many owners have reported fogging, or a filming over of the inside of the lenses. As of yet there is no solution that we have in our combined knowledge base to deal with this issue, and BMW simply say we have to replace the units.

    Since this is both expensive and unnecessary I am hoping that someone will come up with an efficient and easy fix to the issue. I would think being able to clean out the units with some kind of lighter fluid or lens cleaner would work, but I have no idea how one would go about doing it.
    Andrew Macpherson

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  2. #2
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    foggy headlights

    Hi guys need some help with fogy head lights, does anyone has any solution besides buying new ones $1200 each at my BMW dealer. May be a different part supplier perhaps.Thank you. Samay

  3. #3
    As yet no one has taken the initative, or had the desire to find out if they can be cleaned. I don't understand why the units are sealed, it is my understanding that this has nothing to do with the bulbs, reflectors or lenses which are the key components to projecting light. I think it has more to do with inerrt gas in a very hot/cold environment, but I'm not sure. Once someone figures out the what, why and how of the sealing we can design a work around, then 'open the egg' to clean the lenses.
    Andrew Macpherson

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  4. #4
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    As Andrew points out, as of yet we have no alternative solution to replacing with parts from BMW. Real OEM shows cost of each light module at ~$970. If you choose to replace, don't forget to ask for the BMWCCA 10% parts discount.

    I certainly hope the $1,200 quote included labor, as the price is well over the suggested price. Even with labor, it may be a little high, depending on taxes, etc.
    thegunguy

  5. #5
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    hi and thanks for the post i will order new set tomorrow.

  6. #6
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    Assuming the new lenses were ordered, and installed, you now have two spare lenses. Where do you drill the hole to pour in the cleaning solvent, or de-scaling agent that will allow the fluid to be drained off and the hole plugged, and what solvent to use?

  7. #7
    Z8 Millennial Monster hayvenhurstkid's Avatar
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    Smile Foggy headlights

    I just bought my silver with red 2001 Z8 that has less than 4,000 miles on the car. It is in perfect condition except for the film on the inside of both headlight units. Buying new ones to me is only a temporary fix as it is sure to happen again. I agree with McFly that I cannot understand why the unit needs to be sealed. I took the car yesterday to the shop I use for body and paint, and my guy said if he had a used unit, he would gladly see if there is some way to disassemble it for cleaning and the reassemble it and test it for any water leakage, ect. I think it is worth a try before coughing up all that money for new units. If someone has a used unit they are willing to have him experiment on, he just may come up with a solution to this problem.

  8. #8
    I am always keeping an eye on EBay for exactly that reason. Do you live on Hayvenhurst, I'm just round the corner!
    Andrew Macpherson

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  9. #9
    Should we ask Bill Stuart to check with BMW about this? When the dealerships pulled these headlight units off our cars to replace them, they likely will have sent them back to Deutschland for quality control - especially with so many of them fogging up. There may be some bulletin about the cause.
    It sure would be great to communicate via a side board on BMWZ8.US with internal BMW - not likely to happen with perceived liability. Maybe one day.

  10. #10
    Z8 Millennial Monster hayvenhurstkid's Avatar
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    Smile Foggy lites

    When I had my performance package put in earlier this week, I specifically spoke with both the service advisor, Jose, and the mechanic, Clement, and both of them said it just happens on these cars and either learn to live with it or buy new units. Fortunately, being in the car business, I get 25% off all BMW parts, but I still do not feel like spending somewhere north of $1,500 plus labor for something that is just going to happen again. If someone does replace them, I highly doubt they will be sent back to Germany to be studied. BMW may quietly try and solve this problem, but for reasons that need not be stated, they will never admit to a design flaw. Even my late father's 65 Jaguar XKE convertible had removable covers, in this case glass, so they could be peroidically cleaned.
    P.S. If anyone does replace their units, for the good of all owners, either send me a unit so I can take it to my guy to see if there is a way to fix this or try and do it yourself. I am happy to pay my guy to try and come up with a solution to this problem. Thanks.

  11. #11
    I'm affraid that if past performance is any indication of future dealings, BMW NA will only be prepared to help folks on a one by one basis, and offer no explanations, just 'good grace' replacements.

    I did just speak to J?rgen at the Z8 Club about this, and he said that not one car in Europe has had this issue. This means that there is one of two causes;
    1.) The US units are made differently, or by a different supplier.
    2.) Since the US Z8's were air-cargoed in, maybe it is a result of the sealed unit springing a leak in the hold of the 747 at 35,000 ft. Usually the hold of a cargo plane is only pressurized to the equivilant of 20,000 ft. That pressure differential may be enough to force a leak in sealed units.

    Anyhow J?rgen said he would ask BMW AG about it, and get back to us.
     
    Andrew Macpherson

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  12. #12
    Z8 Millennial Monster hayvenhurstkid's Avatar
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    Angry Foggy lites

    That makes perfect sense. If not pressurized to the correct altitude, it may have damaged the seal on the lights or maybe the US cars had a different type light. In either case, you would think that BMW would do something on a goodwill basis, even if the maybe only paid half the cost. My car certainly has never been left outdoors or in inclement weather or any other excuse they may come up with as to why this is happening. I have seen other cars with plastic lights " yellow " but that is because of prolonged exposure to sunlight and bad weather. My car, bought from the original owner with under 4,000 miles surely would be a good test car to approach BMW with to see if they would be willing to do anything. I think original owners stand a better chance with them than subsequent owners, but there is definately something wrong with them that would cause this to happen. Funny thing is, when I went to look at the car pre purchase, it was indoors and I did not notice it. Once the car arrived here by enclosed transported two weeks ago, I noticed it immediately once the car was outside.

  13. #13
    It seems to be pretty common based on cars I've seen and responses on this and the two threads I accidently deleted. My '02 car had the issue after 4 years and just 3,000 miles. It has spent most of that time sitting in a sealed bubble in my garage, so it was nothing to do with weather, exposure or use.

    Happily for me Bill Stuart at NA did arrange for a set of new lamps for me, as I bought that car new, but in all honesty I doubt that BMW will gift you with a fresh set of lamps unless you are a frequent buyer of new cars from them.

    Oddly enough my other two Z8's didn't really show any signs of the issue, my first EU spec Z8, and my 50,000 mile '01 US spec 'beater' were both 'haze free'.
    Andrew Macpherson

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  14. #14
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    Foggy Headlights

    My 8 is a US car but took delivery in Germany and it came to the US via ship and I have the haze in each headlamp.
    Pandaman

  15. #15
    Well I guess that removes the plane from the equation, so I guess its a case of buying in from a subcontractor who don't do proper quality control. Now to try to figure out why this is something that only afects the US spec cars?
    Andrew Macpherson

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  16. #16
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    Man, I'm must not be doing it right. What kind of steamy action are you guys getting into fog up your lights like that?

    I guess I need to take the wife "parking".
    thegunguy

  17. #17
    Z8 Millennial Monster hayvenhurstkid's Avatar
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    Foggy lites

    I have bought many new BMW's over the years, and, as a licensed broker of new cars, I sell aroud 50 to 60 new BMW's a year for them. I guess I will take up the issue with my fleet guy and see if I can get some satisfaction that way. Still want to get my hands on a used unit to try and see if it can be taken apart. Thanks again for all of the input on the issue.

  18. #18
    Andrew,
    Any chance that Dana might have held onto any of the old units somewhere up in Peter Pan's "attic"?
    Ted

  19. #19
    Freedom Ouray's Avatar
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    Just curious as to how foggy the headlamps are. Is it similar to a double paned window whose seal has gone bad? Can someone post a picture of what they have experienced with the headlamps?

  20. #20
    Z8 Millennial Monster hayvenhurstkid's Avatar
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    Smile Foggy lites

    Mine are pretty bad, but I don't think they would show up in a photo. Your description of the double paned window is very accurate. In my garage, they look clear unless you turn the garage light on. With the light on, there is a very visible film on the inside, especially on the part of the unit where the hood and fender meet. It is very noticeable when the sun hits it in just the right way. Let's get a used unit from somewhere, maybe even BMW, and I will go to work on seeing if it can be taken apart to be cleaned and then, most importantly, put back together without affecting the integrity of the unit.

  21. #21
    Z8 Millennial Monster hayvenhurstkid's Avatar
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    Smile Foggy lites

    So, good news and bad news. The bad news is I am turning 50 on the third of August. Took some of the sting out of that one by buying the Z8 three weeks ago. Now the good news. Family and friends keep asking me what I want for my birthday and I informed all of them today that I want new headlight units for the Z8. So, I am going to contact my BMW mechanic, George, at Bimmers Clinic in Reseda, Ca. to first remove a unit and try and take it apart to clean it. I will have and answer in the next few weeks if that is possible. If the unit gets destroyed trying, I will put the new ones in. Also, not that anyone is looking, but I have a complete set of Bridgestone Potenza run flats I took off the car whith 3,650 miles on them. They are in perfect condition, so maybe if needed for a lease return ect, I would sell them cheap.
    P.S. If any of your are looking for a remarkably good mechanic in L.A, I highly reccommend Bimmers Clinic. It is as clean as a hospital operating room, maybe cleaner. His phone number is 818 342 8048. Tell him Marty sent you.

  22. #22
    Z8 Addict Z8doc's Avatar
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    Talking First of all, welcome to the Z8 Family!

    Quote Originally Posted by hayvenhurstkid View Post
    to first remove a unit and try and take it apart to clean it. I will have and answer in the next few weeks if that is possible. If the unit gets destroyed trying, I will put the new ones in.
    Second, the units are sealed and you will destroy them trying to take them apart. Third, this is an ongoing problem. I had mine replaced just before the warranty expired at 48 months. I would contact Bill Stuart at BMWNA (201)263-8210 and see if you can get some help with at least a discount on the parts, since this is a known problem for the Z8 and several have been replaced under warranty.

    I would NOT mess with an independent Bimmer mechanic just yet and if your mechanic destoys them there goes any chance for getting them covered. Take it to your BMW Service Center and enlist their help in getting it covered by warranty, even though your a 2nd owner. BMW has been very good in my book about doing things like that and I suspect that they would at least help offset the cost. Considering your sales record -- I can't imagine them not covering it.

    Again -- welcome and happy Z8ing!
    Last edited by Z8doc; July 15th 2007 at 19:13.
    Best Regards,

    Jeff
    61995 Silver /// Rot - Original Owner
    Z8 Club of Germany e.V. #102

  23. #23
    Again -- welcome and happy Z8ing!
    and happy upcoming birthday too!!!
    Andrew Macpherson

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  24. #24
    Z8 Millennial Monster hayvenhurstkid's Avatar
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    Smile Foggy lites

    Thanks to Jeff and Andrew for all of their help and suggestions. I just got off the phone with Bill Stuart. He was extremely nice and he asked me to send him an email so he can get going on seeing if he can get my headlamp units replaced at no cost. I should have an answer in the not too distant future. He also said he is going to try and get me " The Book " which is the only item my car is missing. Good on BMW for having someone like Bill willing to go to bat for us and do the right thing!

  25. #25
    Z8 Addict Z8doc's Avatar
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    Great! Hope it all works out for the best -- I have found Bill to be excellent in these matters.
    Best Regards,

    Jeff
    61995 Silver /// Rot - Original Owner
    Z8 Club of Germany e.V. #102

  26. #26
    Z8 Millennial Monster hayvenhurstkid's Avatar
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    Smile

    Bill Stuart is amazing! He just called me to inform me that BMW is goimg to replace the foggy headlights on my Z8. The parts will be paid for by BMW, all I have to pay for is the installation at warranty labor rates. What was going to be around a $2,500 bill is now going to be around $250. He really went to bat for me considering I just bought the car a month ago and it is two and a half years out of warranty. Very happy.

  27. #27
    Team Z8 KenZ8's Avatar
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    Welcome to Z8 world. I have had nothing but pleasant surprises and experiences, and have met the greatest people since owning my Z8 and finding this site.

  28. #28
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    Great news!

    While Bill is certainly a tremendous ally, don't forget that it is ultimately BMW supporting the car. So, big thanks to BMW to continue value the Z8 and its owner group.
    thegunguy

  29. #29
    Z8 Millennial Monster hayvenhurstkid's Avatar
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    Smile

    Agreed. BMW is to be commended for standing behind the Z8. It truly was and still is a "Halo" car for them, and it helps all of us when they give it the type of support they have to keep everyone happy.
    Last edited by hayvenhurstkid; July 25th 2007 at 00:47. Reason: grammar correction

  30. #30
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    Glad it's been a good experience for you...

    Guess it's just me, but the unpleasantness of so many miles driven and so many dealerships visited to make "the fix" right in my car has left me less then thrilled with BMWNA. Lost keys, waiting over an hour for my car at two different dealerships, car not ready when I'm told it is, car brought to me with empty can of soda and fuses on the floor, ect. The Z8 and I have only recently become friends again. Haven't even called Bill back...still a little from so much waisted time.

  31. #31
    Z8 Millennial Monster hayvenhurstkid's Avatar
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    Smile

    Sorry you have had so many problems. Was it your car that Crevier BMW improperly installed the PP in? That would have put me over the edge. If it was your car, how did they resolve the fact that the bar was put in too high? Glad to see that at least you have made up with your car and I hope that's it for problems.

  32. #32
    Z8 Addict Z8doc's Avatar
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    Glad it all worked out for you as anticipated....

    Ron, what a bum deal. I hate it when that stuff happens. However, I can not say that my overall Z8 experience has been that way. The dealership here in Tulsa, (parent is Group One Auto who owns dealerships of all brands all over the USA including a MB dealership in Beverly Hills I believe) has been great and treated me and my Z8 wonderfully.

    Now my experience with another brand of auto that my daughter has is just the opposite (Mitsubishi) and I will never buy another -- ever. Long story and too much to boar you all with. ( Hmmm, My daughter wants a 1 year old M3 convertible -- maybe when she graduates college, plus starting to think dad knows a thing or two about cars.... priceless!
    Best Regards,

    Jeff
    61995 Silver /// Rot - Original Owner
    Z8 Club of Germany e.V. #102

  33. #33
    Z8 Millennial Monster hayvenhurstkid's Avatar
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    Question

    Well, my car goes in today to Century West BMW in Universal City to have the light units replaced. As I stated before, I am only responsible for the installation labor at warranty rates, which is about $40 an hour less. Not sure how many hours labor is required, but I guess I should have resolved this issue before having the PP installed three weeks ago. Kinda hate paying to remove and replace the lights again since they came out during the installation of the PP, but I guess I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth since the parts are being covered by BMW with the car two and a half years out of warranty and I am the second owner of the car. I am going to bring up to the service advisor that BMW should take a close look at my lighting units and try and figure out why they are fogging up. I guess I don't want to go through this again a few years down the road. I wish BMW would let me take one of the units coming out of the car to a guy I think could come up with either an answer or a fix to this problem.
    Last edited by hayvenhurstkid; July 30th 2007 at 15:34. Reason: Spelling correction

  34. #34
    Z8 Millennial Monster hayvenhurstkid's Avatar
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    Smile

    I got the car back today and the new lights look great. Now lets hope they stay that way. Just curious to hear from those who had their original lights replaced as to how they fit when the new ones were put in. The gap between the right light and the engine hood is a bit larger than the gap between the left one. The mechanic at the dealer told me they only slide into place one way and there are no real adjustments that can be made, so I am thinking that maybe each unit is slightly different than the next one. Any thoughts? Thanks

  35. #35
    Z8 Addict Z8doc's Avatar
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    Yes, I have the same problem....

    Quote Originally Posted by hayvenhurstkid View Post
    The gap between the right light and the engine hood is a bit larger than the gap between the left one. The mechanic at the dealer told me they only slide into place one way and there are no real adjustments that can be made, so I am thinking that maybe each unit is slightly different than the next one. Any thoughts? Thanks
    My driver's side gap around the light after replacement also is wider than it used to be. My dealer told me the same thing that it is not adjustable. I then had the PP installed after the lights and watched the process and they do only go in one way and are not adjustable. I will say that if something got caught on the rear post or under the light on the bottom (like shop debris or dirt), then it might not sit exactly flush and change the gaps, which was the case with mine. Hope that helps but glad to hear they covered the parts.
    Best Regards,

    Jeff
    61995 Silver /// Rot - Original Owner
    Z8 Club of Germany e.V. #102

  36. #36
    Sport Button On - DSC Off Juergen Wunderlich's Avatar
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    Adjusting the (fogging) headlights...

    Meanwhile we did a lot of research on the (fogging) head light units and now I know that this is not a problem limited to the US market. I found several Z8 owners here in Europe with the same issue. BMW technicians told me that the process of producing these headlight units was very complicated and a lot of units had this issue even on the assembly line.

    BTW the complete headlight units are adjustable in each direction! To get the head lights in a proper position corresponding with the hood, the front fenders and the whole front part was one of the most complicated tasks to be accomplished during assembly. The headlights are mounted on a ground plate and a proper adjustment is only possible by loosening the ground plate.

    Normally BMW mechanics try to adjust the headlight units only by loosening the unit from the ground plate. In my experience a lot of practice with Z8 headlight units is necessary to adjust them properly! One headlight took me 6 hours for an acceptable result for example.
    Best Regards,

    Jürgen

  37. #37
    Z8 Millennial Monster hayvenhurstkid's Avatar
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    Smile

    Thank you Juergen. I know that when these cars were built, the headlights did take alot of time to make them fit properly. I have notified the dealer and forwarded to them your suggestions on how to make it fit right and I am going to take the car back on Monday to get them to hopefully get it right once and for all.

  38. #38
    Sport Button On - DSC Off FWK-Z8's Avatar
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    When I had the PP installed in my Z8, I noticed I could see the inner and rear edge sitting just above the surface of my hood. I called Peter Pan and took the car back to them, and they were able to adjust the right light so it was again perfectly flush. Others from the LA area have trekked up to San Mateo to have thier cars worked on and have been satisfied with the results.

  39. #39
    I have found that Dana Caldwell at Peter Pan has made it his business to know as much as possible about our cars, and I think it is well worth the 800 mile round trip drive to get the job done right. They replaced my headlights earlier this year, and they seem perfect to me.

    It is also handy that Peter Pan is near Lauguna, Infineon, Napa etc, so I usually manage to make the trip an excuse for some quality time in beautiful Northern California.
    Andrew Macpherson

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  40. #40
    Z8 Addict Z8doc's Avatar
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    That is excellent news -- Thank you Juergen once again!!!! Mr. Wonderful to the rescue!

    Macfly is right and a mechanic who has been certified by BMW on the Z8 and one who has an interest is worth the trip. Unfortunately, my Z8 guy retired this year. There is one guy left at my Service center who has the interest but not undergone the training and plans to go sometime this year.

    I will see what I can get done too as mine are not quite right since replacement.
    Best Regards,

    Jeff
    61995 Silver /// Rot - Original Owner
    Z8 Club of Germany e.V. #102

  41. #41
    Z8 Millennial Monster hayvenhurstkid's Avatar
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    Smile Mission Accomplished

    I just got my car back from the dealer and the lights now fit perfectly. They did have to loosen the plates under the units themselves to adjust them properly. This forum enabled me to get them right because the mechanics did not know that such an adjustment could be made. Thanks again to Juergen for the tip.
    P.S. It took around three hours to do the job which was covered again by BMW.

  42. #42
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    The knowledge of the Club comes through again!

    Please support the Z8 Club by becoming a member - see link to the left.
    thegunguy

  43. #43
    Team Z8 tomfakes's Avatar
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    What about the exchange rates?

    Andrew's Z8 club post mentions the fees in US $. Are these still current for joining the club?


  44. #44
    Thanks for pointing that out - I changed the original post to reflect the EU charges.
    If you go to the Membership Form page on the club's site you'll see that the prices are all in Euros, so just calculate it at today's exchange rate - here.

    For a while the club were doing credit card payments in US$ to a US bank, but it ended up being much too complicated with double taxation laws etc, etc, so now everything is run from Europe in Euros.
    Andrew Macpherson

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  45. #45
    Team Z8 tomfakes's Avatar
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    There is mention of PayPal too. Is this still available?

  46. #46
    Yes indeed, but because of their charges you have to add an extra $30 to the transfer to Europe. It is actually the way I pay my dues because it is one click, and much easier than a trip to the bank who never seem to fathom the supposed simplicity of sending money to Europe!
    Andrew Macpherson

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  47. #47
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by macfly View Post
    Yes indeed, but because of their charges you have to add an extra $30 to the transfer to Europe. It is actually the way I pay my dues because it is one click, and much easier than a trip to the bank who never seem to fathom the supposed simplicity of sending money to Europe!
    +1
    thegunguy

  48. #48
    Z8 Madness
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    PP Installed & Headlights Replaced

    If your headlights are heavily fogged you might consider having them replaced at the same time as installing of the Performance Package. Since the PP installation requires the removal of the headlights, you might be able to avoid the labor cost of having to replace the headlights only. I would also strongly recommend that you contact your BMW service center as well as BMW NA and kindly ask for assistant/discounts on the parts cost. At the end, the decision will be made on a number of factors, including original ownership, year/milage of the car, your relationship with the service center, and so on. In my case, I walked away very happy with the Irvine BMW and BMW NAs service and handling of the issue(s).
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