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153624 08-28-2013 04:48 PM

1993 E36 DRL Delete DIY
I don't like the ugly running lights that are mandatory on Canadian cars. Thus, I've decided to disable them.

Early E36 Canadian cars come with parking lights and low beams hardwired to always be on. In later cars, which used the high beams at a low intensity, the procedure is simple. For earlier ones, the procedure varies year to year. This is the procedure I used for my car, which is a 1993 320i with a build date of 11/1992.

Our lights work like this:
Position 0: Park lights, low beam
Position 1: Park lights, fog lights, low beams, instrument cluster
Position 2: Park lights, fog lights, low beams, high beams (optional), instrument cluster

I wished to properly delete my DRLs so that my car functions like an American or European car. The end result was lights that work like this:
Position 0: Nothing
Position 1: Park lights, fog lights, instrument cluster
Position 2: Park lights, fog lights, low beams, high beams (optional), instrument cluster

Disconnect the battery.

Remove the lower dash under the steering wheel. In my car, it was held on by two screws. However, in most cars, it is held on by 3 screws.

Attached to the dash trim piece we've just removed are two connectors that I believe control the open door chime. Disconnect them. If you don't like the chime, leave them disconnected when you're done.

Take it out of the car and toss it somewhere.

First, parking lights must be disabled in position 0. To do this, fish out something called the “daytime running lights coding diode” from behind the massive bundle of wires under the steering wheel.
Above: DRL Coding Diode

There will be four wires coming out of the diode. One is grey and black, two are yellow with green stripes, and another is green with yellow stripes. Cut the wire that is mostly green with small yellow stripes. Be sure to leave enough wire on the diode side so that the wire can be attached elsewhere. Be sure to hold on to both ends of the wire as one of them tried to escape back into the bundle. For now, tape it somewhere.
Above: Green wire with yellow stripes. Cut it.

Just above where the hood latch is located are a bunch of wires entering the splice panel. We are interested in a set of three green and red wires entering the panel. One of these wires is the wire that causes the low beams to stay on. The three wires are held together with a triple spade connector housed in a small plastic box. This box, pictured below, simply slides out of the splice panel when you pinch both top tabs at the same time.
Above: Plastic connector removed from splice box.

Great! You should now have the triple spade connector exposed and dangling about. The important wire here that you need to take off is the one that controls the low beams (running them all the time). Unfortunately, there is no visual way to distinguish this wire from the others.
Above: Exposed connector out of splice box with correct wire removed.

Study this picture carefully and take off the wire that I did. Bend this wire off to the side so that it does not short on the other two. Reconnect the battery on your car and turn your key to the run position (the one right before the starter engages). Cycle your headlight selector switch between position 0, 1, and 2. One of three things will have happened:

• You will have neither low beams nor high beams
• You will have low beams, but no high beams
• You will have high beams, but no low beams

If you have no low beams in any position but are still able to use high beams then you have found the correct wire. Leave it disconnected. If you were not so lucky, reconnect the wire you disconnected and repeat with the other two wires to find the correct one.

Disconnect the battery.

In the above picture the large black and white round connector that plugs into the headlight selector switch is visible. The headlight selector switch assembly (including the vent right above it) can be popped out from the upper dash by removing the screw holding it in from the bottom. Wiggle it about until it comes out. The circular connector will now be visible plugged in to the back of the selector switch. Spin the black bit until it comes off. Feed only the connector back through the hole where it came from so that it dangles down with the rest of your wires. At this point, your wiring should look almost exactly like the above picture. The only exception is that you should already have cut the green and yellow wire (right beside the tip of the screwdriver) on the daytime running lights coding diode.
Above: Headlight power wire circled. Your new wire will be attached to it.

Cut yourself a nice long piece of insulated wire. It must be able to reach from the circled connector up to the back of the headlight selector switch (once reinstalled).

If you happen to have a male spade connector which fits properly into the connector circled then attach it to one end of your new length of wire. I did not have a properly sized male spade so I cut off the female end of the circled red and green wire and attached a male bullet connector to it. On my new length of wire, which is black, I attached a female bullet connector. Do not crimp the connector on your new wire yet. Run the short length of the green and yellow wire exiting the DRL diode that we cut earlier and add it in to the connector on your new wire. To reiterate, you want the wire that is exiting the diode, not the one that leads to it. You may now crimp.

Technical stuff: the green and yellow wire is connected (through the black wire) to the yellow wire, which is powered exclusively in position 2. This adds parking lights and instrument lights in position 2, so that it functions as expected. Since parking lights and instrument lights are powered in position 1 already, we only need to add functionality for position 2.

If you are trying to follow along with the electrical troubleshooting manual, you may be wondering why it was necessary to add this second wire into the connector. For Canadian cars that have been hardwired for DRLs both parking lights as well as low beams are on in all headlight positions. This adds a level of redundancy to parking lights: normally, without DRLs, parking lights should be on in position 1 and 2. The ETM shows this: parking lights are (redundantly) triggered in position 1 and 2. However, on my car, the ETM was incorrect. Parking lights and instrument lights (which are both run together) were not triggered in position 2, only in position 1. My car is a Canadian 1993 320i with a build date of 11/1992. I searched both the 1992 and 1994 ETM and they also seemed to show that the parking lights should be triggered in positions 1 and 2. To get around this, it was necessary to wire this in with the others so that it would also receive power in position 2.

Now find the yellow wire which exits the headlight selector switch in pin 4. Cut it a few inches away from the connector. Attach a female connector on the end exiting the switch. Crimp it. Attach a male connector on the other end. Add the free end of the new wire that you have run so that both are making a connection in the male connector. Crimp them together.
Above: Yellow wire from headlight selector switch attached to black (added) wire.

At this stage, a connector has been installed with the green and red wire (which powered the low beams) from the splice box crimped to the green and yellow wire exiting the diode. A wire is run from this point to the yellow wire exiting the headlight selector switch. The new wire is crimped into a connector with one end of the yellow wire. A connector is installed on the other end of the yellow wire.

Reconnect the headlight switch selector connector to the switch. Ensure that no exposed wires are unintentionally shorting on each other and reconnect your battery. Test that your lights now operate like this:
Position 0: Nothing
Position 1: Park lights, fog lights, instrument cluster
Position 2: Park lights, fog lights, low beams, high beams (optional), instrument cluster

If this is the case, fantastic! Give yourself a pat on the back. You’re almost done.

Properly insulate all exposed wires. Use heatshrink and a heat gun.

Ensure that the exposed end of the green and yellow wire on the DRL diode that was cut earlier (but not connected elsewhere) is taped off with electrical tape. The green and red wires that were taken out of the splice box should be returned to their housing and inserted back into the splice box.

Toss all the dangling wires that could get in the way of the lower dash reinstallation out of the way and slide your dash back in. Reattach all screws that were removed: dash securing screws, and the screw holding the headlight selector switch in.

Done. Now that you’ve made your sweet mods, you can do things like this without your ugly low beams getting in the way:

Well, not quite. I set my lights to park which enables my fogs (which I have tapped the angel eyes into) and parking lights. Since, for the sake of the picture, I didn’t like the ugly lit corners, I pulled fuse 33 and 37 to kill them temporarily.

I got the basic idea for this from Dr. Flyview’s post and from Dirty Sixer’s post, which is explained more clearly later in that thread. From there I hunted through the ETM. If anyone is interested, section 6000 is the mainly relevant area of the ETM. Finally, I consulted with my father who is an electrical engineer for help deciphering the ETM. Without his help I would have been at a complete loss on how to do this.

Hope this helps- if for some reason I can't be reached here you could try sending a message to my BFC account.

Acs 11-24-2017 05:04 PM


There was in fact a connector in the left splice panel under the steering wheel! Of course it was just tucked away on the farthest, most left side of it.

I was able to finish this DIY and everything works beautifully, huge thanks!

This should be stickied right under Dr. Flyview's post *th-up*

I realize this is an older post but I'm hoping the original poster or someone can shed some light on a problem I ran into. I decided to try this today on my 1993 318is (build date October 92).

I have found the daytime running lights coding diode with the 4 wires, but that's as far as I got.. the splice panel doesn't have the 3 green w/red stripe wires going into it.

I did find 3 green w/red wires in the bundle, one of which is going up to the headlight switch and the rest I can't trace just yet..
Could there be no splice for these 3? Where are these supposed to coming from/going to?

I really would like to button this up soon than later.

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