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2001 SLK 320(217K Miles), 2002 E320 Special Edition(183K Miles)
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I've had to replace a license plate bulb today and I thought I'll write it up in case somebody else needs to do it as well.
First, the bulb is NOT replaced from the outside, even though an initial look may lead you to believe that the trim strip around the lights will come off if the 2 screws are removed. The silver button in the middle actually hides a bolt that has a screw inside the lid (Picture 1).

Start off by using a screwdriver to lift out the center post in the studs that holds down the trunk line to the lid. Picture 2 shows what a stud and post looks like. Once you have pulled the post out, you can remove the stud as well. remove all the studs on the bottom lip and the vertical sides (of course the vertical sides are now horizontal when you have the lid open.:cool::cool:). You don't need to remove the posts on the upper (horizontal) part of the lid. You must also remove the two in the center of the lid.

Maneuver the lining out underneath the lock and over the rubber stops and trunk light switch. You can now bend the the liner down to get at the bulbs(Picture 3). You may want to disconnect the wire to the trunk light (Picture 4) to allow you to bend the trunk liner down more.
 

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2001 SLK 320(217K Miles), 2002 E320 Special Edition(183K Miles)
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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Replacing license plate bulbs - continued

You should now be able to see the bulbs if you peer into the opening. The space was too limited for photos. Getting the bulbs out are quite a tough business, since there is not enough space to get a proper grip on the bulb - or maybe my hands/fingers are too big. I used a needle nose plier to grip the bulb on the metal part on one side and a small screwdriver to push the bulb holder jaw open on the opposite side.
I bought some long-life bulbs at Kragen (Picture 5), as it is a real PITA to get the bulb out and back again. The 6418LL is the correct size and rating. If you thought is was difficult to get the bulb out, you haven't yet tried to get the new one in.:eek::eek: The bulb fits VERY tight into the bulb jaws, presumably so that they don't pop out when you slam the lid. It took me about 20 minutes to get the first bulb in. When I had a look at the second bulb, I noticed that it wasn't seated properly, and it popped out when I tried to re-seat it (presumably last fitted at the dealer for the previous owner, since it was a replacement bulb!). So I fitted a new bulb there as well - which only took me 2 minutes! The trick is to fit the one end of the bulb into the hole on one of the jaws from BEHIND (furthest away from you). Then pull the bulb towards you against the other jaw with your finger while you push simultaneously with a small screwdriver against the jaw to open it up. It may sound complicated, but that is what worked for me.
Once you are done, reconnect any wires you may have disconnected or dislodged in your struggles. Test the lights to see if your job was good before you start to refit the liner.
To refit the liner, first start with the studs in the center of the trunk-lid. If you don't do these first, you will not be able to get these studs in after the ones on the edges have been fitted first. You may have to stretch the liner a bit to align the holes. Push the stud the whole way in, and then push the post in the hole. Now maneuver the liner over the rubber stops and trunk light switch and under the trunk lock and push in the remaining studs and posts.
All done and no more warning on the console. :D
 

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W203, W210 Moderator
E55 ///AMG
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Thanks for the great write up Kobus.. I'll include this to our DIY Section.

-JOE55
 

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1997 E420, 117,000 mls
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Hello Kobus:
Thanks for the write up it was very useful and encouraged me to change my bulbs. It seems I don't have the dexterity to fiddle around with the bulbs as you did in the extremely tight space. I dropped the bulb at least 6 times when trying to insert it and it traveled to the most inconvenient places behind the trunk liner, etc. After 30 minutes my frustration almost had the better of me when I noticed at the end of the lenses there are retaining clips which can be pushed in for the lens to come out. It sure made putting those bulbs in a breeze and I found it well worth the effort of removing the three screws on the lens trim outside the trunk.

It's nice to be rid of the annoying "Lamp Defective" signal. Thanks again. Chato
 

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2001 SLK 320(217K Miles), 2002 E320 Special Edition(183K Miles)
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Discussion Starter #5
Hello Kobus:
I noticed at the end of the lenses there are retaining clips which can be pushed in for the lens to come out. It sure made putting those bulbs in a breeze and I found it well worth the effort of removing the three screws on the lens trim outside the trunk.
Chato
Yes, that will make it a lot easier if you are willing to remove the trim strip (2 screws from outside and a nut on the inside). Of course you still have to remove the trunk lid liner to get to the nut.
 

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2014 E350 4Matic sedan, 68K miles (purchased Jan 2017)
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Is this something i can find in my local Auto Zone or Advance Auto Parts? Would rather not have to pay for shipping and wait on such a small item.
 

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1996 210.020
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Is this something i can find in my local Auto Zone or Advance Auto Parts? Would rather not have to pay for shipping and wait on such a small item.
It is likely. If not, look for a NAPA or CarQuest chain member, which tend to have a different inventory.
 

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'01-E320 & 02-ST2
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The 6418LL bulb is easy enough to find, Kragen (Checker and Schucks in other parts of the US) as well as Autozone and Pep Boys carry it, but it seems stupidly expensive ($7 a pair if I remember correctly). On the other hand if they really are long life and you never have to change it again, that's not bad.

Take care and enjoy the ride,
Greg
 

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2014 E350 4Matic sedan, 68K miles (purchased Jan 2017)
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853 Posts
Just wanted to thanks Kobus. I did this yesterday and based on the tips I received from his post and others who shared some insight, it wasn't nearly as frustrating to replace the bulbs as it would have been. I backed the bulb in from behind as noted by Kobus and used a flathead screwdriver to push the contact out a bit further to allow the bulb to drop into place. No more defective lamp warning! Thanks again!
 

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2014 E350 4Matic sedan, 68K miles (purchased Jan 2017)
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Now why'd you have to go and make me miss my poor, totaled E430 all over again?? :)
 

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1996 SL500, 2000 E430
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I'd like to thank Kobus for his informative post about changing the light bulbs over the license plate. Like many others, I "assumed" that you simply removed the 2 screws on the part over the bulbs, but that did nothing. I was thinking that having to remove the trunk lining - what were they thinking? "Why make it simple if you can make it complicated"?

I found it easier to simply remove all of the lining - and I was worried that I would have to remove the lock clasp - readjusting those can sometimes be a PITA.

Not to worry - the lining fits just a couple of mm under the clasp plate and can be wiggled out, just as the light switch (the lining is fairly flexible).

Like Kobus I found inserting the new bulbs was a PITA and that actually took longer than removing the trunk lining. The simple way to do this would be at least to grip the clips of the lens (from the inside) and push it out allowing you to then have the assembly outside the innards of the trunk.

That's the way the R129 trunk light works (although you have to remove the plastic fascia on the lip of the trunk IIRC).

But when I tried to push in the clips of the lens in the W210 nothing was moving and I thought to apply more pressure something would break.

For some reason getting the new bulbs in with both ends in the holes was a bit of a PITA.

All that being said one other thing I might add is that on the plastic coverings over the trunk hinge, once the pin is removed you can just slide that plastic cover down allowing you to wiggle out the lining on that (back) end.

The bulb is 12v 5 watt.

BTW these bulbs are one of those "tricky ones" when you get the "bulb out" indicator on the instrument panel - they are fairly hidden and few think of looking there.

The 6418LL bulb is easy enough to find, Kragen (Checker and Schucks in other parts of the US) as well as Autozone and Pep Boys carry it, but it seems stupidly expensive ($7 a pair if I remember correctly). On the other hand if they really are long life and you never have to change it again, that's not bad.

Take care and enjoy the ride,
Greg
Funny thing I got mine at the dealer and with my discount, $4 for 2.

Thanks again Kobus.
 

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W210 Moderator
99 E320
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4,974 Posts
yes, the bulb R&R for the rear plate is a bit of a rube goldberg like adventure.
I remember tuning to "Wait, wait...don't tell me." and by the time the program
was over, I had the LED bulbs in. It gave me a chance to clean the gunk around
the lock, the bulb lens and contacts, etc as well. But yeah, it is a more tedious
chore than one would expect
 

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1998 E320 base sedan @ 160kmiles
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5,767 Posts
No idea why MB designs (or designed) such cheap and nasty light assemblies.

I tried to remove the license plate light fixture by first removing the trunk lift handle (3 bolts in my case, not 2). While struggling to press one of the side locking clips, I broke it and the fixture came out easily. So I went ahead and broke the clip for the other fixture :). There is really no need for those locking clips. The molding keeps them in place, once screwed back.

To replace a license plate bulb now takes me 5 minutes. One minute to remove / reinstall the molding and the light fixture, and four minutes to actually get the bulb tips into those stupid holes on the terminals.

Few bulbs removed had molten solder at the tips of the bulb cone caps. The end-cap tips get hot due to heat released and "point contacts" at both sides of the bulb. The solder melts and you get bulbs with good filaments but bad cap connections.

Never had problems like these, in any other cars I owned.
 

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'72 350SL, '85 300D, '98 E320, '19 Subaru Outback (sold '14 GLK250)
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My wife's E320 has had the lamp malfunction message for a while. I had found it was a licence plate bulb a while ago, but today finally got at it.

I took the 3 machine screws out. Then pried a bit with a small screwdriver and was able to release the side clips. Once out it easier to see what can be improvised to remove the lamps without breaking anything. The lamp gaskets were coated with silicone, so releasing that (used tip of screwdriver) was also necessary. I will recoat them when replacing.

So no need to remove lining. Much easier if you can get at the bulbs.

PS: Sorry for poor picture!
 

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