MINI Cooper R50/R53 parking light replacement

What should be a relatively easy job of replacing parking lights in a car…actually is. Easy, that is, easy if you have hands as small as a child’s but possessing the strength of a Russian bear. The parking lights on an R50/R53 MINI (2002-2006 model years) are not difficult to get at or see, just to remove. But a few simple tricks will make the job slightly less painful. I said slightly.

First things first. The front parking lights are located along the outer edges of the bumper. Pop the hood (or bonnet for our UK friends) and you’ll see two rounded square cut-outs just above the turn signals/parking lights. There are two bits of wire coming into the light housing. The inner most wires connect to a grey colored housing, the outer most wires connect to a smaller and more recessed black plastic housing. The inner wires connect to the turn signal lights. These are fairly easy to pop off. Press down on the tabs at the back of the plug and pull straight out. Ha! You thought the light bulbs would be attached, didn’t you? Well, they’re not. Give the grey housing a twist to the right about 90 degrees and the housing will pop off and reveal an orange turn signal bulb. If you’re turn signal bulb needs replacing, do it now (you’ll need a Sylvania 7507 LL amber bulb) but leave the wire disconnected so you can get at the more pesky parking light bulb.  Here’s a photo of what you’ll be looking at:

Turn signal and parking light connections and housings

Now, just like with the turn signal wire plug, press on the tab on the rear of the plug and pull straight out to disconnect the parking light wire (your plug may be upside down and the tab may be facing the ground.)

Parking light wire plug disconnected

Here is where it gets tricky. If you are lucky, have small hands and incredibly strong fingers you’ll be able to grasp the black housing and twist to the right 90 degrees, as with the turn signal housing, and pull out the bulb holder. But, most likely, your holder will be stuck in place and your hands will be too big to get a good grip.  So, what worked for me was spraying just a touch of WD-40 around the edge of the connector where it meets the housing (you can see the damp area in the first photo above.)  Give the insert a bit of a wiggle to allow the WD-40, or whatever lubricant you choose, to work in.  Let it sit for a few minutes.  Then, move your hand into the best position to grasp the bulb holder and twist to the right 90 degrees.  If you’re lucky, it will move.  If you aren’t lucky, use a pair of long needle nose pliers or channel lock pliers and GENTLY grasp the bulb holder and twist slightly but just enough to move it.  Remove the rest of the way with your hand.  Once it’s loose, this is what you’ll be looking at:

Parking bulb holder (with bulb removed)

Pop the bulb out and replace with a fresh one.  The bulb you’ll need to use is a Sylvania 2825 LL.  Be sure to use rubber gloves to insert the new bulb as to not get oil (or WD-40) on the new bulb.  Once it heats up, any oil on the surface of the bulb can cause premature failure.  Now, replace the housing.  Here are two tricks 1)  I found that placing the bulb in between my index and middle finger was the easiest way to guide the bulb into place.  2)  Place the holder such that the locking tab on the outer end is facing to the right.  That way when you twist it to the left to install it, the locking tab will be facing up which makes it easier to replace the wire plug and remove it in the future.  (As a side note, I doubt that you’ll have to replace these bulbs more than twice during the life of the car, barring any accidents, sabotage, etc.  I’ve had my car since 2006 and just now, almost 7 years later, have had to replace the bulbs.  Similarly, my Sylvania head lights also lasted almost 7 years…and burned out 1 week apart from one another.  Good job, Sylvania lighting engineers.)

After you’re all reconnected flip on your parking lights to make sure everything works!  Good luck!  Also, it doesn’t hurt to have one of these around while you’re working:

Simpler Times Lager (available at Trader Joe’s for $3.99 per six pack), my favorite cheap beer.


15 thoughts on “MINI Cooper R50/R53 parking light replacement”

  1. Thanks for the info! Did everything as suggested and it worked like a charm. The only thing was I didn’t want to break the bulb holder by forcing it back to 90 degrees. But it is tight enough that it won’t move now . Thanks again 🙂

  2. Thank you so much! I am so grateful for you taking the time to walk through this process, what looked impossible turned into a wonderfully easy job.

    I would happily buy you a pint of Simpler Times if you were closer 🙂

  3. great help, only comment was my bulb housing rotated counterclockwise to remove it, not to the right as your directions stated. Thanks for the tips.

  4. Thank you Thank you. I have been wanting to tackle this light replacement for several years. It was easy to avoid. I was pleased when i opened the hood and saw everything right there, almost in the open. My hands are the size of a russian bear but i probably have the strength of a child. I looked on the internet and this was the first site i tried. I reviewed everthing and then tackled the job. I walked into the house 15 minutes later (i used silicone spray to lubricate) and said to my wife “if i could send him a six pack of his favorite beer i would in a heartbeat”. A big thanks.

    I struggled re-installing in the reverse sequence so i put the two pieces together and just put in and twisted.


  5. You are the best! I looked everywhere for directions to change the parking lights but nothing worked until I read yours. You have saved my sanity and my Mini (my next option was the liberal use of a hammer 🙂 )

  6. I was getting quite frustrated yesterday as I was slicing my knuckles trying to get this tiny connector free, and as my eyesight ain’t what it used to be, I could not see the release tab – so I gave up in frustration. With your help, now I am ready to get at it when I get home tonight. As per all of the above, thank you very much for this post ! and Cheers.

  7. Brad,

    thank you SO MUCH for this how to. I had been struggling with switching out a bulb on an R52 for months.

    your pictures, and the WD40 trick was what made it actually work for me.

    one thing I did do different is that I couldn’t get my hand into the space properly, so it occurred to me that I could just pull the indicator bulb out as well!

    thanks again.

  8. Thanks so much! The needle nose pliers did the trick! I didn’t even realize there were two seperate lights for the turn signal and parking. Had to change both. Also a head light bulb. Now that was fun…not! Hey a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do. Thanks for the helpful info!

  9. Thanks! – I left the wire attached and twisted the whole socket – came out clean. Also, this was the only place I could find the replacement bulb #.

  10. Thank you! No YouTube videos on this except for changing out the entire housing. Got the bulb changed as you described on my R52. Yes, turning the bulb housing was a SOB…and my hands are not that tiny!

  11. Hi, my left round blinker light was out and the mechanic told me it was “labor intensive” and charged me 45.00 dollars for a replacement . The bulb was 2.99. I’m feeling like he was full of shit. What do you guys think?

  12. Read this article before I even looked at my car to replace sidelight bulb. Opened bonnet, removed indicator housing, then swapped sidelight bulb. All done in less than 5 minutes. Scraped back of my hands though. Article helped with info on rotating housings to pull out.

  13. Awesome! Glad it helped a bit. And yeah, it’s a tight fit for your meat hooks. I scrape my hands up on it too. The good thing is I’ve only had to do this once since 2006!



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