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:
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.)
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:
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: