Whether your old E46 license plate light has burned out or you’re simply looking for an upgrade, you’re might be browsing for a new one. The problem is, you can’t just use any license plate replacement light option, even if it’s designed for a BMW vehicle.
In this article, we’ll present a list of the top license plate light options for your BMW E46 and let you know the features you should keep an eye on.
LED License Plate Light Upgrade for E46 3 Series
LED License Plate Lights for 2003-2006 BMW E46 Coupe
- Compatible with late-model E46 Coupe and E46 M3
- Bright white LED diodes with CAN-bus error free decoders
- Direct replacement for factory license plate lights
- 3W LEDs are at least 3x brighter than factory lights
With the iJDMTOY model, you get an extremely bright, 18-piece xenon light device featuring LED diodes. It is 3-watts strong and is three or more times brighter than the original factory license plate light.
Not only does this model give your E46 a more modern and luxurious look, but it helps enhance your safety during nighttime driving.
iJDMTOY E46 is compatible with BMW E46 2004-2006, models 325Ci, 330Ci, and M3 two-door Coupes.
This model is a direct replacement – expect no extra screws and no extra hassle, as long as your E46 is a supported model. It features CAN-bus error-free decoders, so it is completely compatible with the aforementioned E46 model.
LED License Plate Light Kit for 1998-2003 E46 Sedan
- Compatible with 1998-2003 BMW E46 3 Series Sedan
- Powered by 18 LED diodes with a built in CAN-bus error free decoder
- 3-watt LEDs are 3 times as bright as factory ones
If you own a 1998-2003 BMW, this iJDMTOY E46 license plate light model will not only prove to be a fitting replacement, but also a huge improvement, as it’s three or more times brighter than the default light on E46 models. This is thanks to the 18-piece xenon white LED diodes that boast high illumination.
This is a 3W LED light that’s very powerful and will help evoke a modern and prestigious appearance on your E46, even though your vehicle might be two decades old.
The CAN-bus error-free decoders make sure your license plate light syncs perfectly with your BMW’s computer.
The replacement process is also very straightforward – no extra screws are required, as long as you’re installing on a compatible model (1998-2003 E46 3 Series Sedans that are pre-LCI).
E46 Sedan White LED License Plate Light Upgrade
- Compatible with 1998+ BMW E46 Sedan and Wagon
- At least twice as bright as the stock lights
- Direct plug-and-play without additional wiring or modifications
- 6000K-6500K color temperature
This model is not just a replacement for your old light but possibly a significant improvement. The GemPro light is two to three times brighter than the typical OEM LED license plate light options. It was designed for E46 four-door Sedan and five-door Touring models 323i, 328i, 325i, 330i, and 330xi.
GemPro comes with a built-in CAN-bus controller, so don’t expect any onboard computer errors. It uses the 18-SMD 3W energy conservation, which brings with it significantly lower power consumption.
No extra screws are necessary for installing this license plate light model – it’s a direct plug-and-play replacement that doesn’t require any modification. This is a modern license plate light that both works and looks great.
Compatibility & Fitment
- 1998-2006 BMW E46 3 Series Sedan & Touring/Wagon
- 1998-2006 BMW E46 3 Series Coupe
- 2000-2006 BMW E46 M3
Considerations When Looking for E46 LED License Plate Lights
In addition to vehicle compatibility, there are a few other things to keep in mind when choosing an LED license plate light for your BMW E46. Some of these include the color temperature, the power consumption, and the CAN-bus error.
Color temperature is typically represented in Kelvins (K) and refers to the range between warmer and cooler colors. Warmer colors have lower Kelvin indexes, while higher Kelvin indexes are indicative of cooler colors. At around 2700K, we have an Extra Warm White color. At 3000K, it’s Warm White. Standard White is around 3500K. Cool White is approximately 4000K, while the Daylight White (the brightest) is between 6000K and 6500K
Typically, the original license plate lighting color for BMW E46 vehicles is around 4000K, which is considered Cool White. This is fairly bright. All three mentioned license plate light products are in the range known as Daylight White (6000K to 6500K). Brightness should be a consideration, as it ensures a clearer view of the actual license plate, more on-road safety, and a modern look for your vehicle. Also, aftermarket LED license plate lights can not only be brighter, but also whiter.
Typically, aftermarket license plate light upgrades offer less power consumption than the factory options. In the case of the three products mentioned above, we’re talking about 3W. Not only is this better for the environment and your car battery, but it also means the aftermarket lights offer better bulb longevity.
The default LED license plate lights can last for years. The aftermarket options should last the entire lifetime of your vehicle which, with the E46, a resilient beast of a car, can be a long time.
A significant problem with most aftermarket upgrades for vehicles is that some third-party options might end up throwing codes, confuse your car’s computer, and create an electrical headache. The three mentioned license plate light options have built-in CAN-bus controllers, which help enhance the digital compatibility between them and your E46 model.
How to replace BMW E46 license plate lights
All three mentioned license plate light models feature a simple plug-and-play type of installation. It can be done at home, so there is no reason to pay for expert installation. However, if you aren’t confident that you can take care of it on your own, don’t be reluctant to visit a reliable professional.
Either way, here’s how to replace your license plate lights.
- Open your vehicle’s trunk. You may need to take the license plate off.
- Take a plastic trim tool and remove the lights.
- Take out the old bulbs if there are any.
- Take the replacement lights and push them in until they click in place.
- Screw the license plate back on.
Pretty straightforward, right? Make sure, though, that you use plastic tools to avoid unnecessary scratches and dents on your vehicle’s finish.
Final thoughts & recommendation
All three aftermarket license plate light options from this entry are better than the factory defaults. They are brighter, whiter, more eco-friendly, and last longer. Plus, the replacement process is straightforward and quick, so there is no reason to avoid replacing the default lights with new ones, even if the old fixtures still work.