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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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Old 06-17-2019, 03:03 AM
mattmannz mattmannz is offline
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Location: Kapiti New Zealand
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Mein Auto: 2003 520i
Sunroof woes

Recently acquired 2001 525. Sunroof was sticky when opened once and now is partially up at the rear and not fully closed at the front.

Is a glass roof. Pressing the switch in any direction results in some load going against the roof panel but no movement. I removed the roof switch panel and tried to manually actuate the assembly via a hex key into the drive. Same thing. Roof panel is stuck.

Can't remove the accordian side panels as the roof is mostly down. Can't access the screws to remove the glass panel. I suspect the way forward is to remove the headlining and remove the cassette.

Anyone have a less obtrusive method of sorting this. Currently parked outside and about to lose weather tightness lol.

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Old 06-17-2019, 12:24 PM
scyz scyz is offline
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I had the same problem -- my E39 sunroof, towards the front of the car, would not close fully and the rear of the glass was sunken into the car.

the mechanism was completely broken off the arms at this point -- I had no tilt and it would not move by any button presses, complete resistance. Try to get it at "closed" as possible, then start lifting from inside-up, and towards the front.

I suggest using a towel or something soft to help plop up the glass between the sunshade panel as you push the glass towards the front of the car, then start lifting the glass from the rear of the roof. Then you should be able to remove the accordion bellows and screws. patience...

Make sure the wind deflectors are down / not blocking the movement of the glass.
In the end I had to take out the headliner + cassette to fix the sunroof mechanisms completely, but I don't think that step is possible unless you remove the glass first.

now I use the tilt function all day!
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Old 06-17-2019, 02:51 PM
monkeyman_69 monkeyman_69 is offline
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I've posted about sunroofs on this forum previously, so this is a shorter version.
Assuming the control arms (rails) are broken (very common) or jammed (less common), you can and should be able to fix it w/o removing the headliner and cassette.
The most common DIY says to put the glass at full tilt to remove the gaiters (accordion panels), but I don't think that's necessary. You do need some tilt so you can pull only on the top tho. From inside the car remove the top portion of the gaiter (closest to glass), not the headliner side (bottom). That'll expose 1 screw forward and 2 rearward (might be 2 then 1). At this point you might get a Torx in there to release them.
If you can't jog the motor to tilt the glass higher, try removing the motor. It not turning holds the cables in position, which prevents the arms from moving and the glass tilting. Simply removing the motor doesn't mean the glass will lift right out, the physics don't work that way. But w/ the motor gone, you might be able, with patience, to get the cables to slide a bit, allowing you to physically lift the rear of the glass.
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Old 06-18-2019, 01:31 AM
mattmannz mattmannz is offline
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Location: Kapiti New Zealand
Join Date: Aug 2014
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Mein Auto: 2003 520i
Thanks for the replies.

I can't push up from the inside so the roof is obviously jammed, trying to use or manually move the motor results in the gears skipping.

The roof is only about 5mm tilted at the rear so I can't get inside to pull down on the accordian rubbers.

Worried if I push too hard I will break the glass!
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