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639 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
BMW E46 Sunshade Sunroof Final Fix COMPLETE Pictorial DIY

As the title states let this be the final fix for all E46 sunshades issues.
By that I mean, I ended my DIY with questions that I hope will be eventually answered in this thread.

Unlike many of you who bought BMW with the sunshade that eventually broke, my 2001 330i had only 1 previous owner (a retired doctor in Long Island) who at some point just pulled out the shade and threw it out. So my car came to me with just the glass above my head. I was fine with the glass until last summer when my AC died on me whiles sitting in New York City traffic under the 95 F degree sun. The car quickly heated up as the sun poured in through the glass and I realized I would need to fix the AC and also get a sun shade eventually.
This winter we bought the 2010 C Class Benz that has the same sunroof (moonroof glass w/ sliding sunshade) system and I realized how much warmer the car is when the sunshade there to insulate the rising and escaping heat.
So last week I picked up a new used sunshade from BMWRECYCLERS on eBay and they were awesome in supplying all the four clips for free (about $71 at the BMW of Manhattan dealership)!

I followed this famous DIY because it came up at the top of ALL the online searches. So be sure to glance over it before following what I did here.

The difference with me is I began my DIY with NO sunshade in the car so my DIY is a straight run for anyone that wants to start from scratch.

Also my issue was not just broken clips (which is a relatively easy fix) but a mangled Sunshade Driver head (which can be an expensive/extensive DIY involving taking down the headliner-but I will show how you to get around that with a pair of needle nose pliers).

The Lincomatic DIY is great and worked for me, but towards the end I ran into problems following how he finished what he started.

My DIY will clear any of this up and will show you how to completely replace or insert the sunshade/moonroof from beginning to end.

2. When said and done your sunroof will operate like this:

3. Parts of the Sunroof System as I refer to them in the DIY;

Sunroof - Refers to the entire system of lower manual-sliding Sunshade and upper electric-sliding Moonroof glass.

Moonroof - Refers to the upper electrical-sliding transparent glass part of the sunroof. Positions are referred to as Fully Opened, Fully Closed, Tilt.

Sunshade - Refers to the lower manual-sliding opaque fabric/foam part of the sunroof. Positions are Opened and Closed.

Driver's Side Clips - Rear and Front Sliding Clips on left side of car or Clip #1 for Front and Clip #2 for Rear in my picture. These are most likely to break on the sunroof system and since they contact the sliding track and the Sunshade Driver's head they are more likely to suffer from lack of lubricant and damage inflicted by a broken driver.

Passenger's Side Clips - Front and Rear Spring Clips on right side of car or #3 for Front and #4 for Rear in my pictures. These are less likely to break on the sunroof system but most likely to stick or get stuck on debris.

Sunshade Driver - Refers to the electrical sliding tab that sits between the Driver's Side Sliding Clips #1 and #2 pushes the sunshade forward to expose the manual pull grip on the sunshade when the moonroof closes from full open position. Also pulls the sunshade all the way back into the roof cavity to hide it when the moonroof is fully opened. This is the least likely to break and even when the head of the driver is mangled and the head is off the track it will still slide with the moonroof glass. Which can be bad because the bare head is similar to a steel blade that will shred anything it contacts whiles sliding. This is not easy to replace, nor does it come sold as an individual dealership part.

This is not easy to replace, nor does it come sold as an individual dealership part. You must either buy the repair kit at $150 to $200 and/or the entire sunroof replacement "cassette" at close to $1,000.

Now onto this fairly easy DIY:

Start with the moonroof tilted up and the T25 bolts exposed. Many of you may have stuck sunshades and may have a hard time getting to the bolts. But tilted the moonroof makes it easy to push back a stuck shade and access the bolts.

With the moonroof tilted it also makes it easy to lift the glass off especially if you are doing this DIY solo like me. Here you can see how easy it is to lift off the glass as I'm doing it with one hand whiles snapping pictures with my free hand. But it is also easy to drop it since the grip on the glass and edges are slippery. So be careful.


639 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)

After cleaning out the tracks, especially on the driver's side of the cavity where all the drama seem to happen, I applied some lube. DO NOT USE: WD40, Armor All, Baby Oil, Olive Oil, or liquid based/liquid liquid lubricants. These lubricants WILL DRY and LEAVE A STICKY FILM/GUNK that WILL attract dust and debris. The Sunroof Cavity sees extreme temperatures and a heavy duty long lasting lubricant paste or gel is your best bet. Make sure all moving parts get a little smear. Try not to get any on the sunshade fabric or headliner as they are notorious for staining easily.

After the lube I laid down the shade Passenger Side first (or the side with the spring clips # 3 and #4). There is a groove along the Passenger Side edge of the cavity where the spring clips go into and it is very obvious to see how it works.

Next drop the driver's side down, make sure the Sunshade Driver's head is in the middle between where the clips # 1 and #2 screw into the Sunshade, and begin inserting the sliding clips # 2 from the rear edge of the sunshade (because it MUST go behind the driver's head) and #1 from the front edge of the shade.

In my pictures you will see that because my sunshade driver's head was still loose off it's track I was able to slide both #1 and #2 clips in from the front and slide my #2 clip past the driver head (or what is left of my driver's mangled head) into it's Rear position #2 Clip in point on the Sunshade.


The picture's caption-insert in this picture below claim that my Sunshade Driver's head during my testing seemed unusable as it kept jumping the track and not coming all the way forward with the moonroof mechanism in the fully closed position but my issues with it didn't end there and in the end I was lucky that it worked for me after I placed the sunshade in the cavity.

The Sunshade Driver in it's entirety has a odd Z shape when looked at head on or on it's edge.

The head and neck of the driver slides along the same track as the Sunshade Driver's Side Sliding clips #1 and #2. The flat metal body and legs of the driver is a flat metal surface that slides or rather scrapes along the metal frame ledge below the track whiles the motor mechanism or leg end of the driver attaches firmly to another track deep inside the sunroof cavity. The deeper track is DIRECTLY connected to the Moonroof's sliding mechanism as well.

This design principle seems to keep everything on the same track and in sync. So as main Moonroof element moves, so does the Driver's legs, body and head which in turns moves the Sunshade's #2 Rear Clip to open the Sunshade when the Moonroof fully opens or the #1 Front Clip to push the Sunshade out of hiding exposing just the front tip of the Sunshade for the manual grip to be accessible when the Moonroof fully closes. This as far as I can tell, and anyone feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, is the ONLY function of the Sunshade Driver. Without the Driver's presence the Moonroof's sliding mechanism should move freely in that deeper track.

That said, the eventual problem of the Sunshade Driver is a multiple one; It seemed in my car that the lube around the flat metal body dried up causing it to drag or move slower in it's deeper track. This may have cause the head and neck sections to vibrate, jump the Sunshade Clip #1 and #2 track and contact other parts of the sliding system. When this happens the first thing to go is the #1 and #2 Driver's side clips as the head of the Driver shreds them to bits, then the head of the Driver itself, which when new is capped in a soft rubber bumper/stopper cap, is destroyed. This is followed by the metal on the inside of the head-which as you see in my pictures is all that is left and even that got mangled over the years.

Now if you remove the Sunshade completely AND clean out the broken #1 and #2 Sunshade clips (which is exactly what the previous owner did in my car and just left the glass Moonroof) the Driver's head, body and leg will still move up and down the track and the mangled metal head will keep jumping the track and blocking the Moonroof when it closes (which was the cause of my Moonroof automatically reversing itself back to the fully open position when I tried to close it) as the un-lubed body continues to scrape and drag slower than it's Moonroof sliding mechanism.

The eventual outcome is the metal skeleton head of the Driver continues to warp and mangle itself and damaging anything in it's path. The pictures you see here is the result of this over the years of still using the Moonroof glass in my car with a damaged Driver. Every time I opened and closed the glass the Driver head and neck got more and more mangled and twisted.

As a result of this I assumed the Driver was completely shot and would only tear apart my new Sunshade and the #1 and #2 clips. So for 30 minutes I attempted to remove the entire Driver body from it's deeper track. This seemed impossible given the tools that I had before me. And I saw a DIY mentioning that said replacing the entire Driver was ONLY done by removing the headliner and the entire Sunroof Cassette and accessing the Driver body from underneath. I really didn't have the stomach or time to do all that (since it was January and 30 degrees outside) so I did my best to flatten out the head so it wouldn't shred my new clips #1 and #2 and I lubed up the underside of the flat metal body with tons of lube paste.

To my surprise this did the trick. Even though I am happy this worked I strongly suspect it will turn out to be a temporary fix for obvious reasons. But it seems as long as everything is well lubed in the Sunroof cavity there is little to no friction and less chance of damage between parts touching.

639 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)

Questions that are still up in the air and hopefully someone will answer them:

Can you have a fully operational electrical-sliding Moonroof glass and manual-sliding Sunshade WITHOUT the Sunshade Driver installed?

It seems that once the Driver head breaks or gets mangled and is not on the track properly anymore you are left with few options;

1. Replace it via the $150-$200 dealer repair kit (which may end up costing $1000+ in extra needed parts and a couple days DIY labor since you may have to replace the entire cassette and headliner to get to the Sunshade Driver body?

2. Pull out the Driver completely and just manually slide the sunshade open (which what the Driver would've done electrically) before you open the electric-sliding glass. Since a mangled or busted Driver tends to only get in the way of and shreds everything in it's path. This maybe the best solution since it ensures that the Sunshade Sliding clips #1 and #2 will NEVER get damaged ever again from a busted Sunshade Driver.

3. Do what I did, which may turn out to be a temporary fix ( and I hope not), and try to bend or re-shape the Driver's head and make the best of it.
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