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BMW hobbyist
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63 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I knew this was going to happen, the window was making scary erratic sounds and motions the last time I powered it up, today it is stuck. Is there instructions somewhere here on how to take the door inner panel off? Does anyone have suggestions? The motor is still active, trying to do stuff, but it seems to be jammed. Someone said there is an airbag in the door, scary.

I just found this link on removing the inner door panel...thanks already.

http://www.bmwtips.com/tipsntricks/door/panel.htm

I have the inner panel off, the battery disconnected, and I am looking at an airbag. I guess I can just disconnect the electrical connector, and remove it, since I need to get past it to see the window mechanism.
 

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Wingnut
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5,025 Posts
there is one screw located in the air pass thru vent located at the top front of the door, its hidden inside the vent, and has to be removed. that may be whats hanging up the door card. there is an airbag located in the door, if youre not comfortable working around them , let the car go to sleep then disconnect the battery - terminal. do not unplug the airbag with the battery connected or an airbag light will result, requiring resetting.

edit - front doors will have an airbag, rear doors may or may not depending on the option package on the car.
 

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BMW hobbyist
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63 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Airbag out, cable system messed up

Thanks for that hint, it helped. The cable is off of the upper, outer plastic pulley. The scary noises we were hearing must have been the cable almost jumping the cable pulley. I'm not sure why the plastic pulleys have designed in notches in the V groove sheaves, ideal opportunities for the cable to jump off track. I have no idea how to fix this, since that pulley is shielded from service by the lower part of the window even when the window is up, which it isn't, and a layer of rigid stamped steel, a permanent part of the door structure.
 

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BMW hobbyist
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63 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
new regulator

Thanks for that short advice, I had no idea what a regulator was, but I have been on rockauto.com and their pictures explain it. I am leaning toward the URO regulator, because it says it has ball bearing pulleys, which should reduce forces, torques, etc.
 

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'Fest User
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129 Posts
You can buy the URO regulator and it will keep the window up. Just never use it again. Anything short of a Gennie BMW regulator will fail in short order; put URO at the top of that list. And even the Gennie is not going to last that long either, unfortunately. Basically, stop using your windows :eek:
 

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BMW hobbyist
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63 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
You can buy the URO regulator and it will keep the window up. Just never use it again. Anything short of a Gennie BMW regulator will fail in short order; put URO at the top of that list. And even the Gennie is not going to last that long either, unfortunately. Basically, stop using your windows :eek:
That sounds like a pretty negative assessment of the situation. Does that come from experience, or are you just having a bad day? :)

I just ordered a new regulator from O'Reillys, it will be here this afternoon by 3:30, I should have it installed within 2 hours after that.
 

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Wingnut
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the part breakage you encountered is a common fail with these regulators. ive heard the URO regulators have the improved pulley bearing, but have no knowledge of the overall quality of this regulator, generally URO brand parts tend to be kinda questionable. i dunno what brand oreillys sells, on my car, all 4 were replaced, Dorman brand, (as they failed, not all at once)a fairly reliable brand, from autozone they carry a lifetime warranty. not too bad of a job if they do crap out, but i have had 2 of them in for over 2 years now and cannot complain. BMW ones can be a bit pricey.
 

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Registered
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I also prefer my windows down. 4x60 AC ;)
Next time, buy from FCP Euro because lifetime warranty and you will need it with this part.
The cause of this problem is wear, dirt, and deterioration of the window guides and dirty glass, which have increased friction. Especially if someone tinted the windows because the excess glue gets into everything.

I suggest you pull the glass and clean it thoroughly. I use 0000 steel wool. With the glass out, clean rubber guides, use a rubber friendly cleaner like Simple Green or Purple Power. Do NOT scrub too hard or you will rub off the felt-like coating on the rubber, which will make the problem worse. Finally, use light coating of silicone grease in the guides. I chose Shin Etsu after watching many DiY's on lubricating window tracks and my windows are definitely going up smoother, which I expect will get me more life out of my regulators.
 

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BMW hobbyist
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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
The ones I ordered today from O'Reilly's are Dorman, $103 including tax, be here today. It has a lifetime limited warranty. I could get them cheaper at rockauto, but by the time they get here I might have forgotten how it goes back together....
 

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I just finished doing the exact same thing to all the windows on my e39. The problem is the plastic pulley often becomes dry rotted and the cable for the regulator itself goes off the pulley. It's a pretty straight forward repair. The tools you'll need are a 20 torx. 30 torx, a cross top and flat top screw driver, a small ratchet (I recommend an extension) and a 10 mm socket. I googled "e39 window regulator replacement" and the YouTube videos show the steps very well. I also purchased the regulators on eBay, for a lot cheaper than anywhere else.
 

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BMW hobbyist
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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
This plastic sleeve at the cable reaction points before each pulley is just a bad engineering design decision. There are YouTubes showing this exact failure that I had. No way can this plastic part stand up to the wear from a steel cable plus react bending and compressive forces in the area. This part should be made of steel or brass, not plastic.

I wonder if the engineer who designed this OEM part knew that the full tension in the cable which can endure a couple hundred pounds is fully reacted at every point on this system where one of these frail little plastic sleeves exists. I wonder if the entire aftermarket is also aware of the same physics.
 

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Master of none
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Here's my two cents for what it's worth. They ALL break!. Yes even the BMW parts. I'm in a hot climate so the summer does these parts no favors. Since they all break, buy the cheapest ones you can get and keep a spare laying around. Buy the one WITHOUT the motor and transfer your BMW motor over. If you got as far as removing the regulator, swapping the motor into the new regulator is just another step. It's no big deal. $25-30 bucks on ebay all day long. Order one for each door. You will be a pro in no time completing the job in less than an hour. There are some great DIY videos on Youtube. Just search e39 window regulator and you will get to choose which one you like for any door you please. Helpful hint......You don't have to remove the airbag from the door. Just disconnect the battery and it can be done with it in the door. Good luck sir.
 

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BMW hobbyist
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks Rbail, Manny, Jaxplanet and Mattmar. If I had had more time, I would have done the Ebay thing that I just checked out, that certainly is the way to go. But my Sister needed to get her car done by today, to get to her nursing job, so I overpaid at a local parts store. You are right the motor was fine that I transferred to the new regulator. It was a Dorman regulator. I did have one purple 2 prong connector coming into the door that I could not figure out where it went. I wonder if it was never connected to anything since everything seems to work and I didn't have any extra connectors or plug holes on the door side.
 

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BMW hobbyist
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The regulator cable outer housing end points should all be reacted with a steel structure, like is commonly used on bicycle cable design. The tensile load in the cable wire is always fully reacted as a compression load wherever the cable outer housing ends. See examples of bicycle cable outer housing being reacted attached.
 

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