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Tips and suggestions for replacing destroyed E39 driver seat adjustment control panel

127128 Views 121 Replies 35 Participants Last post by  Barra Power
My E39 driver's-side lower seat control panel is destroyed. I guess all I need to do is replace it and plug it in. Before I do that, I wonder if you have any advice for me to build my courage up to tackle this repair? It's still hanging by a thread (in back, somehow).

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Is there only one major connector powering the seat controls?

Twisting the broken seat control panel a bit as it's held on somewhere in the back only ... I can see a single connector with tons of pins, with some of those pins bent ... so I guess the first order of business is for me to see if I can get the connector back on and to see if things actually work.

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The black box with pins -> Where does it come from?

Some quick questions ...

Which color would you get? Is it "grau"?
And, where is the part found for that million-pin black box?
Is that black box part of the outer cover?'

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That black box is not apart of that trim piece, so it xcan come out and be replaced.... I think it is called the seat control module......

If you get in the back seat and follow the trim to the back of the seat you wwill see a torx (*) screw that holds it in place there.... It is not an impossible replacement, youcan do it..... Just be patient and take your time to make sure you get all the screws out and back in.. If you line up the broken one, I bet the old screws are still there.


I have no idea what color that is....
when i took mine out i belive there will be a piece on the back of the panel the is wedge inbetween the upper seatback and lower seat. i think there is push in clip that holds it in place, a little forcefull prying got mine out. stupid thing!
I just changed my outer covers last week, so I think I can help here.

"Is this black box with pins part of the cover or is it a separate part to order?"
The black box is a separate part independent of the cover. Personally, I would try the plug first before even considering ordering the black electrical box. Electronics in our cars are insanely expensive, and the cost for that part may very well be close to the cost for a used driver's seat that would come with that part, and more.

Which color would you get? Is it "grau"?
You would get grau, yes. However, notice that your seat cover is scratched and the white plastic is showing through. My grau seat covers were in a similar condition and fixing the cosmetic defect was the genesis of my replacement effort. I would suggest getting schwarz (black, BMW part #52 10 7 058 008), because black will hide the future scratches that are inevitable. This is possible because the black seat covers are made of black ABS plastic and not painted, thus a scratch will not take off paint and expose an off-color base material.

Some tips, since you asked:
- The seat control buttons simply pop off, but are held on very securely. It's nerve wracking, but they're just on there tight.
- The seat covers themselves are each held on with two Torx screws and three plastic rivets. Again, the plastic rivets are in very tight and will likely necessitate destruction for removal. These rivets create a lot of frustration. Replacement plastic rivets are sold in sets of six (BMW part#52 10 8 150 020) and are markedly inexpensive, so I would urge you to get these as well.
- The seat covers are sold in a set of two, and come with one out of six holes filled in with a button cover. Since you have the "basic" electric seat like I do, your controls will fill three more holes, so if you wish to change colors you'll need to purchase the final two button covers, which curiously enough come with two each of the button covers that already come with the seat covers. If you purchase the seat covers and the button covers, you'll end up with two extra button covers per side. Now I'm not sure if this was an idiosyncrasy with my dealer, but a set of seat covers came with two - one for the driver and one for the passenger - while a set of button covers was for only one side. I needed to order an additional set of button covers. To summarize, I purchased one set of seat covers and two sets of button covers. This will fill in all of the holes with four identical button covers to spare. I have leftover buttons in both grau and schwarz, as well as the passenger's side seat cover. If you wish I can sell them to you for a dollar or two over what it will cost me to ship them.

To remove the rivets and the control buttons, I would highly recommend interior trim panel tools. I acquired the first two of the following three sets from Harbor Freight Tools for about five dollars each. The set of yellow tools is particularly durable and desirable and has proven to be worth much more than the asking price to me:



If you need more information, please see the following thread in which these seat covers are discussed ad nauseum:

http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum/showthread.php?t=842536
I have both gray outer and inner covers for sale if interested. There in new condition and actually the passenger side was replaced new under warranty just before the warranty expired not long ago.
I'm confused.

The REALOEM site seems to show both BMW E39 seat covers (passenger and driver) are the same part number (i.e., 52107058009, $39.62) ...

Yet the Maxmillian site seems to show the two covers as different part numbers - where the driver side being BMW part number 52108207249 & the passenger side being BMW part number 52108207250 (both $39.39 each) - yet - the driver side (which I need) says "ENDED" (which I presume to mean you can't get it).









*******> ********>
I don't get it.

Is the passenger side "outer cover" the same part as the driver side (I need the driver's side) or different? I don't mind replacing both the driver and passenger side outer covers as they're all scratched up ... but it would be nice to be able to figure this out ahead of time.
I have both gray outer and inner covers for sale if interested. There in new condition and actually the passenger side was replaced new under warranty just before the warranty expired not long ago.
There sold as a pair so the drivers side outer cover and passenger side outer cover is one part # even though they are different parts and are not interchangable. I think they used to sell them individually some time ago but not anymore. I can only assume this other company is selling them as seperate pieces based on what you said. I have both outer and both inner pieces if you need them.
I'm confused.

The REALOEM site seems to show both BMW E39 seat covers (passenger and driver) are the same part number (i.e., 52107058009, $39.62) ...

Yet the Maxmillian site seems to show the two covers as different part numbers - where the driver side being BMW part number 52108207249 & the passenger side being BMW part number 52108207250 (both $39.39 each) - yet - the driver side (which I need) says "ENDED" (which I presume to mean you can't get it).









*******> ********>
I don't get it.

Is the passenger side "outer cover" the same part as the driver side (I need the driver's side) or different? I don't mind replacing both the driver and passenger side outer covers as they're all scratched up ... but it would be nice to be able to figure this out ahead of time.
^^ What sidneyj said. If you'll notice, the separate part numbers have been superceded by newer ones, meaning that they used to be sold individually but are now sold as a set. If you re-read post #6 of mine, you should note that while a set of outer covers includes both a driver and passenger side, a set of the requisite buttons is for only one side.

I was as confused as you are when I was about to order the outer covers for my 2000 528i, and a little apprehensive on purchasing a part without knowing absolutely that it would be the right one, but it worked out. Take it from someone who has done it and who has the same car and seats as you.

If you want them in grey, get both sides from sidneyj or the passenger's side from me (though I'm not sure why you would want just the one). The part number for both sides in grey is 52 10 7 058 009. If you want black, you'll want to purchase part #52 10 7 058 009. Again, be sure to get a set of six rivets - BMW part#52 10 8 150 020 - so you can replace any broken ones.
Thank you for both the needed clarification and for the assurance that it will all work out with part number 52 10 7 058 009. Without you guys, I'd not have any courage to tackle these jobs - but - with you here - I feel empowered to take a chance with my new (to me) BMW!

I read the referenced thread and saw the pics of the black outer seat covers on a gray seat but I prefer the gray (despite its propensity to scratch to the white underplastic) so I won't need the hole covers (but your timely admonishment to get them as a set is duly noted for others to heed).

separate part numbers have been superceded ... meaning they used to be sold individually but are now sold as a set. ... Take it from someone who has done it and who has the same car and seats as you... The part number for both sides in grey is 52 10 7 058 009

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That might've been true 50 years ago, but it's 2008.
I'm not sure I understand this comment because plastics didn't exist 50 years ago.

To clarify, I meant the underlying plastic under the black paint of the BMW seat is black.

But, the underlying plastic under the gray skin of the gray paint of the BMW seat is white. Likewise, I believe, with the tan skin.

So, when the tan or gray seats scratch, which all of them do, the scratch shows up as a white streak whereas the black scratches show up as black and hence are not onerous.


That might've been true 50 years ago, but it's 2008.
Everything you said is true, and I fully agree.

Black won't scratch white, 50 years ago... all of that... thems was jokes! I was humorously commenting on racial and social issues plauging our nation, and their propagation to today and likely, sadly, beyond.
I'm not sure I understand this comment because plastics didn't exist 50 years ago.

To clarify, I meant the underlying plastic under the black paint of the BMW seat is black.

But, the underlying plastic under the gray skin of the gray paint of the BMW seat is white. Likewise, I believe, with the tan skin.

So, when the tan or gray seats scratch, which all of them do, the scratch shows up as a white streak whereas the black scratches show up as black and hence are not onerous.
How do I remove the black box control part?

Oh, ok. I wasn't sure.

Anyway, I had to guess which way the connector went on the seat because that big black control box was partly broken so the connector would go on either way.

Luckily I guessed correctly (the wire bundle being on the left in the first photo I posted and not on the right as the connector was plugged in).

Do others agree that the connector goes on with the wiring bundle coming from the left? (The seat works when I plugged it in so it must be correct but I'd like to double check!).

Also, when I buy the new part, how do I pop out that black rectangular box with the controls in it? Does it just pop out?
I already answered your question in a previous post of mine:

Also, when I buy the new part, how do I pop out that black rectangular box with the controls in it? Does it just pop out?
Some tips, since you asked:
- The seat control buttons simply pop off, but are held on very securely. It's nerve wracking, but they're just on there tight. Pop the buttons off, then on the inside of the frame, gently bend the plastic clips holding the control unit in order to remove it.
I have the same problem. Went to the BMW dealer and if I wanted a replacement I had to pay for the set, not just the one I needed. This was sometime last year and they were in stock. Reading above I see they are no longer; just didn't want to pay that much for needing only one.
If you need only one, and it's the passenger's side in gray, I have it. If you need both, then sidneyj has both sides in gray and he'll probably get them to you for less than the dealer wants.
I have the same problem. Went to the BMW dealer and if I wanted a replacement I had to pay for the set, not just the one I needed. This was sometime last year and they were in stock. Reading above I see they are no longer; just didn't want to pay that much for needing only one.
Seat control unit harness connector can go on either way (only 1 of which is right)

Pop the buttons off, then on the inside of the frame, gently bend the plastic clips holding the control unit in order to remove it.
Sorry I missed that. My seat is working now, moving back and forth as needed - but, every once in a while, I find both the mirrors looking downcast for some reason, so, I wonder if I hooked the seat control unit harness connector on correctly???

Since the black plastic surrounding the seat control unit harness connector is broken, I presume that a stop of some sort would have prevented the seat control unit harness connector from fitting on the wrong way - but - without that plastic stop - the seat control unit harness connector (in my case) can go in either way - only one of which can be the correct way.

When I put the new seat outer cover on, I'll snap pictures and write up how so others can read and follow suit.

Does this look like the right way to put the seat control unit harness connector on?

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I'm 99% sure all connectors can only go on one way. Even if you broke a tab it still should only come togther one way. Don't force anything. Look at the the pins closely and or wire colors and match it up.
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