Difficulty Level: 6 Difficulty scale: Adding air to your tires is level one Rebuilding a BMW Motor is level ten
This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Wayne's new book, 101 Performance Projects for Your BMW 3 Series. The book contains 272 pages of full color projects detailing everything from performance mods to timing the camshafts. With more than 650+ full-color glossy photos accompanying extensive step-by-step procedures, this book is required reading in any 3 Series owner's collection. The book was released in August 2006, and is available for ordering now. See The Official Book Website for more details.
BMW sunroofs can be very confusing if you’ve never worked on one before. With so much of the mechanism hidden away, it’s often difficult to figure out what is wrong with the roof. A certain hesitancy to disturb the headliner, combined with a lack of widespread knowledge about making repairs, has left many owners’ sunroofs inoperable.
In reality, the sunroof is relatively easy to repair—what’s harder is getting your hands on some of the items that need to be replaced. The sunroof motor drives two cables that move the roof forward and backward in a track, mounted to a fiberglass frame, mounted to the roof of the car. The primary problems with the sunroof involve the small track guide pieces breaking or the roof leaking. This project will go over the details associated with complete sunroof removal and renewal of these pieces.
The sunroof assembly (also called the “sunroof cassette”) can be removed as an entire unit, but you will need to lower and remove the fiberglass headliner piece first (see Project 72). You should remove the assembly if you already have the headliner out, and you are going to be making major repairs to the sunroof mechanism. However, if you’re just trying to fix a small sunroof problem, and you don’t want to remove the headliner, you may try just removing the top metal roof portion first, and then see if you can replace the broken parts with your sunroof cassette frame still installed in the car. (See Photo 1 for the metal panel removal instructions; also, BMW Tech Bulletin 54-12-100 is quite helpful if you have access to a copy.)
If you need more access and need to remove the entire assembly, then refer to Photo 2 for instructions. I recommend you grab yourself a helper, as it’s easy to damage your interior trim if you try to remove the entire sunroof assembly yourself.
With the sunroof panel off of the car, or the sunroof assembly removed from the car, you can start to inspect the roof to determine which parts need replacing. In order to figure out what is wrong with your roof, slowly move the roof through its normal motion by manually turning the motor with a 4-millimeter hex socket (see Photo 6). You can open and close the roof frame manually, regardless of whether you chose to remove the entire assembly or not. Important: If you slide back your sunroof headliner piece when you go to remove the metal panel, you cannot open the roof all the way—use caution when manually moving the roof open or closed.
There are many items on the sunroof that break, and even more that have been redesigned and superseded by BMW. I’ve highlighted in Photo 4 some of the components that break and need replacing most often. The basic process of repairing your sunroof involves removing it, inspecting the parts to see what is broken, cleaning the tracks, then reinstalling and adjusting the roof. See the remaining photos in this project for more details.
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This photo sequence shows how to remove the top metal sunroof panel from your car without taking out the entire assembly. A: With the sunroof closed, begin by tapping your sunroof switch just a little bit to have it drop down 2 to 4 millimeters and open slightly. With clean hands (or gloves), carefully slide back the headliner piece toward the back of the car (green arrow). It should require some moderate force to move it, but not the iron grip of death. Now close the sunroof. Important: Do not open the sunroof with the headliner piece pushed in the back; you could damage the mechanism. B: Unfasten the three large adjustment nuts in the rear of the sunroof. These will release the rear of the sunroof from the frame, allowing you to push up on the rear from the inside and raise the rear of the roof to give you more access to the front screws. When reinstalling the roof, these nuts adjust the height of the rear of the roof. C and D: Using a Torx driver, remove the attachment screws hidden in the inside of the frame (purple arrow). When these have been removed, you should be able to lift up on the entire metal roof panel and detach it from the car.
This photo sequence shows how to remove the entire sunroof assembly from the car. The first step is to completely remove the headliner (see Project 72). After you get the headliner out of the car, you will be able to see the fiberglass frame of the sunroof assembly, or cassette, which is attached to the roof of the car. A: Start by removing the center bolt that also helps attach the sunroof motor (green arrow). B: Next, disconnect the four rainwater drain tubes connected to the assembly at each of the four corners (red arrow). Then remove the perimeter Torx bolts (yellow arrows), leaving the bolts at the rear of the car in place. With all the front and side bolts removed, remove the rearmost bolts. These bolts are attached to a spring clip and allow for forward/rearward adjustment of the entire assembly when you reinstall it. Remove these rearmost bolts, and you should be able to drop the assembly down once it’s free from the rearmost clips. C: Toss some towels or moving blankets over the tops of your seats to protect them from damage as you let the assembly down. There’s a large tab in the front of the assembly that fits into a slot in the metal frame of the car—this will hold up the front part of the roof as you lower it. If you recline your seats all the way back, you should be able to maneuver the assembly out of the car. I managed to lower the assembly and remove it myself, but I was working on a project car and didn’t care too much about the upholstery. I recommend you have the help of an assistant if you don’t want the sunroof assembly to scratch your interior. D: This is what the entire assembly looks like after it has been removed from the car. To make the job easier, you can remove the metal panel from the assembly prior to removing it.
This photo shows the steps required to remove the sunroof headliner panel. A: The panel is held in place with Torx screws that must be removed in order to release the panel from the sunroof assembly (green arrow). B: The red arrow shows one of the plastic guide pieces for the headliner panel that has been completely bent and destroyed. This happens when the roof is opened with the headliner panel already pushed back toward the rear of the car. C: With all the screws removed, simply lift up and remove the headliner panel (blue arrow). D: As you can tell from this photo, the panel needed some serious attention. When you replace the headliner on the panel, be sure to use a relatively thin fabric, as the panel needs to easily slide in and out of the rearmost section of the sunroof assembly.
Here’s a collection of photos of various parts that can break inside your sunroof assembly. Every sunroof malfunction is different—you really need to just open up the assembly and see what’s broken in there. Manually operate the sunroof by turning the motor (see Photo 6), and take a look at what is going wrong with the mechanism. With this sunroof, there were quite a few different items that were broken. A and B: This photo shows the metal lifting piece (yellow arrow) for the rear of the sunroof. When I removed this particular assembly from the car, this piece fell out (not a good sign). It’s held in place with various plastic pieces that can become brittle and break. Inspect this piece carefully, and replace any broken support pieces. Also inspect the lifting cam/guide, which pushes this lever upward as the cable moves back (green arrow). C: The attachment point for the control rail on my sunroof was broken in two. Fortunately, this failure was fairly easy to spot, and replacement/repair kits are available for these pieces. Even with this breakage, the sunroof was surprisingly operational, using the opposite side rail to do all of the lifting work. D: On the opposite side from Frame B, the lever that attaches to the metal lifting piece (yellow arrow, Frame A) has been clearly bent and damaged. This is probably what led to the lifting piece falling out when I removed the assembly.
Before you reinstall your assembly, be sure to clean it thoroughly. Carefully clean out each of the tracks with isopropyl alcohol and cotton swabs. Also spread some white lithium grease on all of the tracks and moveable parts. Verify that all dirt and debris has been cleaned from the assembly before you reinstall it.
The sunroof motor has a built-in switch to stop the motor when the roof is completely closed, which prevents it from popping open at the rear. This completely closed position is called the “zero setting,” or “zero position.” If you need to remove the sunroof motor from the car, be aware that you need to reinstall the motor with its position set to the zero setting. Start by setting the sunroof panel and assembly at the fully closed position. For sunroof motors prior to mid-1994, the zero position on the sunroof motor is when the shaft center points of the motor, notch, and pin all line up (yellow arrow). For motors in cars manufactured from mid-1994, the zero setting is no longer visible to the naked eye. Instead, set the motor to the zero setting by plugging it in and pressing the switch until it stops by itself. When you have the motor electrically unplugged from the car, you can move it quite easily by placing a 4-millimeter hex socket into the back of the motor gear and turning it slowly (inset). This is useful for troubleshooting the assembly when it is out of the car, with the motor still attached.
When you remove the sunroof motor, you can see the cables that run inside the copper channels. These cables (called “Bowden cables” by BMW) can break as they get old. If you do have to replace the cables, get some long pipe cleaners and brush out the inside of the copper channels prior to installing the new ones. The gear of the motor meshes with the opening on the left—the right-side opening is not used. Install the motor only when it’s at zero position and the roof is completely closed (see Photo 6). I don’t recommend removing the motor unless you feel you really need to. The two sunroof cables are aligned with respect to each other, and you will have to verify that all of the lifting pieces are correctly aligned again before reinstalling the motor.
Comments: I recently purchased a 2003 bmw 325i my first BMW and i when i put the sunroof up it doesnt want to close all the way down it just makes sort of a clicking noise any idea what that could be
May 19, 2013
Comments: Is it possible to remove the headliner piece without dropping the entire sunroof assembly?
April 17, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: you have to remove the sunroof glass or metal panel, then the trim panel can be removed. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hey I have a 1989 325ix with a manual sunroof. I recently replaced the cables because the old guides had begun to crack in half and the sunroof was crooked with the panel being lower on the driver side than the passenger side. I had the cables perfectly aligned with both sides raising to the same height but it seems after just opening the sunroof and closing it a couple of times it has begun to do the same thing as before though not as noticable. Could the manual gearbox have broken teeth or something?? causing it pull the cables at a different rate messing up the alignment? I am 100% stumped at this point and would greatly appreciate some help ASAP.
April 14, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: You could have a number of problems. The cassette could be bent, there could be dirt or debris binding the cable, or the gear could be worn. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: hi Wayne I have an e36 m3 I recently did an overhaul on my sunroof but have a question. I can't get the fabric tray to go all the way back is this because of the plastic piece with the foot on it? where does it go in relation to the sliding tab on the inner cable thanks
April 10, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Are you able to bolt it in or does it not slide far enough back? Could you share a phot of what part of the shade you are referring to? - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: hi wayne i have a bmw 320i auto box type it just hid 3tabperts to pieces n 2 valves wat can it be n were do i start thanks.desmond
April 8, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sorry, I am not sure what you are asking. Could you describe the problem? - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi, thx for the pics above. It was a gr8 help to replace my headliner. If put everything back as it came out. But after assembling everything. The inner headliner didn't want to slide with the roof. So I pushed it forward an backwards and no it opens with the roof. The only problem I have is when I slide the roof close, and pop it up it doesn't automatically slide the inner liner slightly open how it used to. It would be a gr8 help iff yo maybe know how to solve this.
January 7, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like the shade is not orientated correctly or the shade is damaged. Check the see if the stop on the sunroof is pushing past the shade without grabbing it to slide it forward. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Need t buy complete sunroof e36 98 model. Boston green color. Contact nr 0710962051/ e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
January 4, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call. They will be able to help you find the parts for your sunroof: 1-888-280-7799 - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi Wayne.My BMW 323i 1998 has problem of leaking water inside,the sunroofsealer is worn.So what i want to know; is there any trianage holes that could be blocked or what because water comes through closer to the roofs control switch then fall straight to the gear liver area. But the roof itself is still working properly unless the dust i noticed on the rail. So how can i solf this problem?
November 7, 2012
Comments: I have a 1995 bmw 325i the back of the sunroof has popped up over the top of the car. my husband is a mechanic here in plainview texas and has never encountered this issue before. we are unsure of what to do to remedy this problem. do you have any suggestions?
October 29, 2012
Comments: I have a 1994 325i with the electric sunroof. When I push the button that tilt lifts the roof it will work, but the roof will not work the other direction at allfull pull back. I am assuming this is not the motor since the roof will still open the -zero direction. How would you approach this issue? I am considering changing it into a manual open, but am not sure this will fix the problem.
October 1, 2012
Comments: how do you clean out a sun roof drain tube on a 2008 bmw 335i
September 14, 2012
Comments: Hi Wayne, I repaired/refurbed the sunroof as well as replaced the seal on my E34 '89 535i, but I noticed that it had some small pieces on felt and some small plastic caps fitted along the sliding parts. Is it possible to replace these with new ones? Great article, thanks, Gerry.
August 9, 2012
Comments: Hey Wayne. I've got a 1991 325iS, manual sunroof. I am guessing one of my siblings opened it and closed it wrong, I can tell that the left side is not in the "tracks" and the back right side is lower than the other side. I tried to open again but nothing happened. I was able to open it carefully from the back L side, and one piece that sticks out holding the bottom part is broken. how can I remove and replace?
July 24, 2012
Followup from the Pelican Staff: A slide rail may be broken. Could you share a photo of the broken part so we can see what has failed? I'll be able to help you more then. You will have to remove the sunroof panel to access the rails and guides. The tech article here shows how to remove the panel. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: '05 x5 4.8iS Rearsmaller window is not coming down at all, i am able to tilt it and that is it. To close it I have to manually push L/R latches that are opening and closing this part of window. Upon inspection, I found a small broken piece of plastic probably a piece needed to retract a cable that is driving those 2 latcheshumps! Does Pelican Parts sell a whole cassette w/o glass??? I am not sure what piece is broken nor if I am going to be able to find replacement for it.
July 18, 2012
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Hard to say if the repair kit will remedy your problem. I would disassemble enough to find what is broken. Then you will have a better idea of what you repair options are. If just the plastic guides and cables are damaged, the repair kit should get you by. Drop our sales department a call at 1-888-280-7799 and they can help figure out which part or repair kit you need exactly.- Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi Wayne, I had the sunroof rattle on my 95 325is on the passenger side and just replaced all the plastic parts and cleaned/greased-no rattle any more.
My problem is that after putting everything back together it will tilt just fine up & down, but after it starts sliding back to open, it gets jammed on the interior sliding panel after it moves 1-2" back and the motor stalls.
I dropped the roof back ~1/8" to dislodge the interior panel so I could slide it back for access at the start of the job. How do you get the interior panel engaged with the roof again so the roof doesn't jam on it? Pushing it forward at various roof positions doesn't seem to work...
March 31, 2012
Comments: I got water leaking under my back seat and I am having trouble finding the drainage holes in the convertible top compartment. I looked but I didn't see them. can you provide a pic or other info on where I can find them? Thanks.
January 17, 2012
Comments: I have this E28 1983 mod.
Water continues to come inside the coupe,espesially on the floor in front of backseats.
Have removed all backseats and all interior in the back,and in luggage room. Seems like water arrives from the back of the car through the lowe part of the metal wall behind the back seats. Any idea of where this water comes inside the car?
January 4, 2012
Comments: My 2005 BMW x5 roof is leaking causing the driver and passenger floor to be totally saturated. Has anyone encountered this problem? I am been told the drains might be clogged.Where do i find those clogged drain? Please help.
November 27, 2011
Comments: 1992 525i WAGON with a noisy roof that does NOT seem to eager to operate but actually will. I considering buying the wagon with 165,000 miles, but am worried about the sunroof failing. The owner said she had the cloth headliner portion of the rood repaired and then it started making the wierd noise. Her BMW shop said if its working don't fix it because it'll cost a lot. I am not rich at all, could I end up with an open roof that won't close???
November 14, 2011
Comments: I had a problem w/2004 BMW 530 I. Fortunately, i have extended warranty. The sunroof started making a thumping noise when closing. eventually. i cdnt close it w/o someone holding down some rubber, I think blocking it. Anyway, BMW decided the whole assembly needed to be changed Cassete. They charged 1,633 inc. 7 hours for labor. Does that sound right?? I thought 2 to 3 hours was the going labor rate. Please advise
November 4, 2011
Comments: 2003 325I. My sunroof is not closing when I open it up.. I need to push the button all way to the end to work but the thin is I alway forget to close it when I get out of the car.. and I like to use the key but with,the key is not working it start moving but it goes back... there's any way to reset the sunroof... or do you think that is a sensor?.... thanks
October 4, 2011
Comments: I have a 2006 mini S. the frame of the sunroof is loose and fell on my head. Anyone know if there are clips that lock the frame in place?
October 4, 2011
Comments: I have a 2005 325I. The back floor on the driver side gets soaked when it rains. No problem when I wash it. What causes this? A friend told me it's the sun roof leaking down through the chassis and that there was a recall for this problem in the past. Any suggestions will help. Thank you.
October 4, 2011
Comments: We put a deposit on a X3 04 reg. The dealer has now rung and said the sunroof has broke it is a paneramic style. He has offered us £800 off the price. Have you any idea how much it would cost to replace? Apparently it needs a whole new sun roof. At the moment it is closed and water tight, but can not be opened.
September 22, 2011
Comments: I need to replace sunroof in my 95 bmw325. Can i get glass replacment sunroof?
September 5, 2011
Comments: My sunroof is perfectly fine, but the cover panel needs reupholstered. Is there a way to get it out without removing the headliner/entire assembly?
August 25, 2011
Comments: I have a BMW M3 and the headliner panel that covers the sunroof is slid back and I can't get it out. Is there anyway to get it back to the forward position?
July 11, 2011
Comments: Hi Wayne,
i have a 04 325. just installed and new sunroof track and it works but in a jabing motion. the one touch option does not work. does it need a re-program?
June 16, 2011
Comments: Hi Wayne, My son's cursed 1994 325is... Sunroof was worked on by a "foreign car shop" after failing to close in a rainstorm... They replaced the motor which they then said "was not bad"...not sure what else, but never really finished. Long story short, roof works, but only 2 inches per press... can open and close, but takes about 10 presses each direction hope that is clear enough?. Any ideas? Motor not at zero point? I would love to fix this for him along with everything else I have been working on... Thanks, pete.
May 20, 2011
Comments: I have a 2002 530i, need to replace the cable guides that connect to the bowden cables, can it be done WITHOUT taking out headliner?, thanks, david
May 2, 2011
Comments: Hi Wayne,
I have a 92 325i with a leaking sunroof. Can the seals be replaced without pulling the whole unit out? And is it just the 2 seals that keep the water out or are there other reasons that water can leak in? There is no body damage and everything lines up perfectly. Thanks in advance.
April 24, 2011
Comments: Hi Wayne,
I've got an '87 325e with a manual crank sunroof. I am replacing the crank plastic part broke again, but noticed that the crank simply spins and doesn't open or close the roof. Any suggestions?
March 31, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the plastic gears keep breaking, then it's a sign that there is dirt or debris in the roof causing it to become clogged and require more force to open. When this happens, cables can snap, and gears can break, etc. I suspect that is what has happened in your case. I would suggest tearing the whole thing apart and cleaning it out very carefully. This will reduce friction and should keep the gears from breaking in the future. Hopefully a cable has not snapped at this time. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: how do you replace edge beading seal on 87 535 sun roof
March 31, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I haven't done this one myself personally, but I think it's simply glued in place. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hey my sunroof in 96 bmw e36 when i open all way, it wont close. i have to used them to manually crank tool, to move just an inch sunroof and after that it will close ? if dot go all way to end is ok it works fine, but if open all way it won’t close , I have to do the something over again manually . so plz. Need some help?
March 29, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not sure about this one, sounds like the roof is getting stuck, perhaps due to dirt and debris being in there? Might do for a good cleaning of the rails and the mechanism. In addition, the motor may be aging and may not be able to overcome the friction due to the dirt in there. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: hi i pulled my emergency lever by mistake so my electric roof it not working so what can i do to put it back in working conditoin
February 23, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: There's a special factory adjustment procedure that needs to be done to reattach and realign the cables once they are disconnected. Unfortunately, I don't have a copy of this, but several people have asked. I'll copy this question to the support forums to see if anyone has a link to where this might be posted on the Internet. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: I am wondering if the part in figure 4 labeled part C is available for the LSH and if the narrow strip of plastic that is the draft diverter that clips across the part labeled A on both sides
February 4, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: The sunroof parts should all be available separately (last time I checked). If you're looking for a specific part on your sunroof, I would suggest that you contact our sales dept, and they can look it up for you based upon your car's VIN. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi Wayne bloody computer crashed, I have a 1995 California compact e36. It has a full fabric sun roof see photo. The other day when closing the sunroof the motor made a loud Grrr noise so I pulled the Rockwell motor out and it had sheered a plastick gear, This seems to have been caused by a dry rail system which seems to have a lot of friction. I have tried wd40 but it seems seized. Do you have a suroof refurb kit for this model? E36 compact, is the motor gear available, or do you have an idea if it can be rebuilt replaced.The motor drives two cables that sit either side of the motor gear. Can the whole thing be taken out? Any info would be appreciated, ironically 2 weeks before this I ordered your projects book as I have a 325 convertible as well. Love BMWs just hate the expensive complicated bits that go wrong. Regards Skippy
February 4, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm not sure if these cars were ever imported to the US - I know that I don't think I have seen one with this type of roof in person (and SoCal would be a good place to have one of these "ragtops"). That said, you can typically buy all the replacement parts you need, and our sales guys can help you find them, even for non-US cars. The bad news is that little plastic gears like that are often not available separately, and you typically have to purchase a new (or used) motor assembly and/or motor transmission. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: How do I check to see if I am getting power to the sunroof switch. Can I pop the switch off somehow without removeing the cassette?
January 28, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sure, you should be able to pop the switch off. However, the switch controls the relays that control the roof, so you might want to check the relays first before messing with the switch itself. Some of the relays are the same, so you can swap them from a working component to see if the problem is with the relay itself. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: I have a 85 e24 with a sunroof motor that works but there is a clicking noise and the roof does not move. I can move it manually. Checked motor and gear works. I check cables and can't see anything but I think it is a cable problem nonetheless. To fix this will i have to remove the headliner? Can cables be purchased separately? What is your assessment based on what I have provided? Thanks
January 24, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Although I haven't taken this particular roof apart, I think I have an idea of what may be broken. In your roof mechanism, I believe there is a transmission that connects the motor to the sunroof cables. Often these transmission units have small plastic gears in them that get brittle and break over the years. I'm betting that one of these gears is busted in the transmission and needs to be replaced. Unfortunately, most of the time, the entire sunroof motor/cable transmission needs to be replaced as you cannot purchase the gear separately. As for getting this out without removing the headliner, I think it's possible, but I'm not 100% sure. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: I have a 2008 mini when im driving the sunroof has a lot of air noise is this normal for this car. even if you have the music playing you still can hear it. Thank you
January 12, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Nope, that's not typical. You probably have a roof seal that has come loose or gone missing. Open the roof and inspect the seals around it to make sure they are in place and secure. To double-check, close the roof and then seal the whole thing with some electrical tape. Then compare the noise. You can then remove portions of the tape and go for a drive until you find the exact spot where it's no longer sealing properly. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
I want buy a second hand working sunroof for my e34. Will one of the glass new ones work well, how much
January 6, 2011
Comments: I sell rebuilt x3 and x5 panoramic cassettes email for more Info at email@example.com I can also rebuild he current unit that you have
December 27, 2010
Comments: i have a mini one 1997 with a panaramic sunroof.used about 3 to 4 times it will not close properly thus i have to use allan key. on bmw inspection they said the cables must be slightly seized. thus a new roof which they would pay but left me with labour £500 which i refuse blankly. would appreciate your comments. bruce
December 27, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don't think that roof was ever sold here in the US, so I can't say I've ever seen one! I will copy your question to the forums though, and perhaps someone there can offer some assistance. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: my 2003 325i sunroof wont close it goes about 1/3 of the way and then stops is there any way i can close it manually..
December 25, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: There should be a small panel near the sunroof that you can pry off and use the emergency crank (should be in the toolkit of the car) to manually crank the sunroof closed. I believe this information is also documented in the owner's manual. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: The left rear passenger floor gets very wet after a big downpour in my 2002 325iT. I assume it must be the sunroof since the door jam is dry. Headliner and pillar are also dry. Where are drainage tubers? Can I clean them from below?
December 7, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: It's usually not the sunroof in these cases, but it may be. I have usually seen problems like these come from the front cowl area under the rear of the hood. The sunroof should seal with the top of the roof and rain should simply slide off. I would rinse the car down in specific areas (like the sunroof) and then check to see if the car gets wet - isolate the problem, and then you can find the source. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi Wayne, can you help with some advice on a problem I have with my 2004 525 sedan roof which opens and closes OK but does not open up. The sound it makes when I try to open up sounds like it's working but it sits in the closed position. Thanks for advice in advance.
November 17, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: You just need to dig in there and take a look. I'm sure that there is a gear or something that is stripped or non-functional. I haven't taken apart my 5-Series sunroof, so I don't know for sure, but there are lots of moving parts in there that can break. you really need to just start removing stuff and looking in there with a flashlight. Usually it will be obvious what is broken when you can see and try opening the roof when there are less parts in the way. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: my 95 325i sunroof got stuck open in the rain i closed it with the tool bmw gives u...now it only opens to vent what can i do
November 9, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: You just need to start taking it apart to see what is broken. Follow the instructions in the article for some help on this. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: I have a new "used" E28 M5. The zero setting on the sunroof does not seem to be correct. When closing the sunroof it will continue past the closed position and pop up the rear without stopping. Can this be adjusted without disassembly? Thanks.
October 27, 2010
Comments: I've got the parts to solve the problem as shown in photo C above on my 03 530i but I don't see how to get the bad parts out metal arm w/slides and the new ones in. Surely I don't have to remove the whole sunroof?
September 29, 2010
Comments: We have a 2001 525i wagon - the sunroof headliner needs to be replaced - can you explain as easily as possible how to do this. Thanks
September 26, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I believe that the procedure is very similar to the one shown in this article - the headliner is one piece and needs to be replaced in a section. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
I have a 2006 525d Estate with a 2 part glass sunroof which works fine. The problem is that the car recently has a REALLY bad leak from the rear section of the sunroof. Is it likely to be a straight forward thing to fix? and do you know if this is a common problem?
September 11, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like a seal has gone bad. Unfortunately, I haven't tackled this job yet, so I'm not really sure how difficult it would be. Typically, replacement of these seals is not too tough of a task. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: HI - I HAVE A 2003 525I SEDAN - THE SUNROOF GLASS WILL OPEN AND CLOSE FINE - WHEN YOU TRY TO OPEN UP JUST THE BACK - THE MOTOR RUNS AND YOU SEE THE GLASS START TO OPEN BUT DOES NOT - YOU CAN PUSH THE BACK UP BUT IT WONT STAY UP - I BELIEVE THE LINKAGE CAME OFF OR IS BROKEN - HOW DO I REMOVE JUST THE GLASS TO INSPECT - LOOKS LIKE 2 TORK HEAD SCREWS ON BOTH SIDES -
August 26, 2010
Comments: Hi Wayne. I hope that you can help me. I need to replace the manual set drive of my sunroof. The car is BMW316i E30 1988, the handle is pending down. I got a new one but one time the plastic cover was removed and I am going to unscrew the two screws holding the manual set drive the scrws became tigh and they no come out. At this point I had stop the action because I don't want cause damage to the sunroof. Any suggestion? Is there any technical bulletin from BMW? If yes where is possible found. Thanks a lot.
August 21, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Hmm, I don't think I have enough information yet. I would suggest that you post this in our forums and ask there, and then we can all comment on it (post some photos too). - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hello Wayne . I have an '04 X5 that has the "panoramic" sunroof in it and the right rear corner will not completey close ! It stays tilted up slightly on the rear corner and I have to place a towel in the opening to keep rain water out of the vehicle . I took it to the local BMW dealer and they told me the whole sunroof "cassette" needed to be replaced at a cost to me of $4764.67 + tax !! Does this sound right ? Looks like there would be a way to repair this problem without trashing the whole sunroof and having to buy and install a new one !! I spent $5400.00 on this vehicle in January of this year fixing a water leak that occured in the roof where the side body joins and shorted out the stereo and teletronics amps !! Isn't there some easier & cheaper way of repairing this sunroof problem on this vehicle ? I like the vehicle but I can't afford too many more repairs like his !! Please let me know what can be done ! Thank you for your help and expert advice !!
August 20, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Dealers are really bad mechanics - all they do is swap out parts. They make money by selling you a new $5000 roof assembly, on top of labor charges. You need to find a good independent mechanic who will tackle this job and work on it to adjust / fix the roof properly. I don't think this roof option was too popular, so I think you'll have to find someone adventurous who will be willing to take it on and learn along the way. If you're in the Los Angeles area, try the guys at Callas Rennsport, 310-370-7038 - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: There may be an alternative for those with E36s looking to remove only the top metal sunroof panel to gain access and remove the sunroof headliner panel. Why wouldn't the following work: use the tilt function to pop up the back of the sunroof, remove the two torx bolts securing the front of the metal panel to the frame from inside the car, and even those there's minimal clearance use a small ratchet or open/closed end wrench to remove the three rear bolts from the top of the roof?
I suggest that alternative since I noticed the same issue as Sideways did with my '98 M3: the sunroof headliner panel will not push back as described.
August 3, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: That might work - at this point, you're just trying to gain access any way how. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: My sunroof panel won't pull back after briefly hitting the switch as described. Could it be because my E36 M3 is a 97? I have heard that this only works on pre-96 models. If so, what can I do?
July 31, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm not sure - it might be that this feature was disabled for some type of anti-head-chopping reason. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: g'day Wayne. i have a 1991 e36 320i sedan. the sunroof will open and close but when it gets to the last 20cm to close fully it won't. Have you heard of this type of prob and if so could you suggest what may be causing this. The white around the edges is masking tape residue lol:- Trying to stop water getting in. Did not work to well, bummer
July 15, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sorry, you just have to dive in there and see what is clogging the works - it's different on just about every other sunroof. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi, I have a whistleing sound when I drive with the sunroof in the vent position 328i. Dealer wants to replace the entire cassette. Does this sound right?
June 29, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Nope, sounds like a lazy dealer wanting to spend a lot of someone's money (yours or BMW's if the car is still under warranty). It's probably a loose seal somewhere in the roof. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: What do you do if your sunroof is jammed?
June 14, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: That's a tough one - I had a jammed sunroof for this article. You just need to get in there with a long screwdriver, and go back and forth and try to free it up. You can also remove the headliner and access the internals that way too. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Wayne ,I will need you help to replace the mechanism of my 2002 325i sunroof. Thanks in advance.Juan
April 20, 2010
Comments: I have the same problem as Hal...my outer metal sunroof is opening and closing fine, but the inner fabric one is somehow disconnected from the metal one and won't move with it. I have a 1994 525i...any suggestions on how to easily put them back together?
April 20, 2010
Comments: Good article, but it doesn't seem to address my issue. The outer panelmetal operates properly but the inner headliner panelfabric covered does not close properly when the out panel closes. I may be missing something because it doesn't appear that the lifting blocks or lever assemblies have anything to do with closing the inner panel. I have been able to manually pull it forward so it is 90% closed. But that is as far as it will go. Suggestions?? I could order the levers and lifting blocks and take the outer panel off I guess....but not sure that is the way to go. I have them in my "Project list"
March 24, 2010
Comments: I have a 1995 318i. The fabric on the sunroof headliner piece needs repair. Is it possible to remove this piece without removing the sunroof cassette?
February 17, 2010
I have a 1992 BMW 325i e36 sedan that has this water leak down from the driver side pillar and runs down to the floor. I checked and clean out the drain holes and checked the drain hose behind the driver side pillar and see no damages to the hose. Have you seen this before and where do I go from here??
Thank you in advance.
January 21, 2010
Comments: I must congratulate you in this most useful guide.
Is the there a known fault with BMW X3 sunroofs. They appear to have a logic of their own when opening and closing. The most recent cold weather has resulted in the sun-roof now not closing on one side. i have taken the car to a BMW service garage who tell me that the whole cassette needs to be changes and this could cost close to £3,000. The insurtance compnay tells me that this is not covered by the insurance company as it is due to wear and tear. what should/can I do?
I have got a 2005/6 re
January 21, 2010
I've got a 1993 325si 2 dr coupe with a basically operational sunroof except that is won't quite close all the way and cosmetically it looks terrible. I can close it if I manually push down on the "wing flap" that runs all along the front of the sunroof so that it can pass over this "flap". Is there an easy fix for this? Also, the lowest interior cover panel no longer has a liner over it minimal residual foam over metal. Can this be relined without removing the entire sunroof? Do I need to install a handle of any kind towards the front of this panel? I don't see any screw holes for a previous handle and it's not a manual sunroof. Once or twice it retracted into the roof when I opened the sunroof and the sliding panel was hard to get out. Any advice appreciated. Just trying hard to avoid taking the whole thing out. Most important issue is the cosmetic one.
November 13, 2009
Comments: Wayne thanks for all the help so far, I replaced both the lifters for the tail.
My next question is both side have 2 sets of metal gearing that make the sunroof slide back and forth, the left side only one of them work im guessing this is why it wont make the tail go up. We tried some silicon grease to loosen it but did not work.
Any help would be welcomed. I hope you understood.
October 17, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: You just need to trace it back, it's a relatively simple system. One of the catches for the cables must be loose or broken for that one side? - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi Wayne. Can you tell me if i only need one or two parts for this repair? It works fine open and close but once its closed drivers side tilts down and when u raise the tail it wont go up.
September 22, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm not sure - you need to take a close look in there and see if you can find anything that is broken in there. Every sunroof is slightly different when it comes to what in particular is broken. - Wayne at Pelican Parts