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Front Window Regulator Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Front Window Regulator Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

3 hours3 hrs

Tab:

$200

Talent:

****

Tools:

Plastic prying tool, Door panel clip tool, flathead & Phillips screwdriver, socket set (10mm)

Applicable Models:

BMW E46 3-Series (1999-06)

Parts Required:

Window regulator, Vapor barrier, Vapor barrier seal, door panel clips, plastic window retainers.

Hot Tip:

Have door panel trim clips on hand in case they break when removing

Performance Gain:

Functioning power window

Complementary Modification:

Inspect / lubricate door lock mechanism

The window regulator is the mechanical track and guide for lifting the door window glass. The front door of your vehicle has a window regulator with two rails, while the rear door only has one rail. They each have an electric motor and function similarly. The electric window motor can be serviced separately; however they do not fail that often. You will need to swap the electric motor over to the new window regulator you are replacing. The electric motor can be installed in any position as it does not have a mechanical stop. Do not worry about the installation orientation when reinstalling. When replacing a window regulator, it is important to inspect the window guide and seal. The seal can wear and this increases friction on the window when going up and down, which stresses the window regulator. This can lead to premature wear of your window regulator and repeat failures. If needed, replace this component also.

The procedure in this tech article only applies to four-door vehicles. If you own a two-door (coupe or convertible) version of the E46, the door glass has no frame but instead fits in the rubber door trim when the door is closed and the window is up. When you open the door, the glass drops a slight amount (about 1/4 inch) to allow the door to open unobstructed. The placement of the window regulator inside the door cavity makes this slight window movement possible. It is important that when the door is closed the window jams firmly but not too forcibly into the rubber door trim in order to prevent water leaks and wind whistles in the vehicle interior. To precisely adjust the window regulator, you have to remove the door molding and reach inside the door cavity. In any case, adjusting the window regulator on a two-door model is not covered here.

Keep in mind that when your car was serviced before, parts may have been replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have, so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches. 

Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If you are working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Do not work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability. 

Vehicle models change and evolve as they grow older, so the vehicle shown in our illustrations may vary slightly from yours. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Do you have questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

Lower the window until it is about 5 1/2 inches up when measured near lock pull (green arrow).
Figure 1

Lower the window until it is about 5 1/2 inches up when measured near lock pull (green arrow).

Remove the three 10mm airbag fasteners (green arrows) and move the airbag away from the door.
Figure 2

Disconnect the battery negative cable. See our Pelican Parts Technical Article on Replacing Your Battery for more information.

Remove the three 10mm airbag fasteners (green arrows) and move the airbag away from the door.

Then disconnect the side airbag electrical connector (green arrow) and remove the airbag from the door.
Figure 3

Then disconnect the side airbag electrical connector (green arrow) and remove the airbag from the door. The connector pulls straight out of the airbag. If it does not come out easily, you can pry it out with a small flathead screwdriver, just be careful not to damage connector. Once removed, store the airbag in safe place.

Slowly peel the vapor barrier (green arrow) off door.
Figure 4

Slowly peel the vapor barrier (green arrow) off door. Be careful not to tear it when removing. There are two methods for getting the window glass out of the way when removing the regulator. One is to completely remove the glass. The other is to secure the glass at the top of the door frame while working on regulator. Both methods are described below.

Working inside door cavity at window regulator, remove the two 8mm window fasteners (green arrows).
Figure 5

Working inside door cavity at window regulator, remove the two 8mm window fasteners (green arrows).

Push the expanding nut (green arrow) out of the plastic retainer.
Figure 6

To Remove the Glass:

Push the expanding nut (green arrow) out of the plastic retainer.

I like to push the expanding nut out using a
Figure 7

I like to push the expanding nut out using a 1/4" drive extension. Once the nut has been removed, release the plastic clip retaining the tabs from the backside and remove from the window. Do this for both plastic clips on the window glass.

Pull the door glass out of the door - rear corner first, moving it up and sliding it out of door.
Figure 8

Pull the door glass out of the door - rear corner first, moving it up and sliding it out of door. Store the door glass in a safe place.

Alternately, you can replace regulator without removing window glass.
Figure 9

Working with the Glass in the Door:

Alternately, you can replace regulator without removing window glass. Once the window has been unbolted from regulator, push glass to top of sill and tape in place. This method requires very good tape and a clean window. If the window falls it can break. So be careful.

Disconnect the window motor electrical connector by squeezing the release tabs and pulling off (green arrow).
Figure 10

Disconnect the window motor electrical connector by squeezing the release tabs and pulling off (green arrow).

Next, remove the five 10mm window regulator nuts (green arrows).
Figure 11

Next, remove the five 10mm window regulator nuts (green arrows).

Cut the tie strap at the upper regulator cable (green arrow).
Figure 12

Cut the tie strap at the upper regulator cable (green arrow).

Remove the window regulator from the rear rail first (green arrow) then the motor side of the regulator.
Figure 13

Remove the window regulator from the rear rail first (green arrow) then the motor side of the regulator. Be careful not to snag the wiring harnesses or scratch the door paint when removing.

Remove the window motor fasteners and rotate the window motor counterclockwise to remove from the window regulator.
Figure 14

Remove the window motor fasteners and rotate the window motor counterclockwise to remove from the window regulator.

Install the window motor on the new regulator, and then rotate it clockwise until the bolt holes are aligned and install the fasteners.
Figure 15

Install the window motor on the new regulator, and then rotate it clockwise until the bolt holes are aligned and install the fasteners. Install the window regulator into the door, rear side first then install the regulator fasteners. Then reattach the regulator cable with the new tie strap as it was before. Slide the window glass, front edge first, into the door cavity. Then install the window glass fasteners.

Install the new window glass plastic retainers.
Figure 16

Install the new window glass plastic retainers. Snap the plastic clip (green arrow) into place, then push the nut (yellow arrow) all the way in. Properly route the wiring harness as they were before and be sure vapor barrier is properly sealed. You may have to align and adjust the window glass when replacing a regulator, if so I suggest picking up a repair manual as there are many specific steps involved in doing so.

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Comments and Suggestions:
LLEMKE Comments: Hey folks,

Until such time as I am able to get a hold of the right repair manual for this car, I'm wondering if someone might have some tips on alignment post installation. I had to replace the clips, but somehow the vertical alignment got a bit whacked.

many thanks!
December 5, 2016
Duke Comments: Hi, and thanks for the how-to. Can I assume that a rear door is similar enough that these instruction will work?
August 5, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The rear door in similar, except the regulator is a bit easier to work with, it has only one rail. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
leroy Comments: Thank you for producing a comprehensive and precise video. Very good reference.

Liked the use of the red door. Made everything stand out nothing lost in the background.

mlw
July 4, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Gaz Comments: Hi, my son went to put electric window down in rear of car other day, it stayed still, at around a quarter the way down, it then made funny noise, so when I touched the glass it fell down into door, would it be the glass has simply got stuck and come out its rail thingy :- or is there a common faulty part I could need? Thanx
December 5, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like either the glass retaining parts failed, or the window regulator. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Rudy Comments: My window wont budge at all. How can i lower it to unbolt it from the regulator? Is there another way to unbolt the window without having to lower it?
October 17, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You didn't mention what vehicle you have. On most, remove the door panel, then cut one of the cables for the regulator. The window will move up and down once the cable is cut. You will have to replace the regulator. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
T Comments: i have replaced my left drovers window regulator lets say more than twice in a week so im trying to figure out whats happening. it sounds like the cable gets in a bind on the spool and then a backlash type situation occurs pinching the cable the cable and this binds it up internally and trashes the new unit. ive tried lubeing all the window tracks im at a loss any help im on my fourth regulator and am about to go buy a new door! thanks Tony BMW 325i 2004
October 9, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check if the door seals are worn. If the door seals and guides for the window glass are in good shape, you may be getting defective regulators. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
madboy17 Comments: there are bolts for holding window at figure 5.i have different on my 2002 316 ti compact.i searched nearly all topics and coulnt find anything.please help me how to remove this green clips?there is no bolt!
September 30, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It looks like a retaining clip. Push it toward door skin to release glass. Then pull window up. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Wed 12/7/2016 02:20:55 AM