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Pelican Technical Article:

Door Seal Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

3 hours3 hrs

Tab:

$100

Talent:

****

Tools:

Plastic prying tool, door panel clip tool, flat- and Phillips-head screwdrivers, socket set (10mm)

Applicable Models:

BMW E46 3-Series (1999-06)

Parts Required:

Door seal, door panel trim clips

Hot Tip:

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

Performance Gain:

Water tight door

Complementary Modification:

Clean seal mounting surface before installing new seal
The door seal wraps around the door preventing water and wind from entering the vehicle interior. When the door seal wears out, it can develop a flat spot or a tear allowing water to enter the vehicle interior. If you have a water leak in your BMW E46, this is a good place to start your diagnosis. When diagnosing the water leak, start by removing the door panel. Then close the door and have a friend run a hose around the suspected area while you are inside the vehicle monitoring for water entering the interior. The vapor barrier and the door seal area should be water tight and dry. If you find the vapor barrier is leaking water, replace the vapor barrier. If you notice water coming in around the door, replace the door seal.

The inner door trim panel is equipped with SRS airbags. For safety reasons, be sure to disconnect the vehicle battery before beginning work on the door panel. See our tech article on the battery.

To avoid marring the trim, work with a plastic prying tool or wrap a screwdriver tip with masking tape before prying out body seals, trim panels, switches or electrical accessories.

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.
Using a plastic prying tool, gently lever out door panel trim piece.
Figure 1

Using a plastic prying tool, gently lever out door panel trim piece. Start prying at the edge (green arrow) and work your way toward interior of car, gently levering trim piece off door panel.

Next, using a plastic prying tool, lever out power mirror switch.
Figure 2

Next, using a plastic prying tool, lever out power mirror switch.

Once mirror switch has been removed, disconnect electrical connectors by pulling straight out of switch.
Figure 3

Once mirror switch has been removed, disconnect electrical connectors by pulling straight out of switch.

Then, using a plastic prying tool, lever out trim plugs from bottom of arm rest.
Figure 4

Then, using a plastic prying tool, lever out trim plugs from bottom of arm rest. Be careful when removing, be sure to pull them straight out of arm rest. If bent incorrectly, these have a tendency to break.

Then, remove five T20 Torx fasteners.
Figure 5

Then, remove five T20 Torx fasteners.

Using a door panel clip tool, release door panel clips.
Figure 6

Using a door panel clip tool, release door panel clips. I like to start at lower corner (green arrow), Then work my way around door panel, releasing all other clips. Once door panel clips have been disconnected, pull top of door panel straight off window seal clips. Start at outer edge of door and work your way toward interior.

Pull door panel back enough to access door handle cable, unclip and release cable (green arrow) from door handle by releasing tab and pulling out.
Figure 7

Pull door panel back enough to access door handle cable, unclip and release cable (green arrow) from door handle by releasing tab and pulling out. Then pull door panel away from door a little further and disconnect speaker electrical connectors by pulling straight off and guide mirror wiring harness out of door panel. Once all electrical connectors are disconnected and detached from door panel, remove door panel from vehicle.

Working at door hinge area, remove two plastic rivets.
Figure 8

Working at door hinge area, remove two plastic rivets. I like to use a trim panel tool to pop them out.

Then, peel back inner door trim from window rail.
Figure 9

Then, peel back inner door trim from window rail. Do this by unclipping trim piece at interior side of door and peeling off toward exterior of door and remove.

Then you will have to peel door seal off door.
Figure 10

Then you will have to peel door seal off door. The seal is held on with double sided tape. I like to use a plastic scraper or plastic prying tool with a flat edge to slowly scrape the seal off door. You can start at any section of the seal, working your way around the door. Take your time, if pieces of the seal stay attached to door, this makes removing the double sided tape remnants harder.

Remove all remaining pieces of double sided tape.
Figure 11

Remove all remaining pieces of double sided tape. Scrape away using a plastic scraper. When finished, clean the area with alcohol.

Place new seal over door and confirm installation location.
Figure 12

Place new seal over door and confirm installation location. Then, starting at top outside corner of door, peel away double sided tape backing and attach at corner. Then work your way around door, fitting seal while removing tape backing. Door panel installation is the reverse of removal. Be sure to replace any damaged door panel clips. Properly route all wiring as original.

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Comments and Suggestions:
Tom Comments: How do you get the seal behind the door brake center bar in figure 8? Do you unbolt the brake, and if yes which is easier - body or door side? Or can you just pull the pin? Thanks for all the great info - you have become my go to guys for BMW repair :
August 25, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If I remember correctly, the seal should be split to come around, if not, remove the bolt at the door jamb for the door check. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Mon 12/5/2016 02:20:22 AM