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BMW E39 Door Latch Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

BMW E39 Door Latch Replacement

Kerry Jonsson

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$150

Talent:

**

Tools:

Plastic prying tool, Door panel clip tool, Phillips screwdriver,

Applicable Models:

BMW E39 5-Series (1997-03)

Parts Required:

Door latch, Vapor barrier, Vapor barrier seal, door panel clips

Hot Tip:

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

Performance Gain:

Correct door latch operation and power door lock operation.

Complementary Modification:

Clean and lubricate door latches on other doors

The job of the door latch is to latch the door to the body of the car. On BMW E39 models the power door lock actuator is integrated with the latch. As well as having an actuator it also has position switches so the body computer and instrument cluster knows and can warn you when the door is open. These position sensors also inform the body control module (BCM) if the door is locked and should be unlocked or vice versa. Sometimes the outside latch handle signal is sent to the body module to let it know to wake up when the door is opened. A problem latch can lead to battery drains delaying computers from going into sleep mode. This can happen when the interior light stays illuminated because the latch is not indicating to the BCM that the door is closed.

Remove interior door panel. See our tech article on door panel removing. Since you are not removing the window regulator you should have the window positioned all the way up before you disconnect the battery.

The first step is to follow the procedure for Interior Front Door Panel Removal. The procedure here picks up after that is complete.

It's a good idea to get some of the components out of the way.
Figure 1

It's a good idea to get some of the components out of the way. You can start by pulling on the inner door handle until the white cable housing (green arrow) is coming out of its mount (yellow arrow) then twist the housing away.

Now rotate the handle towards the open end of the hook (green arrow) and detach hook from handle.
Figure 2

Now rotate the handle towards the open end of the hook (green arrow) and detach hook from handle.

In the next step you should unplug all of the electrical connections in the midrange speaker housing.
Figure 3

In the next step you should unplug all of the electrical connections in the midrange speaker housing. Starting with the smaller connectors, you can disconnect them by pulling them right out. You can carefully use a pick to lever since there is not enough clearance to fit your fingers in there.

Next, the larger connector has a lever type release.
Figure 4

Next, the larger connector has a lever type release. It has a locking tab you have to push down on while moving the lever over the tab. Rotate the lever a full (green arrow) 90 degrees and the connector will be pushed upwards so you can unplug it.

There are three Phillips screws (green arrows) that hold on the speaker housing.
Figure 5

There are three Phillips screws (green arrows) that hold on the speaker housing. Remove these screws and remove the speaker housing from the door. We now have to remove the side air bag. This is going to require that we disconnected the battery before we unplug the airbag. Leave the battery disconnected for 15 minutes before attempted to work on the airbag system. Disconnect battery negative cable. See our tech article on battery replacing and reconnecting.

Remove the four 10mm bolts that hold down the side airbag and support the bag.
Figure 6

Remove the four 10mm bolts that hold down the side airbag and support the bag. (green arrows) You will disconnect the electrical connector once the airbag is removed, is it much easier to disconnect the electrical connector this way. When working with air bags always face them away from yourself.

Squeeze the two tabs on the airbag connector and pull the connector straight apart.
Figure 7

Squeeze the two tabs on the airbag connector and pull the connector straight apart. Put the airbag in a safe place out of the sun. Always have the frame or back of the airbag facing downward against the ground.

You can now start peeling away the vapor barrier that insulates the inner door panel.
Figure 8

You can now start peeling away the vapor barrier that insulates the inner door panel. Around the perimeter there is a black sealant that you can slowly peel off. You can also use a single sided razor blade or knife to cut the sealant as your separate the vapor barrier from the door frame.

With the vapor barrier removed you have exposed the inner door.
Figure 9

With the vapor barrier removed you have exposed the inner door. This gives you access to the window, window regulator and the door latch

There are two electrical connectors on the door latch assembly.
Figure 10

There are two electrical connectors on the door latch assembly. The upper connector pictured here uses a slide lock. Grab the slide lock and pull it down in direction of green arrow. As the slide moves downward the connector will move away from the latch until you unplug it.

To remove the second inner connector (green arrow), reach into the door and press the locking tab (facing you) and pull the connector downward.
Figure 11

To remove the second inner connector (green arrow), reach into the door and press the locking tab (facing you) and pull the connector downward.

If you want you can open this plastic tab (green arrow) and carefully remove the wiring harness to move it out the way.
Figure 12

If you want you can open this plastic tab (green arrow) and carefully remove the wiring harness to move it out the way.

Coming from the outer door handle and attaching to the latch is a cable.
Figure 13

Coming from the outer door handle and attaching to the latch is a cable. When the door handle is pulled up the cable pulls on the arm on the latch to open the door. Reach into the door and lift up on the arm and from behind push on the cable stay. This will release the cable stay from the latch.

There are three fasteners (green arrows) that secure the latch to the door.
Figure 14

There are three fasteners (green arrows) that secure the latch to the door. Remove the three T27 internal bolts. The bolt on the inside of the door may have vapor barrier sealant covering it, you may have to clean it off.

You can now reach in the pull the latch assembly downward.
Figure 15

You can now reach in the pull the latch assembly downward. Pull is out through the lower opening in the door.

You may have to remove the rear lower mounting bolt (green arrow) for the window regulator and move it out of the way to make room for the latch to come out.
Figure 16

You may have to remove the rear lower mounting bolt (green arrow) for the window regulator and move it out of the way to make room for the latch to come out. This photo shows the rear rail of the window regulator with a wrench on the fastener you will be removing. To install your new latch, reverse the order of steps. Remember to check function of the latch before installing door panel. I suggest closing latch with a flathead screwdriver while door is open, then open it using the cables once you attached them. This will ensure it is working.

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Comments and Suggestions:
Alan Comments: Do you know how to change out the cable from the outer door handle to the latch? Having removed the latch still cannot see where it connects to the inner side of the outer handle.
Thanks
July 20, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It should be a lever on the exterior handle.

I would grab a repair manual. It will have the procedure.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Stevedollar Comments: I encourage readers to replace both sides at the same time. 4,000 miles after replacing the left rear actuator, I had to do it for the right rear and had to re-learn the process. The second time is easier, as usual. Also, check the butyl tape holding the foam vapor barrier and have new butyl rubber tape handy - you will have to order it. Although the loose vapor barrier hadn't created ponding water yet like the left side the tape on the right side had lost its "sticky" quality and there was some residual moisture from a recent rain.

The second time around, I was able to skip some steps and it went very fast. After removing the door panel, I snaked the interior door handle through the foam vapor barrier, so I didn't have to remove and then reinstall the cable/hook that attaches to the interior handle. After that, I removed the three torx bolts holding the latch assembly in place, then slid the assembly down a bit. Then I could remove the cable and then the entire assembly could be slid out a bit for better access I left the other wire connected. With the latch assembly out, it is much easier to disconnect and reconnect the actuator, since the electrical connector is fiddly, as is the mechanical connection holding the actuator to the latch assembly.



May 15, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for sharing your installation process and experience. These type of comments add so much to the Pelican tech community.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
stevedollar Comments: I should clarify, in my comment above about the difficult connector, I am referring to the two wires going to the actuator, not the speaker.
October 24, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Ok, got it. Thx - Nick at Pelican Parts  
stevedollar Comments: Nice write-up! Please note that therear doors are simpler and do not involve the air bag, vent or speaker except a little wire you have to disconnect. I thought the haerdest part was disconnecting the wiring, as the connector is over engineered and there is little room to maneuver. I unbolted the latch and slid it down a little in the door opening, which made it possible to see what was doing. You may want to have a roll of butyl tape handy, as this is a goodtime to make sure thefoam water barrier is well adhered to the door, to avoid the common water infiltration issues.
October 24, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info and feedback. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 

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