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 > Technical Articles: / BMW E36 3-Series (1992-1999) >
Installing a Rear Spoiler on Your BMW

Pelican Technical Article:

Installing a Rear Spoiler on Your BMW


3-4 hours






Electric drill, 1/8- & 1/4-inch drill bit, primer, paint, sand paper, 6mm socket and driver

Applicable Models:

BMW E30 3-Series (1984-93)
BMW E36 3-Series (1992-99)

Parts Required:

E30 or E36 rear spoiler

Performance Gain:

Racy looks and perhaps a little bit more downforce

Complementary Modification:

Install a chin spoiler
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One neat addition to the profile of any 3 Series car is a rear spoiler. Although they really have very little functional aerodynamic purpose, they certainly look cool on the back of the car.

There are many different styles available today; some even include an integrated third brake light. Fortunately, installation for most styles is very easy; simply follow the procedure for marking and wiring the lamp in Photos 1 and 2.

Before installing the spoiler, though, be sure to have it painted to perfectly color-match your car. The best way to ensure this is to remove your gas flap and take it along with your spoiler, and then have them match the paint to the flap. When completing the installation, make sure you place a small amount of rubber sealing compound on the spoiler so water doesn't leak into your trunk from the holes drilled in the trunk lid.

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Figure 1

Shown here is one of my favorite aftermarket spoilers for E36 cars. This one spans the length of the trunk and includes an integrated center-mount brake lamp. The lamp is wired into the brake lamp circuit by tapping into the wires that power the left rear brake lamp assembly.

Figure 2

This photo sequence shows one of the methods I recommend for installing the spoiler. A: Start by taping a piece of paper to the spoiler itself using scotch tape. Using a permanent marker that will seep through the paper, feel with your finger and mark the holes in the spoiler with the marker. B: Place the spoiler on the car in the exact place where you want it to be. Once you have it positioned, then tape down the paper to the car using masking tape. C: Remove the spoiler and the paper should indicate exactly where to drill the holes. Take some measurements and confirm that these are in the proper spot prior to drilling. D: The trunk frame on the E36 is too thick and angled to have a bolt run all the way through. Using a very small hole saw, cut a small access hole (green arrow) so you can insert the bolt and a swivel-socket driver. When done drilling, coat the edges of all the holes with some paint to prevent the bare metal from rusting.

Figure 3

If your rear spoiler has an integrated third brake light, snake the cable down the trunk hinge alongside the main trunk lock cable. Tap it into one of the wires that feeds your brake lights. You'll have to get a multimeter and test the wires at the connectors while an assistant steps on the brake pedal to see which ones turn on the brake lights, as they've varied throughout the years. Run the red wire to the brake light lead, and ground the other wire to the chassis.

Comments and Suggestions:
Rado328 Comments: Definitely not cross-threaded. The 8/32 bolt was perfect. I used Loctite threadlocker. That spoiler isn't going anywhere.
May 3, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Perfect, thanks. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Rado328 Comments: I'm guessing it was an issue with the rivnut in the spoiler. Never heard of German cars using non-metric bolts, but I finally found the size that worked. It was a standard 8/32. A lot of rust came out of it. So, I'm guessing the true size was an M4. But after age, it got slightly bigger. Thanks for your help, Nick!
May 3, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No problem, glad to help. I would bet rust is it, or someone cross-threaded it at one point. You may be bale to run a tap through it to clean it out. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Rado328 Comments: I ended up going to Lowe's and found it was M4. However, the it was still a little loose. And the M5 was too big. Gonna see if there is something in between
April 27, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the bolt is bottoming out and not tight on the body, ad a locking washer. You may also have an issue with the rivnut in the spoiler. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Rado328 Comments: I picked up a used OEM spoiler for an E36 M3 from eBay. Unfortunately, it didn't come with the bolts/screws. And the seller wasn't helpful. Any idea what pitch/thread/length I would need, short of taking the spoiler to Lowe's or Home Depot and trying different sizes?
April 23, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Most likely 8x1.25 (not sure on the length. To be sure, Give The Pelican Parts parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
aizen Comments: what is the use of rear spoiler?how much is the remote controlled rear spoiler?
February 27, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: On what vehicle? Rear spoilers are used for either air direction into a cooler, across cooling fins. Also used for stabilizing the vehicle.. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
hurk Comments: i changed the licen plate bulb, and the light on the consol wont go out,iused the reset tool and it is still on.waiting for your reply
January 2, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What light is ON? Can you share a picture? - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Mon 1/22/2018 02:05:36 AM