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Pelican Technical Article:

BMW Technical Article

BMW E36 3 Series Window Repair
Jared Fenton
Wayne R. Dempsey

Difficulty Level: 3
Difficulty scale: Adding air to your tires is level one
Rebuilding a BMW Motor is level ten

     In this tech article, I will go over the steps involved with repairing the window guides on the BMW E36 3 Series. Has your window dropped to the front, causing the glass to come off track?  Well here is the answer to your problem.

     The first step is to remove the inner door panels. This is done by first prying off the inner door handle frame. Simply pull it to the rear and it will come off. Next, remove the mirror switch by prying it out of its holder. Now, unscrew the door lock push buttons at the rear of the doors. Remove the plugs in the armrest, and remove the screws underneath. Now remove the door panel by pulling the panel outward at the lower edge of the door. Slowly work your way around the perimeter of the door panel until you have released all the clips holding the panel to the door. Now remove the door panel and carefully peel back the protective plastic sheeting under the panel.

     Now, with the door panel removed, take a look inside. You should see the window guides inside the door. The most common culprit is the widow guide slider separating from the window arm. We will need to re-attach these pieces in order to fix the window.

     It’s quite likely that the glass has come out of the window guide as well, so you will need to carefully maneuver the glass back into the guides.

     Start by maneuvering the window up and down so you can slide the window arm back on. It may take a while to get the guides aligned correctly. It may be necessary to replace the plastic slider that fits in the guide, depending on how badly it may be worn. In order to get the slider piece off, you will need to remove the retaining clip. Just slide it backwards and it should come off.

     It’s quite likely that the glass has come out of the window guide as well, so you will need to carefully maneuver the glass back into the guides. Once you have the glass sitting in the guide correctly, push the ball on the control arm into the white plastic clip. Now comes the tricky part. You will need to keep the ball in the socket while you re-install the retaining clip. Just use some perseverance and elbow grease and it will go in.

     Now, grease the window guides. This will keep the windows sliding up and down smoothly. Check that the window opens and closes correctly. If it doesn’t, you will have to adjust the angle at which the window opens and closes. If you look towards the rear of the door, you will see a bolt holding the window mechanism to the door frame. Loosen this bolt Pushing up on the window arm will cause the window to move closer to the opening edge of the door. Pushing down on the door does the opposite. It moves the window away from the edge of the door. Once you have adjusted the window mechanism, tighten the bolt back down.

     We can now start to reinstall the door panel. Start out by first placing the plastic sheeting back over the door frame Next, take the door panel and install the upper edge into the window channel, making sure that it is correctly aligned with the mounting clips. Next, line up the plastic pins with their respective holes in the doorframe and working your way around the perimeter, pop the panel back on to the door.

     Re-install the armrest screws and pop the cover plugs back in as well as the inner door handle and window mirror switch. The last step is to screw the door lock button back on.  

     Well, there you have it - it's really not too difficult at all.  If you would like to see more technical articles like this one, please continue to support Pelican Parts with all your parts needs.  If you like what you see here, then please visit our online BMW catalog and help support the collection and creating of new and informative technical articles like this one.  Your continued support directly affects the expansion and existence of this site and technical articles like this one.  As always, if you have any questions or comments about this helpful article, please drop us a line.

Comments and Suggestions:
Borbet Comments: 96 318ti - Regulator on the passenger side broke the slider that is not replaceable on the support arm that bolts to the door. noticed a pop when rolling up the window and seen both replaceable slider blocks were good. I have a new regulator I ordered by mistake. Going to put this one in. The driver side has a new regulator installed. The front keeps dipping down as it goes up it doesn't seem to be any bind in the window when I move it manually. It seems the front of the glass is slipping out of the rubber after a couple cycles. I'm going to replace the front rubber see if that works.
June 1, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the rubber is worn, it will slip. Just be sure the glass is also in the right position, tight into the channel. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Steve Comments: Nick

I've been fighting with the driver's window on a '99 M3 convertible and I'm at my wits end. I've replaced the regulator because of worn gear and now the window will not go all the way up about 1/8" short even though the adjustment bolt on the regulator is all the way to the right full up position. Furthermore, the window is tilted slightly forward.

Any thought? Thanks.
January 24, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Door shut, still stalls at 1/8". Have to tried to get it close, then perform the adaptation? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
russ Comments: hey nick I looked for the modual and can't find it in the door?
August 10, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Then the module is part of the general module, (ZKE). - Nick at Pelican Parts  
russ Comments: nick I had tried the initialization no luck. took the panel off and regulator looks fine it's a 94 not 49 thanks
August 8, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: A module monitors current when the regulator reaches the top, causing the stop of the motor. Possible the current is not being seen or noticed by the door module. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Blue Comments: Sorry! this is on a 94 318is.
August 6, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Got it, thanks. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Blue Comments: Hi, I'm try to remove the driver side door window so that I could get to the micro sensor, can't seem to see how it comes off, Could anyone HELP me???
August 6, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Microsensor? You will have to remove the door glass as described in this article. Then you may have access to the switch you are looking for. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
russ Comments: My 49 e36 just had some work done where the battery was disconected. now when shuttin the driver side door the window shuts properly but seems to want to keep going up after it seals. getting that rachet noise. replaced the regulator last year and have tried the resets. Any ideas?
August 6, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Try initializing the window. Lower it, then raise it and hold the switch for 5 seconds after it comes up. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Kasper Comments: 1995 320i convertible: drivers side window don't react. I can hear clicking sound in door when activating regulator button. Microswitch and regulator button tested OK. Tried switching power window module as well. Passenger side is now periodically acting likewise - Any ideas?
June 5, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: if you hear the motor click, the regulator may be faulty. 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
Yawl69 Comments: need info on rear drivers window off track or broken parts 1996 328i convertible can not find out if entire rear window panels and trim need to be taken apart to gain access. motor runs and sounds like it still goes up to full up position and sounds like it is lowering to full down position also. Familiar with the other window problems from others, they look like child's play compared to what I am looking at after removing the speaker panel on the convertible!
August 30, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I’m not the best with part numbers.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.

- Nick at Pelican Parts
Burch Comments: '98 E36 3232is coupe, driver's side window started to make grinding noise yesterday, like a slow machine gun - dat dat dat - when closing the door as the window auto lowers a smidge and then auto raises to form a tight seal as door is closed. Window does not appear misaligned. Is this likely a regulator or guide issue? Motor seems no issue. Works fine to raise and lower. Recommendation appreciated.
June 4, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like a faulty regulator. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Magoo Comments: My 97 e36 328i coupe drivers window, won't go up without being pushed up simultaneously to the button. With the sealing retraction when closing the door it eventually goes right down while trying to bounce back up but either slips or gets stuck trying. It makes a loud clicking noise and moves a centimetre up down repeatedly but doesn't move all the way unless being pushed in place as well with outward/upward pressure.
It randomly then does work every few months for a few seconds....Any idea what replacement part it may sound like I need. Thankyou for this great page.
May 25, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like the regulator is jamming. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Gk8597 Comments: Front windows would slowly start to lean forward when almost closed.

Which would lead to regulator failure, bent arms and such.

I finally bought new ones. Put driver front in 97m3 sedan when it gets close to closed to bogs down bad and wants to lean forward.

With widow disconnected from reg it gets hard to slide up top.
Which is causing this issues in Both windows.

Mind you i didn't replace those white clips in slides. They are worn. One does not hold ball with out clip. They seem to slide fine. I could see this causing my issues with it all together.

But why would widow jam up in door guides alone?
May 6, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Disconnect the window from the regulator, check if the window moves smoothly up and down. Inspect the rubber guides while doing so. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Adrian Comments: is there a picture of the adjusting bolt thats connected to the frame?
March 12, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don't have a photo of that.

I opened a post in our forums. A Pelican community member may be able to answer your question.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
bourne Comments: Hi,
I have 99 328is, E36.
Front driver side window stopped going up.
When I press the up button I hear motor rotates but can not move up the window.
I opened the motor, the white gear seems fine, I had worn gear before..
I replaced the window regulator with new one, it did not solve the problem.
Any suggestions?
February 7, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The motor drive may be stripped. if it is running when you press the switch, but the regulator doesn't move (and it is new) the motor is the only part left. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
big al Comments: e36 1.6I two door , replaced the window regulator front drivers side it wont go up without one ball joint popping out would adjusting the rear help ?
December 5, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Something is bent or binding. Check if the seal in the door or guide is faulty. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Bob Comments: Hi guys!
I had two broken slider clips on my passenger window for my 1999 328is. I replaced both and got the window operating fine. I buttoned everything back up, reconnected the battery i had to disconnect due to the front side airbag, and now the window will not go all the way up. When I put everything together the window was down. It will only go up an inch or so before stopping. Any thoughts? Should I have reconnected the airbag/battery with the window up?
July 14, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would think it is jamming. I would remove the door panel, then reconnect the switch and inspect the regulator as you raise the window. Look for binding or noise. Keep yourself away from the window while it is moving. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
ScottBrianB Comments: This should be rated a 9 out of 10. These windows are a PITA and I am on my third motor replacement cheap plastic gears and about the sixth time around with these vert windows in general e36 1995. Should have been a recall....a hand crank would be more reliable!!!
July 6, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the info and feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Jay Comments: My window switch won't work. I unplugged it and plugged it back in and it worked for a week or two now my drivers side won't go up and my passenger side won't go down. Help!
June 29, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It may have been a bad connection. I would check the signal from the switch to the power window motors. If it is bad, the switch may need to be replaced. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Cape Bob Comments: Great write up my glass was out of the front rubber guide in my E36 convertible. Rubber was torn I have ordered the replacement rubber guide for it. My question is do I have to take out the glass? I tried tilting it as you suggested to get it out. But with the 2 lower adjusters and back guide connector on and had no luck getting it out. My guess is these are not on the sedan. Help would be appreciated.
May 8, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If I remember correctly, you will have to remove the glass. The rubber seal runs down into the door, into a metal channel. The window glass will be in the way when trying to replace it.

When removing, did you remove the seal as the top of the door? - Nick at Pelican Parts
Dave Comments: Hi. Long time Pelican shopper for a 1996 318is. For weeks I have been working to fix this car's multiple gremlins, and now I am finally to the driver's side window motor replacement. Everything is good with everything related to the window track and guides. Cleaned out the clay that BMW calls grease, and put some real grease in the tracks. Nothing is bent, and all moves perfectly, EXCEPT... window rolls all the way down when the door is open, then pops up about an inch when the door is closed. The window switch does not operate the window. Everything did work right when I first installed it, other than it trying to roll up on it's own without pressing the switch. I pressed and held the switch down, I think, to fight against it rolling up on it's own, which now made the window stay at the bottom and act like it's at the top...with regards to it rolling up an inch when the door is closed. Pretty sure that's about the way it all went down, but I was very confused during that 2 hours of wondering what the heck was going on. Who designs these things to do such weird actions? They should be forced to work on their own creations like the rest of us. Is there a solution? My next step is to go tear the door BACK apart, for the 6th or 7th time, remove the window motor and regulator, swivel the motor to where it is closer to the end of the other side of the teeth on the window regulator, and try to set the window from there. I already noticed that it is completely impossible to mount the motor at the very end of the regulator, because the stupid BMW engineers thought it was funny to place one of the screws for the motor between the regulator and the motor when it is in that exact position. MMMMhhhmmm. Pontiac used to do that to consumers, and is why I will never own a Pontiac. Is there a better solution to this problem than the direction I am heading?
February 4, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Let's focus on the front window.
If the front window switch is not working we should start there. Does it have power? When hyou operate the switch, does a voltage signal get sent to the window motor, then does the polarity change when the switch is pressed in the opposite direction? - Nick at Pelican Parts
jay R Comments: Installed a new regulator, but guide near pack of door appears worn. How is the window pulled out and how easy is it to replace guides and align window into guides. Are the guides the same on both sides?
September 19, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: To get the window out, disconnect it from the regulator and remove the rubber trim on the inside of the top of the door. Tilt the window until it is out of the guides and pull it out. The guides will be different from thr front and back. They snap into place, some wrestling is required. Take your time, plastic pry tools will help get them in place.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
ARC Comments: I'm thinking, I can take those pieces off the end of the arms, that slide back and fourth in the guides.Then connect them back to the arms once they are back in the guides.

Sorry, brackets didn't show in my eariler message. Hope that makes more sense.
July 8, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don't think you can take the floating slide off of the window regulator since they are riveted on - Nick at Pelican Parts  
ARC Comments: Hello,

My front passenger window has detached from the arms that raise the window. I understand that the end parts of the arms slide in the window guides. I'm just not sure how best to put them back into the guides. Especially the one closer to the front of the door. As it is hidden more so by the metal of the door then the rear one.

I'm thinking, I can take those pieces off the end the parts that slide back and fourth in the guides off the arms, and sliding them into the guides. Then connecting them back to the arms.

Is this feasible?

Good write up, up there, btw
July 8, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don't think you can remove those guides, I think they are riveted on. You are going to have to unbolt the regulator and while in the door position the guides correctly then secure the regulator to the door. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
bdannb Comments: any tips on getting the window back into the guides? my passenger window has popped out and broke the slider... luckily had a spare slider from my driver side fix, but when i put it in, it pops out again. Worked out that the window was not in the guide in the front side as well as the back. Can get the back in no problems, any tips for getting in the front of the window into the guide? this is driving me nuts tried for 2 hours :

PS your guide for replacing the window regulator is great. used it to change my drivers side and worked a treat. Thanks
June 24, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would remove the glass from the door, then reinstall it into the guides. It could be stuck on the side of the guide, not allowing it slide easily. Also, check that the regulator is not damaged. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
byron Comments: I replace the window sliders of my drivers side but window keep coming off its track. Can anyone help or advise? It is a E36. 325i bmw. Thanks
May 3, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Have you inspected the window regulator? The window regulator or the pieces that attach it to the glass may be faulty. I would start there. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
airbil Comments: My drivers side sedan window came off track and I prolly bent one of the articulating arms pulling it up into the closed position.
Four rivets had to be drilled / ground out to remove the whole regulator to straighten the arm out. It can be done. Upside is that it all can be easily lubed when removed.
I used nuts, bolts, lock washers and loctite blue to re-install.
The clips that hold the balls in the nylon sockets are easy to install with window almost all the way down by using a long needle nose pliers.
This was 4 hour exercise:/ but very doable and in my case, no new parts needed:
August 18, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Good work - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Omar Comments: The issue I seem to be running into is my window can go down but it doesn't go down straight nor does it go back up straight. I'm tired of having to leave that window up no matter how hot it is out. It's off track but no matter how many times you put it back on track, it'll pop off. I put a new regulator in with new pivot clips. I had my mechanic look at it and on the left side he said something is suppose to be there that's suppose to prevent the window from popping off the rail when you put the window up. Any advice?
August 4, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sometimes the guides that hold the front and back of the glass have moved outward and allow the glass to fall off the track - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Marsbondfire Comments: 1996 328i Convertible
Symptom: Driver side window does not actuate properly when you actuate the outer door handle. Window is suppose to drop slightly upon opening the door, then raising to interface with the door moulding.

Wind noise howls like a Kansas dust storm when you drive the car.

Passenger side window/door handel actuation operates normally.

Does anyone have an idea what might be the cause?

July 22, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Open the door, then using a screwdriver latch the door latch. Once latch, see if you can push the latch in a bit further. If the window reacts and drops, the latch may be dirty. If it doesn't work doing this, you may need to replace the latch. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
ralph808 Comments: I replaced the plastic sliders but my drivers window still doesn't stay in the window guides. The back of the window separates from the window guide slightly. Eventually, the rear slider pops out. Can anyone help. Thanks.
May 30, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Maybe the guide that the window slides in is bent and/or loosen the mounting bolts and move the guides inward - Nick at Pelican Parts  
ahhh Comments: Hi I bought the 51-32-1-938-884-M295 part off of Pelican Parts to fix my window problem. The previous slider broke on the regulator arm that connects to the rail to 'guide' the window. I tried to install these and they were too wide and too thick? I don't know why they don't fit properly into this guide. I tried inserting it into the other one close to the bottom of the window but it fits fine. Is there another size slider or did someone change the guide bar on this thing? Please help asap!
February 11, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Talk to one of our parts specialist at 888 280 7799 and maybe they can help. Maybe someone installed a different year door and that's why the parts don't match - Kerry at Pelican Parts  
5lava Comments: You can put the metal "cotter pins" in plastic before putting them in the metal rails one goes to the right, the other left Dont forget to grease, lower the scissor mechanism 1/3 up, make window around same height, align and pop the "ball" into the plastic "socket" But you might want to do a "dry" run and make sure your plastic fits properly onto metal "ball" of the regulator.
And coconutmnky sounds like it might be the window switch inside, they sometimes break one way first mine did.
December 21, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: - Nick at Pelican Parts

Thanks for the tip,
glen Comments: I can't seem to get my hand inside to but the clip on the inner nylon slider no matter what position the window is in. Any tricks or suggestions.

November 20, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: - Nick at Pelican Parts

A long Heavy duty 90 degree pick will help get the metal clip out. Or you could also use a long pair of needle nose pliers.
gphil Comments: Did the fix after the usual plastic clip failure. Had the problem that the 'ball' fixing on the regulator end would not locate fully into the 'socket' of the the new plastic clip so the spring circlip would not get into the groove behind the ball so the ball kept coming out,
Ended up getting a large bore drill bit and drilled out the new plastic clip evr so slightly so the ball went deeper into the socket.This did the trick.Don;t forget to lube the sliders with silicone spray afterwards yellow can from halfords
Bought the regulator clips and also some door panel clips to replace the ones that broke taking the door panel off.

December 21, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
osuwari Comments: Great write up! You don't have to remove the power mirror switch to take off the door panel though, so that should save you a minute of work. Took about 5 minutes to get the panel off and found out my problem was a broken plastic window guide.
December 6, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: - Nick at Pelican Parts

Thanks for the feedback and the tip.
coconutmnky Comments: If you have my window going up automatically, it will always stop halfway and go back down. The only way to get it back up is to slowly inch it up until you get past the halfway point, and then you can get it automatically up.

Any ideas?
April 3, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: - Nick at Pelican Parts

Sounds like the windows need to be initilized hold the switch up until it closes and then continue to hold it for another 2-3 seconds. that should initialize the window. the door has to be shut. If that doesn't work there is too mush strain on the window motor for some reason, check the window regulator and the window guides for binding.
Jeff Comments: Shouldn't there be some rubber or felt material in both the front and rear window guide rails? There is nothing in the rear window guide rail on my car and I cannot locate a replacement part for it in your parts catalog. 1996 BMW E36 318ti.

Thank you...
February 12, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: - Nick at Pelican Parts

You are looking for the window guides,Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799 and they can help figure out which part or repair kit you need.
Dad Comments: you make it sound so easy, so out to the garage i go and thanks for the advice
June 2, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: - Nick at Pelican Parts

Good luck hope it all works out for you.

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