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E36 M3 (1992-1999) {Euro - S50 B32 321hp @ 7400 rpm} {U.S. - S52 B32 240 hp @ 6000 rpm}
Total Produced: 71,212 - Years Produced: 1992 to 1999


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Old Sat, May-20-2006, 04:12:25 AM   #1
Brandon318
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Default Door stuck closed? Lock actuator broken? Here's the fix...

So, my rear door lock actuator broke in its locked position. I wasn't able to manually unlock the doors, and as a result, couldn't open the door. After searching the archives for a similar scenario, I couldn't find anything that helped me out. I went to tinkering with the door and finally found a way to open it up. While I was at it, I thought I'd show you guys how to replace the lock actuator too.

First, start out by taking the door panel off. It wasn’t too difficult getting it off despite the door being shut. Just start in the upper corner (farthest from the front seat).



The red circles are plastic clip locations, and the blue circles are metal clip locations. You'll start by unclipping the right-most blue circle.

There are two torx bolts, behind little plastic covers, you have to remove. They are just below the interior handle. Also, remove the door pin by unscrewing it.

Once you remove the door panel, remove the foam vapor barrier by simply (but carefully) pulling it off. It's just glued on, but be careful not to tear it.

Next, insert a long flat-head screwdriver into the hole shown. It's one of the holes that the clips were in.



You're feeling for the sliding clip that holds the external door handle molding on. You're going to slide it toward the front of the car. I don't have a picture of it, but if you look through the hole, you can see a tab that sticks out. The tab position is drawn in the picture below.



Once you push that tab forward, the external molding will be free and the door handle screws will be exposed.



Unscrew the screws and move the handle down and out of the door. You can only remove the door handle from the door with the window up.



Next, unplug the door lock actuator.

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Old Sat, May-20-2006, 04:12:56 AM   #2
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Remove the door lock actuator by lifting straight up. You will have to pry the clip to release the actuator. It's not really a clip though... the door lock actuator has an indented cut out that the clip on the plastic sleeve clips into. It's simple, you'll see. The little cut out is circled below.



Here's a picture of the backside of the actuator assembly (the side you can't see when you're working).



One more pic of how to remove the actuator. I had a hard time getting it off; at first it seemed like there was something else holding it on near the front of it. It was just the lock shaft, it's a pretty snug fit. Just work it off with a screwdriver and you'll be fine.



Once you have the actuator out, unlock the door by pulling up on the lock pin.

Now the door is unlocked. The circled tab opens the door.



Pull the tab back toward you.



Door is open!!!!

Now, if you want to replace the lock actuator, keep on reading.

Lift the window about three inches upward. Pry off the clip holding the window arm to the window, pictured below.



Once it's off, pull the arm out of the socket.



The window is now free.

Unplug the window motor (circled below). Lower the window a bit (by pushing it now) and pull the window sealing off from around the window. It won't come all the way off in the middle of the door.

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Old Sat, May-20-2006, 04:13:51 AM   #3
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We need to remove the black trim (window channel) nearest the front door. Once you remove the window sealing, you will expose three screws. Two are pictured and circled; the other is just below them.



Once you remove the screws, pull of the trim by pulling up and to the rear. The pictures below show how it's attached.





Pull off the rubber sealing at the base of the window. I found it easiest to just remove them with the metal clips.



Remove the window by lifting upwards. It's a bit tricky to get it out, but just keep trying, it will come. Be careful with it, it's glass.



Now you will need to remove the other window channel. Remove the top most screw.



Next remove the two bolts. One at the top of the door, and the other near the bottom.





Remove the window guide by pulling toward the front of the car and downward slightly.

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Old Sat, May-20-2006, 04:14:22 AM   #4
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It's very difficult to fully remove the rail from the door, so just move it aside for now. Also, to avoid damaging the seal, hang it in the same way I did it in the pic. The red arrow is pointing to the rail we put aside.



Remove the gadget pictured below.



Remove the door handle. Notice the unplugged window motor connector (circled). Also, the white clip needs to be unclipped.



Remove the handle from the rod.



Remove the three torx bolts holding the door lock/latch assembly.



Pull the assembly forward and attach the new lock actuator.



Bolt the assembly back and test the lock. If it works, you're done! Just reassemble in the same way you took everything apart. One important note: Remember the tab you pushed to get the molding off? You will have to push that tab back the other way, while holding the molding (haha, rhymed), to get the molding back on.

You will also have to reinitialize the window motors - don't forget to plug it back in. To reinitialize the window, roll the window down all the way; roll it up all the way; and then press the "up" button for 5 seconds.

If you have any questions, email me at brandon.wehman@me.com
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Old Sat, May-20-2006, 04:51:29 AM   #5
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That is quite the write up. How long did this job take you to complete?
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Old Sat, May-20-2006, 06:27:08 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seth
That is quite the write up. How long did this job take you to complete?
About two hours last weekend, and then three today. I had to wait until the part came from pelicanparts.com. The hardest part was getting the seals to all fit properly again. Good times though, I neglected doing this project for over a year. Nice to have that door working again!!!
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Old Sat, May-20-2006, 03:46:25 PM   #7
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Nice work. Great pics too!
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Old Sun, May-21-2006, 03:47:35 PM   #8
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Great Job, this is the same exact problem I have on the rear driver side door. My problem is sometimes it stays locked and sometimes unlocks and stays open as this is an intermittent problem for me. I just have to remember to manually lock it if in the unlock position, but when locked I cannot unlock it until I get lucky and the acuator decides to work and unlock it. I attempted to fix this, but have a mental block when I start to remove the door panels and open up a can of worms. I'm glad I did not start this project as removing the window and weather seals starts to get touchy and if I break something, it's just added costs. All those parts involved just for an acuator, there must be an easier way......

What you have done is an excellent tutorial, but for me it's still a lot of work. I wonder what it would cost from a dealer or 3rd party service to replace the acuator lock? If it took you 5 hours in labor; that's 5 x $130 = $650 bucks plus parts. Ouch! Even if I find a cheaper service @ $89 bucks/hour, I'm still forking out ~$500 bucks. But I tell yah, it would be nice to have that door work properly again.
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Old Sun, May-21-2006, 04:27:02 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wcatabay
Great Job, this is the same exact problem I have on the rear driver side door. My problem is sometimes it stays locked and sometimes unlocks and stays open as this is an intermittent problem for me. I just have to remember to manually lock it if in the unlock position, but when locked I cannot unlock it until I get lucky and the acuator decides to work and unlock it. I attempted to fix this, but have a mental block when I start to remove the door panels and open up a can of worms. I'm glad I did not start this project as removing the window and weather seals starts to get touchy and if I break something, it's just added costs. All those parts involved just for an acuator, there must be an easier way......

What you have done is an excellent tutorial, but for me it's still a lot of work. I wonder what it would cost from a dealer or 3rd party service to replace the acuator lock? If it took you 5 hours in labor; that's 5 x $130 = $650 bucks plus parts. Ouch! Even if I find a cheaper service @ $89 bucks/hour, I'm still forking out ~$500 bucks. But I tell yah, it would be nice to have that door work properly again.
Those symptoms you describe are the exact same that I had before the lock decided to stop working altogether. If you replace it now, while the door still opens, labor will be substantially less.

Having to do all of that with the door stuck closed is what took so long. That, in combination with having to figure out how to do the actual proceedure. I also stopped to take photos.

It's definately in the realm of DIY, just follow the instructions. The only tools you'll need, that most people don't have, is a torx bit set for the lock mechanism bolts. If you get the car to a mechanic before the door locks permanently, it should only take them a couple hours.
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Old Sun, May-21-2006, 11:13:00 PM   #10
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Quote:
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It's definately in the realm of DIY,
this venture would definitely save you some jack, nice job again
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Discussing My 99' Hellrot intro in the E36 M3 (1992-1999) Forum - {Euro - S50 B32 321hp @ 7400 rpm} {U.S. - S52 B32 240 hp @ 6000 rpm}
Total Produced: 71,212 - Years Produced: 1992 to 1999 at BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)