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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 Wed, Feb-23-2011, 04:28:54 PM   #36
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Default Re: DIY: Door Handle Trim Replacement

Originally Posted by slickfast View Post
The DIY for this on bimmerforums is discouraging at best and the images are no longer viewable, so I thought I would update with a clear, simple way of tackling the job. This is more a compilation of different people's ideas than my own, but having them all put together should make this a less than 5 minute job as opposed to the multiple hours I've read about.

Disclaimer: This procedure was performed on my coupe, so I can't confirm that it applies directly for sedans. According to what I've read though, the sedan is easier to do; you can actually see inside. Also, don't come to me if you hurt yourself doing this. It's your own fault.

Tool required:

That's right, you only need one. Go to your local hardware or paint store and pick up a paint can opener; they just give one to you since they have about 498745398 of these:

If you really are too lazy to go to the hardware store, you can try bending a piece of metal wire into an L shape, but I didn't feel like wasting my time with the wrong tools. If you do make it, try to form this kind of shape:

"Door Handle Cover Outer includes Sealing Gasket, Left Front, E36 3 Series, All 1992-99": 51-21-8-122-441-M9
"Door Handle Cover Outer includes Sealing Gasket, Right Front, E36 3 Series, All 1992-99": 51-21-8-122-442-M9

Optional Equipment:
Back to Black or equivalent
Clean rag


1. Open your door of choice and look at the rubber cover on the top half of the door.

Pull the outside lower corner of the rubber sheet up to pull the rubber grommet out of its hole.

This will reveal the access hole that you will be using to release the handle trim.

2. Since you can't actually see what you're doing inside the door, it's going to be pretty much all feel. Take the paint can opener, point it towards the front of the car, and aim the L shape to the outside of the door. In that orientation, aim the tool at the crotch of that little metal arm of the door handle assembly shown below.

Push it forward to release (this shouldn't require an incredible amount of force).

To get a better idea of what you're working with, check this out: you're just going to be sliding a little knob forward:
YouTube - E36 Drivers Door Handle Trim Removal.

3. Once you've felt the knob slide forward, you can get a fingernail under the trim and pull it off, top side first.

4. Now that you have the trim off, you'll see quite a bit of dirt buildup under there. Clean it off, and if you have some Back to Black on hand, get the actual handle completely covered since you can access more of it while the trim is off.

5. Installation is the reverse of assembly. The hook shape of the paint can opener makes it a good tool to pull the knob back into place, securing the trim. Another thing to watch out for is that the new rubber seal isn't bunched up on the plastic trim.
Instead of this:

It should look like this:

And you're done! The whole process took me about 15 minutes including going back and forth to the house to grab some back to black and stopping every 5 seconds to take a picture.

It's a nice improvement. Went from this:

To this:
SUPER INFORMATIVE! Just what I needed. Great job!
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diy, door, handle, replacement, trim

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Discussing DIY: Door Handle Trim Replacement 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 (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)