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-   -   DIY: Door Lock Actuator Removal & Attempt of Repair (https://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=600213)

paraklas 08-14-2008 07:17 PM

DIY: Door Lock Actuator Removal & Attempt of Repair
I've searched and searched and I only get half-way sporadic posts for this issue and non-pictured DIY that seems quite common among the E46. :tsk:

Today my right door actuator failed. :banghead: The door will not lock/unlock and I can hear the actuator struggling to work. The fact that I hear it doing weird noises proves that it's the actual mechanism and not a software/general module issue. Sometimes the actuator will manage to push the lock pin halfway up/down.

On Monday I will get a replacement actuator from dealership and will do 2 things:

i. Replace the broken part with brand new
ii. Attempt to repair broken part (nothing found here)

Anybody interested for a complete DIY, loaded with pictures (whoever reads my posts will understand)? Takes a long time to photoshop 80+ pictures to add descriptions, resize, arrows etc. If the repair proves successful, I will also write another DIY for door lock actuator repair (as long as there's interest). No need to spend $$$ for repairable parts. :bawling:

Waiting for responses :hi:

smesser 08-14-2008 11:18 PM

I'm Interested
I need to perform this repair on my car as well.

///Rogu3 08-15-2008 08:50 AM


Originally Posted by smesser (Post 8382791)
I need to perform this repair on my car as well.


Thanks in advance for your efforts.:bow:

paraklas 08-15-2008 02:07 PM

:) Goodies... I'll post the DIY after monday when I finish with this.. Cheap crap, this is the 3rd time I'm going to open the door, might put a new window regulator too inside just in case it breaks the next month.

here's a small video of what's going on

sarunas4 08-21-2008 08:22 PM

hey, my door is malfunctioning also, but im not sure if i have the same problem as you, here is whats happening: i have a 2001 coupe and the passenger door is the one giving me problems. with remote & console button i can lock both doors but when unlocking only drivers side door open, although i can hear the lock mechanism working. same with the key, if i manually try to unlock it from the drivers side, only drivers door unlocks. thats why im not sure if its the actuator for sure.... can anyone help me out? i'd really hate to buy a new actuator and find out its not the problem (i read it happened to many)

TKC 08-21-2008 08:25 PM

This may or may not be your actuator. Our car has a "GCM" (General Control Module) that sometimes goes bad. This will cause weird locking issues (ie, you push unluck and only the driver door unlocks, but passenger, gas door, and trunk stays locked.)

This module is behind your golve box. There is a huge thread about this titled something like "my door locks are crazy" check that thread for more info and good luck!

paraklas 08-22-2008 01:02 AM

Could be the GM, you never know. The only thing that made me verify that the actuator was going bad was a relatively loud grinding/squeeking noise just before it stopped working at all.

There's a temp solution that *might* do the trick. Take the door lock pin out, take a can of WD40 with the straw attached on it, put the straw in parallel with the door pin shaft, insert it as down as possible and spray a generous amount of WD40. The WD40 will follow the door lock shaft and eventually get into the actuator. Sometimes it will revive it and give it another year, sometimes it won't do $hit. Better to leave the door open to have the extra WD40 drain on the floor and not on the seals. Should see results if any within a day.

I did this trick and the car will lock the door but will fail to unlock it. I am still going to change the actuator, reason I haven't posted anything yet is because the dealership is closed for holidays for this week. They will be open on monday 25th.

paraklas 08-25-2008 04:34 PM

Done it at last.. Major PITA. Will post pics soon!

328iBMW 08-25-2008 08:28 PM

I'm helping my neighbor replace his door handle and it's a PITA. Hopefully we'll finish it tomorow. Please post up some advice for us. :)

grzes12n 08-25-2008 09:25 PM

Mine does the same thing as in the video but it opens with the key in the door everytime, i have been opening my door with the key for over a year, I kind of got used to it and don't feel like paying $200 for a new regulator :eeps:

grzes12n 08-25-2008 09:29 PM

do you know how to fix the actuator or you just replaced it with a new one?

paraklas 08-26-2008 12:26 AM

The actuator has no screws to open it and from what I gathered, it's not a serviceable part. I will open it and see what went wrong anyway, don't know if I can fix it though.
Unlike what TIS said, my window guide bolts were Aluminum, FEMALE Torx, REVERSE threaded. I don't know why on earth would they be reverse threaded. Well I managed to strip the bolt and couldn't get the window rail out so I had to drill the screw and replace it with a new one. Took me 8 hours to do that because I drilled veryyyy carefuly, not to break the glass. I'm doing the picture editing now ;)

paraklas 08-26-2008 08:27 AM

This was one of the most difficult repairs I've ever done on my car, mainly because I had a really hard time loosening the window glass bolt, to allow movement of the window rail. Took me 8 hours because I managed to strip that bolt and had to drill the bolt while attached on the glass and replace it with another one.

Tools Required:
Flat head screw driver (to remove airbag screw cover and screw cover of inner door handle)

The window glass was held in place by a FEMALE Torx T30 bolt which is REVERSE THREADED. Bolt is aluminum and will strip in no time if you turn it the other way around.

To be safe, this DIY is meant to be done with the battery disconnected beforehand, to prevent airbag warning lights triggering and any electricity related accidents. But, because I had to move the window up/down several times, I decided to keep the battery connected (AT MY OWN RISK) and work with the airbag continuously connected. To remove the door card insulation, I temporarily unbolted the airbag and a friend of mine was holding it until I removed the insulation. After the insulation was removed, we re-bolted the airbag in place and left it there connected during the course of the repair.

Door card removal has been described a million times so I'm not going to get into that procedure. It's a 5 minute job to remove 5 torx T20 screws and then just pull the card. 3 screws on armrest, 1 behind airbag plastic logo, 1 in inner door handle. Also disconnect the mirror switch, door handle and the speakers. Put the door card somewhere safe and out of the way.

Remove 3 bolts holding the airbag and then slowly peel the rubbery insulation from behind.


Airbag removed, insulation removed, airbag inserted back.

Important part:
Lower the window around 100mm until the Female Torx bolt is shown, right below the upper arrow on the following picture. You can access the bolt through a round hole on the door. Pretty intuitive. Remove the bolt by turning it clockwise. This will allow the window rail to move left and right later on.

2 window guide nuts (10mm) must be removed to allow the rail to move left and right.

Now it's time to start disconnecting stuff...

Twist to release the outer door handle cable as seen below, then slide it out of the holder (yellow part on U shaped metal bracket)

Disconnect the wiring harness from the lower right part (not seen in picture)

Disconnect the inner door handle as well (not shown too due to lack of space) although you can leave it on until the actuator is nearly out.


Remove the key lock by lifting the rubber cover above the 3 bolts shown below and then removing the Allen bolt that appears underneath. I forgot the exact size of the bolt, I think it's 5mm. Carefully slide the key lock out and put it in a safe place.

By now you must have done the following things:

1. Removed door card (5 T20 + push/lock clips)
2. Removed insulation behind door card (slow, cut butyl glue with utility knife)
3. Removed female torx screw holding window glass (T30 female, reverse threaded bolt)
4. Removed 2 nuts holding window guide (10mm nuts)
5. Disconnected outer door handle cable (twist & pull)
6. Disconnected inner door handle cable (twist & pull)
7. Disconnected actuator wire plug (push sides & pull)
8. Removed key lock (5mm Allen key)

Now it's time to take the actuator out:


The actuator/lock will fall now and you can remove it from inside the door slowly & carefully by pushing to the left the window rail, to make space. This point I felt that I would break the glass but it managed to survive. You need to push the window guide to the left just as much to allow some space for the actuator to be removed.

If you need to be 100% that the window glass will survive, you can take the glass out by loosening the window glass bolt on the other side of the door as well, and then pulling the glass upwards (I'm not responsible if you shatter the glass!!!!).

Here's the new unit:





As you can see, all attachments are different so you can't go wrong. For the installation, I chose to connect the door pin shaft only outside the door, then I placed the actuator inside the door, connected the 2 cables (inner + outer handle), screwed it back in place and finally inserted the key lock.

After these, I plugged the wire harness back, screwed all the window bolts/nuts.

Reverse procedure to put the remaining stuff on.

Redpoint 08-26-2008 06:51 PM

Very nice DIY
I am doing this tomorrow this will be very helpful. Get it moved to the DIY section I know other people will use it.

smesser 08-26-2008 07:25 PM

So did it fix your problem....
Thanks for the DIY the pictures are great.

As per the title I didn't notice if all the hard work payed off?

paraklas 08-27-2008 12:41 AM


I am doing this tomorrow this will be very helpful. Get it moved to the DIY section I know other people will use it.
This is the DIY section.. ;)


So did it fix your problem....
Oh yeah.. instant lock/unlock. Everything works as it should now.

When I close the door it locks more ... quietly, in a more "just came out from factory" way. I even noticed that the driver's door locks just a bit faster than the passenger's side. Makes me think the other side actuator is a bit old.

SWINFORD 08-30-2008 05:17 PM

Great DIY used it today. Big help

bmwmedic 08-31-2008 07:30 PM

Great work, both the fix and the DIY. I am guilty of having done this and pic'd but never posted. I also had a broken pin on the lock cylinder that inserts into the actuator. Fortunately,(I'm bragging now) I figured that out first and ordered and waited for the lock cylinder before I took it all apart, but obviously, mine did not unlock even with the key! $89 for cylinder made to order like a key, less than a week.
Anyway, your pics are far better, so good I sat on mine! Thanks

malapane 09-02-2008 12:52 PM

I have the exact same issue as the video, but I have replaced the actuator assembly, and the problem is still exactly the same. I then took it to the dealer and they said the actuator was bad. After telling them I had already replaced it, they said the part was under warranty. They gave me a replacement for my replacement, and after the second swap, my problem is still not fixed.

What is the scoop with the control module behind the glove box? Is this likely the problem? What is the part number? How much, how hard?


malapane 09-02-2008 01:35 PM

Hey - nevermind I just found this in another thread: http://www.bmwgm5.com/ I am pretty sure, based on my previous efforts, that this is where my problem is coming from. I am sending off my module soon, and I will report back once I wrap this up.

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