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2003 325i & 2003 330i
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12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Good evening (morning) all!

Tonight, I was feeling inspired to once-and-for-all solve my sticky door handle problem (front, passenger/right side) on my 325i sedan (2003 if it matters). Lurking in past threads and surfing the Youtubes, I discovered what sounded to be the easiest of all fixes: tighten a hex screw underneath a little plastic cover on the latch of the door. Here's a thread from the past here in e46fanatics (Door handle difficult? Try this.).

So, I tightend the screw a little bit, and it didn't really seem to make a difference. So, I did what any reasonable person would do and tightened it some more. Still no major effect (or maybe just a little difference which was probably placebo effect). I tightened yet again, closed the door, opened it, and still not quite enough. But this time, it seemed that the hex screw wasn't quite returning to it's "normal resting place", so I waggled it with the hex wrench and it returned to "rest". I tightened once more, closed the door, and now YIKES, I can't open the door at all. Seems that whatever I adjusted, I adjusted it too much. And, to make matters worse, now the inside door handle won't open the door either.

Semi-panicked, I went back to the Youtubes and the Fanatics threads and saw a detail I'd missed before: People talk about first loosening the screw before tightening. I mean, that doesn't really make any sense, but indeed I did not do that. And, I'm stuck where others were joyful at their easy fix experience.

I'm not afraid or unable to throw parts to fix this door, but my first problem is: How am I going to get this door open?? All the DIY guides and videos out there start with pictures or descriptions of the door being open before repairs begin (either the interior or exterior doors seem to work). Or, they're about Coupes with door handle problems, but the Sedan seems to have different mechanics. Can the interior door panel be removed while the door is closed?

Seems like this should be a common issue for all the door handle problems out there, but no amount of searching (yet) has yet uncovered this particular combination of:

Door is closed +
Exterior door handle won't open the door +
Interior door handle won't open the door +
Door panel is installed and intact +
Car is sedan

Really hoping I'm not going to have to go Beast Mode and rip the door panel up to get into the door. Maybe I can pour a gallon of lubricant into the exterior door handle and something magical will happen?

Help?
 

· Registered
2004 325i M54 Auto (GM)
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193 Posts
Maybe it's your door release cable? Meh, taking off the door panel doesn't take too long. Yes, you can take off the door panel with the door closed. It will be a tight fit, but your main goal would probably be to check if the door handle is even latched onto the door latch cable itself... which you can get to with the door closed. I believe you need a T25 with a skinny extension (one that fits on a 1/4 socket or spinner handler preferably) and coupler (to hold the T25 bit) and I believe there are a total of 5 screws you need to remove from the door panel. There is one screw underneath the plastic cover on the door handle, and two more under the small oval shaped covers underneath the door handle. The long screw is always nearest to the door handle. After you remove those, I'd recommend lowering your window and pulling the top of the door panel off and see if once you've pulled it off enough you can get to the door handle latch to make sure it isn't unlatched or loose.
Car Vehicle Car seat cover Steering part Plant
From there I hope you're able to find your issue.
 

· Registered
2002 330ci auto
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1,702 Posts
The hex screw should be loosened, then the handle pulled a few times, then tightened up.

It just adjusts the door handle slack, I don’t see how it could affect the inside door handle from working.

Theres also no meed to overtighten it, it won’t change anything
 

· Premium Member
E30M3 Race F10 535 R1150Rt M Coupe
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12,225 Posts
Perhaps if the handle still does something at this point? Leaning into the door to relieve any tension might help?
 

· Premium Member
Е46 sedan M52B20TU 1999
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231 Posts
One day, the front right door of my sedan stopped opening for no reason on either side ... I had to remove the door trim from the inside and pull the cable harder ... the door opened and I realized that the reason was excessive grease on the lock (it jammed), grease Removed it and no more problems.So you just have to remove the door trim from the inside.
 

· Registered
2003 325i & 2003 330i
Joined
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12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I pulled out the Bentley manual and found these profound and prescient words: "Carry out rotary latch checks and adjustments with the door open. If the door is closed with the incorrect latch setting, it may not be possible to open the door without destroying the inner door panel." At least this infers that if I can get into the door panel, I should be able to release the door latch and eventually solve my problem. Thanks to everyone who has made suggestions. I'll try removing the panel this weekend without destroying it, and report back my findings. Seems like "remove door panel with door closed" would be an interesting FAQ answered.
 
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