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DIY: Do It Yourself
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Old 11-18-2005, 12:40 AM   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Bay Area
Posts: 177
My Ride: 325i 2001
How to replace front wheel cover

So, as many people have found out, 3-series clearance is lower than most stop-blocks in parkings and parking garages by an inch even when the car is not modded. You learn this fact, but occasionally misjudge the height of the cement blocks

Over the course of 5 years I've been slowly ripping up my front skirts/wheel covers until last weekend when I had to pull all the way in Moscone center garage, and my right side skirt said: enough is enough.

Time to buy a new one and replace it.

List of things you will need:

Front wheel covers:

Right: 51718193812
Left: 51718193811

I only needed the right one. Allison BMW sold it for $55 including tax. Not too bad.


- Your BMW toolkit wrench to unscrew the wheels. Or a torque wrench and a 17 mm socket.
- Jack or lift
- jack stand (or better two)
- a 5/16 socket
- a soldering tool (optional)

Time it takes: about 30 minutes

All right, let's start.

1. Safety's first: engage parking break and put your car in first gear. Ideally you should put some kind of blockers behind your rear wheels, but I don't have any.

2. Loosen up lug nuts on the wheels. If you are replacing only one cover, loosen up only that particular wheel.

3. Jack up the front. The natural question for anyone who's doing it the first time is: if I use those black slots provided by BMW for the jack, where am I going to put the stands?

This thread:
covers it in full detail. Use a piece of wood on top of your jack's lifting head so as not to damage the metal on the car.

If you are going to replace only one cover, it's enough to lift up just one side of the car.

4. Now that the car is lifted and is soundly sitting on a jack stand, usncrew the wheel bolts completely and take off the wheel.

You can see the front cover all torn up still sitting in place.

5. Now you can see the front cover in its entirety. It is held in place by five screws. Three on the inside, and two on the underside of your front bumper. Remove them all. Now your skirt is held in place only by two plastic clips that lock themselves in slots. One is on the underside on the front bumper, next to one of the screws. The other one is a huge clip that interlocks with the the underside of the car (hard to explain, but once you look under the car, you'll see what I'm talking about)

If you are doing the left side of your car, there's one more thing you need to take care of: an unused wiring which runs from the car's main electrical system and ends with a plug in a form on an arrow, locked in the front cover. Unclip the arrow plug and thread it through a cut-out hole in your cover.

The leftmost screw is an extra screw I'll talk about later, but you can take it off now - it helps to install the cover back.

Another shot of the screws you need to take out.

6. Remove the old front cover.

My old poor cover!

7. Now it's time to put the new cover in place. If you are doing the right side, you may run into an identical extra unused wiring that runs on the left side. Unlike the left cover, however, the right cover does not have a clip for the wiring, and I found out that the wiring was just floating inside the front splace freely. I used some ducktape and attached it to another wire that feeds the horn. I have no idea how it was supposed to be held in place originally. In fact, I spent fifteen minutes trying to figure out, where this wiring goes, until I took off the let wheel and cover, and found out, it goes nowhere.

8. In order to install the new cover, unscrew the corner screw of the wheel housing where it overlaps with the front cover. This will give you enough flexibility in the plastics to slide the new cover under the wheel housing and then under the front bumper frame.

You may find out (liek I did) that a plastic bumper ring that holds one of the screws in place is torn and broken. Here's an easy way to fix it: find some plastic scrap and cut out a little round semi-circle. Heat up your soldering tool and by carefully melting the semi-ring and bumper material, create a new ring.

9. Align all screw holes and make sure the bottom clips locked in.

10. Put back all the screws and tighten them.

11. Put back all the wheels and tighten lug nuts somewhat

12. Lower the car and tighten all wheel lug nuts completely

You are done!

Last edited by paulney; 11-18-2005 at 12:47 AM.
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