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Old 01-29-2017, 10:44 AM   #1
Registered User
Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Castaic
Posts: 13
My Ride: 2003 e39, 2005 e46
Ribbon cable mirror not working

Hello All,
This will be my first post on this site. I recently purchased a 2005 e46 for my wife. She was a little neglected but thankfully not abused, and with only 80k, I felt she was worth the investment. I've gone through pretty much the whole car but the passenger mirror has stumped me.

I knew the mirror was not working at time of purchase and after being quoted an enormously large sum for a new motor (around 700) i went to the junk yard for a replacement. Found one and got to work.

Upon taking the door apart I was stunned to find that the motor was controlled by a ribbon cable rather than standard wires. And not the type of ribbon cable from the old computer drives. This cable is as thin as paper and extremely delicate. I presume that is also the cause of my problem.

The ribbon cable was unplugged but unfortunately plugging it in did not fix the problem.

A test with an audible circuit tester confirmed that the plug for the mirror (which only has three connectors) is receiving ground, hot, and a signal. The signal lead also made different tones for each of the possible directions on the mirror control.

I did not test the mirror defroster with the audible tester, but I assume there is also a signal to the mirror to activate the defroster as there are no other leads going to the mirror.

I completely removed to motor unit. And pried off the back side. The new motor unit contains a integrated circuitry behind the motor. So there is no way of me using the junk yard find as it has six wires running from the door... Presumably with control circuitry located before the mirror.

The ribbon to the motor unit has something I've never seen before and I'm hoping someone here can identify it for me and tell me its function. While the plug on the door side had only three connectors, as the ribbon passes through the door there is a plastic torpedo-shaped object that binds a second three wire ribbon to the first wire, possibly a splice. So on the inside of the door, there is only a three-wire ribbon. On the outside there are two three-wire ribbons. All six wire ribbon leads go to the circuitry on the back of the motor. From the motor there are two wires that connect to the defroster and a set of wires (I don't recall the count) that go to as unattached plug... Possibly for programming?

I did continuity tests from just after the motor unit's plug to the wires just after the torpedo shaped object. Only one wire showed continuity.

Figuring that what ever the object is wasn't working, I pulled it apart. To my surprise I found no hard connection between the ribbon that ran straight through and the second ribbon that was attached. So is this a splice where that's all that ribbon cables need... Maybe some conductive adhesive? Or is it a way to transfer an inductive effect on the second ribbon for signaling... Or...?

I saw no obvious cuts or damage to any of the wires.

In doing research some people have soldered the ribbons with conductive adhesive, but I'm not sure that's the problem here as there are no obvious breaks.

Also some pictures of ribbon motor units show a three wire ribbon going all the way from the plug to three motor without the torpedo object. Possibly a new design?

So that's where I am. Hoping for some insight. Any and all ideas appreciated.

If no ideas...I'll probably try undoing the ribbon at the circuitry and soldering old fashioned wires to the circuit such that the wiring would be the same as if the torpedo is actually a splice.
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Old 02-01-2017, 06:58 PM   #2
Registered User
Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Castaic
Posts: 13
My Ride: 2003 e39, 2005 e46
Well I'm hoping pictures might get me a response...

I'm still debating trying to solder wires to the board, my worry being not that it might not work, but that I let the magic smoke out of some other processor before the door... any ideas?
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e46, electric, mirror, power, ribbon

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