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DIY: Do It Yourself
Post here to share or improve your wrench turning skills! All BMW E46 DIY tips, tales, and projects discussed inside. Learn to work on your car and know the right BMW parts you will need!

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Old 04-29-2012, 10:29 AM   #1
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Orange County, CA
Posts: 90
My Ride: 2002 330 CiC
Thigh Support Handle Repair

My 330 has the adjustable thigh support. The handle you pull up to adjust the position broke off. Plastic part - thanks BMW.

Anyways, the handle isn't sold separately, so I had to buy the entire support. On top of that, the dealer tells me I need to unbolt the entire seat from the floor to replace the support. I'm looking for ideas on how to avoid such an involved project.

Here are pictures of the little plastic pin that holds the lever. Does anyone have any thoughts on how to release the pins so I can just replace the lever? The dealer says that the pins can't be bought separately, or I'd just break the ones holding the broken handle, and then use new pins with the new handle.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.


Last edited by oc330cic; 04-29-2012 at 10:31 AM.
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Old 05-14-2012, 06:32 PM   #2
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Orange County, CA
Posts: 90
My Ride: 2002 330 CiC

Ok, from the underwhelming response, this must not be a common repair, but in case someone else out there someday needs to do this, it is possible to replace the handle without uninstalling the entire seat from the car.

First, move the seat as far back as possible, and as high as possible. You'll need the room to squash your head underneath the thigh support so you can see. You think I'm kidding about that - you're pretty much upside down. Comfortable, it's not.

It turns out those plastic pins are two pieces. Props to my local independent Bavarian parts specialist (Mesa Performance) for noticing. The outer sleeve expands when the inner pin is installed, The inner pin can be pushed out with a small screwdriver, allowing the expanding sleeve to be compressed, and removed. Wear safety goggles in case the spring flies off.

Once the hinge pins are removed, remove the spring with needle nose pliers. Tension isn't too high, but enough that you don't want it in your eye, hence my previous warning. Then wiggle the handle lose from the thigh support. A little wiggling is needed, as the retraction mechanism protrudes into a hollow space on the inside of the front of the handle.

Installation of the replacement handle is the reverse. Again, wiggle the new handle over the retraction latch's "knob" at the front, and then wiggle some more to get the holes for the hinge mount lined up. With the handle not yet mounted, you'll need a free hand to hold the thigh support back into the seat so you have room to work. With your second hand supporting the handle, use your third and fourth appendages to place the springs in place, with the U end in place, and the right angle end free. Insert the hinge sleeve on each side through the handle, through the spring, and through the mount on the thigh support. Repeat on the other side. Then insert the inner pins into the sleeves, to lock the hinge into place.

Now using needle nose pliers, and still wearing your safety goggles, grab the right angle end of the spring and insert it into the hole on the handle. The other end of the spring should already be pressed into the notch on the other side. Repeat with the other spring.

And you're done. You can now extract yourself from the headstand in the drivers wheel well. Having 4 hands comes in handy for this part as well. Seriously, I actually managed to do this. It took me all the time since I first posted, with visits to the dealer and 3 parts shops, to figure out how to do it. I didn't even swear when I was doing it, though my thoughts about BMW engineering were not kind. I confess I did throw some things in the garage.
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Old 12-16-2012, 04:23 PM   #3
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: NH
Posts: 90
My Ride: 2002 325i
My handle just broke off. Thank you for this posting. It will be very helpful.
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Old 05-28-2014, 05:13 PM   #4
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: UK
Posts: 6
My Ride: E46 M3 Convertible
Can you buy the handle separately ? Or is it a visit to the scrap yard for a spare?
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