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General E46 Forum
This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

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Old 10-20-2011, 12:36 PM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Cape Breton
Posts: 31
My Ride: 2000 323it
e46 TOURING electrical gremlin (rear window latch)

I have a wagon/touring with a very strange electrical gremlin. Sometimes the rear glass will be unlatched when I get in the car. It never unlatches on its own when I am driving, but it seems to happen when the car is turned off.
I get in the car, start it, and I then see the dash light on (showing the rear glass hatch window is unlatched). I have to get out, slam the window...
I don't use the window, so I tried to disconnect the wires to the latch, so it wouldn't open. This would work, but the light stays on, on the dash...
Anyone have a cure? Suggestions?
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Old 10-20-2011, 12:42 PM   #2
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Location: Lexington
Posts: 248
My Ride: 1999 328i
little to no help but......try not using the remote for a week or so and see if that cures it. I constantly hit the trunk button inadvertently on my key when I go to unlock the car, im thinking maybe your key is unlocking the glass when you hit the unlock button. I also have no idea how the wagon works compared to the sedan in anyway, so........
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Old 10-20-2011, 01:12 PM   #3
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My Ride: 2002 325 xit...
yea, me too ..im always touching the switch just enough for the gremlin to open the window..annoying for sure
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Old 10-20-2011, 01:17 PM   #4
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It happens to me without locking, etc... I don't use the remote most of the time.
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Old 10-20-2011, 01:29 PM   #5
Jaundiced Outlook
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My Ride: has a tailgate
The glass hatch button on the key fob is really easy to inadvertently hit. If you're sure that's not the cause, it could be the button below the wiper or its ribbon connector. See posts #1935 & 1937 in Uncle Don's Touring thread (scroll down):

In my case, replacing the shorted-out button cured my wagon's hatch ills.

If you disconnect the plug from the button, and the glass still pops open, then you have either a latch issue or a $$$ problem with the car's computer telling the glass to pop open when it shouldn't.

The latch striker (on the glass side, not the latch mechanism inside the tailgate) is easily adjustable. Loosen the locking nut, and screw the striker in or out. Retighten locking nut. The glass has to close tight enough to compress the seal and keep water out, but not be too tight that it overwhelms the latch mechanism.

Here's the recommended gap in TIS (scroll down), you measure between the glass and the sheet metal below it:

If for some reason the latch mechanism inside the tailgate is worn, causing the glass to pop loose, you'd have to replace it.
2001 325iT 5-Speed

Last edited by Jaundiced Outlook; 10-20-2011 at 02:10 PM. Reason: Typo
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Old 10-20-2011, 01:53 PM   #6
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man, we should have our own subforum for Tourings
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Old 05-28-2012, 06:23 AM   #7
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Anyone have any idea on how to open the rear glass without an operational rear button (on the glass handle/wiper base)? My rear button doesn't work at all - it only opens randomly when parked on rare occasion. I'm sure now that I NEED it open it won't do it on its own. I want to check the wiring mentioned in another thread (where the flat wire changes to standard wire) but you can't get to it without opening just the glass portion. I was able to remove the wiper arm and button the examine that portion of the wiring but you only see about 2" of it there.

I'm trying to get access to the latch (and wiper motor) mechanism but that rear trim panel that covers it also cannot be removed without opening the glass. I figure if I can access the latch/motor mechanism I can trigger something there.

And I see mention of the key button opening the rear glass? Mine pops the main hatch, not the glass.

EDIT: Figured it out. You can remove all but two of the screws holding on the rear trim piece. Then flex the panel down enough to work behind it. Find the hatch glass latch mechanism and unplug the connector. 4 wires, Pink plug. With a razor I stripped away a tiny spot on the sheathing of the BROWN wire (negative) and the BROWN/RED STRIPE (POSITIVE) wire. Reinsert the pink plug to the latch mechanism. Apply 12v to those wires and it unlatches (if your latch is still good).

I jumpered the switch end of the ribbon cable (at the the switch/wiper assembly) and the latch did not open. I also tested the switch itself and got a constant 25 ohms (about) - no "beep" on my continuity test. Thought it would just ground out. Also followed the ribbon cable the where it changes to standard wire and I didn't see any breaks. Hmmm...

EDIT#2: After a lot of electrical diagnosis I did find a problem with the ribbon cable where it changes to standard wire. I first carefully removed the ribbon cable with a heat gun. But be careful, the ribbon is plastic and will melt/shrink easily. That joint is encased in a black plastic chunk about 1cm square. The joint casing was cracked so I ripped it apart and found a pretty good amount of corrosion. I scraped a little bit of the plastic coating away (to get a good connection to the encased ribbon wire) and did NOT get continuity on one of the wires. I soldered a 1/4" section of wire from the part of the ribbon cable a scraped away to the solder joint itself (basically reheating the solder connection between ribbon and standard wire). This worked, and I got full continuity along the entire length of the ribbon cable. Another option if the ribbon cable is really bad would be to just replace it with a standard paired wire. It would have to be small gauge stuff and get adhered to the glass, but it should work fine. It does "cross" the rubber window gasket once but with a small enough wire I don't think that would pose any problems.

I attached the microswitch and everything worked fine, for a minute or so. Then the latch mechainsm kept unlocking randomly
(even without moving the wiring at all), but finally settling in on unlock every 6 seconds, like clockwork. I had previously tested the relay by applying a 9v battery to the proper terminals and checking for continuity. It all checked OK.

Now I'm going to replace the relay which I also hear goes bad sometimes. So I think my issue was two-fold. A bad relay which caused the random unlocking, and a broken ribbon cable joint, which didn't allow the manual release of the glass lock.

I'll post updates and pictures when the relay gets in.

Last edited by CirrusSR22; 05-28-2012 at 09:26 PM.
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Old 05-28-2012, 09:50 PM   #8
Jaundiced Outlook
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My Ride: has a tailgate
Thanks for posting the details about the ribbon wire repair & glass opening work-around. I'm sure you're not the first Touring owner to have problems with corrosion there.

BTW, the fob button can be set to pop open the glass or the tailgate. A dealer, indy or someone with the right program can change it in the car's memory for you. Mine's set to pop open the glass. I'd actually like to get it switched, because I more frequently open the entire tailgate and rarely fool with the glass.
2001 325iT 5-Speed
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Old 06-20-2013, 10:47 AM   #9
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Location: Sandwich Mass.
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Hey Cirris SR22 I am having the same problem with my 2001 wagon. 2 Questions, were is the relay that affects it, and where is the location of the joint of ribbon wire where it meets the other wires. Is it at the hinge point on the passenger side?? I am a first time user, so I am not sure how you will answer this question, but my email is liberty300@verizon.net Thanks gavin2002
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