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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 07-16-2013, 06:56 PM   #1
LeMansteve
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DIY: "shark fin" antenna gasket replacement

After roughly 9 years of exposure to the elements, the rubber gasket at the base of my "shark fin" antenna had started to deteriorate. In fact, the front tip had split and worn away to where you could see the metal base of the antenna behind the gasket!

I decided to replace it because I thought the gasket was preventing water from entering the roof. After doing the job I learned the roof is solid underneath and the gasket really only protects the antenna and circuit inside the fin.

IMPORTANT NOTE: There are 8 threaded holes molded into the plastic fin that are used to secure it to the metal base. I broke the fin clean off at these studs with my hands trying to twist it loose from the roof. Avoid using the fin as a lever to assist in pulling or twisting the fin loose! If you manage to remove the antenna without breaking your fin, in step 4.1 the fin will have to be unscrewed from the metal base in order to service the gasket. If you do break the fin, see 7.1 for my recommended fix.

Parts needed:
1 Genuine BMW antenna gasket - 84500146775
NOTE: ECS had this part as of a month ago when I ordered it. When I went to retrieve this image today, this item is no longer being stocked.



1 Genuine BMW double-sided adhesive strip - 84508021110



Tools needed:
-hairdryer or heat gun
-soft towel that won't scratch your paint
-rag to clean adhesive
-Goo Gone or equivalent clearcoat-safe adhesive remover
-your favorite quick-detailing product
-long-shaft flathead screwdriver with a wide tip
-T16 torx driver
-your favorite glass cleaner (because you will inevitably lean all over the rear window)
-mini flathead screwdriver


1. Pick off as much of the flaky, dead rubber gasket as you can. This will expose the metal base just enough, allowing you to get leverage with the screwdriver. I didn't have to pick much off because my gasket already looked like this:






2. I used a hairdryer on high heat to soften the adhesive. Point it at the base of the antenna, slowly moving back and forth for about 2 minutes.

IMPORTANT: do not skimp on time. Doing this for 30 seconds at a time will not soften the sticky tape enough. You will get frustrated, try to apply too much force, dent your roof and snap your shark fin from the metal base:

Dime sized dent:


Broken fin:




3. Immediately after removing the heat source, set the soft towel at the front tip of the antenna base to protect the paint. Carefully get the tip of the flathead underneath the metal base and pry up. The trick is to pry up without using the roof for leverage. The roof is easily dented.

I was surprised to learn there is no hole drilled in the roof:





4. Set the antenna aside and rest it on the glass to avoid scratching the paint. The majority of the remaining sticky tape should pull off. Clean off any remaining sticky tape on the paint AND metal base with Goo Gone.

4.1. If you did not break your fin while prying off the roof, unscrew plastic fin from metal base. It is held on with 8 Torx T16 screws. Be careful, as these screws are extremely small. Remove old gasket. The new one I received was slightly different from the original but fit the fin just fine.







4.2. If you did break your fin from the base, the gasket just comes off. Do not remove the screws. They are holding the plastic studs tight and in exact alignment to the break locations inside the fin:





5. The top groove of new gasket will kind of press-fit up inside the base of the plastic fin. It's not too tight but it will hold itself in. Positioned properly, the fin should sit a few millimeters down in the gasket.

6. Remove ONE side of the sticky tape and press onto bottom of metal base.
IMPORTANT: Exactly match the position of the tape around the shaped bottom of the metal base. Any overlap will cause the antenna assembly to sit high and uneven on the roof. You really only have 1 chance at this, too!

7. With gasket on fin, screw fin back onto metal base.

7.1 If you broke your fin, I recommend using an epoxy to secure it to the plastic studs that remain on the metal base. Put epoxy at the break locations inside the fin and quickly stick back onto the studs. I used a JB Weld formulated specifically for plastics. The alternative is to remove the screws and tiny plastic stud remnants and glue them individually back into the fin. This is probably way, way more difficult and risky.

8. Remove the other side of the sticky tape and press down onto clean roof. I suggest doing a few dry runs before you expose the sticky tape. Use the flat rear of the gasket as a kind of pivot point to ensure you are lowering the antenna flat and straight. A spotter is useful here to make sure you are centered on the roof.





9. Clean the fin and rear glass because they are probably full of fingerprints and arm prints by now!

Congratulations, you are done!
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Last edited by LeMansteve; 07-17-2013 at 07:52 AM.
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Old 07-17-2013, 01:41 AM   #2
TerraPhantm
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No reason to keep the shark fin if you don't use assist, right? I've been meaning to delete mine. Just afraid of denting the roof
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Old 07-17-2013, 02:26 AM   #3
Marshmallow
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DIY: "shark fin" antenna gasket replacement

Quote:
Originally Posted by TerraPhantm View Post
No reason to keep the shark fin if you don't use assist, right? I've been meaning to delete mine. Just afraid of denting the roof
Why?! I'm about to buy one that goes over my bee sting! I think they look awesome!
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Old 07-17-2013, 02:46 AM   #4
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My previous E46 had a smooth roof, and I just prefer that look.

Last edited by TerraPhantm; 07-17-2013 at 02:46 AM.
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Old 07-17-2013, 03:13 AM   #5
Tiag46
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great thread
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Old 07-17-2013, 07:46 AM   #6
LeMansteve
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TerraPhantm View Post
No reason to keep the shark fin if you don't use assist, right? I've been meaning to delete mine. Just afraid of denting the roof
Good point. I do know it is the antenna for BMW Assist calls and I think for cars that have the official BMW built-in cell phone (rare). I get the feeling many of us are pairing a mobile phone through Bluetooth. I'm not positive but I believe in that scenario the antenna in the phone itself is being used, not the hardwired fin antenna.

If you're afraid of denting the roof, just be extremely careful and patient. Apply plenty of heat to the tape and be very careful with whatever tool you use to pry the fin off. I would not recommend using the fin itself as a lever to twist/rock/pull the assembly off.


Quote:
Originally Posted by TerraPhantm View Post
My previous E46 had a smooth roof, and I just prefer that look.
You know, it does look much cleaner without the fin and I considered leaving it off. For me it's a bit of OCD knowing that I would have the BMW Assist buttons on the rearview mirror, but would not have the fin antenna to use them!

Removing the fin is fairly straightforward, but cleanly removing the wiring appears difficult. From the base of the antenna, the wire runs behind the weatherstripping along the top of the rear window. Who knows what tight spaces it snakes through from there.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiag46 View Post
great thread
Thanks!
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Last edited by LeMansteve; 07-17-2013 at 07:49 AM.
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Old 07-18-2013, 08:50 AM   #7
cdev87
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Has anyone figured out how to remove the bee sting antenna? I purchased the "dummy" antenna on eBay, and wondering if there is an easy way to remove the old antenna.
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Old 07-21-2013, 07:20 PM   #8
TerraPhantm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeMansteve View Post
Good point. I do know it is the antenna for BMW Assist calls and I think for cars that have the official BMW built-in cell phone (rare). I get the feeling many of us are pairing a mobile phone through Bluetooth. I'm not positive but I believe in that scenario the antenna in the phone itself is being used, not the hardwired fin antenna.

If you're afraid of denting the roof, just be extremely careful and patient. Apply plenty of heat to the tape and be very careful with whatever tool you use to pry the fin off. I would not recommend using the fin itself as a lever to twist/rock/pull the assembly off.




You know, it does look much cleaner without the fin and I considered leaving it off. For me it's a bit of OCD knowing that I would have the BMW Assist buttons on the rearview mirror, but would not have the fin antenna to use them!

Removing the fin is fairly straightforward, but cleanly removing the wiring appears difficult. From the base of the antenna, the wire runs behind the weatherstripping along the top of the rear window. Who knows what tight spaces it snakes through from there.




Thanks!
Successfully removed mine. I heated up for ~5 mins with a hair dryer, and I used plastic strapping material (this stuff) to cut through the now soft glue.

Used liberal amounts of goo gone to get the remaining residue off, and then washed the area. No dents or apparent scratches. You can tell that area was never exposed to sunlight in the last 9 years... but you have to look close.

For the wire, I first snipped the shark fin off. Then if you look at the driver side of the trunk, you'll see a black wire coming out of a conduit. Tug upwards on this, and it'll start to come out of the window molding, Keep pulling it out until it's free. Then take the trunk liner out, and look at your TCU module. IIRC it's the left most plug that goes to that conduit. Remove the plug from the TCU, and just pull. Eventually it will be free and you can seal everything back up.

For the molding, just use a non-marring tool, and press it in along the entire edge. Everything should sit flush afterwards

Only "flaw" at this point is that it's semi obvious that the shark fin area was not exposed to the sun over the last 9 years. But I imagine the difference will diminish in time.

I've long since removed my assist mirror since the autodimming part failed; I bought a Z4M mirror to go in its place. So I don't have any functionless buttons at this point

Last edited by TerraPhantm; 07-21-2013 at 08:05 PM.
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Old 07-22-2013, 07:57 AM   #9
LeMansteve
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DIY: "shark fin" antenna gasket replacement

Quote:
Originally Posted by TerraPhantm View Post
Successfully removed mine. I heated up for ~5 mins with a hair dryer, and I used plastic strapping material (this stuff) to cut through the now soft glue.

Used liberal amounts of goo gone to get the remaining residue off, and then washed the area. No dents or apparent scratches. You can tell that area was never exposed to sunlight in the last 9 years... but you have to look close.

For the wire, I first snipped the shark fin off. Then if you look at the driver side of the trunk, you'll see a black wire coming out of a conduit. Tug upwards on this, and it'll start to come out of the window molding, Keep pulling it out until it's free. Then take the trunk liner out, and look at your TCU module. IIRC it's the left most plug that goes to that conduit. Remove the plug from the TCU, and just pull. Eventually it will be free and you can seal everything back up.

For the molding, just use a non-marring tool, and press it in along the entire edge. Everything should sit flush afterwards

Only "flaw" at this point is that it's semi obvious that the shark fin area was not exposed to the sun over the last 9 years. But I imagine the difference will diminish in time.

I've long since removed my assist mirror since the autodimming part failed; I bought a Z4M mirror to go in its place. So I don't have any functionless buttons at this point
Thanks for the follow up. Does your Z4M mirror have a rain sensor?


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Old 07-22-2013, 10:50 AM   #10
TerraPhantm
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Rain sensor isn't part of the mirror. It sits near the mirror, and I think the wiring passes through the mirror's neck, but they're separate.

Last edited by TerraPhantm; 07-22-2013 at 11:05 AM.
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Old 08-16-2014, 11:56 AM   #11
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Thanks for the DIY! OP, can you re-upload pictures through another hosting site? The original ones are no longer there.

My shark fin gasket was dried out from 10 years of sun and heat and began to fall apart so I went about replacing the gasket and the adhesive. The DIY helps a good deal, even more so if the pictures were still there. As the OP states, take your time with a heat gun or hair dryer. The fin is connected to the roof only by adhesive. However that doesn't mean you can pull on the fin because the antenna cable runs under the rear window gasket to the inside of the fin.

Be careful when prying the fin off, I was VERY careful and still managed to put a small dent or two in the roof. Another few on the list of dents that I need to get removed.

Once you manage to separate the fin from the roof, clean any adhesive residue from the roof and from the metal plate under the fin. Then unscrew the metal plate from the fin and clean out the remaining parts of the old gasket. You'll see that the new gasket kind of has a lip that you will need to sandwich between the metal plate and the fin. Once you put the gasket in between, screw the plate back on. Then put the adhesive tape around the metal plate without getting it on the raised center part. You might be able to see a faint line on the roof of where the fin used to sit, I used this as a guideline for reinstalling.

Just wanted to explain in my words to help others.
Also, the shark fin gasket goes above the rear window gasket, it may seem confusing at first.
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