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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 03-24-2013, 08:35 PM   #1
MikeyManBMW
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Tell me about your successful DIY fix of the window regulator on your e46 wagon

I recently bought an '02 325xi touring/wagon which -- of course -- performed flawlessly during the test drive but is now (three weeks in) exhibiting a balky driver's side window.

When I hit the window switch button once to start the "one touch down" feature the window smoothly descends, with some odd scratching noises towards the end.

When I pull up on the window switch to start the "one touch raise" feature the window starts to ascend and then quickly slows, laboring, before stalling out with the window 20% raised.

I can get the window to raise completely if I lower it again, and then after pulling the lever to raise, "coaxing" it past the stall point by hand to about half way before allowing it to continue on its own.

My independent shop has quoted me $370 to fix the "failing regulator".

After poking around here a bit, I ran across this excellent-looking DIY that has me *hoping* that I can get into the door myself, discover that all it needs is the common "zip tie fix", and be done with it without screwing-up my vapor barrier, air bag, window or mirror switches, etc.

One of the things I noticed was folks reporting on model-year and body-style variations on what they found when they pried open their panels and trim.

Before I attempt this myself, anybody care to comment on what they found when they tried this on their e46 wagon??

Thanks in advance for any advice!
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Old 03-24-2013, 09:05 PM   #2
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The regulators shouldn't be wagon-specific.

You can go to bmaparts.com and get a new uro parts regulator for $55 a corner. install it yourself in about an hour. easy.

do not do the zip tie fix. it's a BMW, not a hot dog stand.
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Old 03-24-2013, 09:46 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mango View Post
do not do the zip tie fix. it's a BMW, not a hot dog stand.
Ha! Thanks for the advice Mango... no hot dogs for sale outa my e46!

But... is the zip tie fix not advisable because it is likely to break other expensive things when it fails, or just because it's more likely to fail than the URO part? Also... the URO part is about half the cost of the "genuine" part, so it has me wondering about quality. Good to go in your experience?
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Old 03-24-2013, 10:10 PM   #4
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Hey! I have the same car except for a manual trans. Ive fixed both of my front regulators with zip ties and theyve lasted over a year with 0 problems.
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Old 03-24-2013, 10:49 PM   #5
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Hey GotVANOS -- thanks for the confidence! Did you use elbee's DIY instructions or someone else's?

I think I'm leaning towards finding a nice day when I can do a DIY door opening to see if a zip tie fix will patch it for now. If not, I'll sew her back up and order the full new regulator per Mango and try again.

BTW -- it looks (from reading some of your old posts) like your wagon has been through the wars, eh? Thought my car was pretty unique but it's a big country. Good to find another!
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Old 03-24-2013, 11:03 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by MikeyManBMW View Post
Hey GotVANOS -- thanks for the confidence! Did you use elbee's DIY instructions or someone else's?

I think I'm leaning towards finding a nice day when I can do a DIY door opening to see if a zip tie fix will patch it for now. If not, I'll sew her back up and order the full new regulator per Mango and try again.

BTW -- it looks (from reading some of your old posts) like your wagon has been through the wars, eh? Thought my car was pretty unique but it's a big country. Good to find another!

Yes I believe that is the DIY I used.

Haha, yes she has.<3 Although I have put it through its paces (it survived my noob stage) I can proudly say I saved the car.
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Old 03-24-2013, 11:09 PM   #7
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The zip tie method is questionable at best. it's best to just replace the regulator. uro for the regulator is good.

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Old 03-24-2013, 11:15 PM   #8
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I did the zip tie fix on both front windows. One because it was going up really slow and the other I did anyway because I had to reseal the vapor barriers due to leaks. The other one would have failed the same way as the other. It's this plastic piece that breaks off. Once you take a look at it (assuming that's the problem in your case), you'll see it's a design flaw. I used two zip ties on the end that failed for extra measure. I wouldn't be surprised if it last longer than a brand new regulator.

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Old 03-24-2013, 11:28 PM   #9
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Thanks AC Yate!

The vapor barrier thing is scary in the sense that I live in the Pacific Northwest where moisture is king. If I do a DIY, I wanna be sure I seal her up right. I've heard a few others say they bought a fresh factory sealing strip to ensure this, others used a hair dryer to heat up the goop to get things to seal well. Did you do either of these to fix your leaks??
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Old 03-24-2013, 11:34 PM   #10
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Going on 2 years with the zip-tie fix on my sedan.
I did it when it was pretty hot out and the adhesive on my vapor barrier was pretty tacky. Pulled the door panel recently to replace a speaker and it's still sealed up tight.
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Old 03-24-2013, 11:44 PM   #11
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I used silicone adhesive sealant but it's really messy. I think window butyl tape is the way to go. If your bottom vapor barrier looks like it's holding up well, I would just unseal the top and sides and leave the bottom area alone.
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Old 03-24-2013, 11:57 PM   #12
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Thanks XIinSC -- good to hear!
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Old 03-24-2013, 11:59 PM   #13
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Thanks -- I'll try to unseal the minimum. Cheers.
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Old 03-25-2013, 03:54 AM   #14
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Just don't rip your vapor barrier. Remove it carefully. Don't dink around trying to patch your failed regulator on the cheap. Buy a new one (from someone other than ECS). And march on.
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Old 03-25-2013, 02:15 PM   #15
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Thanks for the advice Stickbuilder. Just curious -- why should I avoid ECS?
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Old 03-25-2013, 04:33 PM   #16
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Someone with two bad regulators needs to buy one new regulator and do the zip tie fix on the other one to see what actually holds up longer. That would be interesting and would provide some insight into the differing opinions.
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Old 03-25-2013, 04:41 PM   #17
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I bought a $28 eBay regulator and it works just fine. Great replacement for the money
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Old 03-25-2013, 04:43 PM   #18
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Just my $0.02 from replacing a regulator on my 330i.

DYI, it's pretty easy. I think I paid about $130 for the drivers side regulator from a dealership. I'm sure you can find them cheaper online. $380 is a whole lot of money you don't need to spend.
Get a set of plastic non-marring interior panel removal tools. They make taking the door panel off much easier and less likely to gouge/scratch stuff up.
I used a hair dryer and plastic putty knife to carefully remove the vapor barrier. Heating also made the adhesive good and sticky for instillation.
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Old 03-25-2013, 04:51 PM   #19
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I did the zip tie fix on my passenger side window on my touring. Lasted about 2 months.

That said, when I installed the new regulator, I put the zip ties on the new one and put the zip ties on the driver side one too just in case. Haven't had an issue since.

It seems that the zip tie fix may work for years, or may not; but for the cost, it's worth doing and if it doesn't hold, you know what you need to do.

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Old 03-25-2013, 05:23 PM   #20
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TR4G -- blksab65 -- Chrsb5 -- rbalazsi: Thanks for the extra opinions.

I think I've got my plan -- gonna buy a third-party regulator replica (this one, thanks Mango) for relatively cheap, then do the DIY replacement and attach zip ties to the new unit for extra insurance down the road. I'll keep a hair dryer at the ready if the vapor barrier won't zip back up easily. I'll report back next week if I run into any drama.

Thanks all for your help!!
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