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BMW started using urethane adhesives to install their windshields in the late ’80s to early ’90s (depending on specific models). With these models, the outer trim that covers the area between the windshield edge and the body, is just that …. a trim. Many people refer to this as a gasket, but there really is no gasket in these applications, unless you consider that the trim is keeping water and debris from running into the channel (or gap) between the window edge and the body panels.
Starting with the E36 3-series, E39 5-series and the E38 7-series and continuing on into the later 3, 5, 6, 7, X and Z models), the windshield trims are a plastic/rubber type that clips onto the edge of the glass and into the gap between the glass and the body panels. These trim pieces do not age all that well and start to deteriorate and come apart. This not only looks ugly, but can create wind noise as well.
We commonly hear of BMW owners who have been told that the windshield must be removed in order to replace these windshield trim moldings. And, of course, a healthy bill or quote is presented. We have found that it is not necessary to remove the windshield. The trim moldings can easily be replaced at home, with our non-marring pry tool sets and a bit of time and patience.
Follow along as we replace the trim on a later model BMW. Note that the various BMW models will have some differences in how the moldings specifically install, but the basics are shown here and this should allow you to determine if you’d like to replace your own windshield trim moldings. When you are ready to tackle the job, you can order the tools and the moldings at www.bavauto.com or call our Advisors at 800-535-2002.
* Applicable windshield trim for BMW model being repaired – www.bavauto.com
* Non-Marring Pry Tool set – www.BavAuto.com
1) Start at one of the upper corners and use one of the tapered pry-tools to work the corner up and out of the channel.
2) Use the wide pry-tool to loosen and push the trim back from the edge of the windshield, along the “A” pillar.
3) Pull the trim up and out of the “A” pillar channel. Do both sides before removing the top section.
4) Use the wide pry-tool to loosen and push the trim away from the glass, along the upper roof edge.
5) Use the tapered pry-tool to work the upper corner away from the glass and out of the channel.
6) Pull the trim up and out of the upper channel.
7) Clean the perimeter of the glass with a razor blade or “X-Acto” knife blade. Also clean out the channel between the glass and the body panels, using one of the smaller non-marring pry-tools.
8) Position the new trim over the windshield. Carefully center the trim (measuring and marking the center of the upper trim and the middle of the windshield, is a good idea).
9) Use the various non-marring pry-tools to push the trim down into the channel and around the edge of the glass. Start at one of the corners and work across the top, then work on the sides. Finish by using the wide tool to push the trim snugly against the edge of the glass, by pushing the trim toward the glass from under the outer lip of the trim.
Many of the later-model BMWs have a plastic cowl trim at the base of the windshield. The trim piece has a molded-in rubber lip that seals to the bottom of the windshield, helping to keep excess water out of the wiper linkage and climate control air inlet area as well as guide the water from the windshield out to the lower outer corners for proper drainage. Typically, the rubber lip that presses against the base of the windshield will start to crack or curl up and will no longer seal to the windshield. Additionally, the cover itself may start to pull up in the corners. This not only looks ugly, but can cause water drainage problems and potential water in the cabin.
The cowl trim panel is relatively easy to replace. Follow along as we replace the cowl trim on an E39 5-series (97-03). Other models will vary slightly for wiper removal or trim panel screw, rivet and clip removal, but these procedures can be applied in a general manner to most models.
When you are ready to tackle the job, you can order the tools and the cowl trim panel at www.bavauto.com or call our Advisors at 800-535-2002.
- Applicable windshield cowl trim panel for BMW model being repaired – www.bavauto.com
- Replacement plastic rivets, as needed – www.bavauto./com
- Non-Marring Pry Tool set – www.BavAuto.com
- Wiper arm removal/puller tool – www.bavauto.com
- Metric socket set – www.bavauto.com
- Non-Marring pry tool set – www.bavauto.com
- Phillips-head screwdrivers
1) Remove the wiper arm assemblies. Before removing the wiper arms take note of how they are positioned on the windshield and against the stops on the cowl trim panel. Using the Non-Marring Pry Tools, pry off the trim caps covering the nuts that secure the wiper arms to the shafts.
4) Remove the plastic rivets securing the trim panel to the cowl. The rivets are removed by first removing the center “spreader pin”. Some pins pull out (like pulling a nail), some screw out, as shown here. Use the non-marring pry tools to remove the pull-out pins as well as to help the screw-out pins to come up as they are turned. After the center pin is removed, pry out the rivet.
5) Go to video for further details and procedures.
Water in the trunk of E46 3-series convertibles (00-06) is a common problem. Normally, for sedans and coupes, we would recommend replacement of the tail light to body gaskets, or in less common cases; the trunk lid gasket. However, the convertibles have a unique issue that can cause water to enter the trunk. The convertible top well (the cavity where the top folds into when open) does collect water and has drains (one left, one right) to run the water out of the compartment, to the ground. Contamination in the well, from environmental debris as well as deteriorating convertible top liner material, can (and does) clog the drain tubes. When this happens the well fills with water and then overflows into the trunk.
Keeping the drains clean and clear is the preventative measure to prevent the clogging and water entry. Test your drains by pouring water into the left and right corners of the well cavity. If the drains are clear the water will drain to the ground, in front of the rear wheels. If the drainage is slow or there is no drainage, the drains are clogged and must be cleaned and/or cleared out. Unfortunately, the drains are not readily accessible (of course! Thank you, BMW). Owners and shops have used various methods to clear clogged drains. Here are a few of them:
NOTE: When the drains are clear, water will drain through, onto the ground, in front of the rear tires.
* Completely remove the convertible top in order to remove the metal tray that covers the drains. Run a nylon (any type of flexible plastic, such as string trimmer cord or even insulated stranded wire)) cord down through the drain tubes.
* Fabricate a guide tube that can reach under the steel plate, to the drain hole (a gentle bend at the end of the guide tube will point down into the drain tube). Insert a cord (similar to that noted above) through the guide tube and then down into the drain tube. Run the cord down through the drain tube until clear.
* Pour liquid drain opener (Liquid plumber, etc.) into the drain area, into the standing water, or add a bit of water. Once drains are open, pour additional water through. Use this one at your own risk. We have heard of many owners doing this, but ……….
Obviously, the well area should be kept clean in order to help prevent drain clogging in the first place.
Remember, for ALL of your BMW & MINI parts and tech assistance needs, check out the Bavarian Autosport online store at www.bavauto.com or call our Advisors at 800-535-2002.