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BMW E30 3-Series Door Panel Removal and Inner Door Handle Lever Replace – How to DIY

July 8, 2011

Model: 318i

I have a quick question and not sure if you have done an article on this or not. I need to replace both of my door handles because they broke. My 318i BMW has been in storage for the last four years and I am finally getting it out of storage to repair everything on it and get it back on the road.
I would like to know if you have a detail article on how to replace these items?

The inner door latch release handles are easy to replace, on the E30 models (3-series 84-91 and 92 convertibles). However, the inner door trim panel must be removed first. See the photo and the procedures below.

Click below for BMW E30 inner door handles
(Search INNER DOOR HANDLE after clicking):

Click below for inner handle trim ring:

Click below for door panel clips:

Click below for non-marring pry bar sets:

Click to enlarge photo:

1) Remove the two Phillips-head screw located at the underside of the armrest.

2) Remove the mirror switch or trim plug from the upper-forward end of the armrest by prying it out with a small screwdriver or non-marring pry tool (see link above).

3) Remove the phillips-head screw located through the access hole where the mirror switch or trim plug was mounted.

4) Remove the armrest by pushing it forward. This will release the upper locator tab (at the rear of the mirror switch hole) and the locator tabs at the lower map pocket. Be gentle with the locator tabs between the lower armrest and the map pocket. These are just plastic and can break easily.

5) Remove the lock button (unscrew it).

6) Lower the window. This makes removal and installation of the door trim panel easier.

7) If the vehicle has manual windows, remove the window crank. Pry off the plastic cap at the end of the crank arm to expose the securing bolt. Remove the bolt and pull off the crank arm.

8) Remove door handle trim ring. Push the trim ring rearward to release and remove.  If any of the four securing tabs are broken, on the trim ring, order a new ring (see link above).

9) The door trim panel is secured by a number of plastic snap clips that run along the forward, rear and lower edges. Use a non-marring pry tool to release the clips. Slide the tool under the edge of the panel (starting at the rearward-lower corner) and move it back and forth to locate the snaps. Pry the tool at the snap location (not between the snaps) to pop the snap from the door frame. Continue around the panel, popping all of the clips.  Note that some of the clips may break.  You may wish to order a few new clips when ordering the new handle assemblies (see links above).

10) Once all of the clips have been released, push the panel up so that the upper trim strip will release from the door frame and the panel can be fully removed.

11) Remove the two screws securing the door handle assembly to the door frame. Pull the assembly out of the door and disconnect the actuator rod.

12) Install the new handle assembly in the reverse order.

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