August 31, 2013 by quirkyuncle
You hear a snap and the rear window of your BMW X3 slides down inside the door. Here’s how to fix it.
With an X3, the problem is likely a small plastic part called the ‘driving dog’. This is a part that is way too delicate and prone to fail. Luckily, a driving dog is fairly inexpensive (I paid under $50) and takes about an hour to replace.
The driving dog clips onto the bottom of the window glass. It then fits onto a vertical window track inside the door where it is driven up and down by a bead that is part of the window regulator cable. The weak spot of the driving dog is where the metal cable bead is held in place.
You can find a number of websites that describe how to repair a driving dog. I tried fixing mine and the repair only lasted a couple months. Considering that the driving dog ultimately needed to be purchased anyway, and I needed to take the door all apart twice, fixing my driving dog instead of replacing it the first time wasn’t worth the trouble.
Note: This procedure is written for a 2006 BMW X3 (E83); however, based on what I seen in the BMW the parts catalogs, it should also be applicable to other BMW models. Slight procedural adjustments will be required if performing this procedure on another vehicle other than a BMW X3 (E83).
The procedure in this posting is divided into the following sections that can be used independently:
- Stabilize the Window
- Order Parts
- Remove the Door Panel
- Replace the Driving Dog
- Install the Door Panel
Tools and Time
Time: 60 minutes
Special tools you might need
Putty knives serve a bunch of purposes. Designed for things like patching holes in drywall, I’m using the putty knife here to help remove automotive trim. While I prefer a thinner putty knife when working with drywall, you’ll need a thicker and stiffer putty knife to remove trim.
Locking pliers are pliers that can be secured (locked) in the closed position. This allows you to get a lot of force on the part you are gripping without the need to apply sustained force to squeeze the pliers shut; this makes locking pliers great for installing threaded pipe or removing a bolt with a fouled head.
Locking pliers can also be used as a small clamp that applies a lot of force. Locking pliers are great for holding parts in position temporarily, such as securing a broken car window in the closed position.
It can take several days to get replacement parts. You will need to secure the fallen window in the closed position, if you plan to drive the car or store it in a place where having the window open is not practical.
Important: To prevent additional damage to the window mechanism, do not attempt to operate the window until it is fully repaired.
- If you can still grab the fallen window:
- Pull the window up and push it into the fully closed position.
- Secure the window with tape. Use a strong tape, such as duct tape, on the inside of the window along the top and sides. (The picture shows temporarily securing the window with masking tape until it can be better held in place with stronger tape.)
- Pull the window up and push it into the fully closed position.
- If you can’t grab the window, you’ll need to remove the door panel, push the window closed from inside the door, and secure the window with locking pliers. Use care not to bend or distort the track when attaching the pliers. (Locking pliers are more secure than tape, but tape can also be used if locking pliers are not available, as described above.)
If you go to the parts counter at your local BMW dealership, you are always assured of getting the correct part. They might not have it in stock, so call them first.
For ordering online, parts lists for BMWs can be found at websites such as RealOEM (http://realoem.com). At RealOEM, after you enter the vehicle identification number (VI#) for your car, the lists will only show parts that fit your specific vehicle; otherwise, you’ll need to answer a bunch of questions and sometimes guess at which part applies to your specific vehicle.
Once you have a part number, you can search for it online to see who carries the part and how much it costs before placing an order.
The parts list for the rear door of a 2006 X3 (E83) is shown below. As you can see, there are different driving dog part numbers for the driver side (left) and passenger side (right) rear doors. You will need to navigate through the RealOEM website to reach this page, following a logical path through the website structure (for example; Identify Vehicle > Vehicle Trim > Rear Door Trim).
Attention: Make sure that the ignition key is off when working inside the car door. This will help prevent the window motor from activating and injuring you. The window motor is strong and parts inside the door have sharp edges: you could easily lose a finger, if you are not careful.
Note: Plastic trim becomes more brittle in cold weather. Use additional care when performing this procedure during the winter.
To remove the door panel, complete the following steps:
- Remove the door handle trim. Slowly pry in the groove between the door handle and the trim, starting at bottom and working toward top, using a plastic putty knife or a metal putty knife covered with tape to protect the trim. Use care as the trim is very delicate and can easily crack. Once you have loosened the trim along its entire length, remove it.
- Locate the trim plugs and screws in the door panel. There are two trim plugs (blue arrows) and four Torx-head trim screws (red arrows).
- Remove the trim plugs covering the screw in door latch recess and the screw on lower rear side of the armrest.
- Remove the four Torx-head screws that retain the door panel.
After removing the screws, the door panel is still held in place by several plastic retaining clips.
- Insert a plastic putty knife (or metal putty knife covered with tape) between the door panel and the door; then, pull outward to pop the door panel retaining clips loose. Start at the lower rear corner of the door panel, working around the lower edge and up both sides until the door panel is supported along only its top edge.
- Push upward on the door panel to disengage the clips along its top edge. Do not drop the door panel when it releases, as there are delicate wires attached to it. Lift the door panel off the door.
- Disconnect the speaker connector and the power window connector. Do not pull on the wires. Use pliers, if necessary, to get a good grip on the connectors.
- Disconnect the door latch cable. Pull down on the red collar to release cable from the clip; the, unhook the cable from its hook on the door latch.
- Place the door panel in a location where it won’t be damaged. Inspect all the retaining clips, replacing any that are broken. Replacement clips can be purchased at most auto parts stores.
Door panel removal is complete.
To replace the driving dog, complete the following steps:
- Remove the door panel (see Remove the Door Panel).
- Lift up the inner door liner, starting at the bottom corner. Work carefully and do not tear the liner; it is what keeps water that gets inside the door from leaking into the interior. The glue holding the liner is strong and gooey. Only the bottom half of door liner must be lifted, just enough to expose the top of the window motor. Secure the liner out of the way with tape.
- (Optional step, if part is being ordered.) Secure the window (see Stabilize the Window).
- Carefully feel the window regulator cable to locate the bead. (If the cable has separated from the driving dog, the driving dog likely broken.) Be careful not to cut your finger, as the cable might be frayed. If the cable is frayed or damaged, the entire window regulator might need to be replaced.
- Untape or unclamp the window and carefully slide it down until the driving dog is even with the slot in the window track.
- Unclip the driving dog from the window. Press on the driving dog clip with a screwdriver to release it from the glass. Once unclipped, slide the driving dog from the window glass.
- Push the window up and stick a screwdriver in the door above the window motor to secure the window in place.
- Push the driving dog up to the midpoint of the window track, just above the diagonal structural member of the door. Rotate the front of the driving dog outward and back toward the rear of the door. Slide the driving dog from the window track to remove.
- Inspect the driving dog. It will typically break where the plastic retains the metal cable and bead.
- If necessary to position the regulator cable bead, turn on the ignition key (do not start the car) and gently operate the power window control to move regulator cable bead, a tiny bit at a time, until the bead is at the level of the slot in the window track. You must use the master window control panel on the driver’s door to do this. Shut off the ignition key.
- Install the new driving dog on the window track. In the midpoint of the window track, hook the driving dog on the rear edge of the window track, then rotate the driving dog forward.
- Slide the driving dog down until it is centered on the regulator cable bead.
- Work the bead into its recess on the driving dog; then, work he cable into the slots on the driving dog. Cable must be fully inserted under the hooks of the driving dog, or it can work it’s way loose.
- Support the window and remove the screwdriver that is supporting it; then, slide the window down and insert it into the slot on the top of the driving dog. Hold the driving dog in place while inserting the window. The hole in the window glass should align with the hook on the driving dog.
- Support the lower edge of the driving dog with a screwdriver braced against the door frame.
- Press down hard on the window top until the window seats in the driving dog. Push out on the driving dog hook with a screwdriver to get the hook to pop in place.
- Turn on the ignition key (do not start car) and run the window though its full range of motion using the driver door master window control panel. The window should move and sound smooth. If not, turn off the ignition key; then, inspect and correct the problem.
- Run the window all the way up. Clean all tape-glue residue from the glass.
- Run the window to its lowest position. Turn off the ignition key.
- Replace the inner door liner. The existing glue should still be on the door and can be reused. If you tore the door liner, repair it with strong plastic tape that is designed for outdoor use.
Driving dog installation is complete. Install the door panel (see Install the Door Panel).
To install the door panel, complete the following steps:
- Support the door panel. Connect the speaker and power window connectors.
- Connect the door latch cable. Insert the latch hook first and then place the red collar into its retaining clip; then, insert the center of the latch cable into its retaining clip near the center of the door panel.
- Work the upper edge of the door panel into the window slot along the lower edge of the window frame at the top of the door, while directing the door lock shaft into its hole at the upper-rear corner of the door panel. Once in place, press down on the top edge of the door panel, along the lower edge of the window opening until the door panel fully seated and the clips are engaged.
- After it is correctly seated, the door panel should be even across the entire window opening.
- Looking in from the bottom and sides, align the clips on the door panel with their holes in the door.
- Press firmly on the door panel to seat the retaining clips. If the retaining clips present excessive resistance, verify that they are properly aligned.
- Install the four Torx screws and two trim plugs.
- Install the door handle trim. Insert the trim starting at the top. Carefully squeeze the trim to seat it, slowly working to the bottom of the trim until all clips are fully seated.
Door panel installation is complete.
Category Automotive, DIY | Tags: automotive window repair, BMW door handle, BMW door trim, BMW rear door panel, BMW rear window, BMW rear window regulator, driving dog, locking pliers, putty knife, visegrip pliers, window fell in door, X3 door handle, X3 door trim, X3 rear door panel, X3 rear window, X3 rear window regulator