DIY – BMW X3 (E83) Rear Window Repair

51

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.

Driving dogs

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:

Tools and Time

Tools:

Time: 60 minutes
Difficulty: Moderate

Special tools you might need

Putty knife
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.
Putty knives

Locking Pliers

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.
Visegrip

Stabilize the Window

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:
    1. Pull the window up and push it into the fully closed position.
      Lift window
    2. 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.)
      Tape window
  • 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.)
    pliers holding window

Order Parts

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).
Parts list

Remove the Door Panel

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:

  1. 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.

    pry handle trim
    remove handle trim
  2. 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).
    door trim plus and screws
  3. Remove the trim plugs covering the screw in door latch recess and the screw on lower rear side of the armrest.
    door latch trim plug
    door panel trim plug
  4. 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.

  5. 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.
    Putty knife wedge
    Release retaining clips
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
    speaker connector
    power window connector
  8. 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.
    door latch cable 1
    door latch cable 2
  9. 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.
    retaining clips

Door panel removal is complete.

Replace the Driving Dog

To replace the driving dog, complete the following steps:

  1. Remove the door panel (see Remove the Door Panel).
  2. 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.
    lift door liner
    door liner out of way
  3. (Optional step, if part is being ordered.) Secure the window (see Stabilize the Window).
  4. 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.
    regulator cable bead
  5. Untape or unclamp the window and carefully slide it down until the driving dog is even with the slot in the window track.
    driving dog revealed
  6. 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.
    unclip driving dog
  7. Push the window up and stick a screwdriver in the door above the window motor to secure the window in place.
    hold window up with screwdriver
  8. 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.
    remove driving dog
  9. Inspect the driving dog. It will typically break where the plastic retains the metal cable and bead.
    inspect driving dog
  10. 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.
    bead in position
  11. 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.
    hook on driving dog
    rotate driving dog
  12. Slide the driving dog down until it is centered on the regulator cable bead.
    center driving dog on bead
  13. 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.
    properly seated cable
  14. 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.
    insert window in driving dog
  15. Support the lower edge of the driving dog with a screwdriver braced against the door frame.
    screwdriver holding driving dog
  16. 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.
    seat driving dog hook
  17. 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.
  18. Run the window all the way up. Clean all tape-glue residue from the glass.
  19. Run the window to its lowest position. Turn off the ignition key.
  20. 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.
    replace door liner
    door liner installed

Driving dog installation is complete. Install the door panel (see Install the Door Panel).

Install the Door Panel

To install the door panel, complete the following steps:

  1. Support the door panel. Connect the speaker and power window connectors.
    connect speaker
    connect power window
  2. 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.
    cable latch hook
    red clip
  3. 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.
  4. After it is correctly seated, the door panel should be even across the entire window opening.
    seated door panel
  5. Looking in from the bottom and sides, align the clips on the door panel with their holes in the door.
    align clips
  6. Press firmly on the door panel to seat the retaining clips. If the retaining clips present excessive resistance, verify that they are properly aligned.
    seat clips
  7. Install the four Torx screws and two trim plugs.
    door panel screws and plugs
  8. 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 handle trim install 1
    door handle trim install 2

Door panel installation is complete.


51 comments »

  1. Mystery says:

    Thanks! Tackling this project soon. Your write up was great!!

  2. qwerty qwerty says:

    Thanks a lot !! Really heplful. Will do tomorrow.

  3. Trog says:

    This was a terrific help. I’ve got a 2004 model but your instructions were still applicable. Thanks for the excellent writeup!

  4. bob says:

    Thank you so much

  5. bmwchubs says:

    Don’t suppose you happen to know if the armrest on the rear door card can be removed? Is it held on with clips/screws from the inside? Mine has holes and really want to get it reupholstered.

    • quirkyuncle@gmail.com says:

      From the higher-resolution photos I have, it appears that it is held in by plastic studs that were melted to mushroom them to secure the armrest. I don’t recall from direct observation.

  6. Gabor says:

    Great help. Thanks a lot, I could fix it.
    Gabor from Hungary

  7. Mike says:

    Just followed you directions and everything was exactly as described. Thanks. I found it online for $36, but got it at were we service X3 for $47 even including tax.

  8. nrigroom says:

    Excellent write up! I took both the front and rear right side door panels off to do a vapor barrier water leak repair. I do have a problem after I put the door panels back. The door latch black rectangular things now don’t go all the way up and the rear one even sticks. They’re both ‘indented’ about a half inch compared to the ones in the other two doors that I didn’t open. What am I missing? Any help appreciated in advance!!

    • quirkyuncle@gmail.com says:

      I ran into issues with the door lock on the first door I did, as well. It was too low when the door went back together and would stick. I don’t remember what was wrong, but I did need to take the door back apart to get it to work.

      One thing to check is that the linkages remain free as you put it together. It is a pain, because gravity wants to make the linkage drop as you assemble it.

  9. tod T. says:

    My daughters 07 BMW X3 received this treatment from BMW Tucson. Unfortunately the butyl adhesive did NOT adhere along the bottom edge of both rear windows. One side the vapor barrier was torn, the other side, just didn’t adhere for 4 inches. This resulted in 4 gallons of water entering via the rear windows during a month of rain. Do you recommend replacing the Vapor barrier with new ?

    • quirkyuncle@gmail.com says:

      If it were mine, I’d repair the vapor barrier with Tyvek tape. It is available at building suppliers like Lowe’s or Home Depot. It is waterproof and sticks to anything. I’ve used it in many outdoor applications with great success. You can purchase rolls of butyl adhesive at an auto parts store. It is sold as windshield adhesive.

  10. Tim Fleischer says:

    is there anything that holds the cable bead in place other than the recess on the driving dog?

    • quirkyuncle@gmail.com says:

      The grooves where the cable go on either side of the slug have a small projections to help secure the cable. It is made of plastic and the cable rubbing against it wears them down. There is a posting somewhere that shows driving dog repair using a metal piece that you can fabricate and hold in place with a small screw. I did try doing it and it did work for about a week – not worth the effort. In my case, the parts I used to do the repair caused everything to fit more tight and caused the driving dog to split.

  11. Jaime says:

    I’m not an expert mechanic, but I tackled the project on my ’05 X3. Took me longer than I expected, but all is well. Saved me a lot of money! A “million thanks” for taking the time to build this site.

  12. Greg says:

    Hi, thank you so much for this guide! My body shop guy removed the door card but didn’t fancy the job, I’ve just done it myself with your pics and words. Took just over an hour. What I did find first time is I hadn’t located the metal bead properly. I thought it would pull itself in. Wrong! It pulled itself out! The second go I used a pair of long nosed pliers to correctly locate the bead in the driving dog, which I wish I’d done first time, as I had to essentially remove the new dog, secure the window etc etc. Car will go in Weds to have the door card put back on.

    Thanks again!

    Greg, UK

    • quirkyuncle@gmail.com says:

      Hi, Greg! I’m glad it worked out for you! Yes, getting the bead seated is the worst part of the job, working blind in a confined space. You now have bragging rights over your mechanic! Very cool!

  13. Amrth says:

    Hi Buddy,

    This write up as of a great help to me. The DOG in my X3 had gone off and your page was the one that showed up in google search. Took it from there, ordered the parts and last weekend me and my wife were able to get the new DOG fixed with not much of an hassle. Your write up and pictures were a real boon for me. Thanks and Cheers,

    Amrth, USA

  14. Michal says:

    wow, worked like a charm.
    saved me a lot of hassle and $
    many thanks!
    Michal (Slovakia)

  15. Jordon says:

    Thanks so much for taking the time to lay this out. Saved me a lot of money, which seems to be in short supply keeping my 2004 running. My only struggle was attaching the cable, decided to attach before putting the dog on the track. So far, so good… Can’t wait to see what fails next!
    Thanks again.

  16. Bien says:

    Great great write up. I got the part off eBay for only 9 bucks, hopefully it’ll last. I found out a razor/ utility knife helped a lot with the liner removal. I damaged two securing clips and ended up throwing them away, other than that it went smoothly. Thank you so much.

  17. Scott says:

    Thanks for the detailed write up! I broke down and just went to the dealer for the part since no one local had it, but I was able to take the door apart and change the piece out in one day because of the article.

  18. brad says:

    We thought we had the bead and cable inserted in the slot correctly but everytime the window goes down to the bottom, it pops the bead out of the slot and we have to start all over. what makes the motor stop at the bottom and top of the cycle? anybody know?

    • quirkyuncle@gmail.com says:

      I do not see any limit switches for the window. They might be inside the motor. More likely, it senses increased load on the motor (resulting in increased current draw) when the window reaches either end of its travel.

      Are you using a new driving dog or trying to reuse the old one? I tried the reusing old one and had the same issue.

      There are little tangs on the plastic that hold the cable and bead in place. These wear and then the cable slips out, taking the bead with it.

      Initially, I made a small metal clip and used it to hold the cable in the driver dog. This only lasted a couple months before the whole thing cracked. Better to just replace it than doing the whole job multiple times.

      Hope this helps. Please let me know if I can assist any further. Thanks for reading!

  19. yimmers10 says:

    Thanks for the great write up. Will this part work as the driving dog replacement?

    http://www.amazon.com/RegulatorFix-Window-Regulator-Repair-Clip/dp/B00BT1GPW6

    • quirkyuncle@gmail.com says:

      The part you listed appears to be the same – just make sure that you order the one for the correct side of the car, as the right and left sides are mirror images. You have to trust the supplier for accurate compatibility with your year and model.

      The only difference I see is that the driving dog in your link does not have the rubber bumper that you can see on the driving dog in my posting. The part I ordered from BMW (for a lot more money) had the bumper installed, so I can’t speak to whether it can be swapped from the old one to the new one.

      As with all aftermarket parts that are inexpensive, you take a chance with the quality of materials. The original part is made fairly cheaply already so I’d consider this one an acceptable risk.

  20. Judd says:

    Thanks for all your efforts most helpful ??? job completed
    I did have issue connecting glass to plastic piece…
    A little push for the the back side made it happen?

    • quirkyuncle@gmail.com says:

      Yes, getting the glass into the plastic driving dog makes you think something is going to break. It does snap in, though.

      Glad I could help!

  21. MS says:

    Thank you! With the help of this tutorial, 2 ladies were able to make the repair!! Took about 4 hours though…but we have (had) no mechanical skills whatsoever!

    • quirkyuncle@gmail.com says:

      Awesome! I’m glad I was able to help you out! We all start working on cars, houses, etc. somewhere. I hope your success empowers you to do more! Great job!

  22. Mike says:

    As another victim of this issue I found your tutorial a life saver. Thank you so much for the instruction. It takes a high give-a-shit factor to put something together to help out someone else. I purchased the part from Amazon for around $14 and made the fix in a few hours time. Thanks again!

  23. Peter says:

    2004 X3 RtHandDrive (Australia).
    Great tutorial. Followed your instructions which made the whole process easy.
    Got a copied part sent over from Germany which looks a little suspect but is working; expect I will have to redo the job at some stage though.
    An added layer of complexity for me was the airbag, but it turned out OK because it is attached to the door card and restricts how far you can pull the card forward and just requires the detachment of the block connector.
    Peter,
    Melbourne, Australia

    • quirkyuncle@gmail.com says:

      Thank you! Glad it worked out.

      Interesting. Mine does not have air bags in the rear door. If they are there, the battery should be disconnected before doing the repair, so as not to set them off accidentally.

  24. Michelle says:

    Can’t thank you enough for taking the time to write this up WITH photos! Saved me a lot of money.
    I hope you cont to post repairs on the x3. You’re great at simplifying things.

  25. leslie zoto says:

    I followed your tutorial and got everything out and there was indeed a crack in the drivedog. I ordered a new part but when I moved the motor to get the bead to the slot the bead slid up but there is a green plastic piece attached to a rubber which the cable goes into and that seems to be almost down to the slot. I can’t find by feeling the cable any frays but it seems like something is stuck that the cable is not moving up and down as far as it should. Since the rubber covered part of the cable is too low the rubber cover with the green plastic piece seems to be in the way to push the window in to the drive dog and I didn’t want to force it. Even when I get the bead in the right place the rubber part is right above it and it seems like it’s not moving enough. Any thoughts if it needs to be oiled or something is off track. Do I need to replace the whole thing?

    • quirkyuncle@gmail.com says:

      I didn’t have any rubber cover on my cable, that I can recall, or green plastic piece. If the window mechanism does not operate freely, something else might be bent or broken – I’ve had other cars where the window tracks and other parts of the regulator got all distorted when one piece failed. Sometimes you can bend them back, other times it needs replacement. If you can send photos, posted here or emailed, I can try to help further.

  26. Gary says:

    Thanks alot!!

  27. C says:

    Very detailed instructions and photos!! Thanks a TON !!! 👍🏻👍🏻😃

  28. John says:

    Thank you very much, very clear instructions. All went well no problems at all.

  29. GN says:

    Thanks for the excellent detailed instructions. It took my five hours in total–removing the door panel, especially the wood grain cover was a challenge. I used the BMW part. Initially the new part separatedt in testing because the cable was not properly seated in the dog–I installed cable to dog then in the little window where I could see and push, then raised to a higher point to install Dog to rail. (I also used two You Tube videos for additional guidance). Now I’ll know how to handle the next window failure on my BMW X3 2006. thanks again!

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