Drew Stephens

Replacing an E36 Window Motor

There are enough BMW E36 cars out there owned by enthusiasts that nearly any problem you have there is a do-it-yourself tutorial for fixing on the internet. Dead window motors is no different—Doug Vetter has a very detailed description of how to replace the window motor & regulator on the E36. Seriously, if you’re going to to do this fix (or are wondering whether you should), go check out Doug’s page. The only amendment I’ll make to his description is about replacing the window motor only, without removing the regulator. In short, doing so is possible, but a (cheap!) special tool is required.

Doug’s instructions mention that a low-profile ratchet is required to remove the window motor with the regulator in place, and when he says low-profile, he means it. I bought one of these cheap ratchets on Amazon in preparation for this job. While it doesn’t have the requisite T-30 bit, this style of ratchet is the only thing that will fit in the space between the door and de-riveted window regulator. Check your local hardware store for the T-30 bit—regular old interchangeable screwdriver bits fit perfectly. Beyond that, follow Doug’s instructions for breaking the window regulator rivets, use your $9 ratchet to unbolt the motor, and bolt the shiny, expensive new motor in its place. If you’re handy, you’ll be done in an hour.