BMW E36 Blog

Fixing BMW E36 door panel!

28th March 2007

Fixing BMW E36 door panel!

posted in Do It Yourself, Interior, Technical Info, Tips & Tricks |

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Hi Friends,


The door panels in BMW E36 and especially the coupe type is a very common problem that every owner will sooner or later face. As you might have guessed I’m facing this problem right now with my babe :-(. So it’s time to fix it, but I realized that I don’t have any knowledge about the issue, so how am I supposed to fix it. Well, as usual, I will go out and dig to find some people who faced this problem before me and successfully solved it. I’ve found this post which describes the process in detail and I thought I should share it with you guys. Maybe you’d like to do the same to your cars.


Note: don’t forget to buy some clips before starting the surgery, otherwise you will fail to do the job successfully. Good luck!



Disclaimer: Use this procedure at your own risk!! I’m not responsible for your mistakes man! 😀


This is a simple way to fix you sagging or lose door card. I spent about 10 min doing everything, the only catch is that you will need to let the
adhesive cure or dry.


Removal: The panel is fastened by clips and screws, there are 2 screws tucked behind the handle on the arm rest, simply pop the covers off and unscrew them, after that just pull the door card off and unplug the speakers, the speaker wires pull right out, don’t be to
aggressive though as you may damage them.


Things you’ll need once the door panel is off:

Pliers, and RTV silicone.


This is what it looked like before I took it off the car



This is what the repair did



Once I examined the door I found what the cause was. There is a plastic molding holding the door clips that was glued to the door card and had separated itself due to many opening and closings.



Some of the clips were broken as well. I recommend purchasing new ones from the dealer, don’t be a cheap wad. You should have these clips before the repair so that you can do everything at once. To remove the clips simply wist and pull them with pliers, they are notched and are designed to be done that way.




Remove the clips before you decide to apply the adhesive as this may cause some issues later on in the repair. To put new clips in, just twist them in with your fingers, it doesn’t take much effort.



Next you simply apply the adhesive thoroughly. Cleaning shouldn’t really be an issue, but if you decide to clean the area, use a mild soap and warm water. Push down on the plastic to spread the silicone around, you don’t need to smooth it, let the plastic do the work for you, plus you don’t get dirty.



That’s pretty much it for the repair, the next thing you’ll want to do is apply pressure. I chose to use a piece of cylinder poly and laid my amp on it. You’ll want to have adequate pressure to ensure a tight bond. When you add the weight, have the door panel somewhere that will be out of ways harm. I chose the coffee table….




Let the RTV dry before you mount it back on the car. I let mine sit over night just to be safe. Simply reverse the removal process to re-attach the door panel…and your finished


Hope this helps, it’s super easy and cheap, it’s not the most interesting thing in the world but I needed it fixed so I’m sure someone else does to. If you guys think I left something out then let me know but I think I covered everything.


Are you looking for more do it yourself procedures (DIY) ? I recommend the Bentley BMW 3 series service manual for you. I got it and I think it’s a gold mine for us -BMW E36 Owners-. If you didn’t grab your copy yet, get it right now! I’m sure you’ll find this book worth every penny you’ve paid for. Get the Bentley BMW 3 series service manual


Wait for more from . . . BMW E36 Blog


Best regards,

Tony Sticks.

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There are currently 14 responses to “Fixing BMW E36 door panel!”

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  1. 1 On November 6th, 2007, Justin said:

    I used this exact procedure the first two times my doors shot craps on my in my ’92 325is. But the fix didn’t last for me, primarily because there was still slight contact with the body that tugged the panel slightly every time you opened the door. So before long the panel was hanging off the door again.

    Finally, I took off both panels and sunk two long bolts, threads toward the interior, into each door, making sure the heads wouldn’t interfere with the window (not even close) then lock-washered and secured them firmly to the metal door with a nut. I marked their contact point on the panel by lining them up and dabbing glue on the tips of the bolts and pressing. Where the glue left the round spot, I drilled clean through the panel. I used very large washers (small holes; lots of surface area) on the interior, then tightened each washer against the panel. I used my Dremel to cut off the extra length, and then placed a chromed safety nut cover usually used for, say, a child’s swing set, to pretty things up a little. Not the most elegant, but they actually don’t look terribly out of place, and the doors are a pleasure to use again.

  2. 2 On November 6th, 2007, Tony Sticks said:

    Hey Justin,

    thank you for writing about this, but can you take some photos of your door panels and send them to me? I would love to see how they look after you finished them?

  3. 3 On November 20th, 2007, stickyicky said:

    Hi there what kind of glue was used for the clips?

  4. 4 On November 21st, 2007, Tony Sticks said:

    It’s called Red RTV Silicone

  5. 5 On February 6th, 2008, Woolfman said:

    Hi Tony
    I found your blog by chance looking for a DIY on replacing my front indicator lights. Instead I found Pandoras box full of other goodies.

    My baby is a ’93 325i Coupe. I have other questions, perhaps you can help.

    I have already fixed the cover to the cubby hole with glue that withstands 80 deg C.

    1) The rear side panels have also popped out but I have not had much success glueing them back as I can’t clamp the pieces together.
    2) The vinyl covers on the door panels have started to bubble. Should I drill holes from the back of the panel and squeeze glue into the void. How would I keep the vinyl in contact with the glue?

    I have avoided this part of my “maintenance” before I screw it all up.

    Do you have a solution in repairing 1 and 2?

    Thanks once again for a good read and I like the videos too.


  6. 6 On February 9th, 2008, Tony Sticks said:

    Hi Woolfman,

    I’m sorry for the late reply. Unfortunately, I didn’t try to do this, so I can’t give you any information about it. But, I recall that I’ve seen a write-up about this before on some forum but I’m unable to find it now.

  7. 7 On May 12th, 2008, anthony said:

    cheers tony! i think this will prove most usefull when i fix my door panels which are at the stage of coming off in mine and my passengers hands!! not cool. anyhoo i had a little alternative i thought may help for those who cant get their hands on the adhesive u suggested. one is to simply get a glue gun with industrial strength glue sticks which saves the overnight drying process,( ps wait for the gun to get really hot) or u can get pl400 which has a very strong bond. i think ford use it a sstandard for all the seals on thier cars if im not mistaken. anyway good luck to those with this problem and thanks once again tony for these top tips!!

  8. 8 On May 12th, 2008, Tony Sticks said:

    Hi Anthony,

    I agree, the industrial strength glue works fine too. Make sure to check my other post:
    Fixing BMW E36 Door Panels . . . Videos

  9. 9 On May 13th, 2008, anthony said:

    i fixed my doors today following the videos you suggested and apart from slamming my thumb in the door, it went pretty damn well!! now i get that lovely “thud“ when i close the door.. bliss:)

  10. 10 On May 13th, 2008, Tony Sticks said:

    @anthony: Cool. Did you use the glue?

  11. 11 On March 9th, 2009, Tim said:

    How many clips per door? i have this problem with both of my doors. thanks 🙂

  12. 12 On March 10th, 2009, Tony Sticks said:

    @Tim: I’m not sure, but I think 9 for each door (that’s for the coupe of course). I suggest you get 2 or 3 more in case some of them brake in the process.

  13. 13 On June 23rd, 2011, plumbing said:

    Just wanna share another easy way to fix door panel.

    This is a simple way to fix you sagging or lose door card. I spent about 10 min doing everything, the only catch is that you will need to let the adheasive cure or dry.

    Removal: The pannel is fastened by clips and screws, there are 2 screws tucked behind the handle on the arm rest, simply pop the covers off and unscrew them, after that just pull the door card off and unplug the speakers, the speaker wires pull right out, don’t be to aggresive though as you may damage them.

    Things you’ll need once the door pannel is off:
    Pliers, and RTV silicone.

    Thanks. I hope it will help a lot.

  14. 14 On March 18th, 2012, Dan said:

    Hi there,

    I too have messed around with these door panels. Tried the glue gun with the best and hottest gun I could get. You have to make sure that the gun/glue gets really hot or it won’t stick properly. Also, the material in the centre was coming off. I removed the centre pieces and cleaned off all the old glue which apparently was BMW’s attempt in the 90’s to go green so they used a “green glue”. This stuff is awful and messy!! Best bet is bring it to the laundry sink and wash it off – it is plant based so it actually washes off pretty easily!!! This product obviously broke down and leads to the material literally falling off. I washed the material in the washing machine because it too was covered in the old messy glue. Then I bought some good quality spray adhesive and re-applied the material being careful to spray both the panel and the material and position it back as best I could. It turned out pretty good but in hindsight I should have gone to a fabric store and bought some new material that was close and replaced it altogether. Then you would not have to be as particular putting it back on and trim it off when you are done. I have a friend who had the door panels redone at an upholstery shop and it cost him $200 per door!! Pretty pricey if you ask me. This is biggest problem with interior of the E36’s. Good luck out there beautifying these lovely cars.