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BMW window regulator – good and bad

Written by maryp posted on Saturday, June 2nd, 2007

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Ahhhhh the infamous BMW window regulator! The window regulators on certain BMW models/years are notorious for failing unexpectedly. It’s a plastic wheel component with a wire cable running over a channel (held taut). The cable snaps or more commonly, the plastic wheel breaks. You may be driving along and hear a very loud noise inside the vehicle. Your kid starts crying because, all he/she did “was try to roll down the window” and the sound obviously scared the heck out of everyone!

We have seen clients who have had all replaced, some replaced, none replaced and some replaced more than once by the local dealer! It does not seem to make a difference whether the window is used often, less often, or in use when it fails. It’s just hit or miss. Some of the plastics in your vehicle are subject to extreme heat (like sandwiched between a door panel!), and unfortunately they can fail and some will fail. The good news is that parts are readily available and it can be fixed, aside from the fact it is not happening on all models. It’s a minor inconvenience when you consider the awesome driving experience that only your BMW can deliver! Happy Motoring.

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4 responses to “BMW window regulator – good and bad”

  1. Monica says:

    My husband just had his FIFTH regulator go out. He paid to have the first three repaired at about $300 a pop. The fourth time he began to realize this was a defect/poor design in the part. Why it took him until the fourth time is a long story. To continue… yesterday it broke for the FIFTH time and his BMW dealership refused to pay. He took it to a local BMW auto repair shop and they repaired it for a few hundred dollars. What gives with this part? I filed a complaint with the local BBB and called BMW North America in New Jersey. I also dropped a few F bombs on the woman who put me on hold after I called to complain about my husband’s poor service. And it always happens at the most inconvenient time, like when the temperature was thirty degrees.

  2. The Driving Machine Team says:

    Monica, we are sorry that you experienced the window regulator failure. It is very common and although you think you may hold the record for the number of failures, you are not alone.

    If you haven’t already, check the warranty period for the replacement of those parts. It’s our understanding that the BMW replacement parts are typically warrantied for 2 years. Of course, the other issue is, were any of the replaced regulators on the same window or different window each time?

    What’s with that part? We explained in the post that it is a metal cord running over a plastic wheel, (it looks like a pulley wheel), and the plastic eventually breaks due to stress of the metal running over it, as well as, the extremes of hot and cold in the door panel. And it can break at any time, whether it’s being used more or less. There is really not a pattern of anything that can be predicted, only that plastics eventually break.

    Sorry for the bad news. But, glad to hear that your local independent BMW repair shop fixed it for you for less than the dealership.

    Good luck and thanks for the comment.

  3. Miss_Critiki says:

    Oh man, I work at a shop, and I’ve to tell you, this week has been THE week for failing regulators. One customer even came to pick up her car after repairing the right front window, and when she went to roll down her windows upon leaving, the left front one broke. I’d love to see them go back to a design similar to the older cars. It worked, so why the cheapness of this new part, I wonder.

  4. The Driving Machine Team says:

    The older metal window regulators vs. the plastic, had less failures, (in our experience). No change in design that we have seen as yet.

    There is a lot of focus to create and manufacture plastics and composites that are more durable. There will be improvement in durability, eventually. The focus on better fuel efficiency is going to force the increased use of plastics and composites, in all makes and models of cars, including BMW’s and MINI’s. Keep the weight down, increase the performance, and increase the miles per gallon.

    Thanks for your comment and good luck!

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