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2002 BMW M5 E39 Dinan
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello my fellow socializing driver companions & greatest sedan ever built enthusiasts, I wanted to post this info for you since I already have it written it up on my blog, as part of bigger blog post on M5 E39 paint restoration, but figure I separate it into a single post, this info could be useful all around.


Mirror disassembled, with new replacement parts on lower end of image.


The driver door mirror became ‘loose’ with a minor wobble at any time, after being hit by someone in a Las Vegas parking garage.

The problem is OEM mirrors are quite expensive, often in wrong color and mechanism is often worn or also compromised somehow.

I bought an Amazon after-market repair kit for E39 M5 mirror for $50, from China. I must have taken the mirror apart about 35-40 times myself, 20 times to begin with at home, and another 15-20 times at the painter. Then the painter, spent another full day disassembling and assembling another 20 times. We really learned how to take the mirrors apart and put them together really well. We simply could not get it to work properly with the repair kit.


OEM housing above, China aftermarket motor & housing below.




There is a controller sitting at end of the housing, the way it is assembled you must solder wire to move the mirror controller over to new housing.



The aftermarket housing (foreground) and original housing (background).
The small pin was broken off by someone hitting the mirror hard while walking pass the car and since one of the pins was loose, the mirror was always slightly loose/wobbly and did not want to rotate properly without making a clicking noise.





The M5 mirrors are quite an engineering feat. Very complicated for the very simple function of rotation. Apparently totally over engineered and complex, but when working properly, it is a beautiful mechanism.


On image two the difference between Chinese aftermarket (bright metal) and BMW OEM (dark metal) parts are clearly visible. The original parts are far superior in precision, and these parts are very tiny as noted by the penny in background for size reference. The original parts have corners so sharp them 90 degree turns catch the finger like a knife’s blade would do.


Initially put in the aftermarket gears and housing, put the mirror fully together and it would not move what so ever. Then proceed by taking everything apart and examining what is wrong and re-assembling, again. Again and again. Then the gears were removed and replaced with original gears, since the difference in precision was noted and lack of precision prevented gear mechanism from turning properly.


The mechanism was assembled with aftermarket motor & housing, but OEM gears, and still would not turn over. The mirror was then again disassembled, aftermarket motor replaced with OEM motor (aftermarket motor’s spiral gear at end was less precise than OEM motor’s). Still would not turn over, and to make matters worse, the mirror still was wobbly with new aftermarket housing with pins that are not broken, although less wobbly.


Then mechanism was disassembled, and only motor plugged into the car mirror controller, and the rotation function tested, at each step, with bare motor (spinning), then adding the OEM gears, spinning, adding aftermarket housing, still spinning, tightening down the aftermarket housing, then stopped spinning.



Collage showing custom built microscopic spacer for mechanism.

Turns out the mechanism was loose/ wobbly with new aftermarket housing because the aftermarket housing has lower precision/tolerance, and the pins are couple microns less in diameter, and that tiny tiny little difference transfers to significant wobble in rotational mechanism once mirror is assembled. We ended up making new tiny spacers from tiny copper pipe that we shaved down, to be worn as sleeves on the aftermarket housing’s pins.


The sleeve spacer installed on the pin.



Making two sleeves like this prevented the mirror from wobbling.




Once assembling the mechanism, and tightening everything down, still the mechanism would not work properly. There is a spring not clearly visible in the images above, that once removed would let the mechanism spin, but needed to be there to keep everything tight. We compressed the spring with 10 ton press in order to make the mechanism spin easier, and it still worked poorly, hearing motor struggling, but things were tight (looseness and wobble gone).

I gave up for the night but the painter proceeded the whole next day to disassemble and assemble the mechanism in order to figure out where the friction was coming from. Turned out that the aftermarket housing for which we built the copper sleeves, was (less than) 1mm too tall, and since in the OEM mechanism everything is near micron precision, that little tiny sub one millimeter difference (even though there is a spring of 5-6mm height there as well), was enough to stop the entire mechanism from functioning. The painter spent the days grinding of microns and re-assembling, disassembling, and so on.. until housing was shaved enough for mechanism to start turning.

Conclusion is that the precision is insane on these OEM mirror mechanisms, and the only way to repair a broken mechanism is to have one or two other donor mirrors in OEM form. The aftermarket repair kits selling for ~$50 are totally useless since literally every single piece (except housing that we shaved) in the repair kit was useless, and the sole reason is lack of precision on the parts. So if you ever decide to repair one of these mirrors, there really is no way of repairing without sourcing OEM donor parts.

We got the mirror working, properly enough, it is nowhere perfect but good enough for the future. The amount of time does not justify the repair. It would been much smarter in retrospect to just order a donor mirror and assemble 1 working from two broken.
 

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When you say the mirror became loose, I assume you are referring to the entire mirror assembly rather than just the glass. Two years ago my passenger side assembly completely detached as I was drying the car with a towel after a wash.

When I removed the mirror assembly and took everything apart, I found the mirror bracket (as pictured below) had broken. This item is, of course, not sold separately by BMW. I purchased a replacement aluminum bracket from an eBay seller (somewhere in the Baltic as I recall). Although the quality of the part looked good, it was very slightly oversized. After some filing around the perimeter, it fit perfectly. I reassembled and reinstalled and have had no further difficulty. The passenger mirror now has a slight amount of play. I don't know whether this is normal behavior, an indication of inadquately tightened screws during reassembly, or evidence of other worns parts such as you describe. The driver's side housing is considerably looser. I plan to take that one apart over the winter to assess.

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thanks for the writeup and pics and your efforts. I'm sorry you haven't had the results you're looking for.

This is the reason why I just bought the Taiwanese Replicas and replaced my faulty OEM units rather than attempting to deal with repairing it.
 

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Are there any markings on the OEM housing that we could use to see if another car uses the same, potentially much more common and inexpensive to scavenge from?
Not sure if the Land Rover Freelander Mk 1 was sold in the US but the door mirror internals seem to be the same as the M5. I bought one off ebay for £40 but it had the same broken pin that Terabass has highlighted.

This is part of the Freelander internals:
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2002 BMW M5 E39 Dinan
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
When you say the mirror became loose, I assume you are referring to the entire mirror assembly rather than just the glass.

............

The passenger mirror now has a slight amount of play. I don't know whether this is normal behavior, an indication of inadquately tightened screws during reassembly, or evidence of other worns parts such as you describe. The driver's side housing is considerably looser. I plan to take that one apart over the winter to assess.

View attachment 966479
At first I got wobble/play in the turning mechanism, it was caused by the small pin being broken, as also shown in quote below.
Now with Chinese parts, after about 20x dis-assemblies and re-assemblies, I got the mirror to work for a year or so but it broke again, now it 'grinds' and is stuck, something went wrong with the internal parts. Need to source original parts and re-do everything again.


Not sure if the Land Rover Freelander Mk 1 was sold in the US but the door mirror internals seem to be the same as the M5. I bought one off ebay for £40 but it had the same broken pin that Terabass has highlighted.

This is part of the Freelander internals:
View attachment 966590
Yea you need that pin for the mirror to stay stiff and locked in place (non wobble).
 

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UG, something happened to my driver's side mirror so now when I fold it, at the end of its fold, it clicks a bunch of times and then stops. And the same happens when I unfold them, once the driver's side mirror hits its resting spot, I get another 5-8 clicks before it stops trying. Seems like it skipped some teeth inside or something. I've left it alone and try not to fold it unless absolutely necessary. Any ideas on this specific issue?
 

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2001 BMW M5 Anthracite Metallic with Imola Interior
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Just a general question, if i were to send out my mirrors would you be willing do a repair at a cost? my mirrors fold in and out but when it comes out it clicks like 5-6 times on the driver side. I could be trippin but sometimes i feel like my mirrors are out adjusted as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
UG, something happened to my driver's side mirror so now when I fold it, at the end of its fold, it clicks a bunch of times and then stops.
Just a general question, if i were to send out my mirrors would you be willing do a repair at a cost? my mirrors fold in and out but when it comes out it clicks like 5-6 times on the driver side. I could be trippin but sometimes i feel like my mirrors are out adjusted as well.
This is the exact issue i posted here. The pin of the 'bucket' is broken on your mirrors. The only place where I can think of sourcing these parts is from other used mirrors, the after market parts are no good.
 

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This is the exact issue i posted here. The pin of the 'bucket' is broken on your mirrors. The only place where I can think of sourcing these parts is from other used mirrors, the after market parts are no good.
Is that housing aluminum or steel? Is that pin solid? thinking about some things here...

Edit: I can see that the pin is solid. Housing seems aluminum?
 

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So not even something like this that has a "Location: Germany" and some german writing in the ad is also made in China and won't last? Comes with the new housing that has the pins in place it appears...

 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Housing seems aluminum?
I do believe the housing is aluminum.

So not even something like this that has a "Location: Germany" and some german writing in the ad is also made in China and won't last? Comes with the new housing that has the pins in place it appears...
The pins need to be VERY VERY precise for it not have any play. The gears to be just as precise.

Product Gear Gas Fastener Auto part

^^ This is a screenshot from Trizzuth's link ... .. now on to my photos of same gears w/ Made in China kit:

Auto part Engineering Tool Technology Household hardware

^Compare the shiny (Made in China) vs the black (OEM) gears.

Note how much more precise the black gears are. This is a make it or break it difference, either it works (with black gears) or gets stuck and/or barely moves with shiny gears. I can not tell from the ebay kit what the precision is of those gears. It appears somewhere between these Made in China and OEM.

If someone buys this kit and takes a close-up photo of the gears it would be much easier to say if this set will work or not.

On my purchased Made in China kit, it was needed to make super slim sleeves to put on the housing's pins in order for it to be firm and stop having slight play in it. See next image.

Automotive tire Automotive lighting Motor vehicle Rim Automotive fuel system


Also this play was only noticeable after fully assembling mirror and installing it on car. The mirror was disassembled and re-assembled by me about 10 times, and another 18-20 times by my painter/mechanic.. (he is a determined guy)... and it worked fine, until recently something 'popped' in the inside and it stopped working properly. I will later disassemble and see what broke, but I have my suspicion it was once again, the same pin. Just this time on the Made in China housing.
 
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