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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi guys,

Some time ago the rear left door of my M5 E39 started locking and unlocking later than the other doors. You can hear/see the other doors lock and then a second or two later, the rear left door locks. This happens sometimes but not always.

Recently I locked the car and the left rear did not lock. I unlocked all doors and then locked them and it worked. Since then I've seen the same behavior several times.

I couldn't find the exact same problem in the forum or in google but I found others saying that a locked door would not open, with some (not very nice) solutions of it. Based on what I read I think I need to change the actuator but I wanted to be sure.

Has anyone had a similar problem? Is it really the actuator that needs to be changed? Does anyone have a DIY guide or video for a rear door (I found one for the front door but not for the rear)?

Thanks.
 

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Classic failing lock actuator. My right rear needed to be replaced at ~12 years & 95k miles.

IIRC I paid my indy ~$125 total.
 

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I have this exact same problem with my driver's door. It is indeed a failing actuator. I haven't bothered to do anything about it though, as so far it will always work the second or third time...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I have this exact same problem with my driver's door. It is indeed a failing actuator. I haven't bothered to do anything about it though, as so far it will always work the second or third time...
I am not willing to risk it. I found several threads and videos saying that at some point the actuator fails completely and the door remains locked. Here is a terrifying example of destroying a beautiful car: https://youtu.be/s5ToGDcpvBQ?t=172.

And here is how to open the door in a more gentle but still unpleasant way: http://www.m5board.com/vbulletin/e3...ow-open-passenger-door-stuck-double-lock.html
 

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Door actuator for sure, its a rectangular black box attached to the door latching mechanism, a 15 min affair.
 

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No guide, but its pretty straight fwd. Remove door card, peel back vapor barrier, unfaster/unhood locking assembly, swap actuator, reinstall...
 

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Disconnect negative battery terminal if need to remove airbag, usually should be fine to swing out of the way.
 

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$125 for just the one door?

I have noticed 2 doors do that on me as well...I'll probably replace all 4.
Yup, ~$125 for parts and labor for a single door. IIRC the BMW part from a stateside source is ~$50-75; the rest was labor for opening up the door, replacing the actuator, and sealing everything back up. Well worth it to me.
 

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Holly crap, those that forgot to check if someone else could open the car. Even if the thing is locked a jimmy bar will open it. So if one was to find the door locked then call a locksmith or even road side assistance carry the tools to pop a locked door open. You can drive to them still.

OP your car should have the rear air bag active so do disconnect the battery and try your best not to disturb it. If you must just make sure it is reattached before you connect the battery. Tons of guys wanted to check the window or lock and forgot about the bag only to be left with a difficult code/light to reset.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
I just did the repair and wanted to share my steps for people who might see this thread later. I want to prefix that by saying that I am a novice and haven't done a lot of DYI, so maybe people who are more skillful will probably find things easier and do them faster. The repair took me about 2 hours and was more difficult than I expected but definitely not impossible.

I started by removing the negative terminal of the battery to avoid activating the airbag or causing an error code. To mention in advance, this will delete some values (e.g. the date and time, fuel usage, etc.) but will keep more important settings like radio, maybe seat memory, etc. I didn't actually need to remove the airbag at the end but I would still recommend it as a precaution. The next thing I did was I closed the trunk and then I could not open it because the lock is electrically operated. However you can insert the key and rotate it to the left until it gets horizontal which will open the trunk even with electricity available.



Next thing was removing the handle screw which is easy - remove the cap with a flat screwdriver and then the screw.



Then I removed the light at the bottom of the door - it is also very easy to remove with a flat screwdriver.




Once you have that opening you can use it to pull the cover/panel of the door. It was very easy and I think much better than using a piece of plastic to lift it.



After these are detached (note that there are some high close to the upper part of the panel), pull the panel up starting from the rear side. You can see the clips that hold it in place in this picture.



You can see the steps up to here in this video (they use a prying tool to lift the panel though): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LisjtpU7Kk.

Here came the cable. I could detach at least one of them (the speaker) but I didn't see the attaching points for the others, they were probably hidden behind the soft cover. Also the speaker one seemed to be waterproof sealed so I didn't want to detach it.




I ended up rotating the door up and attaching it to the driver's seat with cable binders so that the cables were not stretched.




To remove the soft cover and reach the lock, you need to remove this module (I don't know what it is). It is being held by three screws number 10 which I could unscrew using the standard tools of the car.



Then I removed the soft cover but only partly, about 30cm / 12".



From here the difficult part started. I read that I have to remove the locking mechanism but I didn't know how. It is held by three screws of aluminum color. You can see two such screws on the last picture above. However the only one of those that has to be removed is the lower one. The other two are on the side of the door.

After the screws are off, the locking mechanism is held by three elements: the locking button (easy, it can just be pulled) and two wires of the type which pulls when something is rotated or moved, like the door handle (I don't know the English word for that). I couldn't make much more pictures from here on but I can try to explain where to find them.

The first wire is visible on the last picture above and is attached to the door with a kind of pin. The pin is easy to detach from the door and the wire can remain attached to the locking mechanism. The second wire is trickier but can be removed by pressing the element at its end, loosening it and removing its head by moving it to the side.



Here is another picture of it that I took by putting my phone inside the door.



Once these wires are detached, the locking mechanism can be removed, although it is a bit difficult to get it out. You will see the actuator and have to remove the connecting wires by rotating it a bit and pulling. Removing the actuator itself is easy - press the side plastic piece a little to release it and just pull it up. Installing the new one is even easier - just press it in place. The wires have to be reattached and everything has to go back in the opposite order.

During the assembly I had several difficult moments: the first one was to put the locking mechanism back into the door. Once I had that I had to push the locking button through its hole and at the same time keep the wire I detached (picture above with the red plastic on the wire) in a way that I could reattach it. I had to try three of four times but it worked. The rest was easy: attach the other wire, put the screws in, press the soft cover to come back to its place, reattach the outside module and reassemble the panel. I forgot to push the door handle through the panel which led to two results: the panel couldn't go in and I scratched my handle which will unfortunately remain as a mark of this work. With the handle in place it was pretty easy to reattach the panel.

The final steps were to attach the battery and test all functions of the door - locking, opening from the outside and inside, window functions. And then reprogram the date, time and other lost settings.

I hope this guide will be helpful to somebody in need of a new rear door actuator.
 

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Nice work. I had to do this for the front driver door recently, which has a quirk of its own.


The manual lock has a metal linkage arm which is supposed to engage with the actuator. It is easy enough to remove, but reinstallation can be quite finicky since the teeth at the end of the linkage have to seat inside the actuator completely for the actuator to be positioned correctly. In my book, the reinstallation is the hardest part of this operation since you have to manage quite a few things that hook up to the actuator simultaneously. Well worth the effort though.
 

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Here's a great pdf I found on the bimmerforums for the front door on an E39.
 

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I recently did all 4 of my actuators. The rear doors will come out without removing the locking mechanism. Just put a very thin screwdriver down the side of the actuator to release it from the bracket and then pop the dust cap off of the rear door, gently wedge a flat pry tool under the actuator and it is out.

The front doors did require removing the lock mechanism, due to the plastic cover above it, but was still no big deal. I took the opportunity to inspect, lubricate and re-torque all parts involved. Not anywhere near as bad as everyone was claiming the job was before I did mine.
 
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