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Answers to Common Sunroof Problems

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    Answers to Common Sunroof Problems

    Hi everyone, since most e30’s came with sunroofs and I couldn’t find a really detailed sunroof write up to help everyone I decided to write my own.

    Since I’ve really only dealt with crank sunroofs that’s what I’ll be referring too. The information is mainly universal however it may require a little creativity on your part.

    For any problems use these diagrams as a reference:









    Here are some answers to common questions concerning the e30 sunroof…

    Question: My sunroof only tilts forward but doesn’t slide back into the roof, what’s the problem?

    There’s a very simple solution to this problem but it isn’t a fix, only a means of getting it open. With one hand put pressure on the back of the sunroof panel and with the other crank it back into the roof. It may require a little bit of banging with your hand to get it to seat down at the right angle so it’ll go back into the roof. The fix to this problem is either adjustment or panel replacement as it’s very likely that the bottom of the panel is rusted out.

    Question: How do I adjust my sunroof panel?

    In order to align your panel you’re going to have to get to the 6 torx bolts that attach the panel to the plastic guide mechanisms. First begin by cranking the sunroof back into the roof halfway. Then carefully pry the sunroof headliner piece from the panel as it is secured by clips. Crank the sunroof forward into the tilted upward position and slide the headliner piece back into the roof and out of the way. You will now be able to see the six torx bolts securing the panel to mechanism. Simply loosen the bolts and raise or lower the panel to the desired position, then retighten them. Immediately after adjustment make sure you crank the sunroof down to see how flush it sits with the roofline as this is what keeps the majority of the water out of the car. When finished, crank the sunroof into the halfway position and reattach the headliner piece to the panel.

    Question: My panel is badly rusted and needs to be replaced how do I remove it?

    Removing the panel is the same process as adjustment. Instead of loosening the torx bolts simply unbolt the torx bolts and remove the panel. Often times the torx bolts will be stripped or stuck in which be cautious not to break the plastic guide mechanisms. The panel is reinforced on the bottom but because moisture gets trapped it will often times begin to rust from the hinges and into the rest of the panel. Used Panels can run anywhere from $25-$75 and are fairly easy to get a hold of at your local junkyard. Look for rust on the bottom of the panel when looking for a replacement. Buying a new seal is also strongly recommended.

    Question: My sunroof is leaking how do I fix it?

    Most of the leakage can be prevented by proper sunroof adjustment and a new seal, however this only accounts for about 90% of the water that comes through the sunroof. What most people don’t realize is that the sunroof seal is not primarily intended to repel all water. It’s mainly used to deaden outside noise and is designed to allow some water past the seal. On e30s and most other BMWs there are gutters that drain the water that comes past the seal, down the c-piller and out of the car. Due to improper maintenance (and the fact that most people didn’t know that this is how the sunroof worked) the drains are often times clogged and the drain tubes are either knocked out place or removed, especially if the headliner piece isn’t present. This is what causes the roof to rust.

    To clean the gutters simply use a welding rod or something similar to get the gunk out. To test whether or not yours are clean pour water into them and see how long it takes it to exit the car. It shouldn’t take too long – if nothing comes out you have clogging.

    Question: My sunroof guide mechanisms are cracked and need to be replaced how do I remove them?

    For ease think of the plastic guide mechanisms and all of the plastic pieces + the cables as being one piece, this will help in removing them because the entire assembly can be taken out as such. Begin by removing the panel and the headliner piece out of the way. Next remove the linkage that holds the wind deflector in place and allow the deflector to spring forward. Then begin by unscrewing the metal plates that hold the plastic guide pieces into place – there’s two per side. (Note: There’s some puddy on each of the screws that repel water) Once you’ve removed the plates the mechanisms should be “free” to hold but still attached to the cables. Have a friend begin to crank the sunroof back as if it were going into the roof, while you hold each of the mechanisms. Once you reach the end of the cranking process put some tension on the cables and they should pull right out.

    Question: I got some new cables and mechanisms how do I reattach them?

    This is what people generally complain about when it comes to the sunroof as it’s a bit difficult, though not impossible. First begin by greasing the cables. Then you’ll want to push the cables all the way into their slots until they can be pushed no further. (Note: it’s nice to have the correct mechanism on the correct side) Then have a friend crank the sunroof while you guide the cable. Here’s where the trial and error part comes in. One side has to be cranked before the other so you will have difficulty aligning them to be in the same position and it might take several attempts before you get it right. They need to be aligned in exactly the same position otherwise the sunroof will not function properly. Once you get them aligned screw the plates back (might want to add some more puddy) and reattach the linkage to the wind deflector. Give it a few test runs to make sure the mechanisms flow properly into the roof and then reattach the panel.

    There's probably more that I can add this was just all I could think of at the moment. I hope this was helpful for you guys.

    #2
    IS there a plastic tray that goes in between the headliner and the sunroof panel along the back side of the panel. This tray redirects the water out from the center and towards the gutters.

    Do all cars have this tray or was I just mistaken when I thought I saw one in another car.

    A proper sunroof alignment fixed most of my leaking but in heavy rain I still get water dripping into the cabin along the back edge. (edge closest to rear seat)
    Originally posted by z31maniac
    I just hate everyone.

    No need for discretion.

    Comment


      #3
      I don't believe there's a plastic tray. I'm thinking your problem is related to not having the headliner piece. As far as I know it's what guides the water back into the gutters and it's like that on all e30s.

      I pulled my headliner piece out because it was mangled and there was quite a bit of water when it rained. Plus my panel was extremely rusty :(

      Comment


        #4
        should probably have put this is the DIY, I'll do that. Mods you can delete this one.

        Comment


          #5
          Just have them move this one if it needs to be.


          Well I think my headliner piece is missing something. My headliner has two metal poles kinda coming back off of it and there is no where to attach these. That plastic piece I'm thinking of is where they attach I believe.
          Originally posted by z31maniac
          I just hate everyone.

          No need for discretion.

          Comment


            #6
            Hmm I could only suggest checking out the diagrams on realoem or in the bentley. It's hard without a visual.

            If it's what I'm thinking of they're the two linkage pieces that attach to another slider piece separate from the headliner part.

            #9 is the linkage part I'm thinking of and #12 is the rain gutter slider piece it attaches to. Not sure of any plastic part...

            Here's the diagram for reference:

            Comment


              #7
              Yes, that 12 piece is what I need.

              Sorry, I've only looked at it, didn't realize it wasn't plastic.

              Correct me if I'm wrong. That piece will channel that leaking rain from the back where it's dripping on me around to the drains in the front, right? Allowing me to stay dryer, and for my headliner to properly attach.
              Originally posted by z31maniac
              I just hate everyone.

              No need for discretion.

              Comment


                #8
                Ideally yes it should, but that's also assuming that everything else is set up correctly.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by GOOBER View Post
                  Ideally yes it should, but that's also assuming that everything else is set up correctly.
                  Well my drains are slow... I should clean them out. But they do drain after like 30 minutes. haha. But in a light rain they work fine, I just notice dripping coming through that back area and never understood what would stop it. That gutter would definitely help.

                  Thanks for the help.

                  Clean front drains, get rear gutter. Finally have dry head?


                  Then to the trunk and footwells. :(
                  Originally posted by z31maniac
                  I just hate everyone.

                  No need for discretion.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by 87e30 View Post
                    Clean front drains, get rear gutter. Finally have dry head?
                    I lol'd at this... Shows where my head is right now.

                    Seriously though, I used compressed air to clean out my drains. The rear gutters drain into the trunk behind the paneling and near the battery. The fronts drain down to behind the front speakers in the kick panel. Mine had a bunch of crap blow out when I hit it with 80psi.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Anyone have an idea about re-installing the crappy fabric piece to the sunroof panel? You know, the part that has the six or so clips on the front of the panel. That thing is a royal PIA.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by deansbimmer View Post
                        I lol'd at this... Shows where my head is right now.

                        Seriously though, I used compressed air to clean out my drains. The rear gutters drain into the trunk behind the paneling and near the battery. The fronts drain down to behind the front speakers in the kick panel. Mine had a bunch of crap blow out when I hit it with 80psi.
                        Yeah from what I've experienced compressed air can sometimes do more harm then good because it could potentially blow the drain pipes out of place, but hey if you got them clean and it's working fine for you power to you!

                        Originally posted by surfgoheels13 View Post
                        Anyone have an idea about re-installing the crappy fabric piece to the sunroof panel? You know, the part that has the six or so clips on the front of the panel. That thing is a royal PIA.
                        It can be for sure. Most of the times if you can get the clips aligned with the holes it means it's getting snagged, probably because the frame is bent. To fix it, I'd pull the panel out again and from there the headliner piece should be able to move forward freely. To take it out you'll need to unlatch the linkage pieces from the rain gutter carefully. Then straighten out the frame. Reattach everything and it should be good to go.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I have the glass sunroof on my 89'. It leaks bad (light or heavy rain), needs a new gasket for starters (haven't checked the drains yet; probably clogged), but also, the glass panel is separating from the metal frame. Glue looks old and dried out and the whole assembly flexes when moving to the "seated" posision. Any suggestions on properly restoring this? I'd like to take all the old glue off the glass and restore the rusty metal frame. I'm not sure how to go about removing the old glue without damaging the glass in ANY WAY. I know they are very rare and I really don't want to do ANY damage to it. Anyone have suggestions on removing the glue without damaging the glass?
                          Last edited by sector6; 07-21-2009, 08:08 AM. Reason: jumped the gun on sumit button ;)
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                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by sector6 View Post
                            I have the glass sunroof on my 89'. It leaks bad (light or heavy rain), needs a new gasket for starters (haven't checked the drains yet; probably clogged), but also, the glass panel is separating from the metal frame. Glue looks old and dried out and the whole assembly flexes when moving to the "seated" posision. Any suggestions on properly restoring this? I'd like to take all the old glue off the glass and restore the rusty metal frame. I'm not sure how to go about removing the old glue without damaging the glass in ANY WAY. I know they are very rare and I really don't want to do ANY damage to it. Anyone have suggestions on removing the glue without damaging the glass?
                            I do a search on the moonroof as I'm not too familiar with them. You should definately do a lot of research to see what others have done because I can't imagine that these kind of problems related to moonroofs are uncommon. There's a project thread on e30tech started by japandrew that has a picture detailed installation of a moonroof that might help you.

                            When it comes to removing the glue, that shouldn't be too difficult as it seems to have already began to break down on a molecular level. Different kinds things would work and if you look on google there's probably products available for that sole purpose, but a steady hand a good old fashioned razor blade would probably do the trick. ;)

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Thanks for the reply GOOBER. I'll see if I can hit up japandrew for some tips. See the problem is the glue has separated from the rusty metal frame, but not the glass. It may come off of the glass without trouble (who knows), but the glass is painted black where the glue is adhered, so you don't see the glue from the outside when looking at it (that's how they are from the factory). And that is what I'm afraid of bitching up, so a razor blade I think is out of the question on that old painted surface. I'm also a bit leery of using any sort of solvents to remove the glue, who knows what will happen to that 20yr old painted surface. I'd want to kill myself if I screwed it up at all.;)
                              Thanks again for the help.
                              sigpic

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