Sunroof rattling? Won’t open? Won’t close? Tilts sideways when closing?
Any problems associated with the sunroof on the E36 model BMWs are generally caused by broken lifting blocks or the front slider and lifting arm assembly. These parts a mostly plastic and take a lot of stress, so they tend to break..
The part numbers are 54-12-8-119-095 for the left lifting arm assembly and 54-12-8-119-096 for the right. The part number for the lifting blocks (the base that slides in the sunroof track near the rear of the roof and actually lifts the sunroof) is 54-12-8-119-747 for the left one. I don’t know the number for the right one, but if you give them that number, they will be able to find the right one.
First, you need to push the button to slide the sunroof back. Just enough so that the rear of the sunroof drops about 1/8″. At this point, the interior panel can be pushed back into the roof by hand. Once you have done this, try not to slide the roof back any more or you get the situation where the interior panel comes off of its track and no longer slides back when the roof is tilted.
Once you have the interior panel pushed back, move the sunroof (using the switch) back to its normal closed position. Using a 17mm wrench, take off the three large nuts that are in the middle of the roof.
Next, with a torx wrench (T-20, I think) remove the torx screws that are located on the inside of the roof panel, near the front. These are a pain to get back in there once you are all done, you just have to work at it for a bit.
You will now be able to take the roof panel off of the car. Set it in a safe place. You should be able to see where the sunroof lifter block is broken (if it is the lifter, or the lever if it is the lever bracket). It is all one piece, with the base sliding in the track on each edge of the roof opening and the top sliding inside the arm, which is attached to the front sliding base, and to the roof panel beam that spans the width of the roof opening. In the first picture below, the top item circled is the lifter, the bottom one is the lever base.
In order to get the lifting blocks out, you need to remove the little blocks near the front of each side that cover the opening to the track. I think those are held in by another T-20 torx screw.
Now, inside the car, remove the panel that contains the sunroof switch, revealing the motor. Remove the three torx screws that hold the motor in and then the motor. This will allow you to slide the sunroof freely.
Remebering the position of the llifting blocks, you can slide the old ones out and slide the new ones in, but be sure to return the lifting blocks to the same location that they were in originally.
Putting it all back together is straight forward. You will need to disassemble the the lever also, which includes removing it entirely from the track. Also, do not use the switch to move the track while the interior panel is back, or you can disengage the interior panel, which is a real pain to get back into place (that is precisely why I had to do this twice).
I had to perform this repair again, as I was dumb enough to use the motor on the sunroof with the interior panel in its retracted position. When I went in and fixd that problem, I left the motor connected to the tracks and in the process, I broke one of my new lifting blocks that I had replaced only a month earlier. Don’t make the same dumb mistakes I did.
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