Dry Rotted Door Handle Trim
My ’98 M3 Sedan is in pretty clean shape, but there’s no getting around the ravages of 17 years on the rubber and plastic parts.  One of the most common parts to show signs of aging and dry rot are the black rubber gaskets surrounding the door handles.

Thankfully BMW made these very easy to replace and fairly inexpensive.  I learned how to pop them off when I repaired the spinning door lock issue on my M Coupe.

First the parts you’ll need:

1x Coupe / Sedan Left Front Door: 51218122441
1x Coupe / Sedan Right Front Door: 51218122442
2x Sedan Rear Doors: 51228119076

Open the door and you’ll see an oblong black plastic cap at the same height as the door handle located on the rear jam.  Pop off this plastic cap, I found a 90 degree dental pick worked best for removing these (ignore the jeweler’s screwdriver in the photo below, I actually broke it on my first attempt).

Access CapWith the cap removed you’ll have access to the metal slide that locks the plastic surround onto the door.  It’s very difficult to see this piece and impossible to photograph.  If you shine a light in the hole, you might just be able to see it.  It’s a thin (~5/16″) wide metal strip that has a 90 degree bend on it at the end.  That bend or prong faces inwards and is what you need to push towards the front of the car to unlock the trim piece.  It should take very little pressure to push it.  I used a hooked dental pick to accomplish this.

Once unlocked, the plastic trim can be lifted out from the top first then unhooked from the bottom.  Again there should be very little resistance to removing it.

Removed Handle TrimWith the trim pieces removed I took the opportunity to clean up all the grime that has accumulated behind the plastic over the years.

Dirt Behind Handle Cleaned Behind Handle

The new handle trim goes on in reverse.  Slide the lower plastic hooks into their holes then push the upper prongs through their slots.  You’ll need to hold the trim piece firm against the door as you lock it into place.  Using a dental hook pick, grab the metal slide described earlier, and pull it towards the rear.  You should feel it tighten slightly as you do this and it will secure the trim surround into place.

Also make sure that the integrated rubber gasket on the backside of the trim has its lip up and over the trim as to prevent water intrusion into the door panel.  With everything in place, check that the handles open the doors without resistance.  If everything looks and feels good, go ahead and re-install the black plastic access hole plugs.

Finished Rear Trim Finished Front Trim



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