BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > E90 / E92 / E93 3-series Technical Forums > DIY Guides > When a less than 1mm. piece of plastic falls...

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      11-19-2011, 03:44 PM   #1

Drives: BMW X3 2006
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: CR

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When a less than 1mm. piece of plastic falls...

As I mentioned in another section, the handle that allows you to move the central vent broke off, so I found myself with the damn handle in my

The reassembly is very straight forward, but the way to do it is absurd: you have to remove the central trim, so you can disassemble the horizontal vent and assemble everything again. As stated elsewhere in this DIY section, you must pull gently the piece, it will come off, except for the last one. The central trim is attached with something that looks like a big nail, with the head attached to the trim and the point getting into blue fastening holes in the dashboard.

The last one will not get out, so when you finish with the rest, slide gently the whole trim to the right, so it will slide out of this last pin. I did not removed that last one, and at the end just reversed this movement, so I could engage the trim again.

It will be easier if you remove the central module from the trim, first by removing the small nut from the captive screw.

When those are removed, the trim will have to be separated from the module, these two join by these black tabs which lie above the silver (in my
case) trim. These are located above and below the module, so pry them carefully with a small screwdriver until the module separates from the

Here is a photo of the passenger side vent, in case anyone needs to hassle with that one.

It will be easier if you also disconect the buttons, not hard, you´ll require a long nose piler to carefully remove them from the socket. Remember which connector goes where, not hard to do.

It is kind of a tight squeeze to get the module back at the end, since the cable harness is attached to the dashboard with a plastic fastener, located where the black circle is:

So gently pry the plastic piece up with a flat screwdriver. It will give you a whole lot more of room to reassemble those connectors at the end:

When you work somewhere else with the module, it would be a good idea to take pictures of how things are assembled, especially the vent closing mechanism. I removed the arms that connect the front dials with the axis of the closing flaps to separate the vents from the housing

To separate the module from those big vents, pry where the screwdrivers appear on the upper and lower side of the assembly.

Now you´ll have to separate the vent´s horizontal tabs, this is rather easy, push those things that look like screwheads and slide out the vent.

This is how the small metal part (if you still have it, lol) goes into the handle before reassembly:

When you attach the handle to the horizontal tab you will have to hold it to attach the moving mechanism:

This is the reassembly of the handle with the moving mechanism. Look at the right green circle: that is why that less than a 1mm. piece of plastic
forces you to disassemble this thing. When that small locking tab breaks, the whole handle separates. Compare it to the left side green circle, where it hasn´t broken yet.

Because the small piece that broke off, which helps holding the handle and the mechanism together, wasn´t present anymore, I applied some glue so the handle and the moving mechanism do not separate, do this carefully so that glue doesn´t drip into the horizontal slab and stick the whole thing from moving horizontally (ask me how I know this).

I also took advantage of the fact that everything is disassembled to grease these mechanisms, so they glide easily and hopefully nothing else breaks due to friction.

Reassemble the horizontal slabs (now fitted with the handle and the mechanism) and then the vent module into the housing. When you do this, don´t forget to reassemble the arms that connect the I/O dials with the closing flap, verify that the open position actually opens the vent and that the mechanism operates swiftly, and doesn´t get stuck. This might require some handling of the arm and the gears.

Clean the whole area below the module before reinstalling the central trim, since probably it will be dusty.

It took about two and a half hours, I like working slow to avoid breaking things. It amazes me how simple and ingenious these mechanisms are, but also irritates me how brittle those plastics become after some time, and how modern car assembly is such a PITA that you need to remove many things to arrive to what you actually want to repair, damn.

Hope the pictures are clear and help you if you have to do something similar or related to this area of the car.

Last edited by sanchorb; 11-19-2011 at 03:54 PM.
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      11-20-2011, 05:27 AM   #2
qclik's Avatar
Hong Kong

Drives: e92
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: seattle

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Wow i have the exact problem for more than 6month, also with the same broken piece. When i took out the trim and figure out it would be too much work to put this little piece back, so i stop and just direct the vent to driver side.

Thanks for putting up a diy, will do it in the future
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