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DIY: Door Armrest and Pull Strap Replacement
Published by Augster
06-18-2014
Post DIY: Door Armrest and Pull Strap Replacement

Tired of looking and grabbing that unsightly chipped, scratched, and peeling inside door pull? Wish you can just replace the armrest or pull strap because the rest of the door panel is in good condition or is it just too expensive to get a whole new door panel?

Well, BMW sells just the door armrests and pull straps by themselves. Unfortunately, these parts use pins that are hot melted to secure them to the door panel so it's not exactly a quick removal and replacement. But with right set of simple tools, anyone can perform the procedure.

There are a couple techniques that can be used for melting the plastic mounting pins; in this DIY, I will be using a propane torch.


Materials

I replaced both the driver's armrest and the passenger's pull strap plus cover, but you only need to order the components that need replacement.
  • PN (varies with interior color), Support, Pull Strap, Right
  • PN (varies with interior color), Clasp, Inside Door Handle, Right
  • PN (varies with interior color), Armrest, Front Left
It may be a good idea to order several replacement door panel clips and plug-in retainers in advance in case any are damaged during removal or reinstallation (all the plug-in retainers broke on the passenger side, and three of them broke on the driver's side when I removed the trim), or prepare for a trip to your local dealers' parts department. Definitely do not reattach the door panel with missing or broken clips and expect the panel not to rattle or cause other issues.
  • PN 07149158194, Plug-in Retainer; 5 per door trim
  • PN 51418224768, Clip with Seal Ring, Natural; 5 per door panel
  • PN 51418224781, Clip with Seal Ring, Gray; 2 per door panel



Tools
  • Trim Removal Tool or Flat-blade Screwdriver (use tape to prevent damage)
  • Torx Driver
  • T-20 Torx Bit
  • Drill
  • 3/8" Drill Bit (or whatever size bit to drill out old mounting heads)
  • Propane/MAPP Torch
  • Disposable Propane/MAPP Cylinder
  • Large, Smooth-faced, Long Bolt (at least 5" long to help dissipate heat before it gets to your hands)
  • Welding or Leather Gloves



Step 1: Remove door panel(s).

Step 2: Drill out the factory flattened round plastic heads securing the armrest or pull strap to the door panel. If I recall correctly, I used a 3/8" bit; but use whatever size that is slightly larger than the diameter of the mounting pins of the new parts.

This is the driver's side:



This is the passenger's side upper mounting point:




…and the lower mounting point:



Step 3: Insert the pins of the new armrest/pull strap into the door panel and lay the assembly on a flat padded surface interior side down to hold the handle firmly in place.



You may need to directly support individual mounting pins as you heat them in order to ensure the part doesn't move away from the door panel.

Step 4: Working one mounting pin at a time, heat the bolt head with a torch for at least 5 seconds then immediately touch the hot bolt head to the target pin for a few seconds only (too much constant contact time may melt the mushroomed head off the mounting pin and have it stick to the bolt head), rotating while applying slight pressure to "mushroom" the mounting pin tip. The first few times the pin may not be soft enough to flatten very much, but after several applications, you should be able to "squish" it down about 1/16" at a time. Repeat this process until the "mushroom" head is snuggly against the back of the door panel with no play of the handle.



Step 5: Repeat Step 4 with the remaining mounting pins.



Step 6: After all pins are mushroomed, let it cool down for several minutes, then reattach door panel to door.



Be forewarned that the bolt will get very hot so you need to wear welding or thick leather gloves when handling the bolt. Even with welding gloves and a 6" long bolt, I had to periodically switch hands and even fingers when working the driver's panel with it's many more pins to heat.

Now admire and enjoy your new armrests and pull straps!
__________________
2008 335i Alpine White Sport Sedan AT | Avant Garde M364 Staggered 19"
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  #1  
By NGEE on 06-19-2014, 04:49 AM
Excellent writeup as per usual Aug. Thanks!
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  #2  
By spencers on 06-23-2014, 09:44 AM
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Nice writeup. I need to get around to doing this. Still have the replacement pullstrap sitting on the shelf.
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