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Broken sun-roof on X5

Discussion in 'E53 X5 (2000-2006)' started by joaquingargoloff, Nov 29, 2011.

    • Member

    joaquingargoloff

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    I have a 2004 BMW X5 3.0i with about 120,000 miles, and the sun-roof broke a few weeks ago. I use the sun-roof about once a week in the summer only, so I am surprised/shocked that it would brake so easily.

    What happened is that I put it on vent mode, which is when both front/rear panels pivot, lifting the rear edge. When I wanted to close it, both panels would rotate down, stop about half way, then move back to the open/tilted position. I checked to see if there was anything blocking the mechanism, but everything looked fine. I tried to close it a few more times and sure enough, the rear pane stop moving at all, and was always on the open/vent position. At that time the front panel was closing fine. So it looks like only the rear panel has a problem.

    I took it to the BMW dealer, what else could they say but "the sun-roof is broken, you need to replace it". No mention on what is actually broken, or if it can be repaired. Nothing else to do, but to replace the whole assembly, which costs about $4,400 including parts and labor!!!

    Since I don't have that kind of money to dump on a feature I can live without, I asked them to shut both panels manually and disable the mechanism, so that even if I tried to open it, the command would not work. Once the sunroof is shut, I rather leave it alone, specially if it does not leak water into the cabin (that is my hope, at least).

    My problem is that the dealer stated that to disable the sunroof mechanism, they also need to disable the manual shade that blocks the sun from coming in. This sunshade is working fine, and I would still like to be able to open/close the sunshade even thought the glass is fully shut down closed.

    My questions to the forum members are:

    1) How common is sunroof problems? If I had know they were so fragile and so expensive to repair/replace ($4,400) I would not have touched it
    2) Once the mechanism brakes, is it OK to close it and leave it shut, or does it have to be fixed/replaced? I don't mind losing the ability to open it, I just don't want water to leak in when it rains.
    3) Is it possible to disable just the glass mechanism switch, while keeping the sunshade mechanism switch alive? I'd like to open/close the sunshade while that not seinding any signals to the glass mechanism, since the front glass seems to be fine and I could open it by mistake
    4) Where is this switch that disables the sunroof mechanism? I am thinking of accessing it myself, connecting it back, and open/close the sunshade. As long as I don't fully open the sunshade, the sunroof mechanism should not be called in
    5) If I find that the sunroof leaks, which could be happening at the rear panel, what can I do to stop the leak? The rear panel is broken for good, so I don't mind putting any extra rubber or sealant on it to fully shut it. I am concerned that now with the sunshade closed I may have water leaking into the car but since the sunshade is closed I may not be able to see that, until it is too late and the water damage spreads to other parts of the vehicle.
    6) If water did enter the vehicle through a broken sunroof mechanism, where would it go? Would it fall straight into the passengers, or move rearwards corroding the tail lamp assembly, or the vehicle frame itself?

    I know these are lots of questions. I don't like taking the car to the dealer where they don't do any type of repairs. If the book tells them the sunroof is broken, the only next step is to replace it, no room for partial fixes or anything that is not "take broken part out, put new part in".

    Thank you very much for your time!
    • Member

    MGarrison

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    I'd think if any water is getting in, you should be able to see it fairly quickly. A quick look at the top of the car should tell you if it's closed or not. Always frustrating for the dealer not be suggesting more cost effective solutions - check your local club chapter's website contact list (they might even have message forums), and hit anybody up there for a recommendation for a quality independent shop in your area. If the dealer doesn't have anything more to tell you than that, then an indy shop is your next best resort, unless you want to dig into manuals and try and resolve it yourself. I would be similarly skeptical that there aren't more options than just replacing something that's obviously very expensive. If a dealer and independent threw that at me as the only options, I guess I'd be scouring Ebay and junkyards. Jeez, a body shop could probably get the panel(s) out, WELD it in place, and repaint the roof for less than that! (or, are they glass? - even so, you could probably bust out the glass and have it welded anyway - kinda extreme, but that'd fix the pesky sunroof.)

    These forums are re-couping after a change-over earlier in the year, so participation has been down - you may have better luck with getting answers to your specifics on some of the other BMW msg. boards in their X5-specific forums - check bimmerforums.com or bimmerfest.com;

    Other places to check for repair shops - www.bimrs.org & www.bimmershops.com; If you find one, perhaps through local contacts you can get some additional verification about the shop.
    • Member

    joaquingargoloff

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    Thanks MGarrison for your suggestions. I just opened the Bentley Manual and it spends a few pages on this topic. I will probably proceed cautiously by myself for now. If the sunroof does not leak, it is not a very urgent problem. If it does leak, well, we'll see then. I'll keep posting any updates.
    • Member

    joaquingargoloff

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    Some updates. I did open the Bentley Manual, and found it appealing to get the screwdriver and mess around a bit. I opened the mirror assembly, reconnected the cables, and whoala!!! The sunroof is working again. It opens fine!!! But it does not close... so we are back to square 1. It looks like the problem is not a sunroof that does not work, the problem is a sunroof that does not close. It opens fine, but it stays open no matter what. Following the Car's manual, I took the N-shaped tool from the toolkit and proceed to attempt to close the sunroof manually... to no success. It looks as if the sunroof mechanism is broken, not just the electric motor. Perhaps the cable that open the sunroof are fine, but not the cables that close it? Who knows. At this point it was back to the dealer once again, pay the 1 hour labor, but all is good now. The tech assistant told me they had to dissassemble the roof, close it, and put it back together. Of course it is still non-functional, and I do not dare even to look at the sunroof switch. If it does not leak, I think I am all set. Oh boy oh boy BMW... I find it totally unacceptable the low repairability of such expensive components. What's next, an alternator breaks down and we need to replace the whole engine??? I'll let you guys know if the sunroof leaks, but right now, as close as it is, it looks like new!
    • Member

    MGarrison

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    I hope they unplugged your sunroof switch so you don't accidentally hit it and have it open on you - what a drag!
    • Member

    joaquingargoloff

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    Certainly! I requested the switch to be unplugged. And I tested it myself as soon as I got into the vehicle. Gotta make sure the sunroof does not open again. I should probably consider also ripping the sunroof pages off the Bentley manual as well... just in case I am ever tempted to open it again! And once again, it is all about it not leaking from now on. If it does not leak, it is as good as ever to me. Though I am certainly missing it these days with the nice weather outside.

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