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E46 M3 seat repair advice

Discussion in 'E46 M3 (2001-2006)' started by dglasser, Nov 3, 2008.

    dglasser guest

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    I own a 2002 E46 M3 convertible with 49000 miles, purchased new in March 2002.

    Recently I noticed that the lever on the front passenger seat that enables the backrest to tip forward for rear seat passenger entry had stopped working. I took it to my local dealer and after investigating, they stated that the problem is that the seat frame is broken and needs to be replaced. They quoted more than $3000 for this!

    I'm used to $15 quarts of oil and other high service expenses for the M3, but even by these standards spending $3000 just to get the front passenger seat to tip forward is ridiculous. On the other hand, when picking people up it's inconvenient to have to get out of the driver's seat just to let passengers get into the back.

    Is anyone else familiar with this problem and other remedies? Any use in talking to BMW NA given that the vehicle is out of warranty? It doesn't seem like a seat frame should break so easily given the car's age and mileage.

    Note that I had the same failure on my previous BMW (1997 E36 328i convertible) and while it was not cheap to fix, it was certain less than four figures.

    Thanks in advance for any advice.
    • Member


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    I wouldn't necessarily expect to get anyplace w/ BMW NA, but I suppose it might not hurt to ask. You could try hunting a replacement seat on ebay or the big places that part out bimmers. A car upholstery shop, assuming they know what they're doing, could presumably transfer your upholstery to another seat frame, if you found the right model, but not identical upholstery. Obviously, if you could find a used twin for cheap, it presumably would be an easy swap. There's an awful lot of aftermarket seats that could be had for less than $3k, but you would probably lose some of the adjustments/articulation of the stock seat, and you'd have to be willing to live w/ something that isn't a match.

    Might be worth a 2nd opinion from an indy shop as well, although you'd have to presume the dealer's giving you an accurate opinion.

    Good luck w/ it, hopefully someone will have a comment on how commonplace this type of failure may be.
    • Member


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    If the $3k figure is correct, then I would certainly go with MGarrison's advice and try to find a used seat. Check the back of Roundel for bimmer recyclers. You could probably even swap the upholstery yourself. Start by taking the upholstery off the seat you get so you can practice on upholstery that you don't need.

    Good Luck


    dglasser guest

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    In case you're curious, the problem was not with the seat frame. It was with a small part inside the seat that had broken. It was still not cheap to fix -- labor intensive because the seat had to be disassembled and then reassembled to get to the part -- but a lot cheaper than $3500.

    Credit goes to the folks at Eastside Bavarian in Issaquah, WA for their diligence.

    You can read more details on my blog.

    Ortiz_James guest

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    Check out e46 fanatics.com or m3forum.net and run a search on people selling their seats somebodys always crashing their cars, hopefully youll find someone willing to sell and usually its for about $1,200..

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