Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fuel Door Hinge Replacement on 93 BMW 525i

For a 16 year old car that had a bunch wrong with it when I bought it, it is holding up fairly well considering how it's being used. My son uses it to deliver Pizza's. Haven't done anything to it for several months other than put gas in it.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a phone call from my wife while I'm at work telling me that the fuel door fell off of the car. I knew that it was a common problem on the E34 and didn't think too much about it. I knew a new hinge wasn't too costly, so I wasn't fretting fixing it. The next day when I got home, I checked and found that the hinge had broken. I ordered a new one from Autohaus, the shipping was almost as much as the hinge itself.

This first picture shows all of the pieces it broke into while I removed it. It was pretty much intact until I had to break all of the plastic out of the two mounting brackets mounted on the car.

Apparently someone in the past had a difficult time replacing the hinge and just glued it in place. You can see the glue residue (arrows) around the square mount holes in this picture. I cleaned it up to this point and just waited for the new hinge to arrive. It came a few days later.

I poked around on the internet trying to find someone who had actually showed some pics and instructions on how to replace the hinge, but didn't find anything real good. I didn't spend a lot of time looking, I'm sure there are other “How To's” out there that would be helpful. Bentley's manual had nothing on replacing the hinge in it.

When the hinge showed up, I was at work, so the next day, I was able to make the repair (or so I thought).

I went out to the garage and did a test fit. I slid the tabs that fit into the door itself in place (green arrows)

Here are the slots on the door that the tabs on the hinge slide into:

That was easy. Next, I attempted to fit the door and hinge into the two square mounting holes on the body (see second picture). They fit OK, but would not lock into place.

If you look closely at this picture, you can see that you have to angle the hinge to get it to slide into the two mounting holes on the body:

I tried for several minutes to try and get the mounting tabs on the hinge to lock in place in the square mounting recepticles, but they wouldn't pop in.

Unfortunately, I don't have a good picture of what happened next. I hope I can explain it so you can understand what I'm trying to tell you. On the picture below, you can see the two tabs that are supposed to snap into the mounting holes. On the backside of the tabs (below the arrows), there are flexible pieces that have a notch cut out that is supposed to snap into place on the backside of the mounting holes (at least I know what I'm talking about).

I didn't realize that the glue stuck on the mounting holes was making it impossible for the tabs to lock in place. I had a brain fart or something. I tried using a screwdriver to push the tabs in place and ended up breaking one of the tabs. Sixteen bucks down the drain. I ordered another hinge and it came a couple of days later.

This time I figured out the problem and scraped all of the glue and paint off of the holes. When the new hinge arrived, it took me a few minutes to get it all together. The second hinge wasn't exactly the same as the first one. I had to make the opening in the mount holes a teeny bit bigger and then it snapped in and locked.

After getting it together, I figured I was still missing something. I didn't even notice that the spring clip that holds the fuel door shut was missing. That must have been the reason why the fuel door didn't lock on occasion, duh! I ordered the part from BavAuto, Autohaus didn't carry it. The day after I ordered the spring clip, for some reason, I remembered when I had just bought the car, I cleaned out the trunk and found a clip similar to what I needed. I checked and found that it was the missing spring clip, I had put it with a bunch of other stuff I found in the trunk.

I think you're supposed to install the clip while you have the door off the car. I had already put it on and didn't want to chance breaking another hinge. So I thought about how I might be able to install the clip after the door was mounted. It actually was pretty simple. If you look at the picture below, I took a long flat bladed screwdriver and pushed on the clip where the arrow is pointing. I closed the door so it was only open about an inch and then pushed after I made sure that the clip was secured on the door itself in the correct spot. One push and it clipped to the detent in the back of the hinge.

That's it, Good Luck!