Thursday, November 26, 2015

128i Glove Box Woes

Driving to work in traffic one morning, I found that the glove box door of my car was stuck; it refused to open. Since this never happened before, it preoccupied me the rest of the commute. The worst case scenario going through my mind was one with me being pulled over by the cops and not able to present the car registration since it was in the glove compartment that I couldn't open. Thankfully that did not happen and I arrived safely at the office parking lot.  There, I was able to better assess the situation of the stubborn door.  It appeared that the door had two latches, one either side. The right hand latch retracted fine but the left latch was jammed. I also discovered that the glove compartment assembly was rather flimsy and not built with high precision tolerance dear to the German brand. However, in this case, the slight wobbliness of the box worked to my advantage.  I was able to wedge a $0.25 coin into the left side and warp the door towards the right to get it to open. Immediately this defused the situation down from emergency level to just an inconvenience.

In the days following that, I was able to read on the web about other people having similar problems with the glove box of their 1-series bimmers. However, it looked like there are no OEM or after market parts to replace the door latch mechanism.  You have to buy the entire box, which is shown as number 2 in this diagram. At around $140 it is not cheap. In addition, if you buy a new box, you need to move the lock cylinder from the old glove box to the new one. That may or may not be a DIY job.

Knowing that I can buy a new box if needed, I decided to first try a DIY surgery to the defective door.  In the picture below you can see the problematic left latch. It retracts only half way instead of all the way.

Like many door latches, it is flat on one side and has a 45 degree wedge on the opposite side.  The flat side prevents the door from opening when the latch is deployed. The solution to door not opening is then to create a small wedge on the opposite side.

The second picture shows the latch being filed to create a 45 degree wedge on the otherwise flat side. The third picture shows the plastic latch with wedges on both sides.

In the closed position when the latch is fully extended, there is enough flat surface to keep the door shut.  But when the latch is retracted, even only half way, the wedge helps to push in the pin further if you pull open the door.  This stone-age invention came to my rescue.

The DIY surgery seems to work. My glove compartment is now no longer coin-operated.  I expect the door to continue working until the latch is totally broken.  At that point I need to buy a new glove box, or a new car.