BMW Z3 Droopy Glovebox

The factory installed glove box on my 1997 1.9 Z3 was definitely not an area that BMW decided to spend a lot of time on. After a few years the stamped plastic box began to sag in the middle under the weight of the glove box door and its contents. And who wants droopy drawers in their sports car? Here is an easy fix that will cost you about $5 and take around an hour to complete. The basic premise is to brace the top area of the glove box with a metal support, and insert sheet metal screws into the support from inside the glove box to eliminate the sagging.

You will need a stubby phillips screw driver, an awl, a drill and the use of a grinder. All of the following items were purchased from Ace Hardware:

* 2 3/16 washers

* 2 3/8 washers

* 2 number 8 x 32 1 1/4″ sheet metal screws with nuts

* 2 vinyl bushings cut to about 3/8″ in height

* 2 flip cap screw covers (many colors to choose from)

* 1 10″ x 1″ metal brace

* Loctite

It is important that you purchase the 10″ x 1″ brace at Ace Hardware unless you want to do some serious drilling. The pre-drilled holes at the ends of the brace fit over the existing screws that protrude from the bottom of the glove box. The next set of holes provide a great place to drill the holes into the glove box.

Folow the instructions in the MZ3.net article “Stopping Glovebox Rattles” to remvoe the glovebox from the car. Turn the glove box over and place the metal brace over the two existing screws coming out of the glove box. Use the awl to mark the centers of the holes that you will be drilling into the glove box. Note that the holes are offset, so use your judgement as to where to mark the centers for drilling.

Refer to the picture at right and the metal brace above. You will need to notch the brace in the center to allow for the latch of the glovebox to close. With the metal brace resting on top of the existing screws (A), outline the area to be removed from the brace for the glovebox latch (C) using a black marker. Remove the metal brace and use the grinder to remove the area you have marked. Place the brace back on the glove box and trim the notched area until the glovebox latches closed easily.

Now you are ready to drill. To avoid drilling into the glove box drawer, hold a wooden block inside the compartment near the latch where the drill bit will come through. Using a 3/16 bit, drill the marked holes into the glove box. After you finish drilling, take this opportunity to give the glovebox a thorough cleaning.

Attach the metal brace to the glove box by assembling as illustrated below.

After you have attached the metal brace and tightened the nuts firmly, add a drop of Loctite where the bolt leaves the nut. This will prevent the nut from vibrating loose. Close the caps over the screw heads and reinstall the glovebox into the car. Again refer to the the MZ3.net article “Stopping Glovebox Rattles” for instructions on reinstalling the glovebox.

Glove Box Light

Here is some information on a glove box light I made. I bought a keychain flashlight that used a bright blue led for the light. I got it from LL Beans for $20, but I see them for sell everywhere. It is a sapphire crystal led, and two 3-volt lithium batteries. The cells have a 10 year shelf life. All I wanted was the led and the 2 batteries.

I took the light apart and just used the led and the area that holds the batteries, cutting the rest of the body off.

I then acquired a metal cased mercury tilt switch. Durakool (http://www.aecsensors.com) has various tilt switches. I bought part #4929 from Newark Electronics (http://www.newark.com). It was around $5.00, but there was a minimum order, or a $5 penalty. It operates at a plus or minus 7 degree angle. It is very tiny, being around 1/4 inch all round in size. I placed all the parts in a small fuse box (the one that the cylinder type buss automotive fuses come in). It seemed like a perfect candidate since the plastic part of the box slides off easily from the metal top and it is small and shallow.

I drilled a hole in the plastic part of the box for the led to come out, and the rest (batteries in their holder and tilt switch) was placed inside and held in place with electrical tape. I had previously soldered circuit board wire from the tilt switch to the light. Some final touches like an LED holder from radio shack and some chrome tape on the box gives it a more finished look.

This small fuse box was attached to the left side of the glove box and held in place with velcro. The angle of the box had to be adjusted to get the light to turn on and off at the appropriate time when opening and closing the glove box door.

Pleased with the finished results, it puts a nice blue light inside the glovebox that allows me to see the things inside.

Stopping BMW Glovebox Rattles

Start under the glovebox, remove the three rotary plastic clips in the back under the glovebox. If you haven’t encountered these clips before you need to rotate them 90 degrees and then you should be able to pull them loose. The picture to the right points out the three rotary clips that need to be removed. Once they have been removed you can remove this entire section of plastic.

If you have footwell lights you will need to either disconnect the wiring or leave this section laying on the floor (assuming the wiring has enough slack).

Note: You can click on any of the pictures in this article to see a larger view.

Open the glove compartment and remove the two screws on the front edge. Then remove the other four screws that are pointed out in the picture to the right. There are trim caps over the six screws that need to be removed. Every time I mess with these trim caps I usually end up tearing them up. Because of this I usually have a supply of extra caps on hand. BMW part number (51-16-1-949-793 black) lists for $0.38 each I usually tack an order of 10 of them on to some other order whenever I’m running low. If your interior is tan use BMW part number (51-16-8-398-920). You can try and pry the caps off with a thin edge or pick. I’ve heard that there is a way to pop them off with the curved side of a paper clip but I’ve never tried it. When you are removing the glovebox be careful and gentle, the design of the glovebox is fragile and some of these mounting points are very fragile.

Once the screws are out you can remove the glove box by pulling it down and towards the passenger door. The drivers side will catch on the center console trim panel, you will have to work this free so go slow. There isn’t much room to work it free, so it will be a little frustrating at first but it will work free (try working it down first, and then out).

Once the glovebox is removed take a look at it and how it is built, not very impressive is it? My theory is that the thin sheet of moulded plastic the comprises the entire backside of the glove box is the cause of the buzzing-rattles that a lot of us are hearing. You can see that the thin plastic layer is hot stamped on the sides of the glovebox in an attempt to secure it to the rest of the glovebox. On my glovebox two of these hot stamps had broken loose, and all the screws that hold the metal latch in place were loose. The goal of this upgrade is to secure this thin plastic piece tightly against the rest of the glovebox to eliminate some of the buzzing rattles.

Once the glovebox is removed you can move this project indoors. I spent an evening sitting on the living room floor working on the glovebox while watching TV.

While you are inspecting the glovebox notice that BMW hot stamped the sides of the glovebox but they did nothing to secure the plastic around the lock and handle. You can easily move this section of thin plastic around since it is not secured to anything. It’s easy to picture this part vibrating against the metal frame while your driving. Besides the normal road vibrations there are a lot of wires and harnesses directly behind the glovebox. So anything that is not secured tight can be susceptible to vibration rattles. As a simple approach you could place a few drops of superglue on the underside of the front edge of this plastic and glue it in place (get the gel-type superglue). Besides this loose side around the lock, look around and secure any other loose areas that could vibrate and cause noise. And check the screws that are securing the metal latch to the glovebox.

If glue alone isn’t doing the job, you may want to consider drilling small holes and using nuts and bolts to hold the plastic down firmly. This is what I decided to do. You will need four #4-40 x 3/4″ machine screws, four #4-40 nuts, eight #6 zinc washers and eight #6 rubber washers (cost was under $2). You can use #4-40 1/2″ machine screws but it will be a more difficult to get the bolt started (it’s just barely long enough). In addition to this hardware you will need a screwdriver, 1/4″ wrench and a drill with a 3/32 drill bit.

Let me forewarn you that the heads of the screws will be visible when the glovebox is open, but not when the glovebox is closed. You may want to consider painting the zinc washers and screw heads black (or tan) to match your glovebox. I secured the front of the glove box with two bolts and each side with a bolt. The sides were probably overkill but this is where I had one of the hot-stamps break loose so I wanted to make sure I got this done right the first time.

In each of the locations that I decided needed to be secured I drilled a 3/32 hole, then used the #4-40 screw with a zinc washer and rubber washer on each side. I decided to use the rubber washers because this glovebox plastic is thin and brittle (didn’t want the zinc washers cutting it). Besides this hardware is so cheap why not take the extra precaution. So the bolt head is on the glovebox side the nut is on the back side. Each side has a rubber washer against the glovebox and a zinc washer on top of it (so the bolt head and/or nut doesn’t cut the rubber washer).

Reinstalling the glovebox takes about as much effort as getting it out. You start by working the glovebox back into place remembering that there are tabs that go behind the side of the center console. Pay attention to the wiring behind the glovebox as well. If you see any loose wiring harness or anything else that may be rattling against the back side of the glovebox find a way to secure them. Once you have everything worked back into place reinstall the six screws (see the second picture in this article). Be sure that all the screws get threaded back into the speed clips and the entire glovebox is held firmly in place. Lastly reinstall the lower panel.