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3-Series Seat Repair - Tech

Seat Adjustment Cable Broken In Your E36 BMW? Don't Fret, We'll Show You A Cheap And Easy Fix.

By Paul Piola, Photography by Paul Piola

The E36 chassis was a storming success for BMW. The company gave birth to it in '92 and continued producing it up to '00, having released such models as the 318i, 325i, 328i, 323i and M3 in coupe, four-door or convertible forms, also including a three-door hatchback for the 318ti.

Sadly though, we must face the truth. These cars are starting to show their age and things are inevitably beginning to break.

Except for the E36 sedan, a common problem is cable snapping on the seat-tilting mechanism of the two-door models. We've had this happen to both the front seats in our '96 M3 with 130k miles on it. While most BMW owners might be a little intimidated to attempt fixing the problem, we encourage you to save hundreds of bucks at the dealer and do it yourself.

Anybody who can turn a wrench can do this job and it shouldn't take much more than one hour per seat.

While any of the E36 front seats will fit any E36 model, some seat mechanisms are different. Some have manual adjustments while others are electric. The following steps show how to remove and replace the cable on a manually adjusted Vader-style seat found in most non-luxury '95-99 BMW M3 Coupes. The repair on most of the other 3-Series seats should be similar.

By Paul Piola
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