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  #1  
Old 01-08-2015, 08:04 PM
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Problem with driver side door handle

On some cold mornings, less than -5C, I am having problems getting my door open using the interior door handle.

The problem presents itself when the door is locked and I pull the interior door handle once. The door lock pin goes up as expected but then the second pull does not open the door. The interior door handle does not have any tension as if some part of the mechanism(s) is sticking. Approximately two minutes with the left side HVAC vent pointing at the interior door handle seems to free it up and the door opens/operates as expected.

This most often happens on very short trips when the doors are locked automatically at speed and then I have to get out of the vehicle for some reason, e.g., I forgot something in the house. The outside door handle does not work either during this time but it feels "normal." Now, if the door is not locked, it will open on the first pull but it will not "reset" the latch so the door cannot be closed (latched shut) until the handle mechanism(s) free up.

Searching here and on the internet I have seen mention of similar issues being linked to the exterior door handle carrier, Bowden cable for the interior door handle and the door lock actuator mechanism. Some mornings it's been -15C and I have tried to replicate the issue and it's worked fine and then tonight, around -7C currently, it did it. It has been cold here for a few weeks and you would expect it to be an issue every morning but I have tried to replicate it and can't. Maybe it is not as related to temperature as I think?

This to me is a real safety concern and I am wondering if there is a TSB or other bulletin that I can go off of and maybe even talk to a service advisor about. I have had pretty good luck with a service advisor at a local BMW dealer and my 2001 M5 even though I do most of the work myself and use an independent for other work so maybe I can work something out. In any case, a TSB or similar will be a good place to start troubleshooting.

Any advice?
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Last edited by josiahg52; 03-01-2015 at 09:49 AM.
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  #2  
Old 01-08-2015, 11:36 PM
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Some more detail:

It was -5C tonight. i unlocked the driver door remotely. The door unlocked and opened as expected.

I entered the vehicle and shut the door. The door latched as expected.

I then attempted to open the door from the inside. The door unlatched and opened but the interior handle did not return to the 'rest' position.

I then tried to close the door again but it would not latch shut. I started the engine and directed the left most lower vent at the interior door handle.

Within a minute of what had to be only marginally warmer air than the outside air, there was a noticeable change on the feel of the interior door handle. After about two minutes the handle had "relaxed" to the point that the door could be latched shut.

There was still some "play" in the handle until about five minutes of driving as the HVAC air became warmer and the handle felt almost normal. By the end of my fifteen minute drive the handle felt and functioned completely normal.

I really think the problem is localized to the interior door handle. I will take the door panel off and inspect the mechanism(s) closely when it gets warmer. Maybe some portion needs to be cleaned and greased. It's just too cold and I don't have a garage to work on the X5 in right now.
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Old 01-09-2015, 12:18 AM
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Could be the cable itself.It is a pretty long cable and if the grease gets really sticky it may do that.
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Old 02-24-2015, 08:24 PM
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This problem is getting worse or it could be the -19C weather exacerbating the issue. It must not be a common problem as I can find no other mention of it on the internet. I think I'm going to have to take it in as I just don't have the tools with me or the wherewithal to tackle it in this cold right now. It is really annoying to have to wait to get out of my vehicle in the morning or not be able to shut the door for five minutes sitting in the parking lot.
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Old 02-24-2015, 09:25 PM
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This happen to me last year also. I just do what you did, point the vent at the handle and it went back to normal. This year, knock on wood, the problem hasn't return. Good luck!!
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Old 02-28-2015, 08:50 PM
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Well, it looks like I may have a remedy, even if it might be short-termed.

Yasterday afternoon I sprayed some silicone spray lubricant in and around the door latch. I mean, really got in there. Stuck the straw up, down and behind the latch and into the door. It immediately felt smoother in operation. This morning it was -10C and it worked just fine.

Maybe it's still a problem that needs attending to but it looks like the major annoyance has been removed for now.
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Old 03-01-2015, 07:04 AM
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Spoke too soon. It was -13C this morning and it exhibited the same problem.

When I spoke to the service advisor some weeks ago he said it was due to water/moisture in the mechanism(s) that freezes and that he repairs it "all the time" by lubricating it and it just "comes back." I did get a car wash yesterday but I don't see how that much liquid could get inside there and if it did then there is a defective part elsewhere. And why the driver door only? The other doors work fine all the way to 20C below.

I now feel sure that the actual issue resides in the interior side of the door near the handle itself or else why didn't the lubrication help at all and why does a few minutes of warm air on the handle allow me to operate the door as designed? I have to get the door card off and take a look once it warms up.

In the meantime, I'm going to relubricate the mechanism, let it get warmed up, ensure I don't get any water around it and see if the problem returns. I think I'm going to run out of cold enough days, though.
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