First, many thanks to KismetsDad, Randy B., and the others who posted above. I was viewer number 39,630, so this info is apparently of interest to a great many. Maybe one reason is the HUGE cost the dealerships are estimating for repair. The estimate I was given at my dealership was ~$700-$900 !!
I began by completely reviewing the tutorial KismetsDad posted at http://www.shastaanesthesia.com/Lexu.../actuator.html
(and was viewer number 7,370), and then I read every post above on this site. The various pieces of information throughout were very helpful, but I want to give some confidence to those of you who may be as much of a novice as I am. I did not read any of the diagrams, electrical schematics, or even fully understand what "Easy Close" or "SmartKey" is, but I had success in fixing my door lock nonetheless. I want to pay back the forum by adding a few comments that may be of help to future readers.
If anything below does not make sense, it may be because you first need to look at the pictures posted above by others. Also, if you are doing the door I did (the right side front passenger door) you need not worry about all the comments of others referring to how the key slot should be positioned. That doesn't apply.
The tip about disconnecting the hot side of the battery is golden. Be sure to do that after making sure the window is rolled all the way up on the door you are working on.
I found that the tip about removing the key assembly only applies to the driver's door. I removed the plug next to the outside handle thinking that it would help remove an obstruction, but it made no difference (which I proved to myself in the second and third door reassemblies I had to do)
I removed the panel and left the front wires connected. I swung the panel toward the seat and propped it on a solid box I had that was about the height of the rocker panel (the door sill). I removed the two control cables. Note that the white one goes on top and the green one on the bottom. They disconnect as follows: Swing the white one out 90 degrees to the panel and the end ball should drop out the bottom of the fitting. Swing the green one out the same way, and its end ball should pop up out of the fitting.
I unscrewed the black box that is bolted on the door outside the plastic and laid it toward the front of the door without disconnecting its electrical wires. I used a sharp knife to separate the gummy sealer that holds the plastic barrier on and laid it aside, being careful to put the gummy side up. I completely removed the two bolts that hold the window rail. Someone above recommended only removing the bottom bolt and just loosening the top one, but I found it was much easier to let the rail flop around inside the door cavity as I removed and reinstalled the actuator assembly.
Sliding the window rail down the rubber a bit is very helpful. All you have to do is tug a bit on the bottom of the rail and it will slide right down. About 2 inches is all you need.
On my model, there is a small, almost unnoticeable hook right next to the bottom bolt of the five that hold the actuator assembly inside the door. The hook is not on any of the three bolts that come through the edge of the door. It is next to the bottom bolt of the two that come through the inside face of the door panel. If you notice that hook, it is very helpful in reinstallation, since it holds the assembly up in the right place for you just before you insert the bolts and wrench them tight. But if you do NOT notice that hook, you may struggle to get the unit out of the door. It will rattle all around but not come down, even though you have taken all the bolts out, and you won't know why. There are two reasons it won't - 1) The hook has to come out of that bolt hole. (Obviously, I may be the only dunce who would overlook such a thing, but maybe not), and 2) the linkage to the door lock has to be unhooked.
Detaching the linkage is easier if you insert a flashlight inside the door cavity, tilted upward toward just above the door latch. You will see a shaft (or connecting rod) coming out of the actuator assembly and going up. There will be a piece of plastic that holds the shaft in place. (I have seen in the photos and on my car that this piece of plastic can be one of several colors, but it will be bright, like bright red, bright yellow, etc). If your hands are small enough, you can reach up and gently snap that retaining clip off the connecting rod (below the bend) and then tug on the connecting rod parallel to the ground, toward the front of the car
, to get it to come out of the hole that it is in. Be careful not to break the retaining clip
, which will stay on the rod when the unit comes out.
Once detached, removal of the actuator assembly from the door cavity is best accomplished by turning it clockwise (on the passenger side) through the large bottom hole one full revolution as you guide the cables though the top hole. You can disconnect the electrical wires after the unit is removed or before, whichever is easier for you.
When you disassemble the unit (by merely unscrewing the screws that hold the pieces in place) be careful not to bend the cable that goes through the green lever. Slowly turn the motor housing once its three retaining screws are removed to work the green lever off the cable.
To get the case apart, use a broad-bladed, flathead screwdriver and twist the two sides apart starting on the far side of where the wire plug socket is. It should just snap open as you go around the edge.
When you get inside the unit, the motor will be obvious. Note where the "ear" of the green lever goes though the metal piece with two holes in it. I did not do that, and then later on reassembly, I wondered which hole to put it in. See the pictures that BMW7_LS430 posted above. In those pictures, the "ear" is in the hole at the end
of the lever arm.
I ordered 4 Mabuchi motors off of Ebay and paid $20 plus about $5 for shipping. I was concerned that I might not be getting the right thing, but it worked out. The ONLY difference was the fact that the shaft on the new motors is round instead of "half-round" (D-shaped), as noted in the posts above. To fix that, I put the short end in a vice-grip and filed the shaft down slowly, propping it on a wood block and filing at about 45 degrees to the shaft (at an angle) instead of 90 degrees (straight across it), because filing straight across it kept rotating the shaft out of the vice grip. Angling it seemed not to grab the shaft and turn it quite as strongly. I kept checking the fit of the shaft into the worm gear to make sure I did not overfile the shaft because I wanted a snug fit, and it was easy to accomplish. The whole filing process took maybe 10 minutes. I did NOT glue the shaft into the worm gear.
In reassembling the casing, I cleaned out the perimeter snap channel , degreased it, and then put some epoxy in it, being careful not to put too much. A bead not much bigger than thick thread should be enough. Even after it dries, it will be possible to get the case apart again. (Believe me, I did it three times for mistakes I don't think you will make.)
After replacing the motor and putting glue around the edge, I reassembled the two halves and clamped the case together in three places around its perimeter with small c-clamps until the glue dried. This gave me an idea. I had read in the posts above about using zip ties, and had seen Randy B's photos showing their placement. I had zip ties, but I tried something else instead that the c-clamps made me think of. I happened to have some spring steel binder clips (made by Universal - see here: http://www.officedepot.com/a/product...r-Clips-Small/
) of the same size as the thickness of the actuator case (about a half inch or so). I used only one of those instead. I removed the wire handles on the binder clip and cut off and filed down the clip so it would be flat against the side of the actuator housing, and so it would be out of the way of any screw holes. So far, it has worked fine. The case has stayed together and there has been no grinding sound.
On reinstallation, I strongly recommend that you hook up the wires to the armrest module and the actuator assembly BEFORE putting the unit in the door. Briefly reconnect the car battery, and then test the armrest lock button to see it the actuator throws the connecting rod up and down properly (ie. the rod that the colored plastic clip is on.) If it does, then go ahead and put the unit back in the door.
Once you have the unit back into position, remember to put the little hook into the proper bolt hole to keep it there as you reattach the connecting rod (above the unit). Don't bolt it into place until you work the window rail back into place. You do that by just twisiting it gently while pushing it back up. Once it rides all the way back up the rubber, and gets to the top, you should be able to see the threaded holes line up properly for you to reinsert the bolts and tighten them.
Remember to take your flashlight out of the door! Reinstall everything else in reverse order.
I went through the disassemble/assemble process three separate times because of mistakes. Even with all that, it took me a total of six hours. Now that I know what I know, when the next lock actuator motor goes out, I already have those three other new motors, and I think I will be able to turn the job around in less about an hour . . . two at most.
Incidentally, I agree with whoever said the torque seems stronger with the replacement motor. The locks seem to slam open and closed now more strongly (though not in any way that is displeasing).
If I can figure out how to post pictures, I will post a couple below to try to make some of the things I have described more clear. Hope this helps a bit. Thanks again to all those "who have gone before" to blaze the trail.
Philippians 2:4-11, Romans 8:31-39