E39 Pre-2001 Color-Matched Trim
Prepared by VietSB
NOTE: Perform these steps at your own risk. All P/N's listed are a "best guess", so please double-check with your local dealer. These mods and repairs were performed on my US-Spec 1997 540iA (11/96 prod date, M62 engine) but there is no guarantee they will work on other E39's. These instructions are provided for entertainment purposes only!
BACKGROUND: Some simple notes on my upgrade to color-matched trim. My parts selection was somewhat unorthodox because I started with trying to paint my original chromeline trim, but when the fender and door moldings turned out bad, I switched gears and purchased 2001+ primered door moldings (no chrome) and pieced this project together. In trying to reuse my chromeline trim, I replaced two of the front chrome strips that had small dents in them.
The dealer might offer some of these pieces pre-painted via special order. If going that route, it would be best to order all the new trim to be painted by the dealer for color-matching purposes. As your dealer parts counter for more information on this.
Parts purchased for my E39 (yours will probably differ):
- P/N 51 11 8 226 555 Front left replacement chrome trim strip [pre-09/00]
- P/N 51 11 8 226 556 Front right replacement chrome trim strip [pre-09/00]
- P/N 51 13 7 036 697 Front left fender moldings - primered [09/00+ but fits previous]
- P/N 51 13 7 036 698 Front right fender moldings - primered [09/00+ but fits previous]
- P/N 51 13 7 036 699 Front left door moldings - primered [09/00+ but fits previous]
- P/N 51 13 7 036 700 Front right door moldings - primered [09/00+ but fits previous]
- P/N 51 13 7 036 701 Rear left door moldings - primered [09/00+ but fits previous]
- P/N 51 13 7 036 702 Rear right door moldings - primered [09/00+ but fits previous]
Painting existing chromeline trim (pre-2001):
- Front: Pop off the license plate frame first, then the front-side pieces.
- Rear: Look at where the chrome overlaps and pop off accordingly.
- Sides: Should be pried up slightly towards the back of the opened doors, then carefully use a cloth-wrapped screwdriver to assist in popping the fasteners. Work slowly as the fragile side trim tends to get "wavy" during removal. If you want it to look good, you might want to do as I did and buy new 2001+ primered side trim.
Painting existing shadowline trim (pre-2001):
- Front and rear trim have snap-off chrome strips, so a body shop can either paint the textured plastic as-is, or fill and smooth it prior to painting (my preferred method). It turns out very nice and new chrome strips can be purchased from the dealer fairly inexpensively to replace marred or damaged pieces.
- The side trim cannot be easily painted. The issue is the chrome isn't removable so it has to be masked off. Once the tape is peeled off, it's very easy for the paint to crack around the junction lines and expose the soft black trim underneath. It might not be as noticeable on black or anthracite cars, but I chose to buy the 2001+ non-chrome primered sides and use those instead.
Painting new trim (installed on pre-2001):
- Same notes as above, but since there is no chrome to deal with, as long as the sides aren't wavy and you have a good body shop do the painting, it should turn out nicely.
I've heard from Tyrone and a number of other posters that standard painting of the PDC sensors is okay. I left mine black for now, but will probably have them painted sooner or later.
- 2001+ primered non-chrome trim is available from the dealer, but the front and rear probably will not fit unless new slots for the updated mounting tabs are cut into the bumper. I've heard this can be done. Also, the front bumper might be shaped just a bit differently, but I hear it works as long as the tabs engage properly.
- 2001+ primered chromeline trim with front/back/side-removable chrome strips are available from the dealer and the sides will fit fine, but the front and rear are only designed to fit the 2001+ front and rear bumper. Extensive modification would be required to the bumper internals, so this is not recommended. A unique characteristic of this trim is the chrome strips are thicker than pre-2001 and placed on the bottom portion of the trim instead of the top. That's the key reason it doesn't fit well on the pre-2001 bumpers.
Here's my Frankenstein car w/ filled and painted chromeline front and rear, but fully-painted sides.
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