E32 Windshield Story

My 1989 BMW 750iL has had a horrible crack in its windshield for many years. And, then the EML light failed while the car was parked outside in exceptionally cold weather. This meant a “no start” condition. I tried to find a replacement part, but it took too long a time.

As the days went by, the battery gradually went flat. Meanwhile, the doors were locked. Being electric locks, the flat battery meant that I could no longer unlock the doors.

I’m aware of the trick where one pulls the door handle up “just so” while turning the key, but I didn’t want to stand outside for 30 minutes in the (literally) freezing cold trying to get that to work. So, I decided to solve both problems at the same time: the broken windshield and being locked out of the car.

I took out my safety glasses and a nice big 30mm wrench, and I put on some safety gloves. I proceeded to then methodically beat a hole in my BMW windshield. This sounds a lot easier than it actually is. Even with a pre-existing crack, these windshields are tough! It took me a long time to break through.

It probably also earned me the “toughest girl in the neighborhood” award.

If I am ever threatened by someone who wants to attack me while I’m in my car, and they try to beat my windshield in with a baseball bat, I now know that I will have enough time to park the car, pop in a CD and listen to half of an entire three-minute song before I would need to do something about the problem.

Back to my project: I finally made a large-enough hole near the passenger side since I wanted to minimize the amount of glass splinters on the driver side. I was then be able to reach the passenger side door knob, and I pulled it up. I opened the door and pulled up the driver side door knob next.

With the EML light still dead, I couldn’t drive the car so I trailered it to Low Price Auto Glass in Sparks, NV. They did a good job of replacing the windshield, parts and labor, for $195. I was tempted to try a used windshield instead, and were this an E28 car, I would have. But, on the E32, the windshield is glued to the car, thereby contributing to the car’s structural strength, and so removing a windshield from an E32 without cracking it is very, very hard. I once watched a seasoned auto glass installer attempt this, and fail.

So, now my 750iL has a nice new windshield. Better. 🙂


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