How to Replace the Shadowline on a BMW

Updated July 19, 2017

Shadowline is BMW's way of referring to the blacked-out trim that is an option on the cars it sells. Normally, BMWs come with chrome trim. Shadowline lends a more muted, monotone appearance to the car. However, over time, Shadowline trim can become faded and scratched. For it to look its best, it must be replaced. Removing the trim is not difficult, though care must be taken to avoid scratching or damaging the paint.

Run a piece of masking tape between the trim that runs along the bottom of the window. Place the tape on the paint so that the top edge of the tape comes right up to the trim.

Gently pry up the trim with a sharp, flat head screwdriver, starting at the rearmost end of the trim. You can wedge a piece of fabric under the screwdriver to offer extra protection for the paint. When the trim is pried up far enough, use your hands to gently pull it up and away from the car.

Spray the cleaner (Windex, etc.) onto the car where the trim was installed. Brush off any dirt and debris with a soft bristle brush and then dry the area with a clean rag. Use the touch-up paint to remove any scratches or nicks that happened during the removal of the trim.

Locate the rubber door seal that is located above and below the trim that runs along the upper edge of the door. Open the door and locate a small, round, black plastic plug at the back end of the door. This plug holds the seal in place. Pry the plug out with a sharp screwdriver. Lift up the edge of the seal and pull it slowly away from the door seal all the way to the car's rear view mirror. Let it hang once you've removed it.

Remove the trim by squeezing the clips with pliers that are now visible under the door seal and that hold the trim in place. Using a set of thin, needle-nose pliers, squeeze together the tabs that come through the square opening in the trim. Start at the front and move toward the back, twisting and turning the clips so that they release the trim. Pull the trim away from the car once the clips are no longer hooked onto the trim.

Remove the clips once the trim is removed by twisting and lifting the clips off the car with the pliers. Do this carefully to avoid scratching the paint. Clean the area with the cleaner and the brush and then dry it with a rag.

Carefully install the new upper window trim the reverse of removal. Press the trim into place until you here an audible click so that you know it is installed correctly. Make sure you align it correctly with the door so it looks right. Repeat this process for all of the windows. Push the lower part of the rubber seal back onto the trim, ensuring that the inside edge slips into the groove. Install the top door seal.

Install the Shadowline trim that runs along the bottom of the door. Align the trim inside the weatherstripping. Lube the weatherstripping with something like Gummipfleg. Press the weatherstripping onto the trim, starting at one end and working your way down, keeping it lubricated the whole way.

Install the trim and weatherstripping by angling it and pressing it onto the lower part of the door where the old trim was removed. Open and close the door to ensure that the trim and the door is lined up properly. When the trim is aligned properly, use a rubber mallet to tap it into place. Repeat for the other doors.

Things You'll Need

  • Shadowline trim
  • Masking tape
  • Thin screwdriver
  • Towel
  • Cleaner (Windex or similar)
  • Soft bristle brush
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Lubricant (Gummifledge or similar)
  • Rubber mallet
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About the Author

William Zane has been a freelance writer and photographer for over six years and specializes primarily in automotive-related subject matter among many other topics. He has attended the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, where he studied automotive design, and the University of New Mexico, where he studied journalism.