E28 Electric Headrest Repair (for the price of a coathanger)

E28 Electric Headrest Repair
(for the price of a coathanger)

courtesy of Don Eilenberger


What follows is the relatively simply procedure to repair the headrests on the electric seats of E28 BMWs. These headrests are prone to faliure, and many people are mislead as to the solution, which sometimes can be quoted as being very expensive. The symptoms are that all the other functions of the seat are still working, but the headrest adjustment is inoperative. You can still hear the motor working, however. If this sounds familiar, Don's procedure below is for you.
[ed: Steve]


  1. Remove the back of the seat (two phillips head self-taps at the bottom of the back panel, then pull down). Look for the motor - on the left side. Use 8mm socket to remove the two self-taps that hold the motor in place. Remove the motor and cable. Pull the cable out of motor.
  2. Cut a length of coathanger about 3/8". Drop it in the motor. Put cable back in. Test it. If it works - reassembly is the reverse of disassembly.
  3. If it doesn't work - try a shorter (1/4"), or slightly longer (1/2") piece of coathanger. 1 coathanger is good for about 45 E28 power headrests (more if you untwist the twisty part).

That's it! Don't worry - if more was involved, Don wouldn't have left out any details! Unfortunately, the passenger seat in my E28 is broken, and moreover, it had the poor sense to drain the battery while it was broken. It's disconnected now, and if I ever get around to fixing it, I'll post the solution here.
[ed: Steve]

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Steven Jay Bernstein
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updated Saturday, July 19, 1997 03:54:01