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I recently bought a BMW 320D E46 (2001) with two doors (passenger side) that are dented beyond repair (i.e. repairing them would be ridiculously expensive). I have the opportunity to buy two replacement doors for very little money (just to be clear: these doors are exactly the same, from the same model in the same color).

While I have some experience working on cars, I've never replaced doors on a car. It looks easy enough (basically: unscrew some bolts, unplug the electronics connecter, then do the same in reverse) but I worry mostly about the electronics. Will the new door be 'recognised' by the central locking mechanism without any trouble (please note that the doors that I have to replace are passenger-side doors, i.e. there is no physical lock in the front door)? Are there any other potential issues that I need to know about?

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Depending on the car it can be a royal pain to get lined up and get the electrical all routed through. Don't get discouraged if it turns into a much more time consuming project than you expect. Just take your time and get it right! –  Brian Knoblauch Jul 26 '13 at 14:21

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I would imagine that, orn a car of that age, it ought to work fine. On a newer car the modules might not recognise each other, however you ought to be able to swap the control modules from the old doors to the new ones, so all the modules are still matched to the car.

Mechanically, it is exactly as you describe, although you might find that some care is required when tightening the new doors to ensure they are correctly aligned, otherwise you'll end up with ugly panel gaps and they might catch on closing. It's best done with an assistant so that one of you can hold the door while the other fits the bolts. You'll find there is usually some movement in the hinge fixings to allow them to be properly adjusted to take into account slight variances in the tolerances (although, of course, being a German car those tolerances will be a lot tighter than most!)

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Thank you. This is an helpful answer. –  Ben Jul 26 '13 at 15:16

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