DIY: Sunroof cassette/frame removal - with picture


This DIY will cover the removal of your E30 sunroof cassette/frame. Before doing this, I had found several thread on the topic with conflicting information and no pictures. I hope you can use this to remove yours without damage to your roof skin.

First, remove all the headliner and foam glued behind it. I just cut/tore it all out.

The sunroof panel is held in by 3 torx bolts on each side. Tilt the sunroof up to access the back two. I cut through the fabric to reach the front bolt. Once they are removed, the panel will come out through the top of the roof. You should now be able to remove the tracks and motor. Take out all the fasteners you see.

To get started with the cassette/frame removal you will need:

  • Drill
  • Angle grinder with cut-off discs
  • Heat gun
  • Center punch
  • Spot weld cutter. I would not recommend you use a standard drill bit.
  • Metal putty knife like this:
  • A helper

For each spot weld, use the center punch to start the spot weld cutter.

Inside where the sunroof used to sit, there is one spot weld on each side, and five spot welds in the front.

Here is the driver side spot weld drilled out.

Do the same for the passenger side.

Begin on the 5 spot welds at the front. If you have a difficulty finding them, try moving your light source. You can also see them from inside the car, they are easy to see from the other side.

All 5 removed here.

Time to bust out the angle grinder. You’ll find one of these brackets on each side of the car towards the front of the cassette, almost at the front edge of the sunroof hole. Work slowly and carefully here, if you cut too deep, you’ll go into the roof!

Back to the drill for this part. Look right above the B-pillar and you’ll see these five spot welds on each side. You are cutting into two sheets of metal, and there is a gap before you reach the roof. While you only have to go through the first sheet, I found that I could just drill all the way through until the spot weld fell out. There was no damage to the roof skin when I did this.

Working from the top side, insert the putty knife between the cassette and the roof frame (at this point in the roof, there is a frame running across the roof skin). Use a hammer to separate the cassette from the frame at the spot welds (see third picture, you are going through the glue surrounding the spot welds you drilled out earlier). You can use a fair amount of force here since the putty knife is not striking the roof skin.

Pick up the angle grinder again. Further back from the B-pillar, you’ll find one bracket on each side of the car, just like in the front. Cut through these just like you did in the front.

At this point, the only thing holding the sunroof cassette is the glue. Start at the back with a heat gun and the putty knife. Be careful not to use too much force. I found that once the glue was heated up, it came right apart with a gentle pull. Once the back is loose, have your helper sit in the back and support the cassette. Do not have him pry, otherwise you could (and probably will) wrinkle your roof skin. Once the B-pillar section is loose, use your heat gun from the inside and also from the top to release the glue at the five from spot welds. Take your time and it should come out easily.

Here is mine removed.

The front bracket.

The middle B-pillar bracket.

The rear bracket.


Nice job, especially the photos.

I finished my removal about a month ago. Pretty much exactly as you described except I used a regular drill bit and didn’t need a heat gun. I guess my glue had lost its stickiness.

I cobbled together enough information from prior threads to figure out how to do it with a minimum of head scratching. Nice to have it all in one place for future builders.

I was able to skin my sunroof and the cage builder was able to tack weld the skin in place just using the flange around the opening. I think he just pinched the flange to the skin panel with vice-grips and tacked them together. He kept a uniform gap using some tile spacers I gave him. I filled the gap with body seam sealer after taping the inside to keep the sealer from dripping through.


Fantastic writeup. This would have taken days instead of hours, probably would have skipped it. One minor tweak to the process I found useful was to leave the drains connected. When the front of the cartridge took 2 hours of persuasion to come loose I didn’t have more poor helpmeet sitting in the back getting cramps. It also helps to loosen the front and rear first and the sides next to the B pillars last. That leaves the most reinforced part of the roof holding up the weight of the cartridge and minimizes the chances of wrinkling the skin.


Awesome write up, THANKS!!!

I just did this (by my self)… kick’d my ass! Hope I never have to do that again :frowning:


Resurrecting an old but valuable thread. The cassette removal worked well for me right up until the end, when the brace I was using to hold up the rear end came loose before I was ready for the final drop. Argh! Ended up slightly bending the opening on the drivers side. Hours of work, perfect until the final step.

Anyway, a question, I haven’t seen anything about separating the sunroof skin from the heavy inner panel.

I assume it is spot-welded and glued together, but a quick eyeball didn’t turn up obvious weld marks.

Any tips on separating these two?


I tried twice to elegantly separate the inner layer of sheetmetal from outer and both times failed. It’s really hard to get the layers apart w/o deforming the outer layer that a person is trying to keep pristine. In both cases I gave up trying to create a cosmetically perfect single layer sunroof and just slapped a piece of sheet steel over the sunroof hole and called it a day.


I think it’s only welded on the edge seam.


Final question in the amount of work versus benefit analysis:
How much weight was removed?

From the scope of work I think I’ll have one less pizza.



It’s been a while, but I remember to skin the sunroof, I used a chisel to separate the edges. They were crimped together and spot welded. The hammer and chisel was able to punch through the spot welds just fine.

I’d estimate the weight loss to be 35-45 lbs. A big advantage is the 2.5+ inches of headroom you gain. I’m a short guy, but I appreciate my cathedral ceilings and like that my rollcage provides a few extra inches of clearance/protection.