Is Your BMW Active Grille Not Opening Or Closing? Here’s What To Do!

While driving your BMW, you notice that its active grille isn’t functioning correctly. Now, you’re wondering what you can do to fix this problem. We researched and sought help from different industry experts to give you the following answer to that concern.

One of the reasons why a BMW’s active grille doesn’t open or close is because its built-in actuator went bad. If so, you can follow these steps to replace that motor:

  1. Secure the vehicle
  2. Remove the grille
  3. Expose the actuator
  4. Replace the old actuator
  5. Reassemble and test

Although this procedure is quite straightforward, missing certain details may result in doing more harm to your BMW than good. So continue reading as we talk about this process in greater detail.

Things To Know Before Repairing A BMW Active Grille

BMW’s active grille, found in certain cars from the vehicle manufacturer, should improve aerodynamics when needed. Plus, it may also help increase fuel economy by reducing drag. The grille also helps in controlling the car’s climate control to provide optimal comfort for the people in the cabin.

However, attempting repairs to this feature if it malfunctions or breaks often requires following proper safety protocols. Abiding with preventive measures can reduce the risks of accidents and injuries before, during, and after fixing the issue with the active grille.

Some safety measures that should be in place are:

  • Always wear gloves. You’re going to work with parts near the engine, and gloves can help reduce the risks of burns and cuts while repairing the active grille.
  • Avoid smoking. If you need to smoke, go away from the work site and only return when you finish.
  • Don’t bring flammable items near the repair site. The heat near the engine may cause these objects to ignite.
  • Organize your equipment and materials as you work. Don’t leave items scattered in and around the job site to avoid slips and falls.
  • Clean spills immediately. Leaving fluid leaks on the floor may put passers-by at risk of slipping and falling.
  • Remove accessories like rings and bracelets. These items may snag into certain parts as you're working with the vehicle. 

Also, assess your current knowledge and skills concerning automotive repairs. Request help from reliable industry professionals if you believe that you're not up to going through this repair procedure using DIY techniques.

The Things You’ll Need

  • Panel remover
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Ratchet and socket
  • Replacement active grille actuator

DIY Instructions To Replace The Actuator Of A BMW Active Grille

front view BMW Active Grille blue car

Step #1: Secure The Vehicle

Park your BMW on a site with flat and level ground. Engage its hand, parking, or emergency brake afterward. Also, don’t forget to turn off the engine. You may also chock the wheels if you want the added security of preventing the car from rolling while you’re working on it.

Step #2: Remove The Grille

Open the hood and use a panel remover to press the three clips on top of the grille. Applying sufficient pressure to these clips should loosen the grille from its mounting position. Then, pull out the grille and set it aside temporarily.

Note: Removing the grille from its mount may require some amount of strength. Request the help of a stronger individual if you’re having difficulty pulling out the grille from the vehicle.

Step #3: Expose The Actuator

Remove the clips securing the cover above the aluminum panel in the engine block. Unthread the bolts securing the aluminum panel and pull out the rod on top of it. Remove the panel and set it aside temporarily afterward.

You should now be looking at a long, hard plastic cover. Pull out that encasement and set it aside. Next, insert your arm into the small gap and feel around for the actuator. Pull the actuator out of that small space carefully.

Tip: Use a borescope if you’re having trouble finding the active grille actuator.

Step #4: Replace The Old Actuator

Press the two tabs on both sides of the old actuator assembly to release the motor from its mount. Install the new actuator into the mount and secure it in place. Return the actuator assembly to its original position.

Step #5: Reassemble And Test

Return the parts you removed earlier and secure them. Once you reassemble your BMW’s active grille, turn on the car’s engine. Next, check if the active grille is now working as intended.

Take note that you may need to program the new BMW active grille actuator for the assembly to work. If you need to go through this extra step, watch this video if you need help in using the BMW ISTA+ program with a car diagnostic scanner to aid you in programming the module:

Check out this car diagnostic scan tool on Amazon.

Aside from the actuator, you may also want to replace the grille on your BMW. Doing so may help improve the cabin air quality, especially if the old grille is reducing indoor comfort for the passengers.

Check out this replacement BMW front grille on Amazon.

What Can Cause A BMW Active Grille Shutter System To Go Bad?

close up BMW Active Grilleblack car paint

Understanding the possible suspects of a BMW active grille failing can help you prevent the assembly from going bad sooner rather than later. Some of these potential culprits are:

  • Collision with another vehicle or object
  • Excessive moisture buildup
  • Powertrain control module (PCM) failure
  • Faulty sensors

How To Prevent A BMW Active Grille From Failing?

As mentioned in the previous section, different preventive actions are available to help reduce the risks of your BMW's active grille breaking down. Some preventive measures are:

  • Keep your active grill clean. Spraying the grille with water from a garden hose regularly may help extend the life of the assembly.
  • Avoid long idles. Idling for extended periods may cause the engine to overheat, harming the active grille assembly in the process.
  • Follow defensive driving protocols. Sudden starts and stops may put unwanted strain on the grille.
  • Pay attention to the grille’s performance. Apply the appropriate action as soon as you notice an anomaly with the active grille.

What Is The BMW Active Grille Shutter Warranty?

BMW North America has extended the limited warranty for the Radiator Grille Upper and Lower Active Air Flaps on eligible vehicles to 15 years, or 150,000 miles, from the vehicle's original in-service date. This extension is specific to addressing defects in materials or workmanship.

Owners may be eligible for a complimentary repair of the active grille system if it malfunctions within this specified warranty period. It's advisable to check with a BMW service center or on the official BMW website to verify the warranty coverage for your particular vehicle, as it may vary based on model, engine type, and other factors.

How Much Does It Cost To Replace Active Grille Shutters?

Replacing the active grille in a vehicle, including a BMW model, may require you to spend about $100 to $400. This price range often includes the parts and labor needed for the replacement procedure. However, the costs may vary depending on other factors, such as the location of the repair shop handling the replacement.

Is An Active Grille Shutter Important?

BMW Active Grille brand new car white glossy paint, Is Your BMW Active Grille Not Opening Or Closing? Here's What To Do!

An active grille shutter assembly can be a vital element in maintaining driver and passenger comfort in a vehicle that has this feature. If the assembly malfunctions or fails, it may bring about discomfort for the people in the vehicle’s cabin. Other drawbacks that may appear if the active grille remains unfixed are:

  • Poor fuel economy
  • Increased vehicle drag
  • Engine overheats

What Vehicles Have Active Grille Shutters?

BMW Active Grille close up very shiny

The BMW X3 G01, G20, G30, and other particular models in the car manufacturer's vehicle line have active grille shutters. Aside from this German vehicle manufacturer, other cars that have similar features are:

Ford Focus

Ford Focus models made from 2012 and beyond typically have active grille shutters. Unlike the active shutters in the BMW, Ford's grilles function differently. This assembly opens when the vehicle moves slowly. That way, the opening can let in additional air to help cool the engine.

Chevy Cruze

The Chevrolet Cruze’s active grille shutters work similarly when compared to the assembly in a Ford Focus. It also opens and closes depending on the sedan’s current speed. But Chevy's active grille may also open or close depending on the engine's current temperature.

Final Thoughts

BMW Active Grille brand new car white glossy paint

Repairing your BMW's active grille can help ensure comfort for you (as the driver) and other passengers while staying in the vehicle's cabin.

Follow the instructions highlighted in this post to repair the grille's mechanism and enjoy comfortable rides. But don’t forget that you can also rely on professionals if you need experts to take care of the repair job for you.

If you’re looking for answers to other BMW concerns, check out these other great reads:

Where Is The Ground Strap On A BMW? [And How Do You Replace It]?

BMW Is Shaking—What Could Be Wrong?

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