BMW Cabin & Steering Rattles, Vibrations and Noises

BMW Cabin & Steering Rattles, Vibrations and Noises

Last Updated on Tuesday Jan 23, 2018

BMW rattle noises on startup or when accelerating are common annoyance many BMW owners face. For a BMW owner, there is nothing more irritating than the interior, dashboard and trim rattles. If you own a high mileage BMW you can't escape rattling noises in the cabin. At first, it may be hard to tell where that buzzing noise is coming from but finding the source of the problem is not as hard as you may think. 

Where does the rattle come from?

BMW steering wheel rattle is often caused by loose plastic trim or any of button or switches. The rattle gets worse as the vibrations in the cabin increase which is typical during acceleration. You may also notice the rattle noise get worse when the car is stopped or in drive. When you hear the sound, apply pressure on the following components to find out where the noise is coming from.

Steering Wheel Buttons

bmw rattle noise  when accelerating

Often the steering wheel buttons, especially the volume button may wear out and cause rattle noises. To find the source of the noise, try putting your hand over the steering wheel buttons when the noise occurs. If the rattle goes away, the problem is your steering wheel buttons. Follow the tutorial below to learn how to fix this problem.

Turn Signal Switch

bmw rattle in dash bmw rattle at idle

The small buttons on the turn signal or even the wiper switch may cause the problem. Place your hand over these buttons to see if the noise goes away. If any of these switches is damaged it will need to be replaced. Follow this guide to change BMW turn signal switch or this guide to learn how to change BMW windshield wiper switch. This rattle may sound like it is coming from the dash and often gets worse at idle.

Steering Column Trim / Dashboard

bmw rattle in dash at start up tape it

If the rattle doesn't come from the steering wheel buttons or any of the switches, it is very likely that's coming from the steering column plastic trim. The next time you notice the vibrations apply some pressure to the steering column. If the noise goes away, you have found the source of the noise. We have seen members apply foam to stop the noise. Often separating the trim and securing the existing screws will fix this problem.

Instrument Cluster

bmw noise from dash 1 3 5 6 7 x1 x3 x5 x7 series

Shifter Bazel  Trim

bmw f20 x5 e39 e93 e46 e60 rattle

The plastic trim in the center console or the trim around the shifter lever may get loose over time causing rattle and strange noises. 

How to fix BMW rattle noises

If the rattle noise is caused by the trim pieces opening the trim and applying double sided tape will often fix the problem. 

If the noise is coming from the steering column and dash, a quick and dirty method is to place a foam between the steering column and the dash. This is not the perfect solution, but it does work. 

If the noise is coming from the steering wheel buttons, you will need to remove the buttons and replace or fix them. Follow the guide in the next section to learn how to fix this BMW rattle.

DIY Fix for steering wheel buttons

Here is a DIY fix that we performed to fix the steering wheel noise without having to replace the buttons.

Instructions

  1. Disconnect BMW battery. bmw rattle on startup

     

  2. Remove the airbag. Follow this guide on how to remove BMW airbag.bmw rattle when pulling away
  3. Remove the metal frame that holds BMW steering wheel buttons. Use a Torx 25 bit to remove the four bolts. bmw rattle at idle

     

  4. Remove the steering wheel buttons. Thre are three screws that need to be removed from each steering wheel button set.
  5. Use a hot air gun to heat up the steering wheel buttons. Only heat the buttons slightly. Do not allow the buttons to melt and start deforming on their own. Once the button is somewhat warm press it at the center to shrink the button slightly. The button only needs to be made slightly smaller at the pivot point. The change should be barely noticeable to your naked eye. 
  6. Reinstall BMW steering wheel button