• Justin Schaub

HOW TO INSTALL E36 SIDE SKIRTS

Updated: Jul 20

Adding side skirts to your E36 is a great way to improve the aesthetics of the vehicle. The E36 came with solid rockers and BMW offered slip over side skirts in a couple different variations. The most common are sport or lux side skirts which came on most 328i’s and M3 luxury package models. The more sought after “twist” side skirts came on sport package E36 M3s or they were special ordered. Either one you choose, they attach the same way.


Types of E36 Side Skirts
Types of E36 Side Skirts

In the past, BMW had installation tools that made this job a breeze, but since then the paper rulers are no longer available. Because of this, we receive many questions on how to install the side skirts without the specific measurements, what tools are needed, and how difficult is the process. Luckily, our E36 Touring project was in need of some side skirts, so we decided to document the process and take the specific measurements for you. This task is not very hard, but will require some basic hand tools, the ability to use a tape measure, and some patience, so let’s jump into it

Tools Needed:

  • Tape measure

  • Sharpie marker

  • Small ruler (6” scale”)

  • Hole punch

  • Drill

  • 10mm or 23/64 drill bit (green grommets)

  • 6mm or 1/4” drill bit (black rivets)

  • Deburr tool

  • Primer spray paint

  • Small hammer

Tools needed to install E36 side skirts
Tools needed to install E36 side skirts

In addition the above tools, you will need the E36 side skirt hardware kit that we sell. This includes:

  • 24 white clips

  • 24 green grommets

  • 14 big push rivets

  • 4 small push rivets

You can find the link to the hardware kit at the bottom of this blog.


Let’s get started.

The E36 side skirts will fit all sedans, coupes, convertibles, tourings and even the ti.


1. Measuring for the mounting clips

If you turn the side skirt over you will see a rib and two vertical hash marks exactly where the white clip goes into.


Vertical tabs where the white e36 side skirt clips go
Vertical tabs where the white e36 side skirt clips go

You can measure these from the front of the side skirt all the way down for yourself, but we have recorded the measurements for you. These are the center points you will need to drill into the car to attach the white clip. (These measurements are in inches)

  1. 1 5/8

  2. 7 3/8

  3. 10 7/8

  4. 18 1/2

  5. 24 1/8

  6. 29 3/4

  7. 35 1/2

  8. 41

  9. 51 1/2

  10. 61 7/8

  11. 67 3/8

  12. 75 1/2


Measuring lengthwise for the E36 side skirt clips
Measuring lengthwise for the E36 side skirt clips

Now that we know where the holes are lengthwise we need to know how far down to drill vertically. The E36 has a body line between the door and where the rocker panel starts (see picture). From the bottom of this line, take your 6” scale and mark exactly a half inch (0.5”) down at each of the above locations . Once done, we are ready to drill.


E36 body line we need to measure down from
E36 body line we need to measure down from

Measure 1/2" down from this body line
Measure 1/2" down from this body line

2. Drilling holes for the clips.

Now that we have marked all 12 locations on each side it is time to start drilling. This can be the scariest part, as you are physically making holes in your car, but don’t worry, it is not the bad. Take a center hole punch at each of the locations you made and make a mark to make it easier for the drill bit to start and not slide around.


Use center punch to make sure the drill bit does not walk
Use center punch to make sure the drill bit does not walk

This is important as you do not want be off on the these locations or the side skirt will not mount correctly. After you center punch each location, it is best to step drill these holes. The final hole size will be 10mm or 23/64. Choose a drill bit smaller than this and drill all of the locations.

Use a smaller drill bit first and step up to final size
Use a smaller drill bit first and step up to final size

Once complete, use the final drill bit size and drill the holes again. After you drilled to the final size, take a deburr tool to all the holes to remove any sharp edges. Finally you will want to use a primer spray paint to spray the holes (bare metal) so they do not rust.


Final size of hole
Final size of hole

Use deburr tool to remove any sharp edges
Use deburr tool to remove any sharp edges

Use primer or rust protector paint to paint raw metal to prevent rust
Use primer or rust protector paint to paint raw metal to prevent rust

Painted raw metal of hole
Painted raw metal of hole

3. Installing green grommets and white clips

After the paint is dry, it is ready to install the included green grommets in the kit. Press the green grommet into the holes. They should be a little snug, so lightly tap them flush with a hammer. After this, we can start installing the white clips. If you look at the clip, there is a curve in the middle. Orient the clip so it looks like it has a frown face (see picture).

Correct orientation of the white clip
Correct orientation of the white clip

Push the white clip into the green grommet until snaps. Sometimes this can take some force. Install all the clips. The top of the clip should sit right below that body line we talked about earlier (see picture).

Installation of white E36 side skirt clips
Installation of white E36 side skirt clips

4. Installing the side skirt

Now comes the time we have all been waiting for. Place the side skirt against the car and work from the front to the back. It may be helpful to have two people to hold up the rear as you snap it in place. Start with the front clip and make sure inner rib of the side skirt goes into the top part of the white clip. You may have to push firmly, but try not to slap the side skirt with your fist. If the white clip is twisted or not perfectly lined up, you can easily break these white clips. They are not as robust as you think. Luckily they are easily replaceable if you do break one. Keep clipping the side skirt in all the way down until you get to the end. Once done, pat yourself on the back, take a break and have a cold one. The hardest part is over.

5. Drilling for the push rivets

This is by far the easiest part of the process, because we know the exact locations of the expandable plastic rivets as there are already holes in the side skirt. Each side will have 7 big push rivets on the bottom, and 2 small push rivets on the back vertical portion near the rear wheel. Push the side skirt flush against the car and use a 6mm or 1/4” drill bit and drill all 9 holes. Deburr and paint as before to prevent any rust.


Drilling for the bottom rivets
Drilling for the bottom rivets

6. Installing the push rivets

Once the holes are drilled simply install all 7 of the big push rivets on the bottom and the 2 small ones on the back ends.


Installing the plastic push rivets
Installing the plastic push rivets

Now stand back and look at your accomplishment! See, we told you it wasn’t that bad. You are completely done.

If you need to purchase the E36 side skirt hardware kit, please check out the link below.

Thank you!


If you would like to purchase the E36 Side Skirt Hardware kit, click the link below:

E36 Side Skirt Hardware Kit

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