HOW TO INSTALL E36 SIDE SKIRTS
Updated: Jul 20, 2022
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.
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
Small ruler (6” scale”)
10mm or 23/64 drill bit (green grommets)
6mm or 1/4” drill bit (black rivets)
Primer spray paint
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
If you would like to purchase the E36 Side Skirt Hardware kit, click the link below: