Yet another E39 BMW front cupholders replacement thread by bluebee

By diyauto
( 2 )

22 minute read

Yet another E39 BMW front cupholders replacement thread

Compliments of bluebee @


One by one, I'm fixing the minor flaws in my (new to me) 2002 BMW E39 525i. Saving the least for last, it's time to fix the two broken front cupholders.

I'll try to post step-by-step photos, although I see a BMW cupholder R&R DIY already exists at

And, a total workaround to the cupholder frailty exists at

However, I'm wired to start from the beginning; so, I may as well add to the wealth of knowledge for BMW E39 cupholder repairs, specifically with part numbers, and a step-by-step R&R procedure that I hope to post to this thread once I buy the parts.

I'm pretty sure the part is "Front Cup Holder" part no. 51168190205, and a quantity of 1 would get me both cupholders, right?



I refuse to do them without one hand behind my back, a full face blindfold

Oooooh. Kinky! I'm not that adventurous to break out the purple fur-lined handcuffs and the soft silky leather blindfold from my toybag (given I'm so timid, you can probably guess what my nickname is) ... but I do know about realoem and I did go to them first (see below). Note they call the BMW E39 P/N a "cupholder" (not a canholder).

I can get 'em for fifty bucks at

The thing this family of owners is good for is enabling MORE information than the obvious (to a bound and blindfolded repairperson anyway). For example, I was hoping we'd get a look at AUF 0017969 and EBA 9789813.

Does anyone have the Einbauanleitung "Options Installation Manual" or the AUF TIS handy? I'd be interested in what's in them referenced in the realoem photo below ... 


I think the round thing in the pic is an ashtray insert for cigars

hmmm. Might be a cigar ashtray but I wouldn't know what one looks like. Maybe someone who has one can tell us what they use it for.

BTW, I returned to California after a trip to Munchen and ordered the parts which should arrive this week I hope. Here to benefit others is the inevitable pricing survey, shipped and taxed.

Fremont BMW 866-561-1968 51168190205 $56.68 + 8.25% tax

Bavauto BMW 800-535-2002 51168190205 $39.95 + $11.95 shipping

Pelican BMW 888-280-7799 51168190205 $45.75 + 8.25% tax

Circle BMW 732-440-1238 51168190205 $41.21 + $9.00 shipping

AllEuro BMW 866-286-2051 51168190205 $44.00 (no shipping, no tax)


Where do the E39 boys go to get the online EBA options information?

OK, in an attempt to improve our general knowledge about this issue, I found a decent BMW Einbauanleitung (i.e., a guide for retrofitting various options for bimmers) thread at

Unfortunately, trying to access the BMW Einbauanleitung using the WinXP Remote Desktop Connection failed me.

WinXP: Start->Run->mstsc (, login=bmw, password=, log-on-to=NTS)

But, digging a bit more in an attempt to advance our knowledge of even things so simple as a BMW E39 cupholder, I found this site was active

So, guessing the computer/login/password gets me:

WinXP: Start->Run->mstsc (, login=bmw, password=, log-on-to=NTS)

But, unfortunately, this almost worked, but, apparently the password has changed.

Where do you boys get your online BMW E39 EBA options information anyway?


Two philips screws hold the front cupholders in place

Woo hoo! The BMW E39 broken cupholder replacements arrived ... 

Hint: From the outside, you can only see where the two screws mount, one in each side, when you flip the arms out at 45 degrees!

Note: This is the only picture I know of on all of Bimmerfest which shows the holes clearly.

BMW E39 front cupholder views (P/N 51168190205)

The BMW E39 cupholder mount points and weak points are ...


You're still nuts if you actually use these cupholders

Understood! But, they hold a mango perfectly!

BTW. the reason for the multiple-view pics is that I read all the threads on cupholders and I found that to be the one detail lacking in almost all, if not all of them. They clearly stated, for example, where the screw holes were, but they never clearly showed where they were. Likewise with the weak points on the arms and the overall shape and mechanics of the cupholder. For example, I don't know of any threads which actually showed the screws! I plan on rectifying that when I get back from my trip to Sao Paulo this weekend!


Does anyone grease their cupholders periodically?


Originally Posted by RiDE 
Mmmmm... mangos.

Yummy! My kitchen is where I work and it always has some kind of fresh fruit readily available to prop up components!

BTW, I noticed a dab of grease on each of the brand new cupholder mechanisms; is that something that we're supposed to grease periodically as part of normal cupholder maintenance?


The only way the E39 cupholder is coming out is in pieces!


Originally Posted by uncle ken
Know that the old one will break when you remove it.

Wow. You're omnipotent! Nobody else mentioned this but there was just no way to get the old cupholder out without destroying it and breaking it into multiple pieces.

Be advised: This is a ONE-WAY-ONLY installation! The only way the E39 cupholder is coming out is in pieces!


Removing the BMW E39 cupholders destroys them

Originally Posted by Ben Carufel 
when removing the cupholders on an E39 ... automatically order a replacement ... knowing that the ones in there were going to be destroyed upon removal.

You're not kidding ... here is what the old and new BMW E39 front cupholders looked before and after removal ... 

I should have magnetized the screwdriver!

Warning to the next person who replaces their BMW E39 broken front cupholders!


I didn't and I lost the screw somewhere here inside the compartment (I wonder if anything bad will happen with that sharp screw floating around in there???)

Even with a magnet on a stick, I couldn't find the missing screw

Even with a newly bought magnet on a stick, I couldn't find the missing screw!

So be advised, magnetize your screwdriver BEFORE removing broken BMW E39 front cupholders.

BTW, do you think the screw inside that slot will do any damage?


Here is the only photo that I know of on bimmerfest which shows the two BMW E39 front cupholder screws in situ ... 


Originally Posted by psa 
wow...150.00 bucks....!!!

You can fix the cupholders for free.


Originally Posted by QSilver7 
Item #18 is a can holder adapter used for the Japanese market. The BMW part # is 51 16 8 218 787

Hi Q,

I'm constantly amazed at your ability to find the answers that others (like me) can't seem to find! 

I've been to Japan quite a few times and, yes, they do have thinner-diameter coke cans (I guess to go with those slim bodies of theirs).

I even have one in my garage somewhere (I remember packratting it during the recent move). If I can find it, I'll post a pic of it in my lame non-Nippon Germanic cupholders.

Thanks for resolving yet another BMW enigma!


Originally Posted by QSilver7 
if you find the [Japanese coca cola] can...please post it...I'd love to see what it looks like.

Hi QSilver7,

I love your added details always such as your many exquisite PDFs of the BMW reference material, so, I especially looked about today for you (while digging up tax records in the storage area) for that Japanese Coca Cola can.

Here it is!

The Japanese size definitely does NOT fit into the normal USA BMW cupholder as it is both slightly taller and much thinner than a normal USA soda can.

Thanks for solving the riddle! One more BMW enigma bites the dust! 


Originally Posted by Hooray! 
CRAZY Germans, I guess they dont want anybody drinking and driving in their cars.

Yet those crazy Germans assume all Americans smoke, even the kids on both sides in the back (ash trays everywhere!).

What were they thinking?


As a cross reference, other people have the same destruction problem removing the front cupholders. 

Also, check out the simple replacements style cupholder (note the different diameters).


For xref, you can replace the FRONT cupholders with a plate (but it has issues as noted in this 530i thread).


For cross reference, these clear plastic cupholders are interesting.


For the record, ranchoknight was able to remove the OEM front cupholders without destroying them, by removing the IKHA panel and pushing out from the inside (in addition to removing the two screws in front).

If anyone else attempts a front cupholder removal w/o destroying it, let us know how that tip works out.


Originally Posted by ElwoodBlues

Can't remember exactly how I did it, but I have safely removed and reinstalled my functioning cupholders before.

I think the "trick" to removing the cupholders intact is to also remove the IHKA/HVAC panel.

BTW, today cn90 gave a wonderful update to his DICE installation thread where he relocated the wires through the cupholder panel. Cn90 was able to remove the cupholders by pushing out the IHKA HVAC panel.


For cross reference, umnitza just posted today Ultimate Aluminum Cupholders for E39 ...

  • CAD Designed/CNC Machined T6061 aerospace quality aluminum

  • Heavy duty anodized flat black, blends in with center console

  • OE Fitment

  • Holds: Any standard US soda cans, plastic water bottles, paper coffee/tea cups, fast food paper cups not exceeding 2-5/8 OD

  • 100% Made In USA!!!

Not sure yet of the pricing but it seems to be an OEM fitment.

While ranchoknight was able to remove the OEM front cupholders without destroying them, "by removing the IKHA panel and pushing out from the inside (in addition to removing the two screws in front)" ... 

98540iA apparently removed his OEM front cupholders without breaking by "sliding a credit card over the top to allow the tabs that get stuck to slide out more smoothly. It was still in one piece".


For the record, this was posted today:


Today, a novel home-grown cupholder replacement strategy was suggested:


For the cross-linked record, yet another cupholder thread was opened today:

E39 (1997 - 2003) > Anybody tried these cupholders?


Originally Posted by sudermatt 
Seems like a nice elegant solution.

Wondered if anyone out there has tried it


For the cross-linked record, there is good related information here today:
E39 (1997 - 2003) > Why such a poor design for the cupholders?

Please read the suggested threads and add value, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person stands on your shoulders. 
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need


This thread today showed a novel cupholder delete option:

E39 (1997 - 2003) > Why such a poor design for the cupholders?


Originally Posted by Flug540 
Yup... the front ones were really designed as a placeholder for your boost gauge and such...


For the record, the E38 guys also have cupholder problems, similar to ours:


Yet another cupholder thread today ... 


Originally Posted by gradyj 
The rear cup holders are broken, I am looking for take them out and put in a rear "cubby", sort of speak. Only thing I could find is this:
I have a 2000, could i remove my current cup holders and slide that in? Anyone else flat out get rid of the rear cup holders? If so, could you link what you did. Thanks ahead

EDIT: See also:

- > E39 (1997 - 2003) > Cup Holder


For the crosslinked record, this was posted today:


Originally Posted by JDeGraff89 
Ok so this seemed super simple and straight forward until I actually did it. I used the screwdrive that came with my car to undo the two screws holding the can holder in place then opened them both fully and tried to pull it out... No luck it seemed to be stuck on something so I tried searching the forum. But on my phone the search funtion is lame and I can't control +f to search the best links rapidly. Anyway, I found that when you get the driver side screw out use your screw driver to gently pry the assembly by that one screw. It has to come out kinda sideways. And its also easiest with the car in neutral sence the selector gets in the way. Hope this helps someone along the way!


For the record, yet another cupholder thread posted today:


Originally Posted by Lacza 
Hi Guys!

Instead of opening a n+1 cupholder thread, I put my question here, as I didn't find yet answer on my problem:

I just received my brand new OEM cup holder which I'm going to instal -BUT- I didn't have a cupholder in my car originally. In the place where it should go there's only a blind without any screws or holes. I tried to remove it but looks it fits too tight. Is there anybody who knows how to remove this blind without damaging it or the central console?


That's a good question. Maybe snap a photo of the thing and post it, as someone may have modified it. 

See also the many threads on how to remove the dash trim:

- How to remove interior cockpit trim (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) & cracks in the wood panels (1) & in the plastic vents (1)

- Hualigan installation DIY with removal of MID, HVAC/IHKA, Business CD player (1), & dashboard trim (1

- How to remove the trim and bracket holding the MID & HVAC/IHKA panels (1) (2

- How to add an aux input auxiliary audio port for iPod/MP3 retrofit input to the BMW E39 (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)


Another good idea for a good looking E39 cupholder ... 

E39 (1997 - 2003) > Who wants a real cup holder?


There's a thread today on sourcing the cupholder speednuts:

E39 (1997 - 2003) > quick cupholder question


Originally Posted by ahsm 
hi where can i get those silver screw holders encircled in red? is there a part # also what kind of screw goes in there im missing these parts thanks

#3 07146988451 C-clip nut

#8 07119907939 Fillister head self-tapping screw ST4,2X13-Z2 


For cross reference, this was posted today ...

E39 (1997 - 2003) > Cup Holder Solution


Originally Posted by Jicafold 
After going through a drive thru a few times, especially with more than one person in the car, the need for adequate cup holders increases dramatically. We've all been there. After some thought here is what I came up with. Those plastic cupholders from your FLAPS come in a few different styles. I chose a small and large version from Oreilly's. I cut off the hook portion on the top of the cup holder and slid it up under the side of the center console and mounted with 2 screws. The small cup holder ($1.49) was placed on the drivers side so it did not take up too much space for the right knee/leg. The large cup holder ($1.69) was placed on the passenger side. Doesn't look too bad and they work great. 


A related question came up today ...

E39 (1997 - 2003) > e38 rear seat cup holder retro e39???


Originally Posted by mss1 
Why do e39's lack cup holders?Attachment 510201Attachment 510202


For cross reference, this was posted today...

E39 (1997 - 2003) > Any place to still buy Tec cup holders?


Originally Posted by E39Unicorn 
Hi folks,

I've been using the forum for a bit but just created an account as I finally bought my 'unicorn', a Topaz Blue 2003 540 Msport with a 6 speed. I'm absolutely loving it so far except I'm afraid to use the stock cup-holders. I've decided I want to install the Tec cupholder mod but after contacting my local dealership I've found out they've been discontinued and NO dealership in the country has any. I've tried ebay, craigslist, and multiple google searches trying to track down somewhere that still has them but have had no luck. Does anyone know a shop that still carries them (or even someone selling a used one)? Any help is greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance,