How BMW's Soft Close Doors Work
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But you don't have to worry about that anymore. Because technology evolves so fast nowadays that new and innovative systems see daylight every day to make our lives easier.
Such an example is the so-called BMW Soft Close system. As you may find out just by reading its name, it's a technology aimed at those who don't want to see their car doors slammed, providing a much more gentle manner to address the process of door closing.
The idea behind this feature is pretty simple: why close the doors real hard when the car can take that of this for you? Simply close any of the four doors lightly and the system will automatically take it over, without any unpleasant noise, as BMW promises.
HOW IT WORKS
It's not rocket science and just like in many cases, it's a sensor that makes the whole thing possible. Whenever you closing the door, if you're not doing it hard enough to close it just like a normal door, the sensor detects it. For example, it's designed to detect the door when it's halfway there, which is at approximately 6 mm of the lock.
The sensor detects your attempt to close the door and once the latch catches the handle, an electric motor is turned on (an electric motor is installed for every single door, plus for the trunk if it's remotely controlled). The electric motor has the sole task to pull the door firmly, with a noise that can be barely noticed. Obviously, all door locks are brought to the original position, BMW says, which means that you can always open the door at any moment. Manually, that is.
There's something however that really needs to be mentioned. If you're pushing the door hard enough to close just like a regular one, the Soft Close system still works. But only to check whether the door was properly closed.
As you can see, it's all just a pretty simple system, so that's why owners of older BMWs try to install it on their cars. It doesn't cost too much and a simple search on Google reveals that the whole package, including the sensor and the four electric motors are priced at less than 1,000 euros. Obviously without installation costs, but there are plenty of forums online to provide assistance.
Short clip showing the Soft Close doors in action. Notice the gentle push of the driver.
BMW's Soft Close was initially installed on the 2002 7 Series, which seems just about right given the fact that this particular model is one of the most expensive model in the entire lineup. It was regarded like a feature more appropriate for luxurious cars that need to impress their rich buyers to the fullest.
There are several “pro” things for such a system and the most obvious one is that the door is automatically closed, which means that you don't have to repeatedly open and close the door to make sure it's properly shut.
Last but not least, such a system reduces wear and tear that could appear due to the hard closing of the door. Oh, and let's not forget about the luxury touch that it adds to your car. Such a simple way to impress your friends!
Believe it or not, not all drivers enjoy such a system. One of the main reasons? The price. BMW only sells Soft Close as part of a larger feature package (this obviously depends on the market), so the overall costs are much higher than the price of this particular system. Aftermarket? Not a good idea, you may lose your warranty.
This is how the Soft Close system works on a BMW 5 Series. In typical BMW fashion, this feature is only available as part of a larger optional package that also includes some other goodies, such as the power tailgate.
In addition, some drivers complain that their Soft Close feature isn't working anymore, so the electric motors need to be replaced every once in a while. They do a lot of work, especially because they also check if the door is closed properly when you push it hard enough to close completely.
There are people that claim that their electric motors aren't silent at all and produce a very unpleasant noise. Others report that the system works even when the door is completely open.
Last but not least, try driving a car that doesn't have Soft Close after a few months spent behind the wheel of a car that does have it. How many times did you have to open and close the door again? And how hard did you do it?
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comments written so far
On 31 August 2012 at 06:24 UTC, Eric Richardson said:
You've mentioned all of this, but not said if it stops a door being slammed, which was the opening of the piece. Does it have a damper to it, or does it just check if the door is closed after a good slam?
On 29 January 2013 at 11:15 UTC, Karen Hoveland said:
I had a disaster with the soft close door on my 550I. I accidently had my thumb in the wrong spot on the door and the automatic motor closed the door on my thumb before I could get it out of the way. My thumb was crushed in the door. This is a very dangerous convenience. I will never opt for it again. If this can happen to me, it's even more dangerous for a small child.
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