How BMW's Soft Close Doors Work

The 2023 BMW 7 Series 11 photos
Photo: BMW
Let’s be honest about it: seeing someone slamming the doors of your car is not only annoying and frustrating, but also a big no-no in the long term because it could eventually cause all kinds of problems. Including the doors no longer shutting properly, that is.
Fortunately, the tech revolution is helping ease the pain of drivers who can’t sleep at night because their significant other has made it a habit to close doors very forcefully. And the number of ideas on this front is rapidly gaining traction.

Such an example is the so-called BMW Soft Close system. It comes with a pretty self-explanatory name, so it’s not hard to figure out what it does. In other words, if you don’t want to see your vehicle doors getting slammed, this tech ensures a gentler manner to handle the process of door closing.

The idea behind this feature is pretty simple: why would anyone close the doors really hard when the vehicle itself can do the whole thing for them? It all comes down to a rather simple approach: simply push any of the four doors lightly, and the system will automatically handle the process, all without any unpleasant noise. On paper, BMW’s promises sound amazing.

BMW i7
Photo: BMW

How the system works

The system is based on a rather simple approach that relies on a magic sensor making the gentle touch possible. Every time you shut the door, if you're not doing it hard enough to close it properly, the sensor detects it. For example, it's pre-configured to detect the door when it's halfway there, which is approximately 6 mm from 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 purpose of pulling the door firmly, generating a noise that can hardly be noticed but which is much more relaxing than the sound of slamming doors. Obviously, all door locks are brought to the original position, so eventually, you can open the door any time you want. Manually, that is, as the world of technology doesn’t yet help on this front.

There's something, however, that everybody interested in the Soft Close system will be happy to hear. If you push a door hard enough (so you’re doing it forcefully), the Soft Close system still steps in, this time trying to make sure it was closed properly.

At the end of the day, everything relies on a rather simple design. And given its benefits, it’s really no surprise that 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, is priced at less than 1,000 euros (roughly $1,000). Without installation costs, that is, but there’s plenty of information out there on the WWW to help you in this regard.

BMW i7
Photo: BMW

The pros

The first time the BMW Soft Close system was used on a production model was in 2007 on the 7 Series. As a rather innovative idea, making its way to the 7 Series made perfect sense, especially given in 2007, this was the top-of-the-range model in BMW’s lineup. In so many ways, it was considered a feature more appropriate for luxurious cars where buyers are ready to spend big just to get all the bells and whistles.

As far as the benefits of such a piece of tech go, just imagine you have kids who don’t have the ability to properly close a heavy car door. Thanks to Soft Close, all they need to do is simply push the door, and the system then takes care of the rest. That's also pretty helpful in case you have a dog, for example, as you can let it get inside the car, and then simply push the door without worrying whether or not it closed properly.

And last but not least, such a system reduces wear and tear that could appear due to the hard closing of the door. And of course, let's not forget about the luxury touch that it adds to your car.

BMW i7
Photo: BMW

The cons

Believe it or not, not all drivers enjoy such a system. One of the main reasons is obviously the hefty price tag that it carries. BMW only sells Soft Close as part of a larger feature package (this obviously depends on the market), so the overall costs you’d have to cover are much higher than if you are paying for a single option. Going aftermarket is always a backup plan, but only if you don’t care about the warranty of the car.

In typical BMW fashion, this feature is only available as part of a larger options package that also includes some other goodies, such as the power tailgate.

Some drivers complain that their Soft Close feature stops working properly after a few years, so the electric motors may need to be replaced every once in a while. After all, they’re doing a lot of work, not only to close the doors, but also to check if everything is in order when you apply too much force.

Furthermore, there are people that claim their electric motors aren't quiet anymore, so the gentle door closing is slowly fading away. Others say they hear the motors working even after the doors closed completely due to a malfunction that causes more wear and tear in the long term.

Last but not least, once you try out the Soft Close doors, you can never go back to the old-school way of closing the doors of your car. While this shows just how innovative the system has been, it’s seen by many as a major drawback, especially when planning to change sides and buy a car from another manufacturer.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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