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The dashboard is a solid foam-and-vinyl panel, moulded to hold all the internal features and controls inside the E30. The dashboard is interchangeable on all models, although for obvious reasons LHD and RHD models are different.

If the vinyl on your dashboard is cracked, or you want to strip your interior, learn more about removing your dashboard.


Main article: Instruments

The instruments inside the cabin include the dash cluster, the on-board computer and the check panel.


As well as the instruments giving you info on your car, there's also lots of switches, levers and dials you can fiddle with to make things happen. The controls include:


Air flow around the cabin was distributed by plastic pipes, concealed behind the dashboard and under the carpet. These pipes could channel air to the front footwells, rear footwells, front door windows and the centre of the dashboard.


Main article: Heating


Main article: Aircon


Main article: Upholstery

The upholstered items of your E30 were chosen by the original purchaser, based on recommendations by the dealer. The selection affected the colour of the seats and door cards. Learn more about upholstery options.


Main article: Seats

The comfort point of the vehicle. All E30s (with the exception of the M3) were capable of seating 5 people, although the fifth passenger may be rather cramped, even in the Touring. The upholstery of the seats is one of the defining points of the interior, with seats available in cloth or leather in a number of colours.

While the types of upholstery did change year on year, the physical shape did not, meaning seats are compatible for each model before and after the facelift.

Each E30 is equipped with two front seats and a rear bench. All front seats are interchangeable, although 4-door and Touring seats do not feature the tilt mechanism of 2-door and Cabriolet seats. However, the rear bench is specific to each model.

Learn more about Seats.

Door Cards

Door cards were available in cloth, vinyl or leather. Door cars are as specific to the vehicle as the doors themselves; therefore they share the same compatibility.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to disassemble a door card. For that reason, repairing any damage to the upholstered section of a door card requires a full retrim of the card. If you need to take your door cards off, here's how.


E30 Carpet

All E30 carpets are a two-piece component. The main part extends from the bulkhead to the rear passenger footwells, and is identical across all models. Don't be conned by shady traders; there's no such thing as a "sport" carpet. The rear section sits vertically and tucks under the rear seat, and varies between model types. This accommodates the different seat cushion shapes across the model range.

Two materials were used for E30 carpets. M20-engine models, Cabriolets and Tourings have a velour-type material, which can be dyed if needed. The lower 4-cylinder models have a nylon hard-wearing carpet which cannot be dyed.


The underside of the roof is covered in a one-piece fabric known as the headlining. The headlining comprises of a stiff, formed board coated with a layer of foam, onto which the fabric is glued. The entire unit is held in place at various mounting points around the cabin, and requires the vast majority of the interior trim to be removed to gain access to it.

Headlining came in a variety of shapes to fit the Saloon and Touring models, incorporating cut-outs for the Roof#Sunroof and the sunroof mechanism (either electric or manual). While Saloon headlinings are interchangeable, the Touring headlining is specific to that model, for obvious reasons.

Sport models were equipped with a unique black headlining, which is considered one of the few parts by which a genuine Sport model can be identified. Considering how hard it is to swap over the roof lining, very few counterfeit models will have a black headlining fitted.

The aesthetic benefits of a black roof make the headlining an increasingly popular upgrade; as the original beige headlinings develop stains, tears and sags, more and more owners look towards fitting a new lining which won't show its age so readily, which is why black headlinings are increasing in value. However, we do NOT recommend the use of stains or dyes to treat your existing lining. If you want to refresh the look, have it reskinned with new material. Learn more about recovering the headlining.

Learn more about replacing the headlining.


Common Problems

Loose Seat Back

A loose seat back and/or seat recliner mechanism not locking in position is one of the most common seat-related problems on E30s; fortunately, there's an almost-guaranteed fix:

Remove the panel from the rear of the seat by undoing the two screws at the base. Locate the large cross-head screw near the bottom of each side of the frame upright section. If the seat back is wobbly it is almost certain that these screws have worked loose.

Use a large philips screwdriver which is a good fit in the head of the screw to tighten these right up ( a small screwdriver won't do it and they'll work loose again.) Then refit rear panel.

Backrest Not Locking

If the backrest refuses to lock into place:

Remove the seat from the car by undoing the two bolts from the back end of seat rails and 2 x nuts from the front.

Remove the plastic cover from the pivot point where the handle is ( requires a large flat bladed screwdriver in order to avoid damaging the plastic screw ), which will expose the lever mechanism.

Spray WD40 liberally into the lever pivot/mechanism and work the seat backrest forward and backward to ensure the lubricant can get into where it needs to.

Repeat for the pivot point on the other side of the seat.

Replace covers and refit seat into car.

Wet Footwell

A very common complaint. If you're lucky, the fault can be traced to the heating system, where its most likely caused by a leaking heater valve. In more serious cases, the heater matrix itself is damaged, and this usually shows up as coolant in both footwells rather than just the passenger side.

Of course, you need to determine that this is coolant; to do so, taste it. Coolant has a very sweet taste that is immediately identifiable. If it's not coolant, you've got water coming in from outside, and that can either be the rubber grommet where the Loom enters the cabin through the bulkhead, a blocked "elephant's trunk" in the engine bay or the worst scenario... Rust.

To check, pour a measured amount of fluid into the plastic grilles on the scuttle, and watch for fresh drips into the footwells. If you get them, you're going to have to remove the glovebox to investigate further, but be prepared for the dreaded tin-worm.

Another common cause of wet footwells is a leaking clutch cylinder. This hydraulic pump drives your clutch, and when its seals fail it will dump its fluid into your carpet. You'll get a corresponding softness in clutch feel, and may find it hard to shift gears. If this is the case, you need to change both your master and slave cylinders as a pair. Learn how to replace the clutch cylinders.