03-21-2012, 08:21 PM
Join Date: Aug 2009
Mein Auto: Certified Garage Princess
Keeping Your 3 Series Origami Top in Tip Top Shape
A special thanks to fun2drive for his huge contribution
Okay folks, you asked for it, here it is. In response to everyone who has asked for a Sticky on how to maintain the seals and keep the moving parts of the convertible hardtop lubricated, fun2drive and I have put our heads together and assembled a DIY. Much of this is based on experience, but we have also tried to get as much input as possible from dealership service techs and the photo documentation included is the direct result of my E93 having just been in for a full dealership hardtop lubrication and adjustment.
We welcome contributions of tips and tricks picked up along the way. As always, comments and questions are great. The intent is to have a one-stop resource for people looking for information on keeping the folding hardtop well maintained and problem free.
Probably one of the greatest concerns of any E93 owner is how to keep their folding hardtop free of creaks, squeaks, wind noise and heaven forbid water leaks. If you own one, you are at least marginally aware that there are literally hundreds of parts in the form of seals, hinges, locks, hydraulics, and microswitches that must all work in perfect harmony to deliver the 22 seconds to nirvana top down experience. So, how to keep things running smoothly:
Keep the rubber seals lubricated and moisturized.
Secondly, but equally important is to keep the moving joints well lubricated and dust free.
Listen to your top. For those who acquired their E93s new, think back to what the top sounded like when the car was brand new. If you acquired your car second hand, go to your local dealership and ask them if you can observe (that is listen) to the top of a brand new E93. It should be silky smooth with no squeaks, no jolts and no stickiness.
So, here are some tips and tricks to keeping your top in great shape.
There are two products routinely discussed when this topic comes up.
Gummi Pflege (which in German, literally translates to "Rubber Care") made by Einzett.
Krytox - specifically the GPL205 Grease made by Dupont. This is expensive stuff, but well worth every penny.
A couple of words about products to use on rubber seals: Silicon is a natural enemy of rubber. It makes rubber swell and fracture. Whether your tires or your door seals do your car a favor, spend the few extra dollars to get good products.
Rubber Seal Lubrication:
The rubber seals on your top are very similar to your skin. They need moisture and protection or they will dry out and eventually crack. At the very least they will shrink with dehydration, or prematurely break down due to UV damage.
Gummi Pflege: The applicator is a little bulky. I found the on board applicator to be overkill for the narrow strips of rubber that make up the E93 lateral top seals (those rubber seals running from driver to passenger side).
As an alternative, I use "foam lollipops" available from either Autogeek or Detailed Image. I moisten the lollipop with the Gummi Pflege then run it along the length of the seal including the grooved area. I follow with a microfiber wrapped sponge to help spread the Gummi evenly and mop up any puddles.
This is best applied using your fingers and a little really does go along way. The best description I can use here is watch your wife or girlfriend the next time she applies lip balm or lip gloss. She will take a little tiny bit on the tip of her finger and smooth it all the way over her lips. Same thing applies here. It takes just a little bit to be smoothed the length of the seal.
You need to keep going over the area until you have a uniform thin coating over the entire seal area.
If you live in a cold area of the country and are trying to do this at temperatures below 60F, take a terry face cloth and get it wet with hot water. Wring it out then wrap it around the syringe applicator and let it sit for a few minutes. This will gently warm the Krytox and make it easier to apply. Alternatively, if it is in the tube, let it sit in a coffee mug of hot water for a few minutes to SOFTEN it.
DON'T stick it in the microwave. If you liquefy it, you may alter its properties.
So now that you know what to use and how to apply it, where does it go? For the seals that is pretty easy. If it's black and rubbery (soft and slightly squishy) and it's on either the front or rear edge of one of the top panels or it is between the front and rear passenger windows it is fair game. Pictures do a far better job of explaining it so here they are. Don't forget to use a little Krytox along the area where the side view mirrors mate with the A pillar.
A quick word about the tensioning cords. While these are not something that can be lubricated or treated per se, it is of value to inspect them for wear. It seems that around MY 2011, the cords were upgraded to a more robust version as earlier cars exhibited fraying of these cords. My 2009 had the cords replaced under warranty in August 2011.
This is what the frayed cords look like and the points where they are the most visible.
The replaced cords are not as silky looking and are holding up much better.
Now for the hinges, locks, pins and slides: fun2drive is going to explain about lubricants and application techniques. We had a fortuitous photo op in that my E93's top had developed a nasty little squeak and a bit of a catch or sticky spot when being returned to closed from the stowed (top open) position. It went to the dealership for a full lubrication. The photos were taken the day after the service visit, so we have a pretty clear understanding of the lube points as specified by BMW.
If your sport doesn't put blood, dirt or grease under your fingernails,
then it's just a game.
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Last edited by Nordic_Kat; 03-22-2012 at 11:56 AM.