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E36 M3 (1995-1999)

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Old 01-09-2012, 04:00 AM
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Location: TN
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 9
Mein Auto: 1998 M3
Red face Hard tops vs soft tops which have more top issues?

What have been the major changes to the electrical operations of the BMW convertibles tops since 1998 until 2012? Is anyone still having sensor, reset or electrical problems out there? With all the technology today and the money you pay for high tag vehicles there should be minimal issues, other than routine.
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Old 01-09-2012, 05:45 PM
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fun2drive fun2drive is offline
BMWCCA 149159
Location: Panhandle of Florida
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 2,847
Mein Auto: 335 vert/14JGC/ 17Outback
Retractable hardtops have been around in the SLK since 98 and they work extremely well. I own a 280K mile M3 98 vert and frankly it functions just as well as my E93 does. However the problem that usually causes issues with E36/46 is the top itself. When is gets worn the material stretches, the tension straps also stretch and just plain wear out. The E93 has interior headliner with strings as well and some have already replaced their strings to keep the top operating correctly.
There is not much real new technology and the reason the hardtops that retract work well is that the hardtop itself is not prone to wear out. It will eventually wear out bushings and bearing but that will be a while.
If you keep your top, headliner and tension straps in good working order you will most likely not incur any issues. I have owned E30, multiple E36 tops and none including the 280K mile top have had issues.
Once the top get jacked up too many people have no clue what to do or how to fix the top. That and most technicians are not trained to work on these tops nor are many upholstery shops. That means many times a simple problem turns into a total mess when individuals experiment...
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