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E36 (1991 - 1999)
The E36 chassis 3-Series BMW was a huge hit among driving enthusiasts from the first moment the car hit the pavement. The E36 won numerous awards over the years it was produced and is still a favorite of many BMW enthusiasts to this day! -- View the E36 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 03-24-2011, 07:39 PM
fastfranksie fastfranksie is offline
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Mein Auto: 1996 BMW 328iC
Unhappy Convertible top problemsss

OK, this is going to require some expert advice.

The story, bought a '96 328 convertible and the top did not work period, after many many hours of trying different things and eliminating possibilities it all came down to a very badly corroded power splicer underneath the carpet just in front of the driver seat. Yay! it all worked beautifully... twice.

On the third time the top began its closing sequence but the tonneau cover did not open, could hear the driver and passenger windows attempting to lower (they were already down). Then decided to reset top by disengaging motors and going through sync sequence. The top was manually lowered to do this. The re-sync worked.. sort of, the tonneau cover went up but the soft top did not move.

Here's where I'm at: with top up won't go down at all, with top down only tonneau cover will open. I have a sneaking suspicion there might be something wrong with the window regulator bushings which might affect the computer sensing the windows are fully down. Anyone with any ideas? I can also try and help with anyone's top problems because I literally tried everything so I learned a lot about E36 convertible tops lol
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  #2  
Old 03-24-2011, 08:12 PM
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dc_wright dc_wright is offline
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When you say windows fully down, do you mean the 6" or so they are supposed to lower or do you mean fully down?
If your windows have been going all the way down, that might be a clue......
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  #3  
Old 03-24-2011, 08:23 PM
fastfranksie fastfranksie is offline
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I put them all the way down before I attempted to lower the top. I have yet to try and lower the top with the windows up. When you push the button to lower the top are the windows supposed to automatically lower?
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  #4  
Old 03-24-2011, 08:55 PM
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fun2drive fun2drive is offline
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Yes lower partially but not all the way down.
The fact that your top did work means that most likely a tired motor for the top or maybe just a micro switch not quite making contact which is much more likely.
If you cannot solve this issue you will find that your top is fully diagnostic and someone with Carsoft v 8.2 or other high end OBDII code reader that reads more than just engine codes will help point you to the problem.
If you cannot find the micro switch that might be causing the problem go visit bimmerforums.com under E36 sub section convertible sub-sub section. There is a 101 issues sticky which has the micro switches.
I am betting your tonneau cover microswitch on the pass side under the latch is your issue. Might just be slightly out of adjustment. You might have a friend push down on that side of the tonneau cover and see if you try to raise he top if it will open.
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  #5  
Old 04-02-2011, 05:56 PM
fastfranksie fastfranksie is offline
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Update: Went through and checked following micro switches, and by check I mean using a multimeter to make sure they are opening and closing properly. S1, S2, S4, S6. Did not check any switches pertaining to tonneau because it is working like a charm. Witnessed top motor rotate (whiled closed in trunk) so it works. The only time it does this is when the tonneau cover is raised (using switch) then raising top manually then trying to lower tonneau cover back down using switch, can't figure out why this is the only time the top motor works. Have carsoft V 6.5 and it says the CVM is not responding. Would V 8.5 work better? Also where could I purchase V 8.5? Almost considering taking to dealer hoping they can figure it out but of course would love to avoid this.
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  #6  
Old 04-04-2011, 08:58 AM
Richard D V S Richard D V S is offline
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I have a 1994 325i which works beautifully, except the soft top. How do you lower and raise it manually? I found the lever under the driver side passenger bench, but that is as far as I got. Please help.
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  #7  
Old 04-04-2011, 05:11 PM
fastfranksie fastfranksie is offline
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Well that's a good start, what the lever does is disengage the top and tonneau cover motor so now it is possible to lower the top manually. What you do is disconnect the top from the windshield push it up slightly then pull up the rear windshield until you have enough room to raise the tonneau cover then just lower the top into the storage area. At this point you should not drive with the top down because the wind could catch the tonneau cover and blow it open, so you need to either have a friend or put a weight on the tonneau cover and re-engage the tonneau cover motor so it is locked in place. Several things to keep in mind in this process, you will need to pull back some of the trunk liner on the drivers side so you can access the motors. Also in order to re-engage the motor all you need to do is pull it towards you until it pops into place, this may take some effort if the motor disengages farther than it should, mine is like this. In order to put the top back up you will need to disengage the tonneau cover motor again. You don't have to only use the lever to disengage the motor you can actually just push it yourself using the lever that is connected to the cable. Here is a video so you can see where things are located but you don't need to re-engage the top motor since you are not trying to re-sync. Good luck and feel free to ask any more questions.

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  #8  
Old 04-06-2011, 08:56 AM
Richard D V S Richard D V S is offline
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Thumbs up Soft Top Manual Operation

Excellent demo. Would be better if the camera person was on the other side so we could see the car and what you are doing instead of your back. But the message was there and the job got done.
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  #9  
Old 04-07-2011, 04:56 PM
john kaminski john kaminski is offline
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You can simply wire the tonneau cover motor to operate with a two position momentary contact switch. That way you can easily open the cover and manually raise and lower the top itself. By having the tonneau powered it will lock closed as it should. I unpluged the wiring harness to the tonneau cover and ran a power wire directly from the battery to the motor and then wired up the switch which I placed in the center council so I could reach it as I moved the top up or down. I did a detailed post on this maybe 18 months or so ago. The top works manually so easy that it wasn't worth the hassel to try to keep it operating by power.

Cheap Trick
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  #10  
Old 04-07-2011, 05:18 PM
john kaminski john kaminski is offline
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Where to find details

To find my detailed post type in the search this forum box - "semi auto top work around". Hope this will be of some use. My work around has been workng flawlessly all this time.

Cheap Trick
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  #11  
Old 03-02-2012, 01:59 AM
Tafftheskin1969 Tafftheskin1969 is offline
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Can anyone help me. Top box open and motors disegaged but soft top will not fully open manually. It sticks about 8-10 inches from the windscreen and it appears that the arms are locking. Please help
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  #12  
Old 03-02-2012, 06:32 AM
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jonesin jonesin is offline
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Here's from our local 'Vert guru:

Quote:
Originally Posted by petriej View Post
In the 97 there are three motors.

1 for the tonneau cover
1 for the folding of the top
1 for the latch that connects the top to the windshield


Anyway, from your description, it sounds like you may have bent one of your rods in the top and it is interfering with the motion of the top. Or, there's a loose fastener for one of those bad boys and it is causing it to bind. With the two motors in the truck disengaged, you should be able to fully operate the top manually. This would require manually turning the front most motor, but that doesn't sound like a problem for you, so you can disregard that for now. Take a look at some of the diagrams on realoem and the 3 really important convertible top documents (pdfs) that are floating around and you'll probably be able to pin point the problem.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dc_wright View Post
If you've got both motors (top and top compartment lid) disengaged and it still won't manually fold down or come up to where you can close it you've got a bind in the mechanics of the frame or the top drive. Double check to ensure the top motor is completely disengaged, then next place I'd look is the two drive rods in the top compartment storage well on the drivers side. Sometimes one of them will get bent and if that happens it limits the travel range of the top.........

I truly don't know this issue myself, I can only parrot others wisdom.

Good luck,

Ed.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf BMW-E36-Resetting-Convertible-Roof-Instructions.pdf (43.7 KB, 347 views)
File Type: pdf E36 Convertible Adjust.pdf (878.8 KB, 341 views)
File Type: pdf resettingconvertibletop.pdf (177.0 KB, 273 views)
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  #13  
Old 03-02-2012, 11:16 AM
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petriej petriej is offline
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dc_wright is the guru!

I just know where the documents are
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Quote:
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Jared, why don't you just put "It's Giubo" in your sig? Save a lot of typing.
Quote:
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this jared guy sounds intimidating lol.
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  #14  
Old 03-02-2012, 11:36 AM
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dc_wright dc_wright is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tafftheskin1969 View Post
Can anyone help me. Top box open and motors disegaged but soft top will not fully open manually. It sticks about 8-10 inches from the windscreen and it appears that the arms are locking. Please help
When you are trying to open the top manually you need to lift up on the front and at the same time lift the rear most part up to vertical. This releases the tension in the top frame. Then you should be able to lift the storage compartment cover up and guide the top into the storage area. If you've tried this and the top still seems stuck, post again and we'll look at next steps.
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  #15  
Old 03-02-2012, 11:40 AM
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dc_wright dc_wright is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by petriej View Post
dc_wright is the guru!

I just know where the documents are
There are no bimmer vert top gurus, just those of us that have bungled our way through to fixing the myriad problems that can crop up.
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  #16  
Old 03-02-2012, 07:14 PM
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jonesin jonesin is offline
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Maybe so, but since the only E36 'Vert I've seen in person (with a soft top at least) was Franklyn's Vanessa many years ago...
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I grew up in a time when the internet was just a baby. Grammar back then versus now... holy cow. You could watch the degradation of society as the internet became more mature.

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  #17  
Old 09-22-2012, 12:57 PM
fatbrutus13 fatbrutus13 is offline
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Dude outstanding instructions. Its great when someone knows what they are doing & can communicate it well. Thanks helped me tremendously!
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