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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 08-13-2012, 09:59 AM
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petriej petriej is offline
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Origami Problems: Keeping the E36 Cabrio top working

We see 1-2 new threads about the convertible top every week or so, so I thought I'd make a thread that we can sticky, with the attachments we always post to aid in every problem.

Anyway, here they are! With these files you can usually diagnose and repair most of the common convertible top problems. They usually fall into one of these categories:

Microswitch failure
Linkage failure
Tension bar failure

------------------------------------------------------

Is your rear window fogged out? Have a big hole in it? Stored it all winter with the hard top on it, and now the window is cracked?

Putting aside from my jealousy of your hard top, I can tell you what to do if you want to replace your rear window. We don't usually endorse people, but this source is pretty much the consensus around here. It comes with instructions, and the materials and tools you'll need to install a new window. Read this thread for more info.




More details to come.

I tossed in the E36 Manual as well just in case
Attached Files
File Type: pdf BMW-E36-Resetting-Convertible-Roof-Instructions.pdf (43.7 KB, 4452 views)
File Type: pdf resettingconvertibletop.pdf (177.0 KB, 1299 views)
File Type: pdf E36 Convertible Adjust.pdf (878.8 KB, 67607 views)
File Type: pdf e36manual.pdf (3.51 MB, 6715 views)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hornhospital View Post
Jared, why don't you just put "It's Giubo" in your sig? Save a lot of typing.
Quote:
Originally Posted by e36 miguel View Post
this jared guy sounds intimidating lol.
2005 X5 4.8is Le Mans/Black/6spd Steptragic
1999 M3 Cabrio TiAg Metallic/Dove Grey/Black 5 Speed Manual
-------------------------------------------------------------------
1997 328iC Schwarz II/K/K 5MT SOLD 5/2012
2004 645Ci Mineral Silver Metallic/Black 6MT RIP 04/2011

Last edited by petriej; 10-05-2012 at 01:55 PM.
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  #2  
Old 08-13-2012, 11:57 AM
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jonesin jonesin is offline
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'Bout time! 'Grats on the sticky Jared!
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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.

HAS KEN HAD HIS MEDS YET?
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  #3  
Old 08-13-2012, 06:07 PM
Der Hose Der Hose is offline
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I imagine that I will be using this thread alot in the coming two weeks.
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  #4  
Old 08-14-2012, 09:01 AM
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petriej petriej is offline
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Now I just need the other vert experts to chime in!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hornhospital View Post
Jared, why don't you just put "It's Giubo" in your sig? Save a lot of typing.
Quote:
Originally Posted by e36 miguel View Post
this jared guy sounds intimidating lol.
2005 X5 4.8is Le Mans/Black/6spd Steptragic
1999 M3 Cabrio TiAg Metallic/Dove Grey/Black 5 Speed Manual
-------------------------------------------------------------------
1997 328iC Schwarz II/K/K 5MT SOLD 5/2012
2004 645Ci Mineral Silver Metallic/Black 6MT RIP 04/2011
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  #5  
Old 08-18-2012, 10:50 AM
Der Hose Der Hose is offline
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I agree, this lid motor is a serious pain and searching the forums has yet to bring back any useful results.
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  #6  
Old 08-20-2012, 06:49 AM
bmw328alan bmw328alan is offline
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Mein Auto: 328i convertible
328i-1996 Can you disable automatic top and lock lid automatically?

Is there a way to jimmyrig the convertible so you can operate an automatic top manually while still being able to lock lid automatically? Plus can you lock lid manually?
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  #7  
Old 08-27-2012, 10:19 AM
Der Hose Der Hose is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw328alan View Post
Is there a way to jimmyrig the convertible so you can operate an automatic top manually while still being able to lock lid automatically? Plus can you lock lid manually?
I doubt it, the locks are controlled by the cables running to the lid motor. If the motor is in/opp the lever attached to the cables wont move. Not that I have been able see at least.
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  #8  
Old 09-01-2012, 09:01 PM
Rwc328iC Rwc328iC is offline
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Manual vert

I just posted a new thread on how to do this. First post so I may have sent it to the wrong place. I have a semi about top with the manual latch on the windshields.

Disengage the top motor by pulling the lever with the cable on it. This is the motor in front.

Then remove the toneau cover linkage which is a black bar about 6 in long on a crank arm on the toneau motor above the arm with the cables. You have to remove the clips from both ends and remove the link. Otherwise it will mess with the latch arm.

All done! To open the top push the top up button to release. The latch. Open manually. The toneau will not latch with the top up but that's ok the top holds it down. To lower the top, just operate in manually and hit the top down button to latch the toneau.

Much easier than I expected. Have fun
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  #9  
Old 09-03-2012, 01:38 PM
Organisedchoas Organisedchoas is offline
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I'm liking the sound of the one shot vert roof, holding the button down is so much hard work
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  #10  
Old 09-05-2012, 08:39 AM
Der Hose Der Hose is offline
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Ok, So I after a bit of digging and dicking around I found that the lid motor (behind the taillight) was jammed about halfway out with the splines partially stuck in the slot. I disconnected the motor, cleaned and reset it. Didn't see any problems with it as far as I could tell. everything moves properly and now it fits and releases as it should. Hooked everything back up. Tried the reset procedure....and nothing...
I am not hearing the lid seal (as I was told it should) no sounds no movements, nothing.

I went back and checked the fuses, they were all good. raised and lowered the top manually several times to make sure that it goes as it should and it did.

Not sure where to go next. I want to troubleshoot the micro-switches, but I'm not sure how to go about it. I have went through several manuals (including the one in the first post), they seem to only bring more frustration that solution. Any advice or suggestions?

1999 323ic with a Fully Auto Top
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  #11  
Old 09-20-2012, 10:27 PM
Rwc328iC Rwc328iC is offline
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You can jump the motor to verify if it works or not. Unplug the connector on the lid motor. The two larger wires are the motor and the smaller ones micro switches or sensors. I think they were red and brown.

I pulled the battery cover off and wired some reasonably heavy 12ga wire to it. Then I carefully touched the connector pins. If the motor moves its probably fine. However if you want to test the whole range you should disconnect the link to the top and observe the motor crank arms motion. Not a good idea to open the lid all the way with the trunk open as they hit each other. That's why they have the interlock between the top and trunk lock.

I ended up taking my "fix" one more step towards full manual because the computer eventually hung and the latches wouldn't engage any more. I spliced a wire on the input power leads to the control module and ran it to a double pole double throw momentary on -off - momentary on switch mounted on top of the tail light cover in the trunk. Wire it to the motor so that the polarity switches when thrown one way vs the other. Now I operate the latch using that switch. You do have to either disconnect or cut the wire to the trunk interlock switch on the right side cover latch too.

The control module is under the inside left panel behind the driver door. It slides off by grabbing the panel edges and pushing forward. Took more force than I really wanted to apply.but that's the trick. Goes back much easier. The connector on the bottom of the control module comes off by sliding the outside housing forward, not pulling down. The power was red and brown but you can check with a voltmeter. Look for the bigger wires. I stripped some of the insulation off and soldered my splice wires on. Be careful and do one at a time so you don't short them. Covered with tape. You could achieve the same thing with crimps. Do a good job. Then snake back ot the switch and motors. Use 12 ga wire not something too small.

I cut the motor wires from the connector leaving enough wire and connected the wire from my switch to them directly with enough wire left on the connector to reverse things if I changed my mind.

I disconnected both motor connectors, the interlock micro switch and the cover linkage so now only the cover latches work with the switch I installed. Real simple going forward but manual.

I have no idea how to make the roof latch at the windshield operate manually. There must be a way.

Good luck.
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  #12  
Old 10-03-2012, 12:53 PM
klixtokw klixtokw is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by petriej View Post
We see 1-2 new threads about the convertible top every week or so, so I thought I'd make a thread that we can sticky, with the attachments we always post to aid in every problem.

Anyway, here they are! With these files you can usually diagnose and repair most of the common convertible top problems. They usually fall into one of these categories:

Microswitch failure
Linkage failure
Tension bar failure


More details to come.

I tossed in the E36 Manual as well just in case
Great posting! You may want to add to the most common failures the hydraulic pump/motor unit, topping off the hydraulic fluid, leaks in the system, a weak battery or blow fuses and broken wires in the harness that runs inside the convertible top.
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  #13  
Old 10-03-2012, 01:25 PM
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petriej petriej is offline
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I'm trying to keep misinformation out of this thread. As far as I know, there are no hydraulic systems involved with the automatic or semiautomatic top for the E36 convertible.

The weak battery/blown fused/broken linkages, however are all important. Thanks!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hornhospital View Post
Jared, why don't you just put "It's Giubo" in your sig? Save a lot of typing.
Quote:
Originally Posted by e36 miguel View Post
this jared guy sounds intimidating lol.
2005 X5 4.8is Le Mans/Black/6spd Steptragic
1999 M3 Cabrio TiAg Metallic/Dove Grey/Black 5 Speed Manual
-------------------------------------------------------------------
1997 328iC Schwarz II/K/K 5MT SOLD 5/2012
2004 645Ci Mineral Silver Metallic/Black 6MT RIP 04/2011
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  #14  
Old 10-03-2012, 09:41 PM
klixtokw klixtokw is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by petriej View Post
I'm trying to keep misinformation out of this thread. As far as I know, there are no hydraulic systems involved with the automatic or semiautomatic top for the E36 convertible.

The weak battery/blown fused/broken linkages, however are all important. Thanks!
Petri,
you are totally correct. I'm sorry didn't mean to contaminate your thread but I was thinking of my problem with my E46 top that is hydraulic and electric. You are totally right the E36 is all electrical you lucky dogs. I wonder why they ever added this complicated hydraulic system that is so messy and expensive to repair. Just to mention the Hydraulic pump is $1025 and one of the hydraulic cylinder is $900. And I still have all the micro switches and some electric motors like you guys. The other thing is no mechanic wants to work on it or has the knowledge to do it.
but you are right the other items are common specially the broken wires not linkages.
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  #15  
Old 10-28-2012, 04:42 PM
john kaminski john kaminski is offline
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Manual Conversion

I also wired in a 2 pole switch but did it a bit differently. Took the power direct from the battery and located the switch in the center console. Disconnected the regular connector to the motor and plugged in the new positive and negative wires directly. in the motor. This way the interlock still works normally and to raise and lower the boot cover I just lean in and hit the switch in the console as I manually raise and lower the top standing at the side of the car.
I like having the trunk interlock so I don't hit the trunk lid on the boot cover as I once did - ouch.

However maybe my completely disconnecting the standard wire connector has caused an other problem as an earlier post mentioned this connector had wires from a micro switch. My hard top defroster would not work and the fuse kept blowing. I found that the micro switch that is supposed to cut the ground to the defroster blower was not doing it's job and even with the top down the blower would run and so with the hard top on both the blower and the defroster in the rear glass had power and bang there goes the fuse. A quick and dirty solution was top pull the rear seat back and unplug the blower motor connector. However I'm now thinking the micro switch may be ok but it is wired through the connector to the boot motor. Anyone have an idea on this - maybe I can just put a jumper between contacts in the motor connector ? If not easy enough to manually plug and unplug the blower motor in spring and fall.
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  #16  
Old 11-21-2012, 10:48 AM
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Can't open your trunk? Try this!

Quote:
Originally Posted by dc_wright View Post
There's a micro switch under the front passenger side of the convertible top storage compartment lid that's the interlock switch to prevent interference between the trunk lid and the storage compartment lid. Lower your top to the point where it's in the storage compartment but the compartment lid hasn't closed. Look for the microswitch and either have someone hold it down or tape it down so that you know it's actuated, then try unlocking the trunk again. You may even hear the sound of an actuator in the trunk lock when you open and close the microswitch. Don't raise the trunk lid or you'll hit the back edge of the storage compartment lid and damage both, but this should tell you if it's an interlock problem or not. If this gets you into the trunk then you'll need to figure out why the microswitch isn't actuating correctly. Either it needs adjustment or the compartment lid isn't fully closing.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hornhospital View Post
Jared, why don't you just put "It's Giubo" in your sig? Save a lot of typing.
Quote:
Originally Posted by e36 miguel View Post
this jared guy sounds intimidating lol.
2005 X5 4.8is Le Mans/Black/6spd Steptragic
1999 M3 Cabrio TiAg Metallic/Dove Grey/Black 5 Speed Manual
-------------------------------------------------------------------
1997 328iC Schwarz II/K/K 5MT SOLD 5/2012
2004 645Ci Mineral Silver Metallic/Black 6MT RIP 04/2011
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  #17  
Old 11-21-2012, 10:55 AM
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dc_wright dc_wright is offline
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Jared, thanks for copying this over!
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  #18  
Old 12-16-2012, 06:31 AM
McMoney McMoney is offline
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Thanks for the info man

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  #19  
Old 01-01-2013, 09:40 PM
Rodster Rodster is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by petriej View Post
We see 1-2 new threads about the convertible top every week or so, so I thought I'd make a thread that we can sticky, with the attachments we always post to aid in every problem.

Anyway, here they are! With these files you can usually diagnose and repair most of the common convertible top problems. They usually fall into one of these categories:

Microswitch failure
Linkage failure
Tension bar failure

------------------------------------------------------

Is your rear window fogged out? Have a big hole in it? Stored it all winter with the hard top on it, and now the window is cracked?

Putting aside from my jealousy of your hard top, I can tell you what to do if you want to replace your rear window. We don't usually endorse people, but this source is pretty much the consensus around here. It comes with instructions, and the materials and tools you'll need to install a new window. Read this thread for more info.




More details to come.

I tossed in the E36 Manual as well just in case
Many thanks
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  #20  
Old 01-12-2013, 04:28 PM
elliottw elliottw is offline
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I've got a hard one. I've got a 98 m3 (auto top) and the manual method doesn't work. I've disengaged the motors and brought out the top by hand, and I start turning the allen and all I get is a clicking noise. I've used the manual method before, and the last time I felt like it wouldn't close all the way, this time, it's not budging.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions. I live in Pittsburgh, so this is a pretty time sensitive issue.
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  #21  
Old 01-12-2013, 06:18 PM
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dc_wright dc_wright is offline
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The manual method turning the allen wrench substitutes you for the front latching motor. If one of the drive flex shafts between the motor/gear assy and the actual latch is broken you can turn all you want and the top won't unlatch.
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  #22  
Old 01-13-2013, 06:56 AM
elliottw elliottw is offline
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Thanks DC,

Any suggestions on how to get this thing closed so I can at least drive it to the mechanic?
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  #23  
Old 01-13-2013, 07:55 AM
elliottw elliottw is offline
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Ok so there is nothing wrong with the flexible drive shafts as far as i can see, but for some reason I reach resistance when twisting them in either direction. I can twist each shaft in either direction for maybe 10 revolutions, and then they become incredibly hard to twist. The motor probably makes the clicking noise because it doesn't have the power to twist the drive shaft past the point of resistance and then the motor keeps turning while the shaft stays still.

Both shafts reach a point of resistance at the same time, so I'm thinking it's not that one of the gear assemblies is broken, because it would be weird for both to be broken at the same point.
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  #24  
Old 01-13-2013, 08:38 AM
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This is a new one for me. On BimmerForums in the E36 forum there's a subforum dedicated strictly to E36 verts. Some one there might have encountered this issue. Anything now on my part would just be guessing and I don't want to steer you down a wrong path.
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  #25  
Old 01-13-2013, 08:53 AM
elliottw elliottw is offline
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Thanks again DC. I just got the top working. The problem was that back where the A pilar meets the windshield there is a little "mouth" that holds onto a short cylinder on the next section of roof, that mouth was sort of jammed beneath parts of the middle section of the roof, so the tension was that the roof wasn't able to lay flat. It must have gotten derailed somehow during the last open and close.
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