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E36/7 Z3 (1996-2002)
E36/7 Z3 Roadster, Z3 coupe, Z3 M Roadster and Z3 M Coupe talk with our gurus here.

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  #1  
Old 10-09-2013, 03:59 PM
nbbimmernut nbbimmernut is offline
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Z3 Roadster Leaking side window rubbers.

I have a 2001 Z3 Roadster, love the car but hate the fact that we get wet if it rains (with the top up of course LOL). It seems that all of a sudden something changed in the weather stripping and the water pours in a rain storm. Can anyone suggest a fix or is it just time to replace the rubbers.

Thanks Kevin
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  #2  
Old 10-09-2013, 08:03 PM
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vintage42 vintage42 is offline
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Did this just start to happen, or did you just get this car? Is this from one or both windows? Do the windows go all the way up to tightly meet the top?

Last edited by vintage42; 10-09-2013 at 08:04 PM.
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  #3  
Old 10-09-2013, 08:18 PM
nbbimmernut nbbimmernut is offline
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Leaking side windows

Thanks for responding Vintage, the drivers side leaked a bit when I got the car 2 years ago but the passengers side just started at the first of the season. There is a split in the rubber about half way across the window but it looks like it should be that way. I have heard a reconditioning compound, have you had any experience with it?

Regards,
Kevin
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  #4  
Old 10-10-2013, 03:31 AM
RhoXS RhoXS is online now
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First, rain leaking in is just the nature of the beast and, in my opinion, to one degree or another, it will always be a problem. I purchased my 2002 3.0i brand new and it has always leaked although with proper adjusting it can be minimized. I ALWAYS have two hotel type hand towels in the car.

The horizontal bracket that holds the molding at the top of the windows is easily removed and has shims behind it so it can be positioned so that the rubber molding mates snugly and continuously against the top of the window. Properly sized stainless steel washers make good shims. I found, with time, I continue to need to shim it farther and farther out. To see if it needs more shims use a good bright flashlight and see if the top of the window mates snugly against the molding. Your likely to see a small narrow airspace and that is where the water is coming in from.

A second source of water entering the car is from the big gasket that seals the convertible top to the top of the windshield. This gasket has a hollow internal channel that drains water down the side of the windshield. If you look where the top of the doors mate with the top sides of the windshield you will note this big gasket has a small flat surface facing the rear of the car. You will also note there is a plug in the center of this flat surface. I noticed a bunch of years ago the water draining through this gasket can leak through the sides of this plug. I fixed that with a very thin layer of RTV over it.

Overall I think the reason the Z3s leak so much is because the convertible top frame is not structurally robust and distorts as the top is used. I think BMW made a piss poor engineering decision to save weight but at the expense of a convertible top that always leaks and never works right. We live in south Florida and always using the top. From the continuous problems we had with it appears the frame is always slightly taking on a new geometry. The min structural member that is connected to the hydraulic ram just sheared last year from fatigue. I have it fixed so we can now manually put the top up and down but am sure my fix will not hold up under the force of using the hydraulics to raise and lower it. The permanent fix is replacing the entire frame and that will cost substantially more than an almost 14 year old car with 145000 miles is worth.

Last edited by RhoXS; 10-10-2013 at 03:37 AM.
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  #5  
Old 10-10-2013, 08:23 AM
dadmog dadmog is offline
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Worth mentioning also is that the rubber seals tend to harden and shrink over time. It is a good idea to periodically treat the seals with Gummi-phlege, or, I've heard, glycerin from the local drugstore. My 98 MZ3 doesn't leak and I've kept the seals soft.
I DID once have a problem with the 'plug' at the top of the windshield header that seals the 'A" pillar drain. Silicone gel (RTV) fixed that problem.
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  #6  
Old 10-10-2013, 09:16 AM
RhoXS RhoXS is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dadmog View Post
Worth mentioning also is that the rubber seals tend to harden and shrink over time. It is a good idea to periodically treat the seals with Gummi-phlege, or, I've heard, glycerin from the local drugstore. My 98 MZ3 doesn't leak and I've kept the seals soft.
I DID once have a problem with the 'plug' at the top of the windshield header that seals the 'A" pillar drain. Silicone gel (RTV) fixed that problem.
At least on my Z3, which I also treated with Gummi-phledge, I never really saw much degradation of the seals. The leak problems all seem to be related to the structure changing shape, even slightly, and the top of the window losing contact with the soft rubber seal surface.
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  #7  
Old 10-10-2013, 02:48 PM
nbbimmernut nbbimmernut is offline
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Leaking windows

Thanks all, you have given me some great ideas, I 'll have a closer look to see if any of your suggestion may be my problem. I'll let you know here.

Kevin
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  #8  
Old 10-16-2013, 01:24 PM
bamaz3bmw bamaz3bmw is offline
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I place shims behind the bracket that the rubber mounts on. This pushed the rubber slightly out and sealed the window good with no leaks
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  #9  
Old 10-18-2013, 09:19 PM
BryZzz BryZzz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bamaz3bmw View Post
I place shims behind the bracket that the rubber mounts on. This pushed the rubber slightly out and sealed the window good with no leaks

Hi bamaz,

Would you be kind enough to post pics?

Thanks!

Bry
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  #10  
Old 10-28-2013, 10:08 AM
pieceofwork pieceofwork is offline
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Mine was leaking near the A-pillars. First, I sealed the plugs with black sealant, made sure the drain was clear and adjusted the seal forward on the rail closer to the A-pillar, but there was still a small gap allowing water in on the PS at the junction of the A-pillar seal and with top window seal. I then turned the top latch hook one turn and that closed the gap completely and it's now dry. The PS top latch is actually now one turn 'tighter' than the DS but both are dry and I assume the frame isn't exactly symetrical anyways.
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  #11  
Old 10-28-2013, 03:20 PM
ashevillez3 ashevillez3 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pieceofwork View Post
Mine was leaking near the A-pillars. First, I sealed the plugs with black sealant, made sure the drain was clear and adjusted the seal forward on the rail closer to the A-pillar, but there was still a small gap allowing water in on the PS at the junction of the A-pillar seal and with top window seal. I then turned the top latch hook one turn and that closed the gap completely and it's now dry. The PS top latch is actually now one turn 'tighter' than the DS but both are dry and I assume the frame isn't exactly symetrical anyways.
I did this same adjustment last week on the passenger side. It rained today, so I need to go check and see if any water leaked in. Would be awesome if it's dry, but I'm not willing to bet on it. Still need to seal the plugs with sealant.
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  #12  
Old 10-28-2013, 03:54 PM
pieceofwork pieceofwork is offline
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Used to own a Saab Viggen convertible. Single push of a button opened the tonneau, retracted the top and closed the tonneau.....Leakfree, quiet, warm, rear window with defrost - but potentially thousands to repair if the top stopped working (micro switches, hydraulic pumps, etc).
I also have a 1967 MGB - and it's top reminds me a lot of the Z3 Not saying it's bad, as it is simple and relatively inexpensive to repair, but leakfree, quiet, warm and window defrost it doesn't have!
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  #13  
Old 10-28-2013, 08:46 PM
ashevillez3 ashevillez3 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pieceofwork View Post
Used to own a Saab Viggen convertible. Single push of a button opened the tonneau, retracted the top and closed the tonneau.....Leakfree, quiet, warm, rear window with defrost - but potentially thousands to repair if the top stopped working (micro switches, hydraulic pumps, etc).
I also have a 1967 MGB - and it's top reminds me a lot of the Z3 Not saying it's bad, as it is simple and relatively inexpensive to repair, but leakfree, quiet, warm and window defrost it doesn't have!
I'm restoring a 73 corvette and would love it if that top was as nice as the Z3. It too is not very warm, leaks far worse that the Z3 and defrost is me wiping the rear window when I can't see crap out it.
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  #14  
Old 10-29-2013, 12:30 PM
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amancuso amancuso is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pieceofwork View Post
Mine was leaking near the A-pillars. First, I sealed the plugs with black sealant, made sure the drain was clear and adjusted the seal forward on the rail closer to the A-pillar, but there was still a small gap allowing water in on the PS at the junction of the A-pillar seal and with top window seal. I then turned the top latch hook one turn and that closed the gap completely and it's now dry. The PS top latch is actually now one turn 'tighter' than the DS but both are dry and I assume the frame isn't exactly symetrical anyways.
This. Also at the bottom of the door, you will find a 10mm bolt. loosen the bolt and push the top of the triangle window inwards towards the car, then retighten the nut. That should create a tiger seal in that area.
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Last edited by amancuso; 10-29-2013 at 12:33 PM.
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  #15  
Old 11-09-2013, 03:31 PM
KFC KFC is offline
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Leaking Z3

The rubbers on the passenger side where the convertible roof meets the windscreen does not match up properly. Is there anything I can do to fix this as it is lets rain water into the car?
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  #16  
Old 11-09-2013, 07:40 PM
RhoXS RhoXS is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KFC View Post
The rubbers on the passenger side where the convertible roof meets the windscreen does not match up properly. Is there anything I can do to fix this as it is lets rain water into the car?
Suggest you read this thread and the answer to your question is above. The brackets that hold the rubber seals need to be shimmed out so there is no air gap between the top of the glass and the seal.
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  #17  
Old 11-10-2013, 05:51 AM
KFC KFC is offline
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Do you mean the brackets in the windscreen or in the convertible top? I have tightened the pulling in hooks (sorry I don't know the terminology) so when closing the convertible top it's as tight as can be. Do you mean the bracket in the photo I've attached?
When sitting in the car I can see light shining through where the A-Pillar meets the convertible top, just held a hose over it and that's where the water is coming through (not bad on drivers side but very bad on passenger side).
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  #18  
Old 11-10-2013, 09:01 AM
RhoXS RhoXS is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KFC View Post
Do you mean the brackets in the windscreen or in the convertible top? I have tightened the pulling in hooks (sorry I don't know the terminology) so when closing the convertible top it's as tight as can be. Do you mean the bracket in the photo I've attached?
When sitting in the car I can see light shining through where the A-Pillar meets the convertible top, just held a hose over it and that's where the water is coming through (not bad on drivers side but very bad on passenger side).
With the top down and the windscreen (door glass) fully raised, if you take a good torch (flashlight), you will probably be able to clearly see an air gap between the top horizontal edge of the windscreen (door glass) and the horizontal rubber sealing surface. When the windscreen (door glass) is fully raised, the top horizontal surface of the glass should nest right against the horizontal surface of the rubber seal along its entire length. Any gaps will allow rain in.

The rubber seal is mounted on a metal bracket behind it. The rubber seal can be carefully pulled off and replaced, how the rubber seal is held by the metal bracket will be obvious.

The metal bracket has two or three (I just don't remember) screws holding it to the top frame. If you remove these screws the bracket can be removed. There are probably already some shims behind the bracket so be careful these shims don't fall away when you take the retaining screws out.

You will need to add more shims to move the bracket (and attached rubber seal) closer to the top edge of the door glass to snugly close the gap you saw above. I found common stainless steel washers work fine.

When reassembly it will be obvious how the edges of the rubber seal fit under edges of the metal bracket. It is easy to remount the rubber seal but be careful you don't cut the rubber seal using a tool with a somewhat sharp edge (like a slot head screwdriver) to push the rubber seal edges in place.

You may have to do this a number of times so it is shimmed exactly right. The front of the bracket will probably need a different shim package than the back. The glass needs to snugly nest into the rubber seal along its entire length but not too tightly.

In my opinion this is a common problem because BMW did not provide a very robustly constructed frame for the top. In addition, the hydraulic actuator is only on one side so a significant asymmetrical bending torque is imposed upon the top every time it is opened or closed. From use, the top frame seems to slightly physically distort and its overall geometry changes. I bought my 2002 Z3 brand new and have had top issue from day one. Because of the wonderful climate where we live (south Florida) the top gets a lots of use. The main structural member to which the hydraulic ram attaches behind the drivers head just sheared not too long ago due to fatigue.
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  #19  
Old 03-14-2014, 11:03 PM
diggers1961 diggers1961 is offline
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I have exactly the same problem on my 98 Z3, so can you buy rubber seals from anywhere?
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  #20  
Old 03-14-2014, 11:10 PM
diggers1961 diggers1961 is offline
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you can buy them here
http://www.roadstersolutions.com/page39.html
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  #21  
Old 03-15-2014, 05:07 AM
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vintage42 vintage42 is offline
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Cheaper at ECS Tuning.
For instance, a front seal at Roadster Solutions is $73.95
http://www.roadstersolutions.com/page39.html

While P/N 54318397657 Left Front Window Guide at ECS Tuning is $60.69
http://www.ecstuning.com/BMW-Z3-1.9-...h/54318397657/

The difference for a set of three for one side is around $50.
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  #22  
Old 03-15-2014, 05:19 AM
diggers1961 diggers1961 is offline
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thanks, I appreciate that
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  #23  
Old 03-20-2014, 10:30 AM
E36/7 E36/7 is offline
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Terrific thread. And great possible solutions. I always thought I was alone with my leak. My is especially annoying because the drip hits me on my leg. This season, I will solve it and not feel anxious when it rains.
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  #24  
Old 03-20-2014, 02:31 PM
bamaz3bmw bamaz3bmw is offline
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shims

Mine has not leaked since I added the shims (about9 months now)
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