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E85 / E86 Z4 (2003-2008)
E85 Z4 Roadster, E86 Z4 Coupe, E85 Z4 M Roadster, and E86 Z4 M Coupe talk with our BMW gurus here.

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  #1  
Old 03-01-2014, 10:59 PM
igeak691 igeak691 is offline
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Another automatic soft top issue, but can't even open manually

I've got a very common case of the "top won't open" issue that plagues these Z4's.

My symptoms are that when I press top down the windows come down a bit, the top unlatches, and then nada. Knowing that the motor is probably fried from water damage like so many other peoples', I wanted to lower it down manually to remove the top and buy a new motor pump to swap in. Unfortunately when I go to the trunk and pull on the red tab, it doesn't seem to release anything. I can push the top about halfway, but then there is a resistance. Note, I have checked the trunk storage compartment and it has been moved in the down position to make space for the top. Also, while most people just open and close the top manually, I can't seem to even get it open manually after pulling the tab. The tab doesn't seem to release any hydraulic pressure. Could it be so rusted that the hydraulic release valve won't even open up?
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  #2  
Old 03-02-2014, 01:18 PM
manana manana is offline
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That would be quite a bit of rust I think; maybe possible.

What I found using my top manually most of last summer was that the release cable did not come out far enough when pulled, turned, and left in the override position. Yours may have slid back in a little and disengaged. I just used a bungee chord to something on the other side of the trunk to make sure it stayed in bypass.

Good luck, let us know.

Steve
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Last edited by manana; 03-02-2014 at 01:19 PM.
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  #3  
Old 03-02-2014, 04:00 PM
igeak691 igeak691 is offline
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I had my dad hold the tab while I tried pushing down the top. Is there any tactile feedback for when the tab has been pulled correctly? It just felt like a bicycle brake wire and wasn't fluid if you can get what I mean.
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  #4  
Old 03-04-2014, 09:40 AM
igeak691 igeak691 is offline
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There is a very noticeable point at which the top will not move further down. I thought it was the headliner getting stuck to the piece behind the headrest but it feels like the actual metal tubing is getting caught. I've tried wiggling the tab back and forth, hoping it would release the hydraulic pressure but no dice. Is there anything other than the hydraulic pressure that can keep the top from coming down? Can't think of anything other than lowering the trunk panel and pulling on the tab while pushing the top down
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  #5  
Old 03-04-2014, 03:41 PM
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shipkiller shipkiller is offline
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What happens when you pull the Red 'Emergency Release Handle'......

The cable pulls a small lever that is attached to the softtop motor assembly and this lever pushes a very small 'ball' that allows the hydraulic fluid to be ported past the pump, effectively bypassing the pump. The 'bypass' lever on the pump does NOT 'set'. As soon as you release the cable, the spring in the bypass ball pushes the ball back into position and blocks the flow.

Look at the red release handle, and look closely at the cable tube. There is a small cut in the tube about 1 inch long. Pull the handle and put the cable into the cut. This will keep the cable/handle 'pulled' so as to keep the bypass activated... The cable does not move very far... really it does not...

Now, if your pump is so badly corroded, the bypass my be frozen.... Have someone pull the handle and keep it pulled, then try to manually move the top. If the top still will not go down, then the bypass is frozen and you are stuck...

Do NOT attempt to 'really pull' the cable to free the bypass. Chances are you will brake the cable and that is just one more thing to fix once the top is out of the car.... Oh, you have to replace the cable if that happens.....
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  #6  
Old 03-04-2014, 03:49 PM
igeak691 igeak691 is offline
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I believe the bypass is definitely frozen on mine. The top still doesn't move when I had my dad keep tension on the cable. So does this mean it's the end of top down? I don't believe I can remove the top without it actually being in the down position first. Would removing the soft top compartment floor help me gain access to the pump so I can remove the hydraulic lines? I can see just a little bit behind the drivers seat where pump is, but from that angle I cannot get a wrench in there to remove the hydraulic lines completely so I can put the top down and remove the entire top to replace the motor.
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  #7  
Old 03-04-2014, 03:52 PM
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shipkiller shipkiller is offline
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Do a search and look at the DIY's on removing the top and replacing the motor....

The top will still go down without the bypass pressed but you need to keep steady pressure on it. Do not FORCE it...
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How does something immoral, when done privately, become moral when it is done collectively?
Furthermore, does legality establish morality?
Slavery was legal; apartheid was legal; Stalinist, Nazi, and Maoist purges were legal. Clearly, the fact of legality does not justify these crimes. Legality, alone, cannot be the talisman of morel people. - Walter E. Williams
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  #8  
Old 03-04-2014, 03:54 PM
igeak691 igeak691 is offline
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Your DIY's have been really helpful for me already. I plan to, as countless others have, use your DIY to replace the motor.
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  #9  
Old 03-04-2014, 03:55 PM
igeak691 igeak691 is offline
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Top will go down steadily without bypass pressed? I'll have to try that. Seemed like it was hitting a wall at 1/3 open and didn't seem to budge. Maybe slow and steady wins this race.. will go take a try.
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  #10  
Old 03-04-2014, 04:00 PM
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shipkiller shipkiller is offline
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I would only do this when you are ready to pull the top. Also, push from the center of the top, not on the sides.. You need for both sides to go down smoothly and at the same time and rate.
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How does something immoral, when done privately, become moral when it is done collectively?
Furthermore, does legality establish morality?
Slavery was legal; apartheid was legal; Stalinist, Nazi, and Maoist purges were legal. Clearly, the fact of legality does not justify these crimes. Legality, alone, cannot be the talisman of morel people. - Walter E. Williams
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  #11  
Old 03-04-2014, 04:35 PM
igeak691 igeak691 is offline
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Must just be that kind of day.. after wrenching at it for the past few days, it has finally come down, without much force actually.. not sure what it was. Didn't get it down enough to lock into place, but a big sigh of relief. At least now I know when it gets warmer I won't be missing out on it.
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  #12  
Old 03-04-2014, 05:09 PM
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shipkiller shipkiller is offline
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The top does not need to be locked in the down position.. in fact, in later year cars, the lock was removed from the vehicle entirly....
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How does something immoral, when done privately, become moral when it is done collectively?
Furthermore, does legality establish morality?
Slavery was legal; apartheid was legal; Stalinist, Nazi, and Maoist purges were legal. Clearly, the fact of legality does not justify these crimes. Legality, alone, cannot be the talisman of morel people. - Walter E. Williams
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  #13  
Old 03-04-2014, 05:44 PM
igeak691 igeak691 is offline
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Good stuff man thanks for your help. Figured if it locked it wouldn't rattle at speed but I think there's no way around some sort of rattle in these cars.
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  #14  
Old 03-12-2014, 10:52 PM
igeak691 igeak691 is offline
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Shipkiller, Just wanna take a second to say thanks for your help again. I'm new to the z4 world, and it's a shame but I guess I'm one of those younger folks who can finally afford something like a z4. Your guides have been extremely helpful and I'm sad I never got a chance to see the guides on your website that you took down. I can see your influence on all the different z4 forums.. but if there's any takeaway, its that without your help I wouldn't have been able to get this far with the top.

So an update is in order.. I noticed that when I put my hand into where the motor housing should be, there was no top to the housing. Last owner must have fiddled with it before, but the motor/pump housing came right up after a bit of pulling. I was able to actually take out the motor/pump housing and with the help of my dad, fix the circuit board which was fried and now got it to work again. The housing was vacuumed of water and my plan is to drill a hole into the bottom of the housing (which is still on the car, as well as the top). The drains are cleared (again, thanks to your guides Shipkiller) and I'll be making sure they stay clear. Last bit is to figure out how to at least make the motor water resistant, if not waterproof. Then it'll go back in for testing. Made me glad in a way that it was fiddled with by the previous owner, so I don't have to remove the top in order fix it. Now I'm just wondering if its better to deal with the sound and have the motor freestanding inside the housing, or to use foam to wrap the motor to help with the noise.
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  #15  
Old 03-13-2014, 06:50 AM
kalali kalali is offline
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Glad you got it fixed. Are you saying you were able to just reach in and grab the pump/motor assembly? I'd love to see a picture since I could barely reach in the opening between the top and the body with a narrow pole to clean the drain hole.
This would be great to know since everybody I know/heard had to remove the top in order to access the motor assembly.
Thanks.
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  #16  
Old 03-13-2014, 08:08 AM
igeak691 igeak691 is offline
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Yes I was able to get the motor out but the only reason was because it lacked the top cover of the housing. Any other vehicle will need the top removed before you can access the motor.
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  #17  
Old 03-14-2014, 09:34 PM
igeak691 igeak691 is offline
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Today I was able to get the top to working condition again!

It was a nippy day out but I was determined, so I went ahead and drilled some holes using a dremel into the motor housing. Poured water in and it flowed right into the drain and out the car on the bottom. Then I connected the lines back (having earlier noted which lines were attached to which spot) and then had to guess for the power positive and negative. Got it wrong, and a quick switch fixed it. Noticed that it wasn't really able to move the top much, only a little.. and realized that a lot of fluid had leaked out from when I was undoing the lines inside the car. Thank goodness I had a towel there to soak up all the excess fluid. Went out and took 3 stores before I could find some hydraulic fluid, topped it off and the top works like a dream! Now the only thing is that the motor is just rested inside the motor housing, with no top to the housing. I'm not too worried about water getting in, rather the torque of the motor causes the entire pump to twitch a little bit when turned on. Thinking about putting some foam around it to help with the movement as well as the noise (which isn't too bad, i'd much rather hear it working than have to guess).

Does anybody have an old motor housing that I could pay the shipping for? Also I dropped the reservoir screw and it fell into the motor housing where I can reach -.- Got another screw to fit, but if anyone has their old motor that they didn't throw out, I'd very much appreciate if the reservoir screw can be sent my way along with the top of the motor housing so I can cover up mine from rain.
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  #18  
Old 11-10-2014, 01:31 PM
steve2005z4 steve2005z4 is offline
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I read the Bimmerfest forums and they were correct. Poor design. Water is the problem. Once the dime sized hole become clogged the water level rises reaching the electric motor and shorts it out. Please read on. I have found a place in Birmingham Alabama that will fix the problem for $1100.00. They will drill the maximum sized holes possible with the fix. This better than $1700.00 at BMW WITH NO FIX. Also be aware that there are two compartments in the top storage bin. Both have the same original small drain holes. The on on the drivers side shorts the top. The one on the passenger side causes leaks into the rear trunk where the battery and the amplifier sit in a common plastic tub. If the top quits working be sure to check the trunk and the battery tub immediately!!!! If water reaches the amp ......BOOM !!!!! There goes your Lear/Carver amp and another $700.00.
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  #19  
Old 11-10-2014, 11:28 PM
enzed4 enzed4 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by igeak691 View Post
Does anybody have an old motor housing that I could pay the shipping for? Also I dropped the reservoir screw and it fell into the motor housing where I can reach -.- Got another screw to fit, but if anyone has their old motor that they didn't throw out, I'd very much appreciate if the reservoir screw can be sent my way along with the top of the motor housing so I can cover up mine from rain.
I'd be happy to send you my complete sound insulation (top and bottom halves) but I think shipping could make it too expensive. See if any local members can help you out - if not get back to me and we'll see what it costs to ship to you from middle-earth
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