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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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Old 04-18-2006, 09:41 AM
12heineken 12heineken is offline
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Location: Northern Arkansas
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 16
Mein Auto: 97 328ic
Convertible top reset how-to (complete)

The following is partially paraphrased from other sources. I hope they don't mind...
Most of the information I got was from the popular "ebaines" web article. It describes (incompletely) how to reset the convertible top after accidentally pulling the strap/lever.
"The owner's manual describes the method for closing the top manually, presumably in case you have a dead battery with the top down and it starts to rain. The top mechanism is driven by two electric motors that are located in the trunk -- one for the lid of the storage bin and one for the top itself. Closing the top manually requires (1) releasing the two motors from their transmission drives (using the afore-mentioned lever, which through a cable release mechanism causes the motors to pop away from their drives), pulling the top out of its storage bin, and then using an Allen wrench (from the tool kit in the trunk) to fully close and lock the top to the windshield. The allen wrench gets inserted into a socket that's hidden behind a plastic cover at the leading edge of the top, and then you turn it many many times to simulate the action of the electric motor. Note - there are interlocks between the storage bin lid and the trunk that prevent you from opening both at the same time.
Once the two motors have been disengaged, the top can only be operated manually -- the LED in the control switch blinks, and the owners manual says you have to take the car to the dealer to reset the correct operation of the top. The reason is that the two electric motors have to be re-engaged with their drive mechanisms and also re-synchronized with each other (you wouldn't want the top to crash into the lid of the storage bin)."

That's his overview. He starts with "First, manually open the top, placing it back into its storage bin, and then close the lid of the bin as far as it will go."
Fine and dandy if you know how to manually open the top. I should note that if the motors are not currently disengaged, pull the handle and disengage them, or none of this will work.
There are a couple of very important steps he left out.
1 Open the hood (bonnet for you Brits). Locate the fuse panel near the firewall on the driver's side (American). Yank fuse #7 which partially controls the central locking system and the convertible top. If you previously couldn't get into your trunk, now you can. Keep it closed.
2. Locate the small plastic cover plate in the center of the front of the convertiblt top (back from the dome lights). Remove it by using a sharp object and prying it out from the seam nearest you (furthest from the windshield frame) to keep from damaging it.
3. Locate the Allen screw within. Minimally, all you need is an Allen wrench (don't ask me what size) and a hell of a lot of endurance for repetitive motion. Your best bet is to snag a cordless drill with an Allen bit in it. Either way, insert the Allen-tool and rotate it CLOCKWISE. You will see the top start to move slowly away from the windshield frame. Next, the two latches uncouple from the windshield frame. DON'T STOP HERE. That was my stumbling stone. Keep cranking it clockwise until it starts clicking.
4. Lift the front of the top up as far up and back as you can. Don't force anything, you'll know when it reaches its limit of motion.
5. Now lift the back of the top up. Once you lift it high enough, you will be able to grab the front and fold the top back down into the trough that to top fits into.

You are now ready to follow ebaines steps...
"You may need to push down on the lid so that it closes far enough to allow you to open the trunk (there's a safety interlock that prevents the trunk from being opened if the lid is open at the same time). Working inside the trunk, remove the carpet liner from the left side (driver's side) of the trunk. There are two plastic clips that hold the liner in place -- you can pry them out with a screwdriver. Behind the liner are the two motors that work the top mechanism -- one drives the top and the other is for the lid. Each motor is mounted on a spring-loaded pivot mechanism. The gears on the motors normally engage the gears for their respective transmission mechanisms, but when the release lever is pulled the motors pop away and disengage. So you have to push the motors back into their original positions so that the gears re-engage. When you do this the spring-loaded catch mechanism will firmly latch in place. Be sure that the motor is firmly seated into the drive, and not just partially engaged."
Since he left out the part about fuse #7, now is the time to reinsert it. Close your trunk.
"Once both motors are re-engaged, get into the car, and with the ignition key in the off position press and hold the top control switch in the up (for closing) position. Continuing to hold this switch, turn the key to the "accessory" position (without starting the car) and hold it there. After about twelve seconds the lid will be sucked down into the locked position, and then after a few more seconds the top will start its normal closing procedure. The motors are now re-synched, and should be all set. Work the system a few times to ensure that both motors are properly engaged and all is well."
Hope this helps all of you

My personal thanks to "ebaines" (Chip), and forum member rkloewy. You guys took the time to help me straighten out a major frustration so I could enjoy my new convertible right in time for perfect spring weather.

Todd

Last edited by 12heineken; 04-18-2006 at 08:09 PM.
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