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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 3 Series & 4 Series > E36 (1991 - 1999)

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 08-08-2014, 01:31 PM
saxforhim saxforhim is offline
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Location: Indiana
 
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Mein Auto: 1999 328 ic
Smile convertible top help please

'99 328ic Last fall I tried to put the top up and heard a ratcheting noise that we subsequently determined to be the gears in the latching motor. I manually closed the top. We found a good used motor, bench tested fine, installed. Folded top into the boot to begin the initialization. (The top seems to want to go down, even though it is already down.) Holding down the top open switch and turning the key to the on position, the motor begins to purr as the initialization begins. About 7 seconds later there is a gosh awful ratcheting sound, which if the first motor is a good indicator, this noise is the gears grinding because something is causing the top to stay stuck in a down position. It acts like it is trying to pull the top down instead of up.

I just came from my dealer who said we should start by replacing the latching motor with a new one. My dealer said that there weren't codes to read to determine the problem, but my manual tells me differently. They weren't fond of the gently used, bench tested, working motor that we had installed. But it seems to me that the working motor we put in would be no different. I don't want to spend 800 on a "new" latching motor only to screw up the gears because of another existing problem. This motor works, no metal shavings yet because I haven't let it run that way. It almost seems like there is something that we are missing that is locking up and not allowing the motor to open the boot to begin the process.

Help please!
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  #2  
Old 08-08-2014, 01:44 PM
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dc_wright dc_wright is offline
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Mein Auto: '06 Z4 3.0si, '11 128CiC
When you're referencing the "latching motor" I'm assuming you're talking about the motor for the latches in the front bow that clamp the front of the top to the windshield frame? Or are you referencing the drive motor for the storage compartment cover?
If it's actually the storage compartment cover motor, the bracket that holds the motor tends to bend outward over time and when that happens it moves the motor outward also and reduces the amount of effective gear engagement. When it gets far enough out, the gears start slipping. The fix is too remove the bracket and bend it back to it's original position so you get full engagement of the gears.
On the sync procedure, the home position for the top is in the fully stored position in the storage compartment, that's why the top moves down into the compartment when you run the sync. The top controller runs the motors until it senses the top is fully stowed and the storage compartment lid is fully pulled down, and then it memorizes those motor positions. If the storage lid motor gears start jumping the controller never senses the lid being fully closed and will keep on running trying to close it.
One additional note, there are two different sets of top sync instructions floating around, one that tells you to hold the top button in the up position when you turn on the ignition and one that tells you to hold it in the down position. Either will cause the sync to run, but I've found using the top down button position version to be more reliable in getting a good sync.
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Old 08-09-2014, 08:47 PM
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71_340 71_340 is offline
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Mein Auto: 99 328i Convertible
+1 on the Top Down switch position for the syncing procedure.

Also, on my car, besides the storage lid motor bracket being bent, the motor transmission cover was bent as well. You have two motors (since you bought a used one), take them apart, including the transmission. Make sure everything is straight and clean/lube the gears....easy job. Once you got everything back together the motor should engage easily, you may have to push on the lid a little bit to line up the gears. You shouldn't need excessive force to reengage the motor. On the main motor (the one that raises/lowers the top) you may have to turn the gear a little bit with some pliers.
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Old 08-11-2014, 07:14 AM
saxforhim saxforhim is offline
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Mein Auto: 1999 328 ic
Thank you! We will try that..and yes, I am referring to the storage compartment cover motor. My only other concern is the possibility of a failed microswitch not realizing that the top is fully stored and the cover closed. When we reinitialize, we have held down the cover until the intialization begins to pull the cover down and latches. It is at that point, the car does not realize that the top is down and stored while the cover latching motor continues to try to run. Is there a switch that should note the cover is completely closed and then stop the motor?
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  #5  
Old 08-11-2014, 11:23 AM
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dc_wright dc_wright is offline
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There's a micro switch on the right hand side of the storage compartment, but I believe that's just for the storage lid/trunk lid interlock. If memory serves me correctly the top controller looks at current draw on the motor to sense when the lid has been pulled down fully.
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  #6  
Old Yesterday, 11:34 AM
jeffg1010 jeffg1010 is offline
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Location: Mooresville, NC
 
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Mein Auto: 1999 E36 Convertible
ALRIGHT, Reviving an old thread. Just bought my first BMW yesterday, joined the forum today as I was trying to fix some of the car's issues. The convertible top being priority #1. I got the motors re-engaged and discovered the grinding noise when trying to sync the motors. So, I have removed the four 10mm bolts that hold this motor on. Starting to remove it, but it is a bit intimidating as I am use to working on classic cars. Lots of retainer clips and plastic on this thing.

Any last minute tips for a newbie?
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