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-   -   Hydraulic fluid leak - in front of rear tire (http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=944105)

taylor192 09-11-2012 09:56 PM

Hydraulic fluid leak - in front of rear tire
I came out to find a puddle behind my drivers door/infront of my rear tire and wondered what it was... until I started to put up the top and knew exactly what the fluid is.

I searched and found all the PDFs on the 6 cylinders, yet would prefer a DIY if anyone has replaced the main or storage compartment cylinders - especially since the PDF for the main cylinders starts with "remove convertible top" :banghead:

I am going to assume it is the drivers side main cylinder that is leaking, yet need to check it - yet how? Its not the bow cylinder since the top would be stained. Its not the pump as I took out the trunk liner and inspected it. I don't suspect its the storage compartment cylinder as the leak is infront of the rear tire and the cylinder is behind the rear tire... right?

Help and pictures would be appreciated!

taylor192 09-12-2012 12:00 AM

:( The drivers side main lift cylinder is leaking, there's a puddle of hydraulic fluid (mineral oil?) under the main lift hinge.

I can see why the first step is "remove convertible top"... so HOW? I see the 2 quick disconnects for the hydraulics, and 3 nuts per side anchoring the top... yet I am guessing there's at least a couple more nuts I cannot see without removing the trim... so HOW? I would like to get it done while the weather is good, so any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance!

This will give me an excuse to ride my motorcycle that hasn't seen a lot of use this summer since getting a convertible :)

taylor192 09-12-2012 12:26 AM

MOFO, found the removal instructions in the back of the convertible top manual. Have to remove the interior trim and rear seats to access 2 nuts and a couple connectors... so now off to find the trim removal DIY.

gbakerkingston 09-12-2012 06:19 AM

Refer to http://www.tophydraulicsinc.com/en/
Klaus does a good job. I sent my bow tension cylinders to him. Saved a lot of money. Recommended.

taylor192 09-12-2012 10:29 AM


Originally Posted by gbakerkingston (Post 14724864)
Refer to http://www.tophydraulicsinc.com/en/
Klaus does a good job. I sent my bow tension cylinders to him. Saved a lot of money. Recommended.

Nice, you're north of the border too. How was the turn around time?

Mine is pouring out hydraulic fluid, so hopefully the cylinder can be rebuilt, or hopefully its just a bad hydraulic line/connection.

gbakerkingston 09-12-2012 11:36 AM

Your being on the west coast will help the turn around time. It took about 3 weeks, I think. I used Canada post & USPS. Definitely worth the wait, versus buying new.

taylor192 10-13-2012 03:14 PM


I decided to tackle this in stages, which was a waste of time considering how easy its been. I've spent about 3 hrs total: 1.5hrs to remove the rear trim and trunk liner, 1.5hrs to remove the entire top, remove the main lift cylinders, and reinstall the top (since its my DD and its pouring rain outside). If I had done it all at once, and didn't get stumped on a couple things, I would've been done in < 2hrs. Notes (I'll try and take pictures when I put it all back together):

1. There's a trick to manually putting the top down/up. I noticed the first hinge (closest to windshield) would not move at times. Finally figured it out. The latches that close the top are also connected to latches that prevent the first hinge from moving. If you're having trouble getting the top to open/close manually, turn the crank at the windshield and watch the first hinge to see the latches move. This probably cost me 30 mins to figure out, and I felt dumb after.

2. Removing the rear interior requires the top to be down to pull the side trim up. So you might as well remove the rear trim and top at the same time. I did this over a couple days, removing the rear trim one day and removing the top this morning. This probably cost me 30 mins.

3. Removing the entire top is very straight forward. Here's a tip:
- The latches for the storage cover are connected with a cable. The cable must be disconnected to remove the latch, and the latch must be removed to remove the top. Detaching the cable required removing a c-clamp and pressing 2 tabs on a square retaining block.
- A set of angled pliers is an asset here as the space is tight.

4. Removing the main lift cylinders is super easy, just follow the instructions in one of the PDFs posted on this site.

5. I pulled all the fuses for the "power top" only to find out a couple fuses are shared with DSC and ABS (12 and 42, I think - definitely double check). The pump runs at startup to pressurize the system, which I don't want since the lines are disconnected. I'm hoping that fuse 35 (the big 50 fuse) is enough to cut all power... I guess I could measure the voltage at the pump to confirm.

6. I'm positive its going to be harder to put this back together than get it apart as some of the spaces are very tight. It was easy to undo lines, clamps, ... in those spaces, attaching them might be another story.
- I'm not sure how to get the main lift shock back in, its very firm and won't compress by hand. Will probably have to attach the bottom of the shock with the top out of the car, then attach the top of the shock with the top installed and extended.

boxer27 02-01-2013 07:19 PM

How did it go? was it harder to get the top back on?, My top it leaking in the same area, going to tackle it when it gets warmer, any pic's or advice?

taylor192 02-01-2013 08:00 PM


Originally Posted by boxer27 (Post 15120688)
How did it go? was it harder to get the top back on?, My top it leaking in the same area, going to tackle it when it gets warmer, any pic's or advice?

I think I have another thread documenting where I'm stuck. It was definitely easy to reinstall the main lift cylinders, went faster than removing them.

I'm stuck at reinstalling the gas shock on the passenger side. It cannot be compressed by hand and is ~1/2" too long when the top is fully extended. Someone that performed the same repair commented that it took force to reinstall the gas shock, so I have a big F clamp to try when I have a free weekend or waiting till someone else attempts it and finds a trick to reinstall the damn gas shock!

No pics unfortunately. The pdfs have pics that are sufficient.

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Bimmer App

taylor192 02-17-2013 08:52 PM


Got the gas strut on: http://www.e46fanatics.com/forum/sho...7&postcount=12

Top is reinstalled, pump filled, ready to go... yet wow I have the dreaded flashing red light. Checked:
- Fuses are good
- All electrical connections reconnected (2 on each side, 1 main connection)
- Storage compartment down
- Already fixed the crimped wire once, hopefully its not that again.

To be clear, the top is manually closed and pushing the top open button does nothing. No noises, no movement, nada. :(

Need to search and find a good diagnostic procedure for this. Any help is appreciated.

taylor192 02-18-2013 11:24 AM

If I disconnect the CVM plug the flashing red light stops, so I assume that's where to start. Quickly measured the continuity of the pins and found the cowl lock and unlock sensors do not have perfect continuity so I am going to have to revisit the bend in the harness tonight.

I wish there was a way to read the CVM codes without visiting a shop.

taylor192 02-20-2013 12:02 PM

Soldered in new wire for all 4 leads at the bend to be safe since 3 wires were close to breaking, yet all 4 showed continuity to the plug :(. Thus I suspect something is wrong between the bend and the latch, so I'll have to remove the latch cover to investigate.

Also found a problem with the storage cover latches. They are controlled by cables which need to be pulled out of the way to remove the top. In doing so they became tangled at the motor not allowing the latches to work properly.

Seb_323ci_2000 03-16-2013 09:09 AM

For myself... I had to plug the scanner. We removed all the codes.

Than I started the car. Windows down, top down... I pushed the closed button and it all started moving and closing.

From that moment we saw that it was not the cylinder the problems, but really the hydraulic lines that ran from the control unit to the main left cylinder! Without that trouble... everything would have been fine!

TopHydraulicsInc.com 03-16-2013 02:31 PM

Hydraulic cylinder upgrades - OEM used inferior seals on all six cylinders
Wow, three Canadians already in the same thread, who have used our services - thank you for sharing!

Seb_323ci_2000, you did not waste your money on having your main drive cylinders (aka main lift cylinders) upgraded by us - they would have failed sooner or later, and now you should never have to worry about them again.

The OEM cylinders have cup seals made of Polyurethane in them, which have a fairly limited service life. Top Hydraulics replaces them with cup seals made of a far superior material, which should last several times as long as the original seals under the same conditions. That means, we make your old, leaking cylinders better than new ones for a fraction of what you would pay your dealer.

gbakerkingston, you mentioned it taking three weeks to get the cylinders back. I think over 90% of that was shipping time. We now average about a one-day turn around time on BMW E46 cylinders, although we wouldn't promise it. ;-)


gbakerkingston 03-18-2013 07:46 PM

Klaus: the time delay noted was total turn around time from my removal of the cylinders, using cheapest international ground transportation to the west coast to your shop, your shop time and cheapest international ground transportation back to the east coast. The car was in winter storage, so speed of repair was not material. Readers can be confident that if turn around time is important, Top Hydraulics can accommodate their needs satisfactorily.

spydertrek 03-30-2013 11:42 AM

You will have 4 Canadians that you will have fixed! Going to take my tensioners out in April since it is still in storage.
Thanks for the informative thread..


TopHydraulicsInc.com 03-30-2013 12:18 PM

shipping bow tension cylinders to Canada

looking forward to making your cylinders better than new ones, as well! Shipping from Oregon to Montreal by USPS Express Mail usually takes 3-4 days. When can ship one pair of cylinders in an Express Mail envelope (with a shipping box inside the envelope), or all six cylinders in an Express Mail Box. The cheaper Priority Mail service is a bit unpredictable, as far as transit time goes.

gbakerkingston, I hope you were not concerned about my previous clarification of our turn around time; I much appreciate your kind words and only wanted to avoid concerns that others might have had on how long it will take to get their cylinders back.

We will soon be offering "up-front shipping" service, where we send out cylinders from our stock first (at a slightly higher price plus deposit), and rebuild your old cylinders for the next customer after we get them back from you.



part numbers for reference and as keywords:

Bow tension: 54 34 7 025 600, or 54 34 7 025 599 for LH only (aka hydraulic cylinder for clamping bar p/n 54347025600 or 54347025599). There was a design change at some point that requires both cylinders to be exchanged together, i.e., you cannot have an early version bow tension cylinder on one side and a new version bow tension cylinder on the other side. The change relates to the fittings on the hoses going from the RH cylinder to the LH cylinder. Pairs of old cylinders and new cylinders interchange without any problem.

LH soft top lid or tonneau cover cylinder: 54 34 8 243 269 (aka hydraulic cylinder for storage cover p/n 54348243269)
RH soft top lid or tonneau cover cylinder: 54 34 8 236 956 (aka hydraulic cylinder for storage cover p/n 54348236956)
(switch for LH cylinder: Hall sensor 54 34 7 043 558 and bracket 54 34 7 042 482)

LH or RH master cylinder or main lift cylinder: 54 34 7 025 593 (aka main drive hydraulic cylinder p/n 54347025593)

taylor192 03-30-2013 12:51 PM


The flashing red light o'death was the hardtop install kit missing. I unfortunately sold it before knowing my car was coded to require it, so the CVM was complaining the sensor that detects the hardtop is installed was malfunctioning. The hardtop kit is $140, yet I really only needed the sensor. I found out the hall sensors are all the same, and only $23: http://www.ecstuning.com/Search/61318378940/ES168252/

With the sensor hard wired in the top finally came to life... only to stop after unlocking from the wiindshield, so I must have broken a wire in the harness when replacing the main lift cylinders. Probably when trying to force the stupid gas strut back on.

Also installed the rebuilt storage lid cylinders Klaus rebuilt for me! Thanks Klaus! Re-installation took about 30 mins.

taylor192 03-30-2013 03:04 PM


:cry: When will this end!

Filled up the reservoir, pushed the button, the top opened successfully! yet the puddle came back in the same location. :cry: The puddle is worse than before so I suspect a line is broken.

Looking closely (without removing the top) it looks like one of the lines to the cylinder got pinched, I must have routed it wrong. Its #11:



TopHydraulicsInc.com 03-30-2013 07:19 PM

cut hydraulic line/hose
Bummer! BMW uses good material for the hydraulic lines, but it is still important not to get the lines kinked or cut. Fortunately, Top Hydraulics is manufacturing hydraulic lines, and we can make one for you once we know for sure which one you need. We currently make the BMW lines out of the same exact material as BMW.

It's too bad that you have to take the top off again to get access to that particular spot. Look at the bright side: you are able to figure this out by yourself, and you can help out many future readers by documenting how to do the job perfectly! :)

Also, if your car were a Bentley Azure or a Rolls-Royce made in the late 90s, you would now have to replace all 26 (!) hydraulic lines, because they were made of a material that disintegrates about as quickly as the cylinder seals...



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