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E46 Convertible
The E46 vert forum. Talk about dropping your E46 top here.

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Old 09-08-2013, 02:46 PM   #1
CombatWombat
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Can't manually unlock top... help?

Forum,

My top isn't working on my newly acquired 02 330cic. There is no flashing red light so I believe the car thinks everything is in position to lower the top. When I press the down button, an actuator makes a whirring noise in the trim above my head at the front of the windshield but nothing happens.

When I try to manually unlock the top manually with the provided allen wrench the fastener just unscrews and falls out (it's very interesting looking BTW). I don't think that is supposed to happen. That leads to me to believe the gears are stripped in the unlatching mechanism.

Any ideas on how I can manually unlock the top so I can access what I need to?

Thanks

CW

P.S. The windows lower when I press the down button right before the whirring noise starts, so I believe the system thinks everything is good to go...

Last edited by CombatWombat; 09-08-2013 at 02:50 PM.
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Old 09-08-2013, 04:48 PM   #2
taylor192
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Re: Can't manually unlock top... help?

You have to cut the plastic unfortunately. Either one of the rods connecting the motor to the latches broke, or one of the latches broke.

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Old 09-08-2013, 06:14 PM   #3
CombatWombat
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Dang, that doesn't sound fun. Do you have a link to a DIY to show how this is done?
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Old 09-25-2013, 10:27 PM   #4
c stockwell
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This is just what i need to do to my vert top, Is there a link to a DIY ?
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Old 09-28-2013, 03:47 PM   #5
CombatWombat
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I finally found some time to work on this today. This plastic cover is actually metal sandwiched between two plastic pieces. I had to use a Sawzall to get enough power to cut through it. My dremel was barely doing the job.

I got the top open with a pair of pliers (you think the allen wrench is annoying??) after finding one of the plastic gears destroyed in the top latch motor.

I'll post some pictures later. I'm attempting to fix the nylon gear with epoxy right now as I doubt that piece is sold separately and I don't really want to buy a whole new motor assembly. My top latches are very sticky which is probably what caused the gear to break in the first place.

This is not really a simple DIY... I would imagine a shop would charge a lot of money to do this repair.

Last edited by CombatWombat; 09-28-2013 at 03:47 PM.
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Old 09-28-2013, 05:37 PM   #6
taylor192
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Re: Can't manually unlock top... help?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CombatWombat View Post
I finally found some time to work on this today. This plastic cover is actually metal sandwiched between two plastic pieces. I had to use a Sawzall to get enough power to cut through it. My dremel was barely doing the job.

I got the top open with a pair of pliers (you think the allen wrench is annoying??) after finding one of the plastic gears destroyed in the top latch motor.

I'll post some pictures later. I'm attempting to fix the nylon gear with epoxy right now as I doubt that piece is sold separately and I don't really want to buy a whole new motor assembly. My top latches are very sticky which is probably what caused the gear to break in the first place.

This is not really a simple DIY... I would imagine a shop would charge a lot of money to do this repair.
Good job doing it yourself!

Please post pics. It would be good to determine if the same piece breaks in the same way, then design a way to strengthen it.

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Old 09-28-2013, 11:42 PM   #7
CombatWombat
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Step 1: Place a towel in the car to keep shavings from getting every where.



Step 2: Realize Step 1 is futile. Stuff will get everywhere regardless.

Step 3: Remove manual unlocking port and use a Sawzall to cut through the trim. Be careful not to let the blade go too far inside as there is a lot of stuff under there (wires, etc)



Step 4: Keep cutting till you can access everything you need to. It's not easy to cut through the plastic as it has a thin metal plate with it also. Caution: The metal plate is very sharp after cutting it... I learned this the hard way (twice).



Step 5: This is what the motor looks like exposed. It's very easy to remove once you have access to it. Remove the two 10 mm nuts and just "unplug" the cables from the motor. There are two electrical connectors that need to be disconnected also. I tested the motor while I had access to it. When I hit the top down button the motor whirred away but the output shafts on it weren't turning.



Close up of the motor. The splined cables simply just unplug without any tools needed.



Step 6: Remove these 6 small torx screws from the motor housing.



Step 7: Identify the problem inside the motor. The broken gear is why the output shafts on the motor weren't turning when the motor was running.



This is what the broken gear looks like removed. It's very easy to disassemble, just take note of where things are and just start lifting them out.



My motor housing had tons of old grease and metal shavings in it. I decided to clean it out with brake cleaner.



I have an ultrasonic cleaner for small parts (and spent shell casings) so I threw the motor internals in there for about 12 minutes.



I am attempting to fix the gear with epoxy and this is how it currently is sitting (curing in my vice).



I will (hopefully) throw it back together tomorrow evening and see if it works. Otherwise I'll be going to eBay to spend $200-300 on a new motor
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Old 09-30-2013, 10:06 PM   #8
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Put it back together tonight. I manually tested everything and it worked great. As soon as I hit the power button it made one revolution and then *snap* broke again

Guess I will have to break down and buy a new motor. I'm thinking about other options but they are all just as expensive as buying another one.

The plastic trim piece I had to cut was a bitch to remove. 4 of the tiny allen heads stripped out and I had to drill them out.
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Old 10-01-2013, 10:40 AM   #9
taylor192
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Looking at how it broke I don't understand why you couldn't manually unlatch it. The broken gear connects to motor to a driveshaft that the allen key turns. The driveshaft would have been disconnected from the motor, yet still able to be turned by the allen key...
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Old 10-01-2013, 10:51 AM   #10
CombatWombat
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If you look closely at the broken worm gear it is pressed onto the manual drive bolt. With the plastic gear broken it has nothing to keep it from backing out of the motor when you turn it due to the way the brass gear meshes with the manual drive bolt. It is possible to tighten the latches but not easy to loosen them due to this. I was able to loosen them last night by using a t-handled allen wrench and applying a lot of force to the bolt while turning. This was impossible the first time as the latches were too sticky (I took them apart and lubed them with the cover off).

I am debating making a new gear as I have access to a 3D printer. I just don't have time to CAD model and mess around with this very much right now.

Last edited by CombatWombat; 10-01-2013 at 10:54 AM.
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Old 10-05-2013, 05:34 PM   #11
CombatWombat
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Just as an update, I got the top 100% functional again.

I broke down and just bought new parts from the dealer. The motor was $223.62 and the trim piece was $201.04. I didn't think that was too bad so I just ordered new, lubed all hinges with Tri-Flow, and slapped it all together.

Working great now. Just in time for convertible season in Arizona! Top will be down almost all winter

Post here if you need help with the DIY. I'd rate the whole job as a 5/10 in terms of difficulty.
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Old 10-05-2013, 06:14 PM   #12
hoppyE46
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sounds like you've got everything back together, I'm updating a post I started regarding failure of the top lock assemblies... if the 'rubberized-metal' cover is not yet reinstalled, I'd check the composite pieces on the that connect the 'latch drive arm' to the jack screw driven by the motor. My left side completely sheared off and right side has noticeable fracture lines... the top lock assembly is only sold by the stealer as an assembly, $500, the drive is not available separately...
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Old 10-05-2013, 08:17 PM   #13
CombatWombat
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I know exactly what part of the latch you're talking about... both of mine were cracked also They are still functional but who knows for how long. Maybe I should have spread some epoxy on the cracks when the cover was off
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Old 10-06-2013, 10:54 PM   #14
237_330ci
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Windshield latch

Did the epoxy work, and how long has it been this way.
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