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

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Old 07-17-2014, 08:29 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Jacksonville
Posts: 4
My Ride: 325Ci
Convertible Top Broken

I was putting the top down today when it was almost shut I heard a loud metallic click click so I stopped. Pushed the button again and the clicking began once more. I then pushed the close button and nothing happened. I pushed he open button and nothing. No more clicking. I manually closed the top. Now it will unlatch, but ten stops.... Anyone have help?

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Old 07-17-2014, 10:58 PM   #2
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Location: Prescott, AZ
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My Ride: 2004 330Ci Conv.
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Convertible Top Broken

More detail please.

When you heard the clicking the first time, was the convertible top already folded into the compartment? Was the rear deck lid trying to close/lock in place?

When you tried to close the top and you say it unlatched, are you saying the rear deck lid/cover unlatched and then you heard the clicking noise and then the process stopped?

It sounds like the motor that locks/unlocks the rear deck lid is failing. These motors have plastic housings with metallic gears inside that skip and cause that loud clicking noise you heard. The problem is that over time the cables used to lock/unlock the read deck lid start developing more resistance (wear, age, lack of lubrication) and put more stress (torque) on the motor's metal gears. As the metal gears fight against that torque, they push up and away from each other causing the plastic housing of the motor to give, which allows the metal gear teeth to skip (click).

The motor can be easily accessed by removing the back bench seat. Uncover the flap that hides the motor by removing the ski pass insert. This is the flap that you had to uncover in order to use the Allen key to lock/unlock the rear deck lid manually or press that unlock button that releases the motor from the lock/unlocking cables of the rear deck lid. Just pull up on the front of the seat, towards the bottom where the seat material meets the carpet and the seat should pop up. Carefully pull the seat bottom forward freeing the back from the seat belts. The motor should be mounted in the center on top of the transmission/driveline tunnel.

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As you can see in the picture I took of my repair, the motor is inside this black plastic housing that contains the rear deck lid cables, motor, and related sensor/wiring. The cables can be seen in this picture through the opened access door.

My fix for this skipping gear problem started by checking the motor when I activated the convertible top feature. As I worked the top and the rear deck lid locked/unlocked, I could hear the clicking noise coming from this black housing. When I heard the clicking, I applied pressure to the top of this black housing. This allowed the gears to engage properly and the convertible top feature worked flawlessly. When I relieved the pressure the gears started to click again and the top would stop working.

Since my problem was related to the gears skipping my fix involved using a scrap piece of metal and zip ties to add downward pressure onto the black housings/motor gears. Even with my quick fix I occasionally heard the gears click when I would operate the convertible top. I went back to the motor housing and cable assembly and noticed that the cables had adjustment nuts. I adjusted the tension on the cables through these nuts in order to relieve some of the excess torque on the motor. Be careful when adjusting the tension for these cables. Too little tension and the rear deck lid will not lock correctly. Too much tension and the gears of the motor will click regardless of how much downward pressure you put on the gears/motor.

I have been using this repair for almost a year now and I have not had any further issues with my rear deck lid failing to lock/unlock. I know that this fix is not a permanent one but it sure does beat having to buy a motor that cost upwards of $200-$300 at most dealerships. In the event that the motor would fail altogether I was able to purchase a replacement rear deck lid motor. The pictures below are of the motor that is within the black housing assembly. You can see that although the motor body is encased in a metal housing, the gears are encased in a black plastic housing which leads to the problem when these gears experience excessive torque due to the aging rear deck lid cables.

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Hopefully your repair is as easy as mine. If all else fails you can buy a replacement motor from the dealership or source one online through one of our many sponsors. Good luck and let us know how the repair turns out!
2004 BMW 330Ci Convertible

Last edited by Nickvjr; 07-17-2014 at 11:03 PM.
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Old 07-18-2014, 05:47 AM   #3
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Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Jacksonville
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Yes, the clicking noise was heard when the rear lid was locking.

After I manually closed the top and manually latched it up front I tried to open it electronically. It would unlatch and open slightly, but stopped with no sound of anything functioning.

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Old 07-18-2014, 05:49 AM   #4
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Thanks for the reply!

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Old 08-21-2014, 07:58 AM   #5
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Location: North Carolina
Posts: 27
My Ride: '03 E46 M3
I have the same problem and I'm having the dealership fix it because I don't have the time, expertise or interest to deal with sourcing the part, installing, etc.

They wanted $704 to do it. I beat them back and it will be done for $590 or so.

Complete rip-off, but I've beaten them up on price as much as I can.

Thought that anyone who's experiencing this now or in the future would appreciate insight into how much this may cost - at least at my local dealership (Crown BMW in Greensboro, NC).
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