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Go Back   E46Fanatics > E46 BMW > E46 Convertible

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

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Old 07-22-2014, 02:44 PM   #1
oberholzer
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Just bought a vert and on the second day the top stopped working...Help!

Hey guys I just bought a 2004 325ci vert with a fully automatic soft top. The thing runs great and everything was just dandy until yesterday.

To make a long story short, I tried putting the top up to wash it but something seemed wrong. I took a look but didn't notice anything. Then I tried putting the top back down and now it was evident something was definitely messed up. I took a look again and noticed that the rear driver's side headrest back portion (the part with the metal rollover protection) had been busted and got sucked into the top when I tried putting it down.

Frantically I tried to put the top back up but it wasn't really nudging so I slipped my hand in and just pulled the headrest piece out. Then boom, hydraulic oil in the boot and on my driveway. The spring loaded retractable doors and the top trimming the doors hooked into also busted.

I followed the directions of the sticky on this forum to get the top off, but in the process I tore out the wiring from the hall sensor (Part# 54347043558).

I have come to the conclusion that it was line #23 that leaked, because it was split and bent in the exact same place the pictures on this forum show. So I just bought the $200 extended #23 hydraulic line from TopHydraulics.

Is there anything you guys can recommend? I don't think the cylinders are messed up but I'm not exactly sure what to look for beyond leaking. This is soul crushing because I wasn't aware of the headrest issue and the top was working just fine when I bought it.

Last edited by oberholzer; 07-22-2014 at 10:30 PM.
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Old 07-22-2014, 06:21 PM   #2
oberholzer
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Bump...would it be helpful if I posted pictures?
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Old 07-22-2014, 06:30 PM   #3
Swater330i
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I'd recommend copying this post into a thread in general chat. Much higher amount of people around to help you out. I've only worked on Z4 convertible systems so I can't help you myself.
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Old 07-22-2014, 07:22 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oberholzer View Post
Bump...would it be helpful if I posted pictures?
Yes. Sounds like you have one hell of a mess to fix.

"in the boot" means in the trunk right? Why would you assume line #23 busted if hydraulic oil was found in the trunk?

"inside of a latch" doesn't mean much. Which latch? Those sensors are cheap to replace.

If you have the top out of the car you might as well send the main and bow tension cylinders to be rebuilt. They will fail eventually and you'll be stuck doing this all over again. Then you don't need to guess about their condition.
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Old 07-22-2014, 07:23 PM   #5
taylor192
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Originally Posted by Swater330i View Post
I'd recommend copying this post into a thread in general chat. Much higher amount of people around to help you out. I've only worked on Z4 convertible systems so I can't help you myself.
No need. His explanation is reasonable to understand what happened. He needs to post photos so we're absolutely clear what is busted.
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Old 07-22-2014, 08:12 PM   #6
oberholzer
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No need. His explanation is reasonable to understand what happened. He needs to post photos so we're absolutely clear what is busted.
Ok taking pictures now. I'll post back here a lil later tonight. Thanks for your help thus far though!
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Old 07-22-2014, 10:50 PM   #7
oberholzer
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By "in the boot" I meant in the compartment the soft top rests in when it's down, not the trunk itself. I didn't assume line #23 was busted, I took the whole top off and saw that the line was pinched, had a tear in it, and was leaking hydraulic fluid. I edited my original post to get rid of the "latch" description. What I broke specifically was the hall sensor (part# 54347043558).

In your experience how long does it take for the main and bow tension cylinders to fail? This is a 10 year old car now, so maybe it is a good time to rebuild them, but is there anyway I can check their condition first before dropping even more money?

Here's a list of the parts I think I'll need to fix it (minus line #23):

Hydraulic Oil (ARAL-VITAMOL-ZHM) 250ml
Part# 54340394395

Door Panel Clips
Part# 51418224781

Left & Right Rod Assy Cover (Grau=gray) + Left & Right Covers
Part# 51438240797 (L) (maybe this? Part# 51437147947)
Part# 51438240798 (R) (maybe this? Part# 51437147948)

Tension Spring (need 1) & Push Rod (need 2)
Part# 51438163692 (TS)
Part# 51437029018 (PR)

Hall Sensor
Part# 54347043558
_________________________________________________________

I've attached the pictures to this post. Thanks again for any help you guys can provide.
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Last edited by oberholzer; 07-23-2014 at 11:21 AM. Reason: added list of parts
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Old 07-23-2014, 11:09 AM   #8
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Get ready for a hell of a ride. But taylor should get you there. Good luck!
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Old 07-23-2014, 11:27 AM   #9
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Get ready for a hell of a ride. But taylor should get you there. Good luck!
Haha thanks, I sure hope! It's been quite the emotional roller coaster these last few days but I'm thinking I can fix it with the help of my dad.

I'm actually going to this http://www.ecstuning.com/ place's actual store in Ohio today and it appears they seemingly have every part I would need in stock so I'm happy I won't have to wait much longer.
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Old 07-23-2014, 12:08 PM   #10
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Wow, you messed that up good! How the hell did you break the top trim!

Quote:
Originally Posted by oberholzer View Post
What I broke specifically was the hall sensor (part# 54347043558).
It does not look broken in the photo. You should be able to reattach that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by oberholzer View Post
In your experience how long does it take for the main and bow tension cylinders to fail? This is a 10 year old car now, so maybe it is a good time to rebuild them, but is there anyway I can check their condition first before dropping even more money?
There is no magically formula of when they'll fail, or anyway to check them. If you search you'll find many have failed prior to 10yrs, and many have had no issues.

My motto: do it right, or do it twice.

Since you just got the car I assume you'll be keeping it for awhile, and you've done all the hard work of removing the top from the car, so you might as well remove the main and bow tension cylinders and send them to be rebuilt. $400 well spent.

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Originally Posted by oberholzer View Post
Here's a list of the parts I think I'll need to fix it
You'd pay far less to source those parts from a junk yard than new, since you seem concerned about price. The trim pieces are just covers, you don't need them to operate the top.
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Old 07-23-2014, 12:17 PM   #11
oberholzer
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It does not look broken in the photo. You should be able to reattach that.
Yeah I forgot to mention I just shoved the wires back in. Idk if it's going to work or not.

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Originally Posted by taylor192 View Post
Since you just got the car I assume you'll be keeping it for awhile, and you've done all the hard work of removing the top from the car, so you might as well remove the main and bow tension cylinders and send them to be rebuilt. $400 well spent.
I feel that for sure, but I kinda want to get this up and running as fast as possible. I figure if they last another five years it won't be that bad to take the top off again and then send em in.

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Originally Posted by taylor192 View Post
You'd pay far less to source those parts from a junk yard than new, since you seem concerned about price. The trim pieces are just covers, you don't need them to operate the top.
Idk if I would find all the right pieces in gray plus that just sounds like a huge hassle to me as I haven't had much experience in a junk yard.
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Old 07-23-2014, 12:18 PM   #12
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But taylor should get you there. Good luck!
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Old 07-23-2014, 12:26 PM   #13
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Yeah I forgot to mention I just shoved the wires back in. Idk if it's going to work or not.
If you shoved them back in the connector, they could easily be soldered. If you shoved them in the sensor, then yes you need a replacement.

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I feel that for sure, but I kinda want to get this up and running as fast as possible. I figure if they last another five years it won't be that bad to take the top off again and then send em in.
That's fair. Once you've removed the top once its pretty quick to do it again (I did it 6 times when writing the DIYs).

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Idk if I would find all the right pieces in gray plus that just sounds like a huge hassle to me as I haven't had much experience in a junk yard.
Grey should be easy to find, it seems to be a common colour for the verts. If you have never experienced the joy of dismantling a junked car this is a good opportunity!

Good luck with it. Seems like you have a good grasp of what you need to do, let us know how it works out.
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Old 07-24-2014, 01:27 PM   #14
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let us know how it works out.
I called some junk yards and "pull-a-parts" but none had any BMW 3 series' at all. Ecs Tuning on the other hand actually does not have a store front, only a warehouse so I had to reluctantly order all the parts online. They should all be here in a week.

As for line #23 it is out for delivery to my house today. So I'm thinking I'm just gonna follow your (taylor192) .pdf guide on line 23 replacement. Thanks for all the work you've put into these guides and the help you give out on the internet. It's amazing!

Last edited by oberholzer; 07-24-2014 at 01:39 PM.
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Old 07-24-2014, 01:48 PM   #15
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Each time i go to Pick a Part theres like 1 E46. This past time it was a wagon. Did get lucky though since there were several E39s with M54s
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Old 07-24-2014, 02:02 PM   #16
taylor192
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Originally Posted by oberholzer View Post
I called some junk yards and "pull-a-parts" but none had any BMW 3 series' at all.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarbonZHP View Post
Each time i go to Pick a Part theres like 1 E46. This past time it was a wagon.
Interesting... perhaps that is a good sign.

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Originally Posted by oberholzer View Post
As for line #23 it is out for delivery to my house today. So I'm thinking I'm just gonna follow your (taylor192) .pdf guide on line 23 replacement. Thanks for all the work you've put into these guides and the help you give out on the internet. It's amazing!
You're welcome.

Definitely go for it. The trim parts aren't required to get the top functional. I had my top operating for a month without any rear seats/trim.

The sensor is required though. The CVM will detect the missing sensor as "open circuit" (aka failed) and lockout operation of the softtop.
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Old 07-24-2014, 03:08 PM   #17
oberholzer
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The sensor is required though. The CVM will detect the missing sensor as "open circuit" (aka failed) and lockout operation of the softtop.
Mine had two of those hall sensors though, does that seem right? I thought in the directions it said you only had to unplug one side or that only one side had it...did I misread?
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Old 07-24-2014, 04:23 PM   #18
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Mine had two of those hall sensors though, does that seem right? I thought in the directions it said you only had to unplug one side or that only one side had it...did I misread?
The top has several of those hall sensors. I'm not sure which one that is, although it does look like the hardtop sensor. If it is the hardtop sensor, there is only one on the drivers side and it is required.

I learned this the hard way by selling my hardtop install kit. Without the sensor the top would not operate.
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Old 07-31-2014, 01:19 PM   #19
oberholzer
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The top has several of those hall sensors. I'm not sure which one that is, although it does look like the hardtop sensor. If it is the hardtop sensor, there is only one on the drivers side and it is required.

I learned this the hard way by selling my hardtop install kit. Without the sensor the top would not operate.
Ok so I redid the #23 line with my dad, replaced the sensor, and finally got the top working again!! Refilling the reservoir was kind of hard though, as I needed to fill it up a little more halfway through the process of putting the top down for the first time since it "broke". Also for some reason it took a few attempts at holding the top down/up buttons for the blinking red light to stop flashing and for the system to go through its normal process again.

Thanks again so much for your help! If I hadn't broken parts along the way this would have only costed me around $210.
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Old 07-31-2014, 02:38 PM   #20
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Thanks again so much for your help!
Glad you got it sorted! Hopefully these success stories will inspire more weekend warriors to tackle problems with the vert top, its not nearly as daunting as it seems.
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