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DIY: Do It Yourself
Post here to share or improve your wrench turning skills! All BMW E46 DIY tips, tales, and projects discussed inside. Learn to work on your car and know the right BMW parts you will need!

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Old 11-09-2007, 01:27 PM   #1
meansartin14
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DIY E46 Convertible Top Interior Trim Flap Repair

Purpose:
The purpose of this Do It Yourself (DIY) thread is simple: save other E46 BMW Convertible owners money by repairing a fairly common (and fairly easy to repair) issue personally. More generally, it is my intent that other E46 BMW owners may benefit from my experience with this issue.

Background:
My wife and I purchased our 2001 BMW 330ci Convertible (sport/premium/HID) in July 2007. At some point approximately 3 months after owning the vehicle, we noticed that the rear passenger's side flap of interior trim had freed itself from the plastic trim piece that holds it flush to the top when it's up. This area of the vehicle, in a coupe/sedan, could be described as the vehicle's passenger's side C pillar. Unfortunately, we have no idea what caused it to break free.

Issue:
The following pictures detail the issue at hand:




In both pictures, you will notice the top of the plastic piece is broken. This plastic piece normally extends approximately another 2-3" upwards (see picture of new piece in following section) and has on it another attachment string. Somehow, this string was pulled off of the plastic piece forcefully.

Please note that the holes in the fabric were caused by this sharp-edged plastic piece poking through when the top was put up and down a few times before repair. If you experience this issue, do not put your top up or down until you repair it or your interior will likely suffer the same fate.

Before I embarked on my repair, I made sure to get a quote from a local trim shop that the local BMW dealer recommends. The quoted cost of repair was $367.00, not including the BMW parts! I was shocked. Although I have never owned a convertible before this vehicle, I saw the damage as minor and nowhere near $374.00 worth of labor. Boy was I right! That quote is nothing short of highway robbery.

With that, on to the repair.

Materials Needed:
The materials for this repair are impressively low. Here is everything you will need for the ENTIRE repair:
- BMW Part No. 54-31-7-135-351 - $128.40 (www.getbmwparts.com)
- VERY SHORT Torx T20 screwdriver - $3.99 (Sears)
- Short Phillip's Head screwdriver - $3.99 (Sears)
- Multipurpose/Multisurface Fabric Adhesive - $3.99 (Michael's)

That's it. That's a total of $140.37, if you have to buy each of these things.

Now, take into account that the trim shop's quote did not include parts. This means that they would have charged me approximately $495.40 to repair this issue. So, by doing this yourself, you can save in the neighborhood of $355.03! I call that worth it, especially considering the relatively small degree of skill required!

The Repair:
The most difficult part of this entire repair process was jockeying the top around to allow access to the innards of the passenger's side convertible top. I was in the back seat for some of the repair, on the outside of the car for some of the repair and in the passenger's seat for some of the repair. As long as you can accept this upfront, you will have no problems with the repair. For most of the repair, the top was about half-way up/down. One other note: do not attempt this repair without adequate light.

I estimate most people will be able to complete this in about the same time it took me: ~2 hours. Having done it once already, I am positive that I could now do it in less than 1 hour. Part of the reason it took me so long was because I hooked the assembly up backwards on the first try. On the second try, I did not thread the strings appropriately. Third time was a charm! Plus, I was taking pictures and mental notes through the process so I would be able to write this DIY article.

Now, let's get our hands dirty.

1) Open the BMW parts box you received from www.getbmwparts.com:



2) Inside, you will find two triangular-shaped plastic pieces with strings attached to the rear. There will also be a covered strip of adhesive on the inner side of each plastic piece. One of these is for the passenger's side and one is for the driver's side:



3) Take the pieces out of the box and determine which piece is for which side. The strings will point towards the rear of the vehicle and the adhesive strip will always be closest to the center of the vehicle. Grab whichever piece is needed and place the other one back in the box (NOTE: The piece used for this repair is on the left in the picture below)



4) Put the top in a half-open, half-closed position.

5) For reference, examine the non-damaged side of the convertible top with it half-way down (this allows the flap to hang loose from the convertible top frame). This was extremely helpful for me. Please remember that you will be reversing the way it is hooked up on the non-damaged side. The following pictures are all of my driver's side, which was not damaged. You will see the arrangement of connection to the convertible top frame and :
(Note the 3 string attachment points on the plastic flap)



(The single top string goes through 1 hoop, then is screwed into the convertible top; the connected string piece with the spring goes through 2 hoops, is screwed into the rear plate of the top with the spring retainer, then goes through 1 additional hoop before reattaching to the plastic flap)



(This is an excellent picture of the top-most single string's attachment points)




(Here, you can see the string loop, it's various connection points and the location for the spring retainer; the order and placement of each string is important; do not go over or under a metal part of the convertible top unless the non-damaged side shows it being there)


6) For me, the first thing was to remove the broken top-most string connection point. This is done with the Torx T20 screw driver.





7) Remove the various connection points for the bottom string loop. In the following picture you can see the 3 connection points for the loop. Now you understand why I said you need a VERY SHORT Torx T20 screwdriver. I have decently large hands and this was some tight maneuvering.



8) Remove the nylon loop that supports the bottom string loop. For me, this took QUITE a lot of torque to do:



9) After removing the 3 connection points on the metal frame and the nylon loop, you will only have that plastic piece connected by the rear spring retainer on the top's passenger's side rear plate. Once you have removed the rear spring retainer, you can remove the plastic piece from the vehicle entirely:



10) Place the new plastic flap's spring retainer over the hole in the rear top plate and screw it in:



11) Place the top part of the plastic piece in the pocket in the fabric and pull the top string through the hole:



12) Place the top part of the string loop inside the detached nylon loop and reconnect it to the metal frame:



13) Reconnect each of the hoops to the metal top frame (NOTE: This should cause the spring retainer to be put under slight tension):



14) Thread the top string through the connection point on the metal top frame and reconnect it at its original location. After this step, you should be looking at a fully connected plastic flap. I closed the top slowly to ensure I had it hooked up correctly and that it sat flush against the frame when the top closed:



15) Remove the adhesive strip on the plastic flap. Place the fabric on the adhesive strip to hold it in place temporarily while you glue. Make sure to line up the edges of the fabric with the ridge on the rear of the flap as shown in this picture:



16) Use the fabric adhesive sparingly to attach the fabric to the plastic along the ridge on the rear of the plastic flap. The corner of the fabric is cut so that it will fit the round corner of the plastic flap perfectly. Take your time with this step as this will determine how perfect the fabric will look when the top is up. After the adhesive is applied and the fabric is aligned with the plastic ridge on the plastic flap, let it sit without completely closing the top for 30 minutes.

17) Close the top completely. Crack the windows and let the vehicle sit open for approximately 6 hours, making sure that it is well-ventilated. The fabric adhesive is very smelly and we don't want that smell in our interior. Do not open the top for at least 24 hours. It should look like this now!


18) After 24 hours dry time, put the top up and down at least once. Verify that the piece sits flush against the metal frame and the fabric looks perfect. That's it! You're done. You just did about $500 worth of work for $140!! Take the wife to dinner to celebrate...

Annoyances During Repair:
Here's a brief listing of the annoyances I encountered during this repair:
- 1) Jockeying the top position numerous times
- 2) Moving to different positions in/out of the vehicle to gain access to various parts of the metal top frame
- 3) Convertible top hydraulics sank at one point and got top stuck on two plastic pieces jutting out from top compartment cover; fixed by gently pulling back on the convertible top compartment and pulling up on the bottom part of the top, while wife pushed top-down button
- 4) Hooking up connection points for string loop incorrectly
- 5) Not threading string loop piece through nylon loop

Conclusion:
All in all, this repair was rather uneventful. If this repair is approached with patience, it can be done by just about anyone.

I sincerely hope that this article helps others out in the future. Best regards!
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2000 Ford Explorer XLT
2001 BMW 330ci Convertible (gone, but not forgotten)
2003 Ford SVT Mustang Cobra (gone, but not forgotten)

DIY: Convertible Top Interior Trim Flap Repair

Last edited by meansartin14; 11-09-2007 at 01:30 PM.
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Old 11-10-2007, 12:35 PM   #2
rwh330CiC
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Excellent thread, one of these days I may fix mine, thanks.
Bob 2001 330cic, Ti Silver, red/black int, sport pkg
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Old 11-10-2007, 05:14 PM   #3
kankaloo
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Good Job! Very informative.... thanks!
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Old 11-10-2007, 06:41 PM   #4
meansartin14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kankaloo View Post
Good Job! Very informative.... thanks!
Glad to help
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DIY: Convertible Top Interior Trim Flap Repair
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Old 11-10-2007, 06:47 PM   #5
Tim30250
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Another excellent DIY write-up!!!
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Old 03-12-2008, 08:24 PM   #6
TheRiddle
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Old 03-26-2008, 10:05 PM   #7
flynhi757
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Thank you, Thank you , Thank you.... This was the best. I followed your directions and had replaced the strings in under an hour. Your info was very much appreciated.
Wally
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Old 03-26-2008, 10:12 PM   #8
slixx1320
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Very nice DIY. My brother needs to as a matter of fact. Forwarding it to him now.
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Old 05-23-2008, 02:14 PM   #9
Philbert
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major Kudos.

This is how a DIY should be done
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Old 05-29-2008, 07:33 AM   #10
TheRiddle
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Can anyone post me a some pics on the position of flaps when the top is entirely retracted??

i think mine are not correctly tied, and metal structure is biting them for the wrong position

thnx
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Old 05-04-2009, 11:27 AM   #11
harrisonhartman
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Thank you VERY much for your efforts on the DIY convertible article

I just had to say thank you for taking the time to generate and post this article. While I did decide to work with an auto trim shop ($125 each side plus the $100 kit from BMW), I definitely appreciate knowing more about the problem and exactly how to correct it so I could speak intelligently to the provider. My '01 325 CIC and I are very greatful.

Regards,
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Old 07-25-2009, 10:13 AM   #12
spydertrek
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Great DIY!!! I have the same problem with my 2002 330Ci but I only noticed it after it tore a hole in the liner. :-(.
Did yours break through? and what did you do to hide the damage? I was thinking of having something sewn in as a patch.
Great job! I ordered the wings today....
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Old 08-14-2009, 05:48 PM   #13
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Meansartin14

Is there anyway I can view the photo's you took of the repair? I'm new to this forum and not sure where they might be posted. I don't see them in the body of your instructions.
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Old 08-26-2009, 01:08 PM   #14
skyfire1201
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Has anyone else done this repair? The broken triangular piece on my car is still glued to the fabric, and I'm just wondering what you all used to unglue the fabric from the plastic. Would a heat gun do?
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Old 08-26-2009, 10:47 PM   #15
meansartin14
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Unfortunately, I seem to have lost the pictures for this thread. If I find them, I promise I will repost them. I still have a few places to look yet...

My sincere apologies. I posted them here to help people fix the same issue and I feel bad now that I've lost them and others are in need.
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DIY: Convertible Top Interior Trim Flap Repair
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Old 08-27-2009, 05:16 AM   #16
meansartin14
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Found them!! I knew I had them somewhere...

Now all I need to do is get a place to host them. Then, I need to talk to the mods to see if they can't let me edit the first post on this thread again.
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DIY: Convertible Top Interior Trim Flap Repair
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Old 08-27-2009, 03:40 PM   #17
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You are the man! Kudos
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Old 08-29-2009, 12:28 PM   #18
meansartin14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skyfire1201 View Post
You are the man! Kudos
Check your email. I sent the pictures to you until I can get them hosted again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gbryant261 View Post
Is there anyway I can view the photo's you took of the repair? I'm new to this forum and not sure where they might be posted. I don't see them in the body of your instructions.
Shoot me a PM with your email. I'll send you the pictures.

I need to figure out where I can host them permanently. I've contacted tim330i to see if we can't host them here on E46Fanatics.com, since that's really where they belong anyways.
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Old 09-04-2009, 06:48 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meansartin14 View Post
Check your email. I sent the pictures to you until I can get them hosted again.



Shoot me a PM with your email. I'll send you the pictures.

I need to figure out where I can host them permanently. I've contacted tim330i to see if we can't host them here on E46Fanatics.com, since that's really where they belong anyways.
Hello! in Italy your topic are really famous

Do you mail me the pics? I m ready to make the reparation....
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Old 09-08-2009, 04:46 PM   #20
meansartin14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by key750 View Post
Hello! in Italy your topic are really famous

Do you mail me the pics? I m ready to make the reparation....
Still trying to get a response out of the admins so I can host the pictures permanently here on E46Fanatics.com, but if you PM me your email address, I'll send you the pictures for the repair.
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DIY: Convertible Top Interior Trim Flap Repair
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