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General E46 Forum
This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

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Old 10-30-2011, 08:29 PM   #21
Phoenix330ci
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Phoenix
Posts: 597
My Ride: 04 330Ci Convertible
Ok All, didn't want to rehash this old thread but it seemed better to keep all this information in one place.

I think I have found a temporary solution to the dreaded popping issue. Now if this solution doesn't work then I will probably continue on to the large hose clamp method as described above which I know will work.

Ok this afternoon my drive motor for the deck latch started to pop. Once you hear the popping sound DON'T screw with trying to make the top go up and down, you will only make the stripping of gears worse.

So that is my warning.

Ok there are plenty of pictures of the subject in this thread so I'll skip those. With the plastic top off, after you remove the back seat, you will see three gears. Refer to above pictures. Only the middle gear can be removed.

Slide the middle gear up after you press the button to remove the tension on the gears. Like mentioned above, the plastic cover has prongs that hold the middle gear down. I noticed that my prongs were still in tack and not broken. However, I did notice that the plastic ring molded into this cover which sits right over the gear to be worn down some, probably the reason the gear jumps up and then disengages.

The fix.

So with the center gear removed, there is a pastic bushing that sits on the bottom of this middle gear. If you don't see it on the gear then it is still on the post. take this bushing off, put the gear back on the same way the gear cam off and then flip this plastic gear and insert it back down on top of the gear. The gear has a recess that this bushing will fit right back into. By doing this it makes up a little of the difference between the gear and the plastic cover. Put the plastic cover back on and give it a try.

I have found that the drive unit seems to be working fine now. No telling how long this will last but I have tried it up and down several times now and it seems to work without popping. Too bad there is no place to get these spare parts for the drive unit. I'll try looking around later on the net.

If this fails then I'll go the hose clamp route. I know that pushing down on the cover did work when I applied pressure. Probably over time that center post with the plastic clips that goes down through the gear must get old and the plastic fail or warps or what ever. That is a pretty crappy design.

As an alternative and if someone can make this work, if you could drill out the plast cover and remove the prongs, get something like an expandable wall anchor toggle in the to catch under the gear and then use a screw with a washer to tighten it down would be a lot cleaner look. It is an idea but I haven't messed with it.
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Old 04-04-2012, 05:57 AM   #22
tcoz
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Hilton Head, SC
Posts: 13
My Ride: '03.5 e46 M3
Quote:
Originally Posted by trooters View Post
I found a simple solution:

1. Use epoxy to repair/reinforce broken/bent plastic prongs (not shown in images)
2. A hose clamp to wrap around the motor and apply pressure
3. wooden dowels (I had extras from Ikea laying around) to convert the compression from the hose clamp into downward pressure on the plastic cover.

Images attached.
Thanks so much for this fix. Due to some physical issues that I have, i'm not able to crawl into the back seat and do it myself, but I took it to the indy shop that I deal with and he did it for me. I got by with an $85 bill instead of >$300. Thanks again.
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Old 08-20-2012, 06:34 PM   #23
chrsmartin
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Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Virginia Beach
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My Ride: 04 325Cic
Also many thanks

Trooters solution worked for me also! After I clamped and doweled the motor under the rear seat, the red light was still flashing. I manually unlocked the top from the up position with the Allen wrench, opened it until it was just above the headrests and then pushed and held the close top button. The top closed completely and locked, and the windows closed. I released the up button and the red light was no longer flashing! I then pushed and held the down button and the top opened and retracted into the well and the lid closed normally. I went through several close and open cycles and it's all good!

The only problem is where to store the Allen wrench since the hose clamp now occupies that space on top of the lid motor! If you've been there you know what I mean....

Again, thanks for the info in this post!
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Old 09-10-2012, 09:15 PM   #24
JuanK20
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Location: Long Island/Queens
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My Ride: Porsche 911
this thread saved me from the rain! bump
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Old 05-01-2013, 07:28 PM   #25
Vivaxious
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Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 32
My Ride: 2003 M3 6MT 'Vert
Quote:
Originally Posted by trooters View Post
OK, so I took a look at things more closely and I've made the following determination:

The sound is due to the gear wheel popping in and out and bouncing against the plastic cover, as well as the gear teeth grinding against each other. (see attachement: PlasticCoverFail.png)


The reason for the gear being loose is due to the plastic cover failing to keep adequate pressure on the gears being driven by the covertible top motor (p/n: 51258248308). It seems that one of the prongs in the plastic cover has worn over time (and bent), resulting in enough play that the gears pop out of place. (attachment: PlasticCoverFailWhy.png)

The unfortunate side of this is that I can't seem to find the plastic cover being sold separately from the $350 motor lid. It is absurd that a weak piece of plastic must be replaced with a $350 part. There also doesn't seem to be an easy way to fix this and keep steady pressure on the plastic cover and/or the gear so that things can function normally (it takes considerable pressure on top of the cover allow my top to open/close normally).


Notes for others
- You can access the motor cover by pulling the rear seat cushion from the car. It comes out very easily by yanking upward on the rear seat cushion.
- The plastic cover comes off very easily, working your way up from the taps nearest to the front of the car. Take care to not damage the plastic tabs.
this is the EXACT problem I had just the other day - this post saved me a lot of hassle. the shop thought the roof was locked and I was dealer bound. (not a chance I was going to accept that answer), so out came the iPhone and the forums...10 mins later I'd solved my own problem free of charge - I also learned a few things along the way. BUMP for a great write up and description & photos. I'll be working on a solution (got a few ideas in mind) this evening and will post it if I come up with one.

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Old 07-07-2014, 10:06 AM   #26
psbtwo
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Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: wallingford, CT
Posts: 1
My Ride: 325Ci
E46 convertible cover drive motor "fix"

I solved this provlem for about $1.87 and less than an hour.

Here's what I did;

Remove back seat to access the drivemotor module
Remove drivemotor module plastic cover
Using a 3/8x24 tap, tap the hole in the center of the exposed gear (sort of towards the rear and the only gear with a hole in its center, the hole provides the place for the cover hold-down taps to fit)
Remove the plastic-tabs on the hold down cover so just a hole exists
Obtain a flat washer, I used a bronze one, the thinner ther better, dia is about 1.18" with a center hole adequate to accomodate a 3/8' dia screw
I used bike chain lubricant, may be betrter lubricants out there but its what I had, and spread it on one side of the washer.
The washer is place on the top of the gear that has the tapped hole
I replaced the modified cover(hole) on the module.
Then I screwed a 3/8x24x1/2 in hex head machine screw(bolt?) threw the new hole, into the tapped center part of the gear support shaft.
CAUTION; only tighten the bolt to a light but firm(just finger tight) position
TEST the top for operation, feeling the cover around the bolt for motion, if it lifts a little, tighten the bold a "tad" more. DO NOT OVERTIGHTEN
When top operation is satisfactory, take a piece of good tape, I used Gorilla tape, and place over the bolt head to assure it does not turn.
Put the back seat in, lower the top and enjoy the day.

PS My BMW dealer quoted 2-3 thousand to repair..even if you repalce the entire module..$250 on e-Bay new...its still only an hour job at best.

What thieves the dealers are!!



Quote:
Originally Posted by trooters View Post
OK, so I took a look at things more closely and I've made the following determination:

The sound is due to the gear wheel popping in and out and bouncing against the plastic cover, as well as the gear teeth grinding against each other. (see attachement: PlasticCoverFail.png)


The reason for the gear being loose is due to the plastic cover failing to keep adequate pressure on the gears being driven by the covertible top motor (p/n: 51258248308). It seems that one of the prongs in the plastic cover has worn over time (and bent), resulting in enough play that the gears pop out of place. (attachment: PlasticCoverFailWhy.png)

The unfortunate side of this is that I can't seem to find the plastic cover being sold separately from the $350 motor lid. It is absurd that a weak piece of plastic must be replaced with a $350 part. There also doesn't seem to be an easy way to fix this and keep steady pressure on the plastic cover and/or the gear so that things can function normally (it takes considerable pressure on top of the cover allow my top to open/close normally).


Notes for others
- You can access the motor cover by pulling the rear seat cushion from the car. It comes out very easily by yanking upward on the rear seat cushion.
- The plastic cover comes off very easily, working your way up from the taps nearest to the front of the car. Take care to not damage the plastic tabs.
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