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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 08-10-2014, 05:11 AM   #1
supra48
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Join Date: Feb 2014
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My Ride: 325CI Convertible 05
operating the top without engine running?

Hey all,

I have an E46 325ci convertible 2005, I bought it 8 months ago from Texas, and had it delivered to my country (Lebanon), lovely car! I did a search on the forums but couldn't get a clear answer to my question, so I thought about opening a thread to ask it

I have tried to use the key to open the windows and top once or twice, and it worked great, using the remote, or by putting the key in the door, but my main concern is that the battery might fail eventually, so, vert owners, share with me your experience in this. Does the roof operation require a big amount of power from the battery?

Have anyone used this functionality and when they tried to start the car afterwards, the battery failed?

Thanks in advance
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Old 08-10-2014, 05:26 AM   #2
jjrichar
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I had a battery fail when put into a shop to have work done on the roof. They obviously put the roof up and down over and over again and ended up trashing the battery. If you are going to open/close it once or twice between engine starts and battery being recharged, you won't have any problems. Starting the car is going to use more battery power than moving the roof, and you can start your car for years on the same battery.
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Old 08-10-2014, 06:12 AM   #3
jfoj
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Here is the issue with almost all convertibles and batteries.

Most convertibles are not daily drivers, they are either garage queens or seasonal drivers.

In the above cases the cars sit for a long time between starts and do not get driven for long distances.

It is not unusual for many convertibles to have problems with low/bad batteries due to the fact the cars sit too much.

I have 2 convertibles, BMW & VW, both daily drivers, do not treat them any differently than any other cars I own. So they are very different than many convertibles from a usage standpoint.

I close the top of my convertibles all the time without starting the engine and have not had any problems.

This being said, if your battery is original or even not in good shape, opening or closing the top may cause an issue and if it does, the battery should be replaced because opening or closing the top without the engine running should not cause problems.

If your car sits a lot, then you need to purchase a battery tender or solar charger. Just keep this in mind because even a good/new battery will not be happy sitting for weeks or months without driving the car.
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Last edited by jfoj; 08-10-2014 at 06:13 AM.
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Old 08-10-2014, 08:11 AM   #4
dknightd
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I open and close top without engine running all the time. Still have original battery ( 9/01 manufacture date - pretty good!). No problems so far. If opening and closing top with engine off kills the battery, then, it is time for a new battery. A close, then open, then start car, cycle is common for me - but I don't go up-down-up-down-up-down. I only drive my car a couple times a week (I walk to work). I park it in the winter with a battery tender. I have no idea what the previous owners did, I've only had it 2 years. One day the battery will fail. As soon as it shows any sign of weakness I will replace it.

Edit: just for fun, I went out and looked. It looks like there is a total of about 100amp fuses on convertible top. That is not insignificant. About 3 times what headlights use. But it only takes 30 seconds to raise (or lower) top. So if we assume (ass-u-me) the actual current draw is related to the fuse value, then lowering and raising top once is about equal to 3-4 minutes of having the headlights on without engine running. Should be fine

Last edited by dknightd; 08-10-2014 at 08:45 AM.
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Old 08-10-2014, 12:04 PM   #5
drevilkep
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfoj View Post
Here is the issue with almost all convertibles and batteries.
If your car sits a lot, then you need to purchase a battery tender or solar charger. Just keep this in mind because even a good/new battery will not be happy sitting for weeks or months without driving the car.
This is really the key. It doesn't matter what kind of car you have, if you let it sit without plugging it in, the battery is going to die sooner than if you drove it daily. Our Honda Odyssey's battery is just over three years old and it's already showing signs of dying. Not surprising considering it makes lots of short trips (not long enough to really charge the battery) and it has two power sliding doors and a power tailgate which are, of course, used while the car is not running. It's always best to buy a quality battery and keep it plugged into a tender if you don't drive often.
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Old 08-10-2014, 02:22 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by supra48 View Post
Does the roof operation require a big amount of power from the battery?
supra48, congrats on your purchase, and glad to hear that you are happy with the car.

Here are the numbers in response to your question:
The electric motor of the hydro unit (hydraulic pump) pulls on average just over 15A while it is running. That's not much more than the window motors, and not even double of what the headlights use. If the pump ran for about a minute during a complete soft top cycle, then you would be looking at some 15/60AH=1/4Ah, which is less than 1/100 of the capacity of a new battery.

Conversely, if the battery runs down from a few soft top cycles, then it is clearly time for a new battery.

By the way, the electric pump motor is designed for low duty cycles. That means it needs to cool down for quite a while after use. I personally would not cycle my E46 top (if I had one) more than twice without a substantial break afterwards. A substantial fraction of the E46 hydro units (p/n 54347025595) that we get in for rebuild have failing electric motors, and usually as a result of overheating. http://www.tophydraulicsinc.com/en/b...ulic-pump.html



Another comment: Your 325CI came from Texas, an already hot climate, and it is now in Lebanon. Please keep an eye on the hydraulic cylinders, as hot environments make the originals seals in your six convertible top hydraulic cylinders fail more quickly than usual. Especially watch out for the two bow tension/clamping bar cylinders (p/n 54347025599 or 54347025600), as the hydraulic fluid dripping from them will blemish the vinyl on your tonneau cover (storage cover). See the photo and a location diagram below.





Klaus

www.tophydraulicsinc.com
http://www.tophydraulicsinc.com/en/56-bmw-e46
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54347025593
54347025600
54347025599
54348236956
54348243269
5434-8234530 (hydro-unit)
54347025592 (control unit)
54347025598 (improved hoses manufactured at Top Hydraulics)
http://www.tophydraulicsinc.com/en/56-bmw-e46
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Old 08-11-2014, 06:39 AM   #7
ramitchell
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Klaus: Thanks for posting that great information!
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Old 08-12-2014, 09:33 AM   #8
johnrando
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfoj View Post
Here is the issue with almost all convertibles and batteries.

Most convertibles are not daily drivers, they are either garage queens or seasonal drivers.

In the above cases the cars sit for a long time between starts and do not get driven for long distances.

It is not unusual for many convertibles to have problems with low/bad batteries due to the fact the cars sit too much.

I have 2 convertibles, BMW & VW, both daily drivers, do not treat them any differently than any other cars I own. So they are very different than many convertibles from a usage standpoint.

I close the top of my convertibles all the time without starting the engine and have not had any problems.

This being said, if your battery is original or even not in good shape, opening or closing the top may cause an issue and if it does, the battery should be replaced because opening or closing the top without the engine running should not cause problems.

If your car sits a lot, then you need to purchase a battery tender or solar charger. Just keep this in mind because even a good/new battery will not be happy sitting for weeks or months without driving the car.
Good point on the tender but DD probably depends on where you are. Here in SoCal I'd say most are daily drivers.

OP - It doesn't hurt to open or close your top on the battery only. But, I do notice it's ever so slightly slower than when the engine is running on mine, so I lean toward open/close with the car running if I can.
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Last edited by johnrando; 08-12-2014 at 09:33 AM.
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Old 08-12-2014, 10:01 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnrando View Post
OP - It doesn't hurt to open or close your top on the battery only. But, I do notice it's ever so slightly slower than when the engine is running on mine, so I lean toward open/close with the car running if I can.
Understood, and most of us probably do the same. The pump motor is designed to have almost the same output at 12V as at 14.4V, but there is a tiny difference. I cannot speak for BMW E46s, because I don't have one, but on my other verts the additional delay in opening or closing the top with the engine off lies a little bit in the electric windows being slower and mostly in having to turn the ignition key twice. The inconvenience of having to fumble with the ignition key is what makes me move the top with the engine running almost every time.

Time to get an aftermarket remote control module...

Klaus
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Some BMW E46 hydraulic cylinders, pumps, and valves that we rebuild and upgrade at Top Hydraulics:
54347025593
54347025600
54347025599
54348236956
54348243269
5434-8234530 (hydro-unit)
54347025592 (control unit)
54347025598 (improved hoses manufactured at Top Hydraulics)
http://www.tophydraulicsinc.com/en/56-bmw-e46
www.tophydraulicsinc.com

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Old 08-12-2014, 01:15 PM   #10
johnrando
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LOL Klaus. And, definitely agree the windows are slower w/o the engine on.
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Old 08-12-2014, 07:57 PM   #11
sgoetz628
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Everything is slower without the engine running. Biggest difference I notice is when running my little air compressor to pump up tires. Never really noticed a difference with the top. My top is frequently operated by key, especially in the summer, when I want the heat to go out before I go in. It's designed that way, so no damage. The proof, for me, is in the fact that my first battery lasted nine years.

Top Hydraulics - great info on the pump motor and your advice not to cycle too much at once. Thanks!
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Old 08-13-2014, 04:16 AM   #12
supra48
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Thank you all for the helpful comments, now I am opening my roof using the remote but when I want to close it using the remote, it just opens the cover, and the top starts going up, but it stops, so I have to unlock then lock the car again and keep pressing the key so that it resumes closing, any thoughts?

PS: I posted the photos of my car on the forums, if anyone's interested in seeing it

http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=1048423
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