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e36 cabrio top faq

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Joined: 22 Aug 1999
Posts: 3087
Location: Seattle, WA USA

PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2008 12:47 am    Post subject: e36 cabrio top faq Reply with quote

A compliation of various helpful threads about VERY common vert questions. It is a work in progress, so if it took you a long time to find some vital info that you think should be easier to find, send me a PM with a link to it.

Post up your own helpful links. PLEASE try to keep this thread free of chit-chat, questions and other things that are not helpful bits of advice for solving common vert-specific problems. I'd like for there to be a clear, easy to read thread where the answers are easy to find. Hopfully, this will allow seach-aphobic n00bs to find the info they need without creating another thread that we've all seen a million times!

A PDF of The 1997 Owner's Manual
Owner's Manual (

A PDF of the E36 Bentley Repair Manual - AKA "The Bentley"
Bentley Repair Manual for all E36 Cars (

The Amazing Convertible Top PDFs
General Info, Troubleshooting Microswitches

Link to Thread With PDFs (some of the attachments in the linked thread are duplicates):

- Resetting Convertible Top Motors After Emergency Release (post 6)
- Various Adjustments: storage lid locks, storage lid motors,
- Replacing the whole soft top
- Replacing Tension Straps (This is post 1, attachment 4; and post 3, attachments 4 and 5 - They are all the same, dont bother reading all 3 of them. Please note that its label is misleading. The top jamming against the storage lid is not the same problem as the lid jamming against the top.)
- Replacing the convertible top motor and the storage lid motor
- Troubleshooting semi-automatic soft tops
- More General Info
E36 Convertible Tops (

Directions for Replacing The Soft Top
Buy the top on ebay for about $400 and DIY.
Elefntkpr did it in a day! (

Convertible Top: Clunking, Strings, Microswitches, Adjustments & Emergency Handle
This info is also available in the book "101 Performance Projects for your BMW 3 Series"
Pelican Parts (

Soft Top Hits Storage Compartment Lid When Lowering The Soft Top Into Compartment
You need to replace the 2 shocks that support the storage compartment lid. Or, only operate the top with the car facing uphill.
A post from the Tension Straps thread that tells how to change these shocks. (

Storage Lid Hits Soft Top While Compartment Is Opening While Lowering Top
You need to replace the Tension Straps in your car.
Some people have also had good luck with using zipties to pinch off about 7cm of slack in the straps to shorten them.
Replacing Tension Straps - See Post 1, 4th Attatchment (

Possible Solutions For A Leaky Top:
1. Rubber conditioner or moisturizer. AKA "gummi-pfledge"
2. Soft top fabric water proofing treatment
3. Get a completely new soft top
4. Clean any dirt or grime from key sealing points
5. Silicon caulking (
6. Replace the rubber seals (post 23 in link below)
7. Remove the front plastic from the soft top and clean & condition it thoroughly.
Discussion on Fixing Leaks (Summed Up In The 7 Points Above) (

C-Pillar Strings For Securing Headliner
A post with links to string info and some other vert stuff (
Restring Pattern made by yours truely (

Rollover Protection Pop-Up Bars
General Information On Pop-Up Bars (
Resetting Pop-Up Bars After They Have Deployed (

Make Your Vert Quieter
Lubing Joints Of Convertible Tops (
Adjusting Hardtop Front Latches & General Hardtop "Clunking" Solutions (

Plastic Rear Window
Cleaning & Polishing Your Nasty Rear Window ( plastic polish should be fine, some of us have our favorite products.
How To Zip In A New Window ( (Skip to posts 20 and 21)

Top Does Not Stow Away Completely, Lid Does Not Close Completely:
Straightening "the metal rod" helps, but there are a few other things in the first thread listed here that you'll want to do to solve this problem 100%.
Minor Soft Top Repairs (
Straightening A Metal Rod (

Wind Deflectors
All About Wind Deflectors. YES, THEY DO WORK! (
Fixing A Wind Deflector That Falls Down Randomly (

Soft Top Maintenance:
Products we use on our softtops to clean and protect them.
Be sure to get some rubber conditioner too!
Cleaning & Conditioning (
Minor Soft Top Repairs (

Resetting Convertible Top Motors:
Is your top stuck? Did you pull the red emergency handle? These could help.
Simple Instructions To Reset Motors (
Links to another thread with BMW's Directions attached (

Thoughts On Structural Integrity & Stiffness:
As of today, no one makes a rollbar for the e36 vert. If you want one, it needs to be custom made.
Discussion (

Installing The "Hardtop Install Kit" - With Pics (
Other Kit Installation Directions (
Thoughts On How Rollover Bars Might Work With Hardtop Installed (
Want to buy a hardtop? Try forum classifieds, ebay, and craigslist. Be willing to travel to get it, and dont be afraid to make a hardtop-only offer to someone thats selling the car with the hardtop. You shouldn't have to pay for that $1500 for one, many people have gotten them for less - closer to $1000. Try to get the stand too. Yes, you DO need the hardtop install kit. It is about $120.
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