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Thread: Soft top won't go down

  1. #1
    Z8 Novice
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    Soft top won't go down

    Just my 2000 Z8 out of winter storage and noticed that the top up/down red light was blinking on the dash. Also noticed that the top hand release isn't working; ie. no release motor noise when hand switch is pressed. Basically, the top appears to be stuck in he closed position. Have owned the car for 7 years and this is first problem with top.

    Where should I start troubleshooting this issue? Thanks.

  2. #2
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    Page 143 in the manual list the operation for manually closing the top, but warns against using the procedure to open it.

    I've never known the button in the hand grasp to be a release. I have only ever used it to engage the top when closing it. So, I'm not sure it should make any noise if you grasp it while the top is closed.

    Some ideas:
    I usually start with the simple things and check power first. Since the car has been in storage, are the battery and all fuses/relays good?

    The top won't lower if the windows are up, but it's supposed to lower them slightly automatically prior to the top motor starting. Have you tried lowering the windows yourself first?

    Perhaps the top isn't actually fully engaged. Maybe try putting some firm but gentle pressure on the outside where the two engagement hooks are. Maybe give it a bit of side-to-side wiggle to see if it seats.


    If the electronics are good, and it's fully seated, my next step would probably be the dealer.
    thegunguy

  3. #3
    Z8Mania
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    Try lowering and then raising the windows. Turn the car off, get out, lock it with the remote and get the beep. Then unlock, turn the car on, lower the windows then try pressing the top lower button.

    If that doesn't work- the windows weirdly reset the computers notion of whats going on- then its possible one of the microswitches for the top has failed. That happened to me- my top stopped working when it was half way down in a parking lot. Then I did the manual method Rifle shows from the owners manual and that worked of course. At the dealer I learned its common for the microswitches to fail.

  4. #4
    Z8 Novice
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    Thanks for all of the feedback. Will try your suggestions when I am back in town.

  5. #5
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    Z8Maina has a good point on the windows. I've had them lock up too where they would not do the raise/lower when you open/close the doors to seal. There's some combination of lock/unlock/power cycle, etc. that will reset them to normal function.

    That is likely the culprit with your top.
    thegunguy

  6. #6
    Did you find a cause & solution for your top problem?
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  7. #7
    Sport Button On - DSC Off jim's Avatar
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    Yo Z8 Novice, Same thing on mine just last week.
    Short answer: weather seal across front bow worked too well! Front handle isn't a release, just engages when putting top up & clip egagement. So, here's the deal, wife in car, start car, windows down, wife pushes top DOWN switch, you, standing next to car, gently lift (by windshield) top by clip area, it should pop open. Mine sounded like a champagne cork! also...you could sit in pass seat and push up on frame only if you wish.
    Now, I recomend you lay a nice coat of wax (don't even buff it off) on the top of the windshield bow so as weather seal doesn't marry the bow. Actually I've been thinking it would be good in storage situations to have top up but not latched BUT red dash light stays on when I attempted that one. This would lighten wear on side string pressure as well. Any other ideas out there?
    Good luck, Jim
    60041

  8. #8
    Team Z8 jawz's Avatar
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    BMW has some seal treatment called "Gummi-Pflege" (P/N 82 14 9 407 015) to keep the rubber in shape. An application of that should do the trick!

  9. #9
    in Coral Gables, Florida DirkZ8's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jim View Post
    .... Actually I've been thinking it would be good in storage situations to have top up but not latched BUT red dash light stays on when I attempted that one. This would lighten wear on side string pressure as well. Any other ideas out there?
    Good luck, Jim
    60041
    Jim, that is exactly the recommended "top-closing-procedure-when-in-the-garage". Close the top, so that the canvas and rear window don't get fold marks, but do not latch it, so there won't be too much tension on the meachanism and cables. Now there is another reason, so the top rubber won't "melt" to the window frame. This would be especially true when the car is stored for an extended period of time. Yes, the soft top warning light stays on, but not for very long. Maintenance of the rubbers is always a good idea of course.
    Dirk

    Alpina #142
    www.bmwccca.com

  10. #10
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    Yep, storage method recommend by the Z8 Club is to have the top up but not latched. This keeps tension off of the strings and the top fabric.

    I also keep the doors latched to the first catch (not fully closed) and the trunk popped (down but not latched). This helps keep the rubber seals from compressing over time.
    thegunguy

  11. #11
    Z8Mania
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    When I left the top down one winter and it tore upon my putting it up one day in summer, the dealer and also the specialist who came to put a new top on my car told me to always latch it- it keeps it under tension and if its not it will shrink. That was many years ago and I haven't had a problem since. Interesting concepts on the rubber seals. I suspect Im too far gone on those and one day I'll just replace them as part of long term maintenance.

  12. #12
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Z8Mania View Post
    When I left the top down one winter and it tore upon my putting it up one day in summer.
    This is why I believe they recommend to have it up but not latched, which is quite different than leaving it down and folded. Mine is taught except the last 5% or so when it latches. It's basically resting on the windscreen. So, everything is under some tension but not enough to stretch and stress the materials.

    I think it's one of those things that you can rationalize either way pretty convincingly. So, everyone should do what they believe is best. I just figured I'd go with the Club's recommendation since they're in close contact with the BMW engineers plus all the Z1 experience (as I understand it Z8 Club grew up from owners that previously had Z1s like J?rgen).

    What's probably of equal importance is keeping the top conditioned with BMW's juice.
    thegunguy

  13. #13
    Z8Mania
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    Interesting. I didn't know that about the Z1. The Z1 was one of the BMWs that got me into BMWs. I saw them when I was in Europe years ago and I thought: someday...

  14. #14
    Sport Button On - DSC Off jim's Avatar
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    So, the dash light does go out, so no battery drain?
    jim

  15. #15
    Z8Mania
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    I would think not then but I am a believer in a good tender- such as the CTek 3300 or 7002 (aka The Big Mama).

  16. #16
    The battery drains on the Z8 regardless, the alarm, clock, flash light charger and a bunch of other things stay on when the ignition is off and the key is out, you always gotta keep it tenderized.
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  17. #17
    Z8Mania
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    Right but I think Jim was getting at the fact that you could leave your car parked without a tender for a few days without any problems but if you see the light on it would likely drain the battery quicker and that would require a tender every time you park it.

  18. #18
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    The light goes out.
    thegunguy