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Thread: Soft top window thread

  1. #1
    Team Z8 KenZ8's Avatar
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    Soft top window thread

    Has anyone had a problem with clouding on the plastic window? It is very uniform, and getting difficult to see through on a sunny day. Any history on how BMW treats the problem under warranty?

  2. #2

    It is easy to clean....

    There are several products available to clean the cloudy plastic. I use BMW's own soft top screen cleaner, you can buy it at any BMW dealer. (The very plentiful Z3 has the same problem, so it is a product that is in contsant supply.) It is quite amazing how well it works, the screen really looks like glass after cleaning.
    Andrew Macpherson

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

  3. #3

    Post Plastic Rear Window re-glue instructions.

    These are the official instructions and illustrations for repairing the seal between the fabric and the plastic of the rear window panel. It is recommended that you use the original adhesive, which is available at most BMW dealers. It's called 'Terokal' and the part number is: 83190153050
         
    Andrew Macpherson

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

  4. #4
    Sport Button On - DSC Off Dogsbreath's Avatar
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    Soft Top Window Fix

    I know a number of people had trouble with the surround of their soft top window seperating. It happened to me about 2 months ago.

    Of note - the glue that BMW used was still tacky - they are doing something wrong there. Regardless, I applied a very thin layer of 'Dap 100% Clear Silicone Glue for Aquariums' and pushed the surround back in. I then ran my fingers hard over the surround to work the glue into the fabric. I did not drive the car for 48 hours. It has held for over 800 miles and that includes driving at high speed with the top up and the windows down (which I believe was the event that precipitated the seperation in the first place).

    This glue is cheap and it really appears to have worked. One advantage of the silicone is that if you do spill a small amount or some leaks out of the seam you are closing just wait a few minutes until the glue is tacky. Then you can rub the glue vigorously and it will come off the surface.

    Dave

  5. #5
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    Smile DAP Silicone adhesive

    Thanks Dave. My top has bee separating just above the window. I plan to try your suggested solution rather than have the dealer try it. Dave D. Dez1

  6. #6
    Sport Button On - DSC Off Dogsbreath's Avatar
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    Soft top window

    After 3 months my silicone glue has started coming apart. I will get the BMW guys to have a crack at it.

    Dave

  7. #7

    Thanks for the update....

    I think that this will be a constant issue with our cars, as the rubber lip is a little too little to give a good purchase for the glue.
    Andrew Macpherson

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  8. #8
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    mine has seperated again, 4th time

    guess I will try the silicone idea, can't be any worse than the lousy dealer fix. I fixed my seatbacks myself and they have held fine ever since.

  9. #9
    Z8 Addict Z8doc's Avatar
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    It is my understanding that this is really NOT a glue

    issue but an issue of bad design of the rear window. The canvas top around the window is not supposed to be glued into place as the the window is "designed" to be replaced from time to time. IF the entire circumference of the top were glued down, then you could not unzip the plastic window and replace it (yes, there is an industrial zipper around the window that requires a special tool to unzip it, which is done from the inside of the car). The design flaw is that the rubber stripping is too small to catch the fabric adequately and every top made has too little canvas to "tuck it under" like it is designed to.

    I saw a post somewhere where the person stated it was from the zipper protruding outward and that his dealer replaced his window and rezipped it flat and did not have a problems after.

    I agree with Macfly that this will be a constant issue -- maybe the Club could help stimulate BMW to tackle this annoyance once the frame issue is over?
    Best Regards,

    Jeff
    61995 Silver /// Rot - Original Owner
    Z8 Club of Germany e.V. #102

  10. #10
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    Soft Top

    Hi Friends

    Again I ask for a little advice. I do not tolerate the sun and have never had the hardtop off of my car, but I am honestly worried about the soft top. Does the soft top come out of the car for easy storage? Should I do this and if so how is it done? Do you use the hardtop rack?

    The other evening, right after sunset, I took my daughter for a ride in the Z8 and we agreed that it would have been nice to have the top down, so I am about to consider removing the top. My car dose not squeak or rattle and is wind tight. I won't remove the top if I will loose these attributes. How has the experience been on replacing the top? How is the car with the soft top up? Wind noise, etc? As a coupe, I think the car is just great and I don?t want to mess it up.

    By the way, I have never even opened the big box that I believe contains the top rack the rack nor have I opened the heavy clothe packages that have the convertible stuff in them. If I wanted to sell the car, this might be a selling point ? still wrapped up NOS.
    Thanks for any information or advise
    Hap

  11. #11
    Z8 Addict Z8doc's Avatar
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    You are truly missing the best part of the....

    Z8 experience by NOT driving topless (the top of the car that is... )!!!

    To answer your questions:

    1] The hardtop comes off very easily and requires 2 people of reasonable strength. My wife is 5'2", 120# and can not lift the other side (to my satisfaction) for fear of her dropping it. The top is not particularly heavy but cumbersome and hence anyone of small stature will have some trouble manuvering it and tilting it to place it on the hard top rack.

    2] The wind noise is more noticible with the convertible top up but I was quite surprised out how little there is compared to other convertibles I have owned in the past so I think it is fine. Wind buffeting is just "OK" with the top down, the wind screen (in one of those bags you mentioned) does help and with it on and the windows up, you can hear the radio pretty well and have a conversation with your passenger easily and experience minimal wind buffeting. I personally, LOVE my Z8 MORE topless, as it is truly a gorgeous car when the top is down and the boot cover is on!! (PS: if you are not going to use the boot cover and the windscreen - they are leather so do not forget to condition them every so often to keep them in good shape).

    3] Then when convertible season is over, I put the top back on -- it's is just like getting a new car all again as it changes the look dramatically. Word of caution here though, when putting the hardtop back on, make sure the softtop is tucked inside nicely and away from the anchor posts of the hardtop. It is easy to pinch the top when putting the hardtop back on and put a hole in your softtop!!

    4] Your post mentions removing the softtop? Not sure about this as I have never heard of anyone doing that? I really think there is no reason to, but I think you should make sure that the BMW cloth that came with the car is ON your softtop while it is stored and put away under the hardtop as the rear window is plastic and the cloth prevents scratching while stored.

    5] I have had my Z8 for 3 years (38,900 miles) and only this past winter did the hardtop squeak. My dealer ship lubricated a few of the mechanical parts/locking parts and the squeak is gone. The only recurring problem I have had with the top is the softtop rear window seal, the fabric comes loose from the rubber seal and is a frequent common problem as every Z8 owner I have known has that problem. Since you bought your's used, I'd bet your soft top has had that problem as some point too. A problem BMW is not going to recall and something that it looks like we all will have to live with.

    I personally think you are missing the best part of the experience without putting your top down. A nice spring, summer, or fall drive in the evening is PERFECT top down driving and an experience you should not deprive yourself of!! Send me your address and I will send you a big bottle of sunscreen (spf 50) and a big hat to help with the sun during the day!!

    Hope that help--
    Best Regards,

    Jeff
    61995 Silver /// Rot - Original Owner
    Z8 Club of Germany e.V. #102

  12. #12

    It becomes a very different car...

    without the hardtop. If eating miles and long freeway drives is your thing the hardtop really seals in the cabin well, keeping the car almost silent on the inside. I kept mine on for the first year I had my first Z8 because I was constantly at the track with it, and I also didn't have a stand or a safe place to stow it, so I just left it on. It is a great coupe with the top on, but like the Doc says you are really not getting the greatest gift the Z8 has to offer with the top on, or up.

    As you know we just did around 2,600 miles on the MITM drive, and I think I only had my top up thrice, and then only to take shade from the searing midday sun. For sunset and moonlit drives it is just incredible as a top down sportster. On the first day of the MITM drive Norcal and I took an after dinner spin from Furnace Creek Lodge in Death Valley up to Dante's Peak which looks out over the valley from 6,000 odd feet, and it was one of the loveliest top down night drives ever - stars and a crescent moon on a warm desert night suit the Z8 very well indeed!

    Certainly a lot of wind and road noise gets into the cabin with the soft-top compared to the hardtop, especially on the freeway. However it isn't that bad, and being able to drop the top and enjoy the car as a convertible when the conditions are just right is sensational. Avoid the high sun, time your drives right, and I think you'll be delighted. The heated seats and the heater are easily a match for even the coldest of conditions, so fear not - try topless out of the sun, and see what you think.

    The one thing that I really do recommend is this gadget, makes the whole affair so civilized and simple.

    I also always leave my soft-top up when the car is parked. I learnt this from J?rgen at the Z8 Club, who told me it is the best way to preserve it. Not shut tight all the way, but just in the fully up position before the catches bite and clamp it shut, so the canvas is nicely stretched and breathing, but there is no pressure on the rubber seals.
    Andrew Macpherson

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

  13. #13
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    Thanks Jeff

    Thanks Jeff and Andrew
    I live in So Cal so I do have a nice big hat. I used sunscreen when I was riding a bike, so I won't ask you to send me any, but I appreciate the offer and the information. I actually bought my 03 Z8 new and took delivery in Jan of 03, but have never removed the top. I am assuming that the other top is down there. She now has 8500 miles and I think I am about to remove the top. By the way, I just took delivery of my 06 Ford GT, and I don't need 2 coupes, so the roadster is looking better all of the time. My wife is in Russia right now but as soon as she gets back, I think the top will come off - in fact perhaps I will ask a friend for a little help and have it off when she gets back. You guys convinced me - thanks again. I'll let you know about my experience.
    Hap

  14. #14
    Z8 Addict Z8doc's Avatar
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    Macfly is right on all accounts ... as usual when

    describing the experience of driving with the top down. You really are missing the best part of ownership.

    As far as the EZ lift goes, I agree that it makes it very easy but my electric garage door opener conflicts with the space needed to have such a device and my garage bay is not long enough to use it with the car backed in so... I am left to do it manually.

    Hey Mac, do the lift points on that EZ lift put pressure marks on the rubber seals OR the fabric area inside the top when you have it stored away? Just curious.
    Best Regards,

    Jeff
    61995 Silver /// Rot - Original Owner
    Z8 Club of Germany e.V. #102

  15. #15

    No marks at all.....

    Those big fluffy pads like the one you can see on the top are what the top sits on underneath, so no marks at all.
    Andrew Macpherson

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  16. #16
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    Window protection

    Andrew et al
    Since the back window on the soft top is plastic, are any of you using anything to proactively protect this window. Do you wax it or use any type of plastic preservative? Thanks again
    Hap

  17. #17

    yes to both...

    BMW make a protector which some owners got with their cars (I didn't) and they also make a cleaner for the plastic screens that is really good, you can get both through your local dealer.

    Also this company makes both protectors and cleaners, I have thiers, both great too.
    Andrew Macpherson

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    Soft top window replacement

    The soft top rear window is beyond polishing. Salt air, sun and previous owner neglect has taken its toll. I've noted that BMW sells a replacement window that zips into the top. As there is no zipper slide, I assume there is a BMW proprietary tool required to remove the existing and replace with a new window. The alternate solution is to have a good top & upholstery shop replace the window with new eisenglass. Is there any member experience on this issue?

    SProZ8

  19. #19
    Team Z8 KenZ8's Avatar
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    I've had mine replaced

    by BMW and it's perfect again. They go through a proprietary sequence, and the top is like new.

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    Got a cost from the dealer for a labor install cost of $900+, but recall on the other forum, one owner said it took him about 2 hours to install with a helper. Might have been a Z3 top though. I'll make a few more calls for install prices, as dealer labor costs seem to vary greatly, and I've not married to any yet.

  21. #21
    If you are in the Bay Area then I'd recommend Peter Pan, but other than them there isn't anyone in CA I've found that I love. Replacing the window is pretty easy if you at all mechanically inclined, but replacing the soft top is a devil of a job, and one also frought with dangers becuase if the coating on the magnesium frame gets even a little nick on it it will start to oxidize crazy fast.
    Andrew Macpherson

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  22. #22
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    Just had mine replaced at Main Line BMW in Bala Cynwyd Pa
    It is labor intensive....took 2 men 4 hours......they had to restitch and glue and then because it was so tight, they had to put weight on the top in an almost closed condition overnight to stretch it so top could close.........It looks brand new!

  23. #23
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    Finally replaced the rear window with a new BMW unit. Cost for the window thru BMW was $470+ tax and the local upholstery shop charged their regular BMW price of $75 for a seamless install. He complained the interior area was tight for working in due to the roll hoops. Looks clear. Rain tight? When's the next rain in SoCal.

    Steve

  24. #24
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    I recently inquired at my local BMW dealer in Bloomfield Hills, MI about the BMW soft top screen cleaner. I was advised that they no longer carry the product!?!

    In perusing the autopia car care web site, I came across Plexus Plastic Cleaner and Polish. Wonder if any have tried and what there experience has been. Or, any alternatives to recommend?

  25. #25
    It seems that BMW has indeed stopped selling it, I guess they no longer make plastic windowed cars, so it got deleted from their catalog. According to Roadster Solutions these are the products BMW recommends, in service bulletin 540500, to maintain the clarity of your rear window.

    Meguiar's Mirror Glaze Clear Plastic Detailer #18
    A single-step solution that keeps clear plastic surfaces pristine. Regain the original crystalline clarity of plastic in need of restoration, using this convenient all-in-one product specially formulated by Meguiar?s. Simply spray it on and wipe it dry. You will safely remove surface contamination and achieve dramatic results on everything from window panels to instrument lenses.

    Meguiar's Mirror Glaze Clear Plastic Cleaner #17
    Safely removes hairline scratches, dirt and grime. Clear plastic that has lost its clarity due to significant contamination and fine scratches should be treated using the two-step process. Meguiar?s non-abrasive, alcohol-free Plastic Cleaner aggressively cleans and removes scratches without harming the surface. Follow up with the #10 Plastic Polish for a perfect finish.

    Mirror Glaze Clear Plastic Polish #10
    The finishing touch for maximum clarity and brilliance. Meguiar?s Plastic Polish provides the second step in the two-step restoration process for clear plastics. One easy application protects surfaces previously cleaned with #17 Plastic Cleaner. You will restore the natural brilliance, while leaving behind an anti-static coating that helps repel damaging dust and dirt.

    You can order them from Roadster Solutions, scroll to bottom of this page.
    Andrew Macpherson

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

  26. #26
    You could also try this one from Griots Garage, let us know what you find, and how it works.
    Andrew Macpherson

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

  27. #27
    Team Z8 jawz's Avatar
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    I can vouch for the Mirror Glaze. It's used extensively in the helicopter industry to keep plexiglass clean and clear and works great on the plastic windows of both the Z3 and Z8. Amazing results.

  28. #28
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    Thanks for the tip!

    I will try the Maguire's and report back.

  29. #29
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    I use Maguires on the Z8. I really should do it more often, but when I use it, it does the trick.

    Recommended!
    thegunguy

  30. #30
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    Just a thought about permanetly glueing down the edge around the rear window is that it might make it impossible to replace and ruin any chance at reinstalling a window it can be repaired .DO NOT USE silicone or super glue .A thin coat of contact cement is always plyable and easy to pry up when replacing a window .Don,t leave top stored down in garage when not use it causes permanent creases and if strings are broken or came loose it could possibly cut top

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    so are you saying

    use contact cement. I am having the same issue on a new top!

  32. #32
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    Reglue window

    I use contact cement to install tops and i put very thin layer on both sides and let it tack up and stick it flat and tuck under bead email if you want me to do it uphguy

  33. #33
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    where are you located?

    Quote Originally Posted by uphguy View Post
    I use contact cement to install tops and i put very thin layer on both sides and let it tack up and stick it flat and tuck under bead email if you want me to do it uphguy

    Hey UPH GUY...thanks for the info....where are you located?

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    top help

    Redwood city

  35. #35
    Sport Button On - DSC Off FWK-Z8's Avatar
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    The bead around the window is part of the top, not the window, so whatever glue works on it will not effect window changing.

    Roaster Solutions sells window protectors for Z8's

    http://www.roadstersolutions.com/page42.html

    They are great people to deal with

  36. #36
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    Window bead is sewn to window not top

    The bead around the window is sewn to the plastic window and half of the zipper. The other half of the zipper is sewn to the top. A new window comes with a bead to hide the raw edge of top when zipped together. The raw edge pulls away at the top of window because of being stored down, the double back tape also sewn in will let go because the top being bent in down position, permanent bonding is only a problem later when trying to clean surface and bonding raw edge top to new window edge, it takes a lot of time to clean well when other adhiesives are applied. It is easier to tuck edge of top in place when top is up with small plastic tool

  37. #37
    Just an FYI -

    The person posting as "uphguy" is the person who does all of my convertible top work. I have used him for nearly 30 years. There is no person I trust more to work on convertible tops.

    Thanks
    Dana Caldwell
    Service & Parts Director
    Peter Pan BMW

  38. #38
    Great to know - I asked him if he'd post a complete soft top care overview a couple of weeks back, so hopefully he'll include all his details when he pops that up.
    Andrew Macpherson

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  39. #39
    Sport Button On zed_eight_eh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by macfly View Post
    There are several products available to clean the cloudy plastic. I use BMW's own soft top screen cleaner, you can buy it at any BMW dealer. (The very plentiful Z3 has the same problem, so it is a product that is in contsant supply.) It is quite amazing how well it works, the screen really looks like glass after cleaning.
    Thanks, that's on the to-do list.

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    So is there a new fix for the fabric coming away from that rubber lip?

    Just saw my top doing this, my bad, checked everything on the car but that! Can you have a interior palce redo the lip or just try the dealer fix; I am taking it in tomorrow as the new headlamp leaked after after I ahd it detailed....thanks, max

  41. #41
    Z8 Ate My Homework! Norcal's Avatar
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    I think the dealer fix is the best option, but some of us have had it done a couple times at this point.

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    Where is the zipper?

    I had not noticed a zipper associated with the rear window in the soft top, can I see it from the inside of the car; what about a larger rubber molding to go higher up on the fabric??dogdoc

  43. #43
    You can see the zipper in the third post in this thread, and many of us have asked for a wider rubber flange from BMW, but so far it has fallen on deaf ears, and nobody else has come up with a suitable replacement idea, but it does remain in place pretty well once it is reglued properly.
    Andrew Macpherson

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  44. #44
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    The zipper is glued shut. It's really just a alternative to stitching, making for "easier" changes of the plastic backlight. I've had mine fixed once, it's generally good for a few years. It needs it again, but bah. The only time the top's up is at a hotel or something on the road and up but slack in the garage. If it's not bad, you can tuck it back in with a plastic spade or interior trim tool.

    All the cool kids have a little fabric hanging low on their Z8s.
    thegunguy

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    Took it in today.

    After driving for a week a few items, that being one, the other was the NEW headlamp with moisture in it; hell they just put it in last week, washed the car and voila! dog

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    Help on operation of soft top please!

    The other day I finally get brave and take the hard top off,I then as instructed use the Allen wrench to tighten the top down, and away I go. Sometime later I lost my mind and I hit the top button thinking I am putting the windows down; the "top" dash ligh starts flashing and I realize it is no longer secured so I pull over and get the wrench and do it again, alarm on dash goes off and I am good...so the question is , when yo hit the top button to put it down does that automatically disengage the locking mechanism,did I break it, or do you NEED to use the wrench EACH time to loosen that center holding tab AND then push the button for it to retract, did I make sense? sorry...dogdoc

  47. #47
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    You lost me when you said you took the hard top off but used the wrench to tighten it down. If it's off, what are you using the wrench on? It's hard to follow your scenario. Can you describe this more clearly?

    The soft top only uses the button in the console. The wrench has no use with the soft top. The hardtop uses the wrench stored in the driver side vent. The hard top does not use the button on the dash. If you press it, the top can raise under the rear deck, potentially damaging both tops.

    I'm not sure what "center holding tab" you're using the wrench on, but there's nothing in the center of either top that uses a wrench. The only thing that I can think of is the pull down to engage the latches on the soft top. There's no need to use a wrench there.

    There's an excellent description of both procedures in the operator manual.
    thegunguy

  48. #48
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    I just remembered there's a manual release in the center of the soft top. This is for emergencies where the electric release won't dis/engage.

    I'd take another look at the manual for the top operation. It's pretty clear.
    thegunguy

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    Correct!

    According to the manual you are to use the "Allen wrench" in the TOOL KIT, not the tool inside the hardtop;I had to read this over and over b/c I kept trying to use the hardop tool and it wont fit; there is a plactic cover over a hole in the soft top right in the middle,the middle being where it would be centered over the rearview mirror when locked in; you "pop" the tab out just like the ones over the visor, then you insert the allen wrench and turn clockwise to bring up the "locking teeth" (I will call them) up. Once the top is on the front you use the allen wrench in the CENTER piece again to lock those two teeth in place,as you turn it counter clockwise I recall you can see the top tightening down along the front; wish I had a pic to show...then snap your plastic cover over it again, did I lose you again, sorry.

    Ok just saw your last note; so maybe what I did was when I hit the button it DID release the locking mechanism and I do not need th wrench, but then how does it lock in place without it cinching it down without the wrench, do you hold it on there and hit the button again, I could not get it to lock without using the allen wrench> My friend and I read that thing over and over....

  50. #50
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    See my previous note. You're doing the manual close noted in the section on "In case of electrical malfunction". This is not the regular procedure for operating the top, and there's no tool needed. Try the manual beginning on page 41.
    thegunguy

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    ok will read it again.

    good, cause that was a PITA! thnx, lost in Seattle, Max

  52. #52
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    There is a note in the manual that the manual top operation is for closing it only. If you used it to ever release the top, you might have damaged the mechanism.
    thegunguy

  53. #53
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    It's also a good idea to download the manual form the PDF section. Makes for easier searching.
    thegunguy

  54. #54
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    My BMW dealer says Meguires made the BMW product that they no longer carry - a 2-step process.