E46 convertible top malfunction

I just scanned the group and didn't see anything in this....
I have a 2001 325Cic with the power convertible roof. Here in he NE US, it hasn't been used in 6 months or so. Today I noticed the light by the power
up/down buttons was flashing (like it does when you don't completely raise or lower the roof), but I hadn't touched any of the buttons.
I tried to lower the roof, and the windows went down, and the passenger corner unlocked, and that's it. Nothing else has been happening with up or down buttons. I even tried the door key switch
The light blinks all the time, there's an air leak now (since I tried to lower). The light even blinks when the key is out of the ignition.
Anybody run into this before? Any suggestions?
Thanks!
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Jerry wrote:

Is the top storage box in the trunk fully down and locked in position?
If so - you're looking at a trip to the dealer to get the error code read out.
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Thanks - yes, the storage is locked and down
I'll do a quick fuse check, but I fear you are right about a trip to the dealer...
Thanks!

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It sounds to me like you have trouble with the left side latch at the top of the windshield. You said the right side latch makes noise, I assume the noise is the sound of the solenoid firing that releases the catch on that side. You also said that YOU did not push any of the buttons, but is there any chance that somebody/something else pressed a button?
I do not know what the linkage looks like in your car, or exactly how it works, but it should be pretty close to that which is on my car -- a big difference being that mine is manually latched and unlatched, where yours is automatic.
When you operate the top, the car checks to be sure the trunk is closed completely because the storage cover and the trunk lid will collide if the trunk is not closed. I forget exactly but I'm pretty sure the windows will not drop if the trunk lid is not closed. Since your windows are working, I assume the trunk is in good shape.
Another check is for the latches at the top of the windshield to be released. My car makes this check first because there is no point in attempting anything else if I haven't operated the latches. My guess is that your car will make this check second, right afgter looking at the trunk lid status. My assumption here is that the latches at the top of the windshield do not need to fire if the trunk isn't closed. You've said that you can hear one of the latches try to fire, so I think the system is good here, but one of the latches has bound up. I think this is precisely where you need to focus your attention.
I'd be getting a helper that can operate the button for you while you try to prod the roof latch into submission. I'd be pushing the roof down tighter to the windshield to see if I could create less tension on the latch. I'd also be looking to see if the roof is properly aligned to the top of the windshield, and push the roof one way or the other to get the alignment back if it looks a bit askew.
Once you get the latch freed, then you can check the linkage and latch mechanism for various maladies -- burrs, proper adjustment, that sort of thing. I'd not suspect an adjustment issue quite yet, and look specifically for burrs and other kinds of things along that line.
The blinking light is telling you that the roof has not properly closed or opened -- and closed would be my first guess.

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Thanks Jeff, this was very thorough. Unfortunately, I fear a trip to the dealer is next
I checked all the fuses, no problem there
I'm fairly sure the guy at the car wash probably bumped the button, and I didn't see it because of some stuff blocking the lights.
I read in the owners manual to find the release (between 2 rear seats) and took the key to loosen and then tighten the 2 front latches. In all cases, the power function doesn't work at all - no noise, no window change, nothing...
Thanks for the help, I'll start saving up for the trip to the dealer - OUCH!
Jerry

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I'd be concerned that the blinking light is telling you the roof is not latched.
I wish I could give you more stuff to look at, but my car has manually activated latches where your car has electrically operated latches. Are you sure the roof is securely latched to the windshield header?
I don't think you have anything seriously wrong, my instinct is that the mechanism is out of time and/or bound up.
My car ('94 E36 convertible) has two actuators on the edge of the trunk lid that get pushed when the lid is securely closed. On cars that are NOT convertibles, these actuators are really just bump-stops, and they are adjusted up or down to align the trunk lid to the fenders. On the convertibles, these bump stops have plungers in the middle that actuate linkages that operate switches that tell the roof that the trunk is closed. If the plungers are maladjusted, it is possible that the trunk is reporting that it is still open, and this would disable the roof. Your car might be having an adjustment problem in this area. Using a friend to operate the button, hold the actuators fully activated and see if the roof switch works. (Be sure to IMMEDIATELY halt operation of the roof if it begins to move -- the roof and the trunk lid will collide and do damage to one or the other or both.) I'm not sure about your car, but on my car I can operate the roof in the trunk if the roof is either fully open or fully closed, but if I operate the roof or the trunk in mid cycle of the other then serious damage will occur. Either way, if you hold the trunk fully open, you will have plenty of time/space to be sure there is no collision of the panels, or scream loudly if a collision is emminent. If the roof works when you hold the plungers (both of them), then you've found the problem.

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Well, I broke down and took it to the dealer a couple weeks ago. The pulled apart the rear and found "extensive mouse damage"! After $120 for the diagnosis, they gave me an estimate of $600 to do enough repairs to finish the diagnosis, so I told them I'd take the car and find someone to fix it - I was quite dejected.....
Yesterday, I mustered up the courage to take a look at the car. I didn't see a tremendous amount of damage, but 3 wires were chewed. I fixed them in about 15 mins and everything works now - so much for the BMW dealer credibility.... I probably have to take it back to them to put the interior back together, maybe that estimate will be a little less ;-)
Jerry

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Excellent!
If you were able to locate three wires to repair, you can likely install the interior trim. Typically that stuff just snaps into place, and you should be able to figure out which piece goes on first and which goes on last. HINT, if you put the last piece on first, you'll cover holes that the first piece needs to use.
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Thanks for the input - this is the 'final chapter' and why I don't trust my BMW dealer....
After the estimate of $600 and my fixing the problem in minutes, I did take it back to the dealer to have them reinstall the interior. Before the estimate was 30 mins, but this time it was actual time. After they started the service manager told me they can't be responsible for the car working because I did the work myself - I told them there was three wires I soldered and heat wrapped, I wasn't worried.
Then they finish the car and the service manager said it took the full hour to do the repair - I pointed out that I'd only been at the dealer for an hour and 10 mins, and it took them 20 mins to get the car in the garage... The red faced service manager reduced the charge.
I dare BMW to call me for the customer sat survey (they haven't - I suspect the dealer suppressed it). Grossly over quoting the work, false time charges. Such a shame such a great car has such a terrible dealership (and this isn't the first time, nor am I the only one to get this from them).
Anyway, car works fine, I opted not to give them the $150 to reset the fault code that was triggered the first time I brought the car in - I'll go to Autozone, per the other post, thanks!!

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I filled up my gas tank today for the first time since getting the car back from the dealer, and a fair bit leaked out... I could smell it right after I filled up, which is unusual. The bottom of the tank is moist too (after a day outside). I did really fill it up when it was cool this am, and the day got sunny & warm, but shouldn't the tank be dry 12 hrs later? I've got it outside with the cardboard test after the 10 mile drive home from work..
Is this an incredible coincidence, or could the dealer have possibly messed up my gas tank/lines when they reinstalled the interior?

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I would not suspect the dealer of screwing up your car.
The gas tank lives under the back seat. You can lift the seat out, pull the felt back and remove a round cover to expose the hoses that connect the gas tank to the engine.

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Hmm, that's exactly where the dealer service guys were working, they reinstalled the back seat of the car after I fixed the wires. Thanks for the tip, maybe before I take it to another mechanic, I can try to pull out the bottom of the backseat and check myself! The leak is on the passenger side of the car, about a foot in front and foot in from the rear tire - so it would be coming out under the passenger side rear seat...
I haven't taken the bottom of the backseat out before, but I noticed two "tabs" near the front of the bottom cushion when the dealer had it out - maybe I can just "pop" those...
Thanks!!!

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On my E36 cars, the seat cushion simply lifts out. It has clippy things that act as a detent that you have to overcome, but I'm pretty sure there are no screws to pull first.
There is felt (tar paper) under the seat that you can pull back to expose a round cover that in turn will expose the fuel cell and the hoses that connect it to <whatever>.

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Jerry wrote:

Find yourself a good independent BMW specialist. It will do your car and your blood pressure much good. There are lots of them out there. Perhaps it's because the dealers are so inept and at the same time so expensive that the independent dealerships thrive so?
--
-Fred W

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Sounds like great advice Fred, I'm going to do that tomorrow. I must admit, my blood is boiling as I think about what the dealership may have done. I'll get an assessment from the mechanic and then take it up with the BMW "zone" folks...

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Well, we found the gas leak. It turns out, that under the back seat, under the passenger side access panel, one of the "nubs" on the top of the gas tank had cracked and was leaking. I can only assume the dealer mechanic hit it with a wrench or similar - they were poking around there the exact day that the light went on in the exact spot. The check engine light was for 'gross evap leak something or another' - my mechanic explained probably the tank could no longer maintain pressure. Because the tank was low when the dealer (oops, when the dealer allegedly) did it, the actual leak didn't happen until I filled up.
Next - off to BMW to complain, but no more with this dealer.

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