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      12-20-2009, 05:40 PM   #1
Shipkiller
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Thumbs up How to Remove your Softtop on a Z4

I am posting this since more and more cars are having this issue, and I don't want the procedures up on only one forum.

The Electro/Hydraulic Motor for the Soft Top finally went out on my 2003 Zed. This repair has been accomplished so I will detail how I did it.
The primary cause for the motor to go bad is water intrusion into the motor housing.

If you are decently handy with tools you can do this yourself, saving a TON of money from the dealer.

I broke this How-To into two parts. One (this one) is removing your top from the car and the second one will be for replacing your soft top motor.

Tools:
Set of Torx bits. If you like working on your BMW, you better get a good set of these. The Germans love Torx....
Screw drivers (Flathead and Phillips)
Metric Sockets.
Razor Blades or equivalent.
Flashlights or Drop lights


Parts Needed:

Some Tie-Wraps or tape.
Blue Painters Tape.

Extras:
A tube of Silicon Grease. Non-curing... This is use for lubrication of the weather seal upon re-installation. Not to glue it in place......

Now to the meat of the matter.

I really recommend you take pictures of the wiring harness's routing... and the refer back to your pictures when you put the top back in the car... You REALLY don't want to cut a cable when you test out the top the first time. DON'T RELY ON YOUR MEMORY.....


It is better to do this in a garage or someplace that the inside of the car is protected. Just a thought....




1. Open your soft top part way.
If you cannot use the normal method (the reason you are doing this), go to the trunk (boot), pull and SET the RED soft top release handle. This release activates a hydraulic by-pass valve and permits the hydraulic fluid to flow without the motor running, allowing you to move the top by hand.

Press and hold the top down button. This will unlock the top permitting you to move the top by hand. Either use two persons to move the top to approx. half way or grasp the top from the center move the top to the half way point.

You WILL have to move the top by hand to several positions during removal.

2. Now position your seats and the seat backs as far forward as you can.

You do not need to do these next two steps, but it is highly recommended.
2a. Disconnect your battery.......
2b. Take your roll of blue painters tape and tape off the car around the top. I did not do this until later as you will see in the pictures....

Steps three through 12 can be completed in any order.

3. Now on each side, remove the rubber weather stripping from the top mechanism.



4. Then pull the door seal weather stripping from around the door. It does not have to come completely out. Just part way down....


5. Now you have to remove the 'Soft top Compartment Floor' from the trunk. I did not take many pictures of this, because I have had this out on many occasions.. Sorry...

Disengage the soft top flap that is attached to the floor. Then pinch and release the clips that are on each end of the floor. Mine only had two on each side. I think there are supposed to be three. They will pop up and lay on the side. Then notice the hinge bars. That is just snap fit into the hinges on the floor. Unfasten those and then remove the floor.




Picture with the floor removed. You can now see the rear glass. The top is in stowed (down) position in this picture. That flap hanging down is the flap you removed from the floor..



As as side note, after the floor is out of the car and you take off both folding top floor mountings, then you can then see the rear shock mounts. I removed mine just to see how they were mounted.



6. Now remove the weather stripping that attaches the top to the car. Only remove it from around the car body, NOT from the top itself. Don't try to remove it from the top or you will be buying a new top....

Part way removed....



Once that is done, then you get to remove some more interference..
The TIS has you remove the rear center console and trim from behind the roll bars. Unless you have gorilla large hands, this is not necessary.

NOTE for the next step: If you do not have sub woofers installed, you are on your own. Figure it out. It can't be hard to remove the storage box.

7. Pop off your sub woofer grills, air vent and the small round access cover above the air vent.
Notice in the picture, that there is a small round cover behind the air vent. Take that off also.
The white box behind the air vent is your soft top controller module.
Nice time to clean your speaker housings......

8. Now remove the torx screws that hold the back trim in place. They are marked in RED. NOT the speaker housing screws.
You still cannot remove the trim piece but it will give you some wiggle room now to get your hands behind it to remove the electrical connections.




Now you can see the wiring harness. Both sides.



The drivers side has two cables. One cable is bifurcated (two connectors) for a total of three connectors. The passengers side has just one cable and connector.

9. Follow the cables that lead FROM the soft top and disconnect those connectors. Again, three on the drivers side, one on the passengers side.

The soft top connectors are mounted vertically to the chassis with plastic grommets. You must reach down and disconnect the connectors, the top connectors are part of the chassis wire harness.
Then you can attempt to pull the plastic grommets out of their holes or just break them. I cut the fastening tape with a knife. Up to you.

The connectors are keyed so they only fit with their proper mates. You can't screw this up when you reconnect....

The wiring harness's from the soft top running along the door frame are also mounted to the chassis. I recommend that you cut the fastening tape.
Once the connectors are disconnected, route them out of the car and let the wiring harness hang. Remember, do BOTH sides.... and watch the paint.......

Now it is time to put your body in some positions that it was never designed to be in.
Get your flashlight/drop light and a 10mm socket. I use a head mounted flashlight. Leaves the hands free.
My wife says it make me look like a geek, but it WORKS....

Climb into the trunk on your back with your head on the rear bulkhead. As you look around you will see a silver band (BMW calls it a 'hoop') that runs from the front of the top, just aft of the door sil, around the back and to the other side. A big 'U'.
The soft top and weather stripping (you removed from the chassis previously) are attached to this 'hoop'.

10. There are seven bolts you must remove. They are located on the around the rear of the car along the hoop. These bolts do not extend up to the ends of the hoop. Make sure you get them all..... and make sure you do not remove the much smaller torx bolts that run the entire length of the hoop. These are fasteners that hold the two parts of the hoop together. The soft top fabric and weatherstripping are sandwiched between these two metal hoops, making them one hoop. The black "cables" running along the hoop are the hydraulic lines from the motor to the other side of the car.



11. Now take your torx bits and go back inside of your car. Behind the vents grills you removed, was a round plastic cover, that I also had you remove. These are the lower mounting bolts. Now using a torx bit, loosen these lower mounting bolts on both sides. After I had the top out and saw how it mounts, I now know that these two bolts do not have to be removed. It won't hurt, but is is not necessary. You will see once you get the top out of the car and see the mounting hardware.
Here are a picture of the bolts. On my car, the white topped ones were the top bolts.



12. Now completely remove the two upper torx bolts. The complete soft top assembly is now free and almost ready to be removed.

This next step took me almost two hours to figure out. Now, it should only take you five minutes...
The forward portions of the 'hoop' are not bolted but use a clip in mount to hold it in place.




13. Move the top to approx. the middle position. Now pull up on the hoop ends up and then inward (toward car center line) and allow the end to come completely up and out of the car. If the top is in the stowed (open) position, there is not enough room to accomplish this. The TIS has you use a special tool (a flat pry bar) to assist in moving the inward. Not needed. If you look at them from the trunk, you can see if the hoop up and clear of the clips. I was initially using a flat pry bar and the wood was inserted to keep from crushing the weatherstrip guides....I took the pictures after the top was out for a clearer shot of them...

14. Now using another person, lift the top out of the car. For me, I had to keep the top in mid-position or it would fold down onto the hoop, pushing it back into the car. Once the top is out of the car and on the ground you can manually close it up.




Car without the top.



I will do another How-To on replacing the Soft Top Motor...

Installation is just the reverse...but here is how I reworked the wiring harness's.

I used the existing tie-downs, but used small tie-wraps to tie them in place. These pictures just happen to be the passengers side.





Remember those large rubber trim pieces you removed at the start. Well, to get them to go in properly you have to replace the double-sided tape that is on them. Notice the white rectangles. Scrape them off and replace with your own double-sided tape.



That's it. It's really is not hard. Just time consuming...go slow and be careful.... Then clean the inside of the car like I did, and the top. It gets dirty in this procedure.
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      12-24-2009, 05:05 PM   #2
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Thanks for the great writeup! I don't need to do this, but for the people that do, these guides are priceless!
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      12-24-2009, 07:29 PM   #3
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Please post about the soft top motor removal as well. I may switch from convertible to removable hard top roadster minus the soft top, so removing the motor/extra weight will be very valuable.

Very nice of you to do this write and help out the community. Thank you!
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      12-24-2009, 10:58 PM   #4
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Look at the other post. It is how to remove/replace your motor.

I don't think that the Hardtop will fit on the car without the softtop frame. The Hardtop mounts to the softtop frame.
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      12-25-2009, 12:08 AM   #5
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I was going to make use of the soft top frame/parts as my base to make the hard top and then make some mods so it'll be just a hard top that you put on top of the car. This is still wishful thinking for now... there's a lot of engineering to be done.
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      12-25-2009, 07:40 AM   #6
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If I was you, I would start looking for a wrecked Zed and pull the top/frame from that car and use it to modify. That way, when you want to sell the BMW, you can make is factory. It might just sell better that way.
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      04-23-2010, 04:02 PM   #7
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I think I f'd up majorly! I was trying this today and somehow managed to destroy the upper bolt in step 12 (driver side). The torx is totally rounded and I can't remove it with anything Any ideas on how to remove the bolt? I went to Pepboys and a local shop and they both refused to even look @ it!!
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      04-23-2010, 05:30 PM   #8
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If you can't grab it with anything then you're going to need to drill them out and replace them.

http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_1...rill+extractor
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      04-23-2010, 07:22 PM   #9
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Finally found a local shop that was willing to help. All it took was a larger torx bit and a hammer!
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      04-23-2010, 07:28 PM   #10
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A question for people who have done this (Shipkiller are you around?): where do you use the silicone lube? To lubricate the inside of the weather seal rubber? Mine had a bit of some sort of adhesive caulk (white color) every 5-6 inches to hold it in place I assume. Is that not neccessary?
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      04-23-2010, 10:28 PM   #11
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As I stated in the How-To, I was going to use the silicone lube, just as you figured out, to lubricate the re-installation of the weatherstripping. In the end, I did not need to do that, since doing a test fitting, it went on with no trouble.

Yes, mine also had that white/cream colored caulk. I did not wipe it off the weatherstripping. I left it on and re-installed the weatherstripping. I assume it has some form of extra water sealing function.

Mine has been bone dry (inside the car) since I performed the repair.
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      04-25-2010, 02:17 AM   #12
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I think I will have to use cault in at least a few spots since the new top's seal doesn't perfectly slide in the groove. The guide was a life saver!
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      05-08-2010, 03:24 PM   #13
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Shipkiller, thanks so much for the writeup!

I took out the clips to the Soft top Compartment Floor and for the life of me couldn't figure how to get them back in! Your pic helped lots.
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      06-15-2010, 12:51 PM   #14
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Thank you so much for the post!!!!!!!!!!

I did it with my wife's "07 3.0Si

To make your manual even better, you can add
1. more info about soft top compartment floor clips (how to get'em back - it was tricky!).
2. more info on how to get the whole softtop out (actually i damaged my rollbar covers ;( doing this )
3. more info about unplugging wires (a have a preparation for hard top, so there was 1 more connector each side + that was the worst part of the work for me - getting them out of the clips)

Sorry for bad english and hello from Moscow!

And 1 suggestion: i suppose that the main cause of this problem is the old-school-bmw tape, that covers all hydraulic lines on the bottom part of motor housing. In my case - they were blocking the hole completely.

Last edited by Lnick; 06-15-2010 at 12:59 PM.
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      07-27-2010, 10:04 PM   #15
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More hints the re-installation of Z4 top

Shipkiller's instructions were excellent without which I would not have able to repair my soft top. However, note a couple of other issues:
a. microswitch to advise the system when the pan is in the up/down position located in the luggage compartment on the vertical portion (a bracket with 2 screws):after I followed the instruction to remove the top, and the replace the motor, I redid all the steps to reinstall my top and lo and behold the orange light near the open/close switch was on and top did not move. After much commiseration I found a microswitch which has to be continuously pressed for the top to operate(it tells the system that the soft top is in the down position so as not to damage the top during retraction). I also found that I had a small clip that was left over and had no idea where its correct place was. I found that this clip works with the microswich as the pan rides up and down. During pan removal, it had been disloged and I had to reinstall it by removing the 2 screws, separating the electrical connections and working on the microswitch out of the car's confines. Success (after I oreiented the clip in the righ direction)

b. hoop on the bottom of the soft top: I had to use a little ingenuity in the reinstalltion as during the removal the hoop is squeezed and will not easily allow it to engabe the side brackets noted in shipkillers instructions (1 bracket on each side to hold the hoop in place). I used someone to push the hoop (if this is not done the bolt is too short to engage the treads) towards the bracket while I loosely installed a bolt closest to the end of the hoop. this procedure allowed the hoop ro be spread so that it would engage the bracket (similar procedure for the other side); and finally

c. the 4 "W" brackets to hol the soft top pan in place (shipkiller has photos of them in his instructions): the front 2 (one on each side are relatively easy to push down compared to the rear ones) but the rear 2 (towards the front of the car are impossible as the clips are dislodged as the pan is moved onto place - this also applies to the front ones): after much %&$#!, I found a way to increase my success rate. I placed the brackets loosely in place where they belonged(but not engaged in their opening) when the pan was out of the car, then I moved the pand in place and was able to reach in and push them in. Note that I had to reach in from the interior of the car for the 2 closest to the front of the car. The other two can be pushed in by reaching in from the top of the pan rear. I hope this helps someone.
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      08-03-2010, 03:07 PM   #16
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Thanks much - 54K miles and dead hydraulics. Replacing the new top soon wondered if you could explain how to reinsert the canopy into the gaps. There is a white compound used for sealing the soft top - and I was wondering if you added some sort of caulking or putty - or if something like liquid detergent help with reinsertion? Was awfully hard to get out - thinking getting a good fit on the insertion may be difficult. Thanks in advance.
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      08-03-2010, 03:11 PM   #17
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Nevermind - I SCROLLED!!! You addressed this.
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      08-09-2010, 07:39 PM   #18
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Thanks for the great writeup, Shipkiller. I've been studying it for some time now...and after putting up the manual opaperation of the top for five months, I think I'm ready to replace the motor. Should be a snap with your pictures. Being a hydraulic mechanic in the military doesn't hurt either!

My only question is on procuring the replacement motor. Is realoem.com the only place to pick one up (aside from the dealer)? I don't want a subpar part...but want to get the best price in the end.

Thank again. Oh, if there are any additional pics you want taken for your writeup just say the word and I will snap & email them your way!
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      08-09-2010, 07:56 PM   #19
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Well, I bought my motor from the dealer.
BUT

I also buy a lot of parts from
Tischer: http://www.trademotion.com/partlocat...72&catalogid=0
and
BMW Partz Direct: http://www.trademotion.com/partlocat...?siteid=214760
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      08-15-2010, 05:15 PM   #20
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I just took of my soft-top alone in my home garage.
Thanks Shipkiller, I just followed his " procedure"
My 2006 Z4 still having the "old " 54347016893 hydro pump, now you replace it by the 54347193448 pump if I understood well.

A friend that have a garage ( audi VW) will ask in BMW store how much its cost etc and buy the bits, he has some % reduce in the final price.
I let you know tomorrow.

concerning the works, well sometimes its a bit difficult because you have your body like doing Yoga, beside that its nothing really complicated.
I took pictures, because its the best memory, so when I will put all back I will watch the pictures and be sure doing the right thing.
some pics from today afternoon ( its now here 12:17 AM luxembourg)

The sound box externally was looking not bad at all almost as new, I had even a dough if was really the electrical motor of the pump that had a default, but when I open it... rust water came out and I understood directly. the electrical motor was dead.

How BMW could do such a mistake?? its so easy to make a water proof box.
Also nothing was blocking my both drains ( one each side ) they where all clean even the way down, but if you take a bottle of water and put on, you see that the drain its too small and so it takes a bit time to empty which means that if you go to a car wash or if you wash your car your self or if it rains quite a lot, that drain part its always almost half full, means the hydraulic pump its under water
That's also very stupid from BMW to design such a small drain for such gap

Some people though that having the drains clean will erase the problem with the Hydro pump, well I just can say that unfortunately, its not the case.
Also, my roof was working fine without showing any default, always fast opening or closing. And Friday I closed before park the car in the garage, all perfect, and the next day I try to open and nothing, it just opened almost until half the way very slowly and I could listen the motor and suddenly it just stopped - dead!
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      10-26-2010, 03:09 PM   #21
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Did you use anything to reseal the rubber weather strip? Mine doesn't seem to be sitting as tight as it was before, i.e. there is a little bit of gap in some spots between the strip's edge and the body and I am worried about leaks in heavy rain and snow. Should I use silicone or caulk to reseal it? When I was taking the top off I noticed a semi-adhesive caulk applied to the inside of the weather strip.
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      10-26-2010, 06:46 PM   #22
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I did not need to add any type of sealant, but you can use a silicone type of sealant (non-curing). Or go to the dealer and see what they use. I did not find any on RealOEM.
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