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2004 330Ci Convertible, 6-Speed Manual
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello fellow E46 lovers,

A few days ago, I ran into the dreaded convertible top motor clicking when trying to latch all the way open or closed. I was afraid I would have to spend hundreds to fix this issue or just say screw it and drive with the top up until next year. However, I found a hack online that I ended up doing and it's as good as new, and it only required 15 minutes and a $5 purchase at Home Depot. For reference, I have an '04 330Ci, but I think it will be the same or similar enough on most or all E46s.

All you need is 2 4-inch hose clamps, a 10mm socket or wrench, a flat head screwdriver for the clamps, and a large nail, bolt, allen wrench, or some other straight, small piece of metal you can leave there. I used a large nail, as you can see in the pictures. This helps provide downward force on the middle of the cover, which is where it needs the support to prevent the slipping.

  1. First, remove the insert in the middle of the back seats, the one that once you remove it, you can see into the trunk.
  2. Next, remove the bottom part of the rear seats by pulling up in the middle of each seat. They are held in by two clamps that just pop out.
  3. Then, unhook the leather flap that's holding the seats in between the rear seatbelts, and remove them. Now you should have clear access to the convertible top motor.
  4. There are three 10mm bolts securing it to the frame. You don't have to take them all the way out (you can), just loosen them most of the way to allow you to slide the clamp underneath.
  5. Open the clamps up, and feed the end underneath the entire unit and pull out of the other side. I used one clamp in the front and one in the back. Be careful to leave any wires or connectors OUTSIDE of the clamp; you don't want those to be within your clamps and be damaged, stressed, or broken when you tighten them. You'll only want the clamps around the motor (silver metal on the bottom) and the black plastic cover. Connect and tighten the clamps until you have gotten most of the extra slack out. Now is a good time to rotate/orient your clamps so that the screw part is to the side of the motor for a cleaner install, not on the top.
  6. Put your nail, allen wrench, or whatever else you're going to use on top of the cover but under the clamps, right in the middle of the cover, one end pointing to the front of the car, one end pointing to the back. Having something in this location allows the clamps to provide the most pressure onto the middle of the cover, which is where it needs it.
  7. Then, tighten your clamps pretty tightly, ensuring that they are positioned so that the screw part of the clamps is nice and tucked away on the side of the motor (rather than protruding from the top). Be careful though - you can always tighten some more if it's not enough. We are talking about 15+ year old plastic here.
  8. Finally, tighten back your 3 10mm bolts to hold the motor to the frame, and put your rear seats back in and the insert as well.

This is an easy project for even the novice DIYer. Check out the pictures so you can see how I did it. It feels great knowing I saved who knows how much as well as fixed this issue myself. I just did this today, so I can't report on the longevity, but I have put the top up and down about 3 times, and it's successfully locked each time, both up and down. I hope this saves some of you from any costly repairs!

913953
 

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Good thinking about using a nail or whatever to concentrate the pressure where it needs to be. Really helps to not over stress old plastic - really good !
 

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2004 330Ci Convertible, 6-Speed Manual
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2 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks so much! I know it may not be a permanent fix, but it's good enough for me. I just spent 15 minutes walking around Home Depot looking for the perfect thing until I found that nail
 

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Nice job! I may try that. Because...
I have a 2002 330ci convertible. Last owner didn’t check pump fluid and couldn’t get top to operate electronically.
he and his bright mechanic. Tried to open manually. Which is fine. They tried the hex manual open in the top over shifter. But they did not pull the seat in rear and hit release pin by rear hex release. And they cranked on the forward manual release. Something popped and they quit.
Then I bought it. Since then I’ve fixed the car up. AC resistor. Suspension. And now I’m on the top. I’ve tried everything to just get manual release to open the top. I even pulled the break rails above Driver and passenger windows and tried a T30 to manually release the top. No go. Just spins and spins.
My light will not reset on controls. Which tells me it’s not even properly closed. Lol. The pump is empty which is where they should have started.
But I’m not fixing the leak on pump if the mechanical mechanisms are at fault now that they muscled on. After seeing this fix. I will try this. Any help is appreciated. Thanks
 

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2003 330Ci convert
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8 Posts
After spending a couple of hours trying to see why my daughters top was not completely latching the cover closed and sounding like the left side latch was "clicking," I searched this site for advice. OK, big duh! Should have started here.
After removing the rear seat and pushing the "down" button, there it was. I pushed down on the cover over the center gear and again pushed the button... eureka, it latched down. Pushing the "up" button with my right finger while pushing down on the plastic cover and it's locked securely in position. I work at Home Depot so instead of spending $150 to $250 in the proper parts, I'll pick up ma couple of band clamps.
 

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2003 330Ci convert
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8 Posts
I posted this reply on another thread but thought I'd follow up here as well...

There is a box under the rear seat, right in the center of the car. Take the center of the insert between the seat backs by pulling down on the small black tab at the top of this insert and lift that piece out. Pull up on the front of the seat bottom and set that out of the car. You'll see that box containing the motor and two reduction gears that pull on the two cables running out the front of that box. You're hearing the clicking sound coming from those gears not meshing correctly likely due to a circular, plastic clip that inserts into the top of the center gear being broken. You DO NOT want to break that lid but the fix is this... Go to Depot, buy a 3 1/2 to 5" stainless band clamp and unless you have some wooden door shims around the house, pick up a pack of those as well. Looking at the black plastic top on the box between the seats, there is a button at the rear and a small circular spot that looks like a vent just forward of that. If you press down on that area and have the wingspan to reach the "down" button, the lid will likely complete the close cycle.
If you want to see where the problem is CAREFULLY remove the lid. I used a screwdriver in the little open slots on the outer top of the box to GENTLY help pop the clips holding it down. Pull outward on the two tabs at the front and it will release.
You'll see three 10mm bolts that hold the box to the floor. Remove those three bolts, back the screw on the band clamp off till the clamp comes apart and slide it under the box. Break off a 2" long piece of one of the thick door shims and place it over the circular area that looks like a vent that is centered over the gear beneath. Slide the band clamp over the shim and tighten. That clamp should be placed just behind the rear 10mm bolts. Don't overtighten the clamp, use just enough to check the operation of the top.
I just now came back in to cool down after doing this to my daughters E46 and saw your post. Now I wish I had taken pictures. Hope the explanation helps.
 

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Registered
2003 330Ci convert
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8 Posts
Hello fellow E46 lovers,

A few days ago, I ran into the dreaded convertible top motor clicking when trying to latch all the way open or closed. I was afraid I would have to spend hundreds to fix this issue or just say screw it and drive with the top up until next year. However, I found a hack online that I ended up doing and it's as good as new, and it only required 15 minutes and a $5 purchase at Home Depot. For reference, I have an '04 330Ci, but I think it will be the same or similar enough on most or all E46s.

All you need is 2 4-inch hose clamps, a 10mm socket or wrench, a flat head screwdriver for the clamps, and a large nail, bolt, allen wrench, or some other straight, small piece of metal you can leave there. I used a large nail, as you can see in the pictures. This helps provide downward force on the middle of the cover, which is where it needs the support to prevent the slipping.

  1. First, remove the insert in the middle of the back seats, the one that once you remove it, you can see into the trunk.
  2. Next, remove the bottom part of the rear seats by pulling up in the middle of each seat. They are held in by two clamps that just pop out.
  3. Then, unhook the leather flap that's holding the seats in between the rear seatbelts, and remove them. Now you should have clear access to the convertible top motor.
  4. There are three 10mm bolts securing it to the frame. You don't have to take them all the way out (you can), just loosen them most of the way to allow you to slide the clamp underneath.
  5. Open the clamps up, and feed the end underneath the entire unit and pull out of the other side. I used one clamp in the front and one in the back. Be careful to leave any wires or connectors OUTSIDE of the clamp; you don't want those to be within your clamps and be damaged, stressed, or broken when you tighten them. You'll only want the clamps around the motor (silver metal on the bottom) and the black plastic cover. Connect and tighten the clamps until you have gotten most of the extra slack out. Now is a good time to rotate/orient your clamps so that the screw part is to the side of the motor for a cleaner install, not on the top.
  6. Put your nail, allen wrench, or whatever else you're going to use on top of the cover but under the clamps, right in the middle of the cover, one end pointing to the front of the car, one end pointing to the back. Having something in this location allows the clamps to provide the most pressure onto the middle of the cover, which is where it needs it.
  7. Then, tighten your clamps pretty tightly, ensuring that they are positioned so that the screw part of the clamps is nice and tucked away on the side of the motor (rather than protruding from the top). Be careful though - you can always tighten some more if it's not enough. We are talking about 15+ year old plastic here.
  8. Finally, tighten back your 3 10mm bolts to hold the motor to the frame, and put your rear seats back in and the insert as well.

This is an easy project for even the novice DIYer. Check out the pictures so you can see how I did it. It feels great knowing I saved who knows how much as well as fixed this issue myself. I just did this today, so I can't report on the longevity, but I have put the top up and down about 3 times, and it's successfully locked each time, both up and down. I hope this saves some of you from any costly repairs!

View attachment 913953
Thanks, just finished the fix, see below.
 
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