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I had the top down today, enjoying the nice whether. When I went to put the top up, the following occured:
1) The top went about 3/4 of the way up through it's sequence ("roof" was almost flat, and the clips were maybe 5 seconds away from getting engaged)
2) I hear a "Pshhhh", and then nothing happens.
3) I get out of the car, and I see what appears like a light splash of water-y fluid in the convertible area (under where the boot lid usually covers), as well as two streams of water-like fluid coming from just underneath the car near the exterior.

I drove the car very slowly with the roof slight above the windsheild (i.e. not engaged) and the boot lid up in the air, to my garage (about 2 miles away).

What might this be? Anyone have any experience with it? Any help is much appreciated! Thanks.
 

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All -
I had the top down today, enjoying the nice whether. When I went to put the top up, the following occured:
1) The top went about 3/4 of the way up through it's sequence ("roof" was almost flat, and the clips were maybe 5 seconds away from getting engaged)
2) I hear a "Pshhhh", and then nothing happens.
3) I get out of the car, and I see what appears like a light splash of water-y fluid in the convertible area (under where the boot lid usually covers), as well as two streams of water-like fluid coming from just underneath the car near the exterior.

I drove the car very slowly with the roof slight above the windsheild (i.e. not engaged) and the boot lid up in the air, to my garage (about 2 miles away).

What might this be? Anyone have any experience with it? Any help is much appreciated! Thanks.

sounds like a hose has burst or a fitting has come apart. You will need to manually lift the top to a point where you can access the top storage area and see where the leak has occurred. report back with pics when you find it. try to flush the fluid out so it doesn't do any damage to the paint. there are drain holes as you have noticed.
 

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How do you flush the fluid out?
degreaser and a hose should do it. it's not true hydraulic fluid.. rather a mineral oil so it probably won't damage the paint. After you repair it, you will need a bottle of Aral Vitamol ZH-M (convertible top fluid) from the dealer. They should stock it.
 

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i dont know why but i was under the impression the E46 used mechanical top lift mechanism and not hydraulic. if any of the fluid went on the leather, clean is ASAP! or it will cause stains on the leather.
 

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If found to be a faulty hydraulic cylinder (seal within a cylinder), have the cylinder remanufactured at

http://www.tophydraulicsinc.com/en/

I had two bow tension cylinders overhauled by Klaus. Recommended.
 
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