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Replacing roof on Z3 M Roadster?

Discussion in 'E36/8 Z3 M coupe (1998-2003)' started by AussieDriver, Aug 24, 2009.

    AussieDriver guest

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    Hi everyone,

    I have a replacement roof ready to install in my just-acquired 1998 Z3 M Roadster (and we are leaking, so time is not on our side!). I am wondering - is this a job you can tackle yourself, or is it beyond the scope of a driveway job?

    Our neighbour replaced a fabric roof in a Merc convertible once, and has advised me that stretching the material appropriately was a tough assignment.

    I am still on the hunt for a workshop manual, so have not had the benefit of perusing that possible source of information.

    Grant.

    BIMMIR guest

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    I don't know about the roof, but I'll comment on a manual - get a Bentley manual.
    You can get them on their website, or often on amazon much cheaper.

    AussieDriver guest

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    Quote for roof repair

    Thanks Bimmer for the lead on the manual - I will follow up on that.

    I brought the Z3 in today to the closest BMW dealer, for the required state inspection (and got some bad news about my aftermarket wheels and worn mounts for driver's seat).

    They are quoting 12 - 14 hours labor, $129 per hour, to install the new softop. I will keep searching on this issue!

    Grant.
    • Member

    pseto

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    12-14 hours @ $129/hr is outrageous IMO for something I bet no one at that dealership has ever done before. I wouldnt be surprised that they contract that out to someone else, so you should maybe ask them who they use or start calling around yourself.

    BMWtoyz guest

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    Are you just replacing the fabric and not the entire folding top? I have changed tops before, the entire thing; it was difficult however, my brother and I did it in one day in my garage. If you are just replacing the fabric, I would take it to a top shop, I know BMW does they do not do them themselves.

    AussieDriver guest

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    Roof replacement - learning more

    Paul and BMWToyz,

    Thank you both for the thoughts. I learned more today - I had been given a new fabric top (with integrated clear window) by the last owner of my Z3, but I learned today at the BMW parts counter that it is NOT a genuine BMW top. (there are no part numbers, codes, etc attached that match their inventory).

    After meeting a local BMW-only repair shop (and it looks like a very good place; I think I've found the folks to look after my machine, Quality Car Services Ltd., Rockville MD) I was in turn directed to another local business that specializes in custom leather and fabric work. He is also a pretty interesting character, John Longo (http://www.johnlongo.net/)

    My impression is that he will do a careful job of installing a top that he insists on ordering himself, and the total cost will be about 1/2 of what it would be doing it through the local BMW dealership.

    Interesting though - John directed my attention first to the various gaskets and drainage system, so as to ensure they are all functioning correctly. Although the existing roof is showing it's age, I have not yet determined that the fabric/window is the cause of the leak. Some careful testing with a garden hose is in order I think.

    According to John Longo, the top is constructed of 3 layers - outer layers of fabric bonded to an inner membrane. The membrane eventually fails, and that is the end of the top. Let the learning continue.

    As my local friend Dave e-mailed me after I took him for a combination sprint/errand run to his local post office, "You didn't by a car, you bought a relationship".

    Grant.
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    David1

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    AussieDriver guest

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    Diagnosing roof problems

    Thanks David. I have been advised first to check the drains for blockage and the gaskets for leaks, but my first question is "How do you get to any of this?"

    It (the well area into which the roof folds away) all seems to be obscured by the roof material itself, whether extended or folded. I have been meaning to buy the Z3 workshop manual, and I think I've run out of time to be obfuscating any further!

    My instincts tell me that I'll in fact need to attack this problem from inside the trunk cavity, figuring out how to pop off a set of flat button-like retaining clips and dropping down the top inner panel - that might be a way to get a look at the back side and then carefully test-irrigate the top with water.

    Grant.

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