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Old 04-25-2011, 01:38 PM   #1
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Angry rear window is torn :(

Hey, everyone. Over this weekend I took the vehicle out for a spin, no issues of note, but the next day (which clearly brought rain) I came back home to find this hole in my top's rear window.



I'd left the car uncovered from the night before because I usually give it a little time to cool off before putting the cover back on, but it got late and I left it uncovered, figuring I'd take care of it the next day. Thankfully it didn't end up letting in more than a few visible drops of water, and for now I've placed a folded bath towel over the spot and put the cover back on, but I'm going to duct tape it tonight to make sure nothing else gets in there.

Now I'm pretty positive the hole wasn't there before I went out for my ride because I'm sure I would've been hearing some wind and highway noise. The temperature was a bit low that night, went down to the 40s, and I did not drop the top at all during the drive for that reason because I know the plastic gets very tight at low temps. Does anyone think this is something that could have occured form the plastic being stressed due to the temperature and/or the pressure that occurs when closing the doors, or does it look like someone cut my window? Has anyone seen or had something like this happen before?

I guess it's a good excuse to get a GAHH top with a glass window now, but it's still disappointing with the nicer weather finally starting to come around after a crappy winter...and I wasn't exactly looking to buy a new top or fix/replace my somewhat cloudy window so soon.
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Old 04-25-2011, 02:48 PM   #2
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If your top's in otherwise good shape (from what little your photo shows it appears to be) consider replacing the rear window only. This is far less costly than replacing the entire top. Lots of posts on this topic. Do a search.
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Old 04-25-2011, 04:47 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gschotland
If your top's in otherwise good shape (from what little your photo shows it appears to be) consider replacing the rear window only. This is far less costly than replacing the entire top. Lots of posts on this topic. Do a search.
Thanks, gschotland. Do you know if people have put glass into their original tops that came with plastic? The top does have some wear at some points, you can kind of make some out in the picture above where there's some darkness in the top (bottom left quadrant of the image). These areas where the top folds show some very light abrasion to the material, but nothing that would warrant replacement. I just figured unless there's a way to put in a heated glass window I'd end up having to go for a new top with one in it. I don't really want to replace it with plastic again, as I'm still suspicious that someone was a jerk and cut it.
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Old 04-25-2011, 05:24 PM   #4
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I may be a bit paranoid but it looks like a cut to me

You can get the vinyl replaced for about $300 or so. But if your top is the original from a '97 then I think you are about do for a new top with a glass window.
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Old 04-25-2011, 05:29 PM   #5
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There have been some recent threads on having a new piece of vinyl sewn in. I am currently going through the process as mine cracked while I was changing out the air filter. I don't have the $ to spend on a GAHH top and my top is still in good enough shape. I peeled the canvas off in probably 45 mins by myself and its at an upholstery shop. I'm going to go with tinted vinyl also to make it blend in with the rest of my car. Think it's like $100 to have it sewn in. Total cost with everything is going to be around $150
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Old 04-25-2011, 05:53 PM   #6
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Thanks guys, the top is the original one, and prior to me buying the car it sat in a lot for 5 years on the lot of the dealer, exposed to the elements, the impeccable aim of birds, etc., but I can definitely say the top could look a lot worse than it does. I started looking into threads where members talked about switching over to a later model year top from the same generation when they started using glass, so I may look into this as an alternative that won't cost me engine access.

EDIT: And I agree, urban, it could be paranoia, but the more I look at it the more I feel it's not a tear.
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Old 04-25-2011, 06:23 PM   #7
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od...that looks like a "cut" to me. mine is worn in the same area, but completely different looking. not sharp like yours.

and to answer your question about glass window...you can not replace the plastic with glass unless you change out the top. i am thinking of doing the same thing.

perhaps, you got a good thing going though. if it was cut, then you can claim vandalism from your insurance company and have them replace the top for you.
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Old 04-25-2011, 06:26 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Overdrive
... but it's still disappointing with the nicer weather finally starting to come around after a crappy winter...and I wasn't exactly looking to buy a new top or fix/replace my somewhat cloudy window so soon.
Nice weather means top down, right? Tape it until you decide what to do, the top will be down most of the time anyway.

Going out on a limb here but it's possible the temp dropped very quickly and the rapid shrinking caused the crack
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Old 04-26-2011, 11:24 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhipE350
Nice weather means top down, right? Tape it until you decide what to do, the top will be down most of the time anyway. :
I'm in the same boat as you are OD and I agree with Whip. I'm a new boxster owner as well and really don't have the $$$ to replace my top yet. Duct tape is keeping the water out for now. I figue that with the warmer months coming it'll give me some time to save $$$ for the top.
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Old 04-26-2011, 12:27 PM   #10
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There is a guy in either NY or NJ that will remove and replace window for around $450. Search the forum and you may find someone who's used him.
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Old 04-26-2011, 02:44 PM   #11
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The shop I used for my top is Stan's Auto Top, 43 Center St., Chatham, NJ, (973) 635-3443. The owner Pete (not Stan) told me has customers coming from as far away as DC and Boston. Cost was around $500. Well worth it IMO. You're probably looking at $1500 (labor & top) for a high quality top w/glass window such as a GAHH. I believe Stan's is a certified installer for GAHH.

Your 1st top lasted 14 yrs. Chances are good the replacement window vinyl will last as long as the car, or at least your tenure with the car. There will be no shortage of things to spend money on, particularly on a '97. A new top isn't a waste, it's just not a necessity. Think need versus want.
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Old 04-26-2011, 02:59 PM   #12
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from what i've gathered by speaking to multiple installers, the labor is the same whether you fix the vinyl window or install a new top. either way, they have to remove it, and put it back on. so most installer have recommended just getting a new one.

i looked at autotopsdirect.com. seems to have good rep and cheapest prices. new top about $600 with glass window.

now i have also run across this.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=270741161017&ssPageName=ADME:X:SCO:MOTORS:1123

not sure if this is "too good to be true". glass top for only $370? thoughts anyone?
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Old 04-27-2011, 09:48 PM   #13
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Thanks for all the replies, advice, and suggestions, everyone. All are being taken into consideration. As I was stating before, my only reason for replacing the top would be to have a glass window, which for me is just preferable overall, thought it will come at a higher cost. But that is more in the "want" sector.

As for "need", that would be to have a car with a top that hasn't been compromised. For this to happen sooner than later and cheaper, this would lead me to the cheaper solution of simply having a shop stitch in a new window and keep right on rolling. A buddy of mine in my car club has referred me to a local automotive upholstery shop that he and his roommate feel do a very good job for the cost. They're literally 5 minutes from my home, so I'll be stopping by to see them and get a quote soon. I figure if they do things like top replacements for classic Corvettes and can completely redo a 15+ year old motorcycle seat like new, they know what they're doing and should be able to help me in my situation. We'll see where that takes me.

Tuanle, you've brought up another interesting point, though, and I will also have to look into seeing if it's something that can be covered by the insurance. Thank you for that, it wasn't even on my mind before.

A top with glass is still something I'd like to have on this car some day, for peace of mind and the ease of clearly seeing what the heck is in my rear view mirror . If the right OEM late 986 top happens to come by me at the right time, then I'll go there with it. It's good to know that it'll just bolt right into the car, I just need to look more into what changes to any motors/cables/switches, if any, would need to be made to ensure that it operates properly. I'm also still going to be seeking out a hardtop for the car, yet another item I've been trying to track down.

As I've also said before, the only concern I really would still have with a plastic window is that this, whether it's a stress tear or a cut by some lowlife, could happen again, hopefully not until I can make the changes I'm looking to do.
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Old 04-28-2011, 05:04 AM   #14
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I used clear packing tape applied to both sides of the split as a temp fix before I changed out my top. Doesn't look quite as scabby as duct tape.

Putting a 4-bow top from an 03-04 with the glass window can get complicated on your model year. Search this forum and Renntech and you'll see what you are up against. It can get expensive. This is personal preference, but I think the older 3-bow top has nicer lines.

An aftermarket glass window top to fit a 3-bow creates engine access issues. That, and I think the bright orange defroster lines are heinous.

A sewn-in replacement window will never look quite as good as the original, and may leak through the stitching.

After working through this thought process I replaced my top myself (a day's work for me and a buddy) for about $500. I stayed with the plastic window as it is much bigger than the glass one and rear visibility is bad enough to start with without further reducing it. A plastic window will remain clear and last a long time if you look after it.

I don't know what your insurance deductible is, but doing it myself cost about the same as my deductible would have been and I would have lost my claim-free discount had I gone the insurance route.

Decisions, decisions.... good luck!
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Old 04-28-2011, 05:29 AM   #15
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That does look more like a cut, that's a bummer. Check with forum member tonycarreon. He replaced his top with a GAHH and he was offering his old top for almost nothing. From the pics he posted of it the top was in perfect condition. Black too.

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Old 04-28-2011, 09:33 AM   #16
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Keep in mind that the GAHH glass window top has a smaller back window than stock. I didn’t realize this until after I got my car back with a new top. The GAHH window is considerably smaller so rear visibility through the rear view mirror is changed drastically. I had to adjust mine to “night” mode to get visibility back.

If you switch to a stock 03’ Boxster top with the rear glass window this wouldn’t be an issue. I would’ve gone this route had I known about the window previous to having it installed.
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Old 04-28-2011, 02:21 PM   #17
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o/d. let me know if insurance will pay for it. if so, will someone cut my window too, please?
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Old 05-01-2011, 07:37 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark_T
...Decisions, decisions.... good luck!
Indeed, Mark. Thanks for all the advice from your post. I did decide to go with clear tape after finding that the duct tape's adhesive failed miserably in the sun and heat we've had from this beautiful weekend...literally just fell off of the window inside and was taken off with my hand with no resistance on the outside. I did the clear tape on the outside yesterday, but need to go back in there and do the inside and more on the outside too before tomorrow afternoon when the rain's supposed to come back...and cover the car back up with my rather useless car cover (working on replacing that with a better one, as well). The clear tape held up well to the top being down pretty much all day today for a solid 7 hours or so (my school's car show ), but I did have to kind of push it back down in a few spots once I returned home and put it back up. I think I'm going to lay a couple of chamois (plural?) down behind the roll hoop just in case any water still finds a way in.

I did also take the time yesterday to zip tie my wind deflectors in the roll hoops (though just the night before I did find out that they stayed put while topless without so much as a rattle up to ~125mph ...and the interior was nowhere near as turbulent as I was expecting it to be at that speed), but better safe than sorry since I hear of people randomly losing them in the 60-80 range, and it really doesn't look that bad since the interior's black. Since I was checking the tape staying in place through a few top cycles, I also checked my drain holes under the clamshell...it was suprisingly super clean under there overall, though there was some really awful primordial soup-type stuff blocking the right side drain, just nasty black muck, but a finger poke into the hole cleared that right up and both sides are free and clear...same was done for the drain by the battery. So there are some positives from the affair.

Ok, tangent over.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JTP
That does look more like a cut, that's a bummer. Check with forum member tonycarreon. He replaced his top with a GAHH and he was offering his old top for almost nothing. From the pics he posted of it the top was in perfect condition. Black too.
Thanks, JTP, I'll look into that.

And tuanle, I truly hope no one ever cuts your window, whether you want them to or not, lol. Just the feeling of not knowing if that's what happened or if it was just age and wear really bugs me, because if it was a cut, I'd at least like to catch the jerk in the act so he can receive his silver bracelets from the city's finest.

Just to give some updates on trying to resolve the matter, I actually went and talked to a local company here that does automotive upholstery that my friend referred me to (mentioned this earlier) called Redan. He looked at the picture on my phone and immediately attributed it to a stress break from age and likely from temperature drop because it split right where the top folds at the middle (you can see that horizontal break in the picture in the original post). They happen to sell GAHH tops, and the gentleman went straight for them, explaining that, for what I was going to have to pay in labor and parts for them to put new plastic on the original top, it was going to be the same amount of labor for them to put a new top on the car. Of course the GAHH top rang in to the tune of just shy of $1100, and I'm pretty sure autotopsdirect has the same one for somewhere around $700. So with somewhere between 7-and-$800 worth of labor, That was looking to be a rather hefty investment for a glass top that has some shortcomings that I'm not inclined to put up with.

I've got a family friend in a local car club who has a lot of contacts since he and his friends have done a lot of modification to their cars in all aspects, and he is looking into seeing what it would cost to have an upholsterer he knows stitch in a new window if I remove the top and bring it to him. I also have a friend from school who works at an upholstery shop who was telling me to buy the top direct and he'd help me install it, but I figure I can also approach him about getting a new window put into the original top.

I definitely agree with those of you who have said on here that a 14-year-old top should just be replaced, but unfortunately it's not really in the budget for me right now. I've been trying to set my money aside for this car, but this came a little too soon, darn it. I'm lined up to start a new well-paying job at the end of the month, but in the meantime I'm having to be more frugal than my usually frugal self having had to leave my latest job in the middle of last month. So the band-aid for now may have to be just getting a plastic window put in and take better care of it than the one that's coming out until I can get my hands on a hardtop for the same amount of money as a replacement top (or less).

Sorry for the page-long post, folks. I'll keep you all posted about how things progess and what results from it all. Thank you again for all the advice.
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Old 05-13-2011, 10:23 AM   #19
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I witnessed my crack and it looks just like this. So not necessarily a cut. I just duct taped mine and rarely used it without the top down. However I have needed to put it up and down a couple times and it has since cracked again. So be prepared....

I was told my an upholster guy that the plastic window was already replaced and that you can only replace the window once before needing a new top.

So, my Boxster is now only used on Sunny days. Good Luck!

Ohhh and I used Clear Duct Tape, on the outside and inside, and it does keep the water out and is lasting a pretty long time so far for the times that I do get caught or need it in the rain. Although I don't feel like the classyist guy if driving around with a duct-taped Porsche (but the most thrifty!)

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Old 05-13-2011, 11:12 AM   #20
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Well...it happens to all of them. You're lucky your plastic window lasted as long as it did.



I am very happy with the GAHH top. The glass is a huge improvement. I like the acoustic material as well.



I didn't think the effort and chances of success warranted replacing just the plastic when I did mine.



Good luck.
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