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Old 06-24-2013, 02:44 PM   #1
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Convertible top won't close - searched - please help!

Top is stuck in the down position.

Here's what I know:

Parking brake light works fine.

When I push on the switch in windshield latch assembly from the bottom, the windows roll up (If they are down.)

There is no motor sounds

No lights on the dash saying the top is open.

When I press the button in the cockpit, I hear a click from the relay. I hear this when I try and press the up position, but don't hear the click when I press the down position. Could this be indicative of a bad relay?

Fuses look fine, but have not replaced them. Will try this tonight when I get some new ones.

I've whacked the relay on the ground plenty of times.

I took off the micro switch and heated up the solder to the end connections and smoothed it out across the silver bands. They looked a little cruddy, but they were still connected.

With the windows rolled all the way up, they move down when I open the doors - with the top down. I think my car thinks the top is up!

The only thing I haven't inspected is the micro switch behind the drivers side seatbelt area. Not sure what to even look for there. I know there is something with a silver clip and probably a button like the other one. I will probably try pushing on it and whacking it with stuff. At the end of my rope.

Hopefully this is enough info to point me in the right direction, and not waste $$$ on diagnostics


Last edited by Hayden; 06-24-2013 at 06:54 PM.
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Old 06-24-2013, 06:52 PM   #2
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Update: not the fuses.

Ordered a new micro switch for the latch/light assembly. My reasoning is because with the windows down, I can press on the latch and the windows roll up, but if I turn the ignition of with it held down, and then release it, the windows don't go down. So, it's the second micro switch with the two metal strips that are probably bad. Right?

The relay switch still clicks, so I think it's ok. Not sure though.
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Old 06-25-2013, 09:15 AM   #3
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Wish I could help. Keep us updated on which micro switch maybe bad.
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Old 06-25-2013, 09:41 AM   #4
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Will do. I tracked down a maybe-working relay my mechanic will let me try out.

The more I think about it, the more it seems it could easily be the rear switch too, by somehow not being depressed to let the car know the top is down.

This, unfortunately, is a priority today. Getting my first real dose of porsche ownership after a few months with the car.
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Old 06-26-2013, 03:18 PM   #5
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Wasn't the switch. Darn.

If I use the manual procedure for raising the top - once I get it in working order, will the motor and cables will be in position to start working again?

Taking it to my mechanic tomorrow, then maybe parking it, cause I'm not sure I can afford to drive a Porsche this summer.
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Old 06-26-2013, 07:56 PM   #6
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Wasn't the switch. Darn.

If I use the manual procedure for raising the top - once I get it in working order, will the motor and cables will be in position to start working again?

Taking it to my mechanic tomorrow, then maybe parking it, cause I'm not sure I can afford to drive a Porsche this summer.
If you disconnect the pushrods and operate the top manually, the motor and V-levers will remain in the same position so that you will not have to make any adjustments to start operate it electrically again.

What year is your Boxster? Do you have the "A Version" or "B Version" transmissions and set up? Depending on the version, there are a few troubleshooting steps you can take to isolate the problem.

If your mechanic has a spare relay, make sure that it's the same version relay (i.e., if yours has black square on the top surface of the relay, make sure your mechanic's is not the version with the black triangle on it and vice-versa).

From your brief description and the replaced convertible latch microswitch assembly (2 microswitches in there), it sounds like you may have a dead spot on the electric motor. You can easily disconnect the plug to the electric motor and apply 12V power directly to the terminals and verify whether it's the electric motor. If you don't get any response applying 12V directly to it, tap the motor with a small hammer and that might "unstick" it.

Regards, Maurice.
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Old 06-26-2013, 08:59 PM   #7
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Hi Maurice - the master himself. Thanks for chiming in.

The boxster is an '01, so it probably has the type b transmission based on my research (which honestly, was mostly your past posts.)

The spare relay I tried was the same one, with the square on it. It clicks when I depress the "up" button, but not the down button. Is this any indication that it works? We are not positive the spare is good though. Otherwise, no sound from anything.

Thanks for the info on the pushrods. I still have not looked into exactly how it all works, because pictures are no replacement for just seeing it all in action and I've only had the car a short while.

One thing that I did not mention is that prior to lowering the top for the last time, I had washed the car about an hour before, but the top was dry after a highway cruise, but I know the inspection I got recently mentioned the drains being clogged, which was on my list of things to take care of this week. Is it possible I lowered any part of the electrics into some water somehow?

Thanks again for your input. Really appreciate it!!

Last edited by Hayden; 06-26-2013 at 09:16 PM.
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Old 06-27-2013, 06:39 AM   #8
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If it's an '01 and no one has replaced any parts related to the convertible top, you have the B Version transmissions and set up.

If that's the case, then you do have the correct double relay installed (black square).

That also means that you will not have the B Pillar microswitch (found under the semi-circular black plastic carpeted panel around the base of the roll bar on the driver's side) and you will not have the black lever microswitch (found on top of the electric motor). Those are in those locations only in the "A Version" set-up and were both moved to INSIDE the driver's side transmission on the "B Version" set-up.

Since you mentioned that your drains were clogged (and you previously mentioned that the windows dropped all the way down), I would check under the driver's seat to see if there is any moisture or water in, under or around the central alarm control unit. If there is any doubt, remove the unit and open it up to check for moisture or corrosion inside. If you catch it early enough, you can dry it with Isopropyl Alcohol and a hair dryer after the alcohol has evaporated. Also check that the 15 Amp fuse at the back of the unit is good. It's located between the two plugs.

Here is how to get access under the seat without setting off the airbag light: Central Locking System Problem - 986 Series (Boxster, Boxster S) - RennTech.org Forums

You did not lower the top into any electrics because there are no electrical parts that would be affected by a couple inches of water in the convertible top well. You only get those problems once the water migrates under the driver's seat.

If there are no problems with the central alarm control unit, I would definitely isolate the electric motor and check it with an independent 12 volt source.

Regards, Maurice.
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Old 06-27-2013, 09:26 AM   #9
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The central locking function error light comes on intermittently since I got the car a few months ago, (the little red light on the lock button stays on, and get double beep when unlocking.) I'm honestly starting to think some part of this area is the culprit, because since the roof won't go down, I don't get the double beep, which could be the way it's supposed to work, or may be indicative of a problem (not sure, without a properly working Box to compare against.) I'm particularly interesting in the fuse on the back in the control unit you mentioned.

That, or the relay is still bad, and I need to ensure I swap a working on in there before going too crazy with checking wiring and whatnot. I'd be real surprised if something went bad in that area, since the car is such low mileage and probably stored for most of its life in a garage in California. Anything is possible.

So, inspecting the driver's side transmission and microswitch is probably not a likely source? It did stop the motor just fine the last time I put it down. It seems like something is overriding the whole system, like the alarm you mentioned.

Overall, this doesn't sound that bad. It could be a few things still, at least. Haven't run out of options to try. Thanks again, as always!
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Old 06-27-2013, 09:47 AM   #10
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The two microswitches inside the driver's side transmission don't usually cause a problem, but it has happened. Not likely the cause of your problem.

The intermittent nature of the central locking function light on the button on the dashboard may be caused by a fault in the driver's side door lock assembly. There are six solder connections and microswitches inside that assembly. When the solder connections crack (a common occurrence) you get that intermittent problem, usually accompanied by the window not staying dropped by 1/2 inch when the door is open and you let go of the handle. That is a separate problem from the convertible top but the central alarm control unit definitely affects and controls the operation of the windows.

If you install a known good relay and the problem remains, and you don't want to do electrical testing yet, try smacking the electric motor with a small hammer a few times with the convertible top switch pressed down.

Here is a diagram of where that little fuse is located on the central alarm control unit (Courtesy of Richard Hamilton).



Regards, Maurice.
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Old 06-27-2013, 10:24 AM   #11
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You're the best, thanks! I will report back once I've tried everything.
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Old 06-27-2013, 11:38 AM   #12
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This is kind of a silly question, because I should know this, but most of my cars in the past have not had any electrical problems. Anyone should be able to answer this:

What is a good thing to use for a 12v power supply for testing stuff? This comes up on my BMW occasionally too when looking into diagnostic procedures. I have a battery charger with 3 amperage settings, but I'm thinking that's not what you use. Get a small 12v battery at wal-mart, or what?
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Old 07-05-2013, 03:12 PM   #13
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Bought, and tried yet another relay, and no dice. So I went to pop off the ball joints as the manual mentioned and is this some kind of joke on Porsche's behalf? I see no way of getting either of those off without damaging multiple things. I even tried a pry bar, large screw driver, and a hammer. So far, I'm just marring the connectors.

So, I'm supposed to unbolt the V-lever now to relieve pressure on the connections? Seems like getting this all hooked back up and aligned properly afterwards would be very difficult, but I need the top up asap.
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Old 07-05-2013, 03:29 PM   #14
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Bought, and tried yet another relay, and no dice. So I went to pop off the ball joints as the manual mentioned and is this some kind of joke on Porsche's behalf? I see no way of getting either of those off without damaging multiple things. I even tried a pry bar, large screw driver, and a hammer. So far, I'm just marring the connectors.

So, I'm supposed to unbolt the V-lever now to relieve pressure on the connections? Seems like getting this all hooked back up and aligned properly afterwards would be very difficult, but I need the top up asap.
Hayden:

If you are having difficulty popping off the plastic ball cups off of their respective steel balls, there is a workaround.

Put the convertible top in the "service position", then look down at the end of the V-lever where the front pushrod is fastened by a small Allen bolt. You can unscrew that Allen bolt and that will leave the front pushrod connected by the plastic ball cup only. At that point, you can reach under the rear of the convertible top, grab the front pushrod and wiggle it off the steel ball. You can reassemble it the same way, in reverse order.

The only pushrods that are under pressure are the black "hydraulic" pushrods that are connected to the other side of the V-lever and to the support arms of the clamshell.

The only pressure on the front pushrods is the weight of the convertible top and frame and it is relatively light pressure.

If you can't get the top in the service position, and the top is stuck completely open, the only way to get at "the works" is to unscrew that 19mm bolt that is holding the V-levers in place. They are on there with loctite, but they will come off. You have to use an offset box wrench to access the 19mm bolt because it's slightly recessed in a circle inside the middle of the V-lever.

Regards, Maurice.

Last edited by schoir; 07-05-2013 at 03:33 PM. Reason: add more info
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Old 07-05-2013, 03:46 PM   #15
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Yeah, it's stuck open. I will need to find a larger wrench. Thanks for the prompt reply!!

edit: got larger wrench. No way it's fitting in there. No box wrenches in that size at Lowes either. Tired of throwing money at this. Off to the mechanic... which I think is pretty ridiculous for something that is outlined in the owner's manual, which can't even be remedied through the way it says (since apparently, disconnecting the V-lever is the only way to get the ball connectors off.)

Last edited by Hayden; 07-05-2013 at 04:31 PM.
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Old 07-05-2013, 05:10 PM   #16
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Yeah, it's stuck open. I will need to find a larger wrench. Thanks for the prompt reply!!

edit: got larger wrench. No way it's fitting in there. No box wrenches in that size at Lowes either. Tired of throwing money at this. Off to the mechanic... which I think is pretty ridiculous for something that is outlined in the owner's manual, which can't even be remedied through the way it says (since apparently, disconnecting the V-lever is the only way to get the ball connectors off.)
Sears sells the 19mm offset box wrench that will fit perfectly on that bolt, in that position...

It looks like this one in the photo.



Regards, Maurice.
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Old 07-05-2013, 05:23 PM   #17
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Yeah, it's stuck open. I will need to find a larger wrench. Thanks for the prompt reply!!

edit: got larger wrench. No way it's fitting in there. No box wrenches in that size at Lowes either. Tired of throwing money at this. Off to the mechanic... which I think is pretty ridiculous for something that is outlined in the owner's manual, which can't even be remedied through the way it says (since apparently, disconnecting the V-lever is the only way to get the ball connectors off.)
Hayden:

I understand your frustration... I have been there many times. So, I went into my garage and got the Sears Craftsman wrench for some better photos...Here they are...





As I said, this one will fit perfectly as it is just thick enough to get a good bite on the 19mm bolt and still fit in between the V-Lever and the convertible top frame B Pillar when it's all the way open.

Regards, Maurice.
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Old 07-07-2013, 09:11 AM   #18
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Hi Maurice,

Thanks for the pictures. All I was able to find locally without ordering and waiting a week were some sunken box set wrenches at Autozone, but they don't want to bite on that v-lever bolt. I think it's just too bulky and the bolt is recessed too far. I figure by leaving the v-levers on, it will help me get this all hooked back up later much more easily, so I'm still more focused on the ball connectors.

So, an update: I was able to successfully pop off both ball joints on the drivers side, and the red convertible top one on the passenger side. Then it came to the last pushrod, and it won't come loose at all. The amount of force I've exerted on that piece is insane. Enough to visibly bend a large screw driver and crow bar while prying. WD40ed the connection too. Nothing. The other side required force, but it let go just fine.

Here's the real kicker. So, as I'm in the middle of trying to get the last pushrod disconnected (remember, this is from the closed-top postion) I've used up so much energy, I needed a late night snack, so I hop in the car to go grab something and just for kicks, I hit the top up button right before exiting the garage, and for about a half second and I hear the motor run, then let go of the button because I was not expecting that, and didn't want to do any damage. I should have just taken the opportunity and delayed dinner, but nope.. ugh.

Sugarplums in my head about how the motor is fixed and as soon as I get back home, I'm going to hold the button down and get it into service position, so I can do what I may to the parts iI can now access more freely.

Get home, and the button does nothing again. My only theory is that when I popped the driver's joint off, the tension that released created a vibration that effected the motor. That, or all the hammering I've done on the end of things to get stuff wedged into places. Driving must have undone whatever was done.

Now I've got a closed clamshell with slightly (very slightly) less pressure holding it down, and a dash light saying it's open. The good news: the system CAN work. Probably not a dreaded wiring issues. The bad news: Top still stuck down, and one frustrating connector left. Intermittent motor function. Interesting, the relay clicks when hitting either up or down button down, now because the car knows the top is in limbo. Prior, I only heard a click in the up direction. This may help someone in the future diagnosing a relay. It's obvious the microswitch the cable transmission for the top is working, as well as all the other ones.

My last hope today is to get a dremel and use a cutting wheel to chop of a piece of something, but I don't know which would be the most economical piece to replace. I could go through the thin part of the "hydraulic" push rod, or, more likely, shear off the ball connector from the v-lever. It is threaded into the v-lever, and I've already tried backing out the bolt until it's now stripped. Can that ball joint be purchased separate from the V-lever? Cheaper than shearing off the shaft of the pushrod?

So, this has turned out to be quite the confusing case. Both microswitches, relay, fuses and switch work because the motor started working. Surely this is something to do with the motor, and/or connections to it. If I could just get back there! I spent a solid two hours on the last connector, and a pool of sweat. I know there is a clip, or some such, that hold the other end onto the clamshell, which I might also look into, but with the pressure exerted on this thing I don't want it to pop off near my glove while my arms are up in there. It's quite a contorted reach up there.

Hope this helps someone out there, and any assistance regarding which part to cut off would be helpful. Thanks!

Last edited by Hayden; 07-07-2013 at 10:20 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 07-07-2013, 07:54 PM   #19
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...
My last hope today is to get a dremel and use a cutting wheel to chop of ace. I could go through the thin part of the "hydraulic" push rod, or, more likely, shear off the ball connector from the v-lever. It is threaded into the v-lever, and I've already tried backing out the bolt until it's now stripped. Can that ball joint be purchased separate from the V-lever? Cheaper than shearing off the shaft of the pushrod?
...
The little steel ball is the least expensive part to replace, and it is available from Porsche as part # 986.561.689.00. Porsche calls it a "ball pin", and it lists for about $18.00.

If you can get at it with a Dremel tool and shear it off, that will release the clamshell (since you already have the other side off).

Then you can open the clamshell and operate the canvas part of the convertible top manually to get it into the service position.

Be careful when the pressure is finally released from that one remaining black pushrod as it may kick up a bit. Inside the black "hydraulic" pushrod is a large spring and the V-lever rotates near the end of the cycle to pull on the clamshell (and puts the spring under pressure).

Regards, Maurice.
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Old 07-08-2013, 06:46 PM   #20
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So, I actually went to the Porsche dealership (since I bought the car from them, and wanted to minimize the chances of someone tearing/breaking/scratching/denting anything) and their best tech happened to be walking by as I told the sales guys my long story. He was an older fellow that looked like he had been working on Porsches since I was born. They said he's the best there. Anyways, he takes an interest in what I'm saying, then goes and gets out all his fancy pry bars and whatnot. Wasn't able to budge the damn thing any better than I could.

Obviously frustrated, he grabs the keys from me and pulls it around to the bays, and comes back and throws me the keys without much of a word. "How'd you fix it?" His reply: "Sawzall" without turning around. The sales people were like, 'he's just kidding', and I was thinking, 'no he isn't.' Sure enough. He took the route I was planning and went through the $8 bolt. I think it could be done pretty easily with a hacksaw, in case anyone in the future is reading this, and is in a pinch.

So where are we now with this particular car? I got a top that manually goes up and down, but to my surprise, the convertible light is still on. I thought once the top latch was secured, the "system" wouldn't care anymore.

I'll update this once I figure out what the real cause is. I will say, not being able to put your top up in the Texas heat is agonizing. Rain started to move in today, and it came down to business. Got a sweet tan out of the ordeal though!

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