Help! my back window just broke!
- So what can you do?
- What is there to know about the process?
There are many reasons you can break your back window, some mechanical and there are the ‘oops I didn’t know’ reasons. In either case the result is the same and in fact the oops is sometimes easier to fix.
When items are put in the back window area, you just swallowed up all the room intended for that glass to fold down to inside the well area. The fact that there is only a limited amount of room in a convertible, they did not allocate any more than was needed.
Items like towels, ice scrapers, soccer balls or even shoes usually will have a negative effect on the window when you lower your top. The simplicity of this problem is… don’t throw stuff back in that area, it is too easy to forget before it’s too late.
- So how do you deal with a mechanical problem that has caused my back window to break?
This may involve repair of the frame, the hydraulic lift system (this may include the pump, lift cylinders and / or lines). Sometimes I have even seen the back window catch on the back of the rear seat and break. These type of fixes tend to be a little more expensive than removing a forgotten piece of clothing in the well area.
When repairs are being performed, in most cases the rear half of the top needs to be removed properly in order to remove and replace the curtain assembly.
The reason I called it a curtain assembly, is because it is not just a piece of glass, it has fabric bonded to it all the way around. Why is this important to know? I give several reasons, first the fabric or vinyl that is attached to the lower part of the glass needs to match the top, not only in color but grain and fabric type.
Secondly, once the window is bonded to the glass, it should not come off. And if it does, the window assembly is no longer weather tight and no good.
This is also useful information to know if you are buying a convertible, if this is already happening, you know you are in for problems down the road.
FYI, this applies to all convertibles. And in the case for a Mustang, the window comes as a blank and when installing it, is necessary to cut, staple and fit it to the frame and opening of the convertible frame.
If you have glass coverage with your insurance company, they will cover this type of repair.
By the way, if you have a convertible I highly recommend you have glass coverage, one time that you break your window will more than cover the cost that you paid for that type of coverage.
When the unfortunate happens and your rear window in your convertible breaks, we’ll identify the real cause / effect issue (if necessary), repair it, and most importantly, we can help you through the whole process.
When it comes to convertible top problems, Volvo has some of their own - some are common to many other manufacturers.
Take for instance, the seal coming off the rear window.
This is a similar problem with any car maker that makes a convertible. At some point in time the fabric is going to fall off. This also is a consideration for any one wanting to install a used top.
- Do you really want to do all that work to have it fall apart in a year?
- Is there a way to to fix this without replacing the top?
Yes and No.
Yes, if you don’t care about weather performance and if it doesn't look good or are worried about how long the quick fix will last / fall apart again.
That’s why we say No, we have tried many methods, glues and adhesives and none of them meet our standard of what the finished product should look or perform like today and into the future.
Our feeling is, if it doesn’t meet our standards for OEM performance or better, you could have done it yourself and saved yourself some money.
As for top functionality, Volvo’s has similar problems that most european convertibles have, they rely on elastic to hold the top tight and be weather ready. Elastic wears out over time, and the frame no longer folds correctly, if at all.
- That is another good reason not to put a used top on or skip on the replacement of these elastic straps when installing a new top.
Remember, some of the small things can have a profound difference on the overall job. Convertible tops are only as good as their weakest link.
Another issue that has popped up is the top will develop a sticky substance on the underside of the canvas top that may require the top to be replaced and the frame bows cleaned up to make the top run smoothly. Experience has taught us that replacement of the top and straps make all the difference with this problem.
And because the top is driven by electrical motors and sensors, this can cause big problems in the life of those motors, the electronics get over worked eventually causing components to burn out or not function as designed.
- Keep in mind that when replacing your top, it’s not just a functional item, it also is the whole upper half of your car. If it looks bad, it takes away from the rest of the vehicle.
People buy convertibles for performance reasons, why only look good when the top is down? Our customers choose not to compromise.
BMW has come up a great way to make the outside feel like a apart of your interior.
The BMW answer to letting the world come in is called the Panoramic Sunroof, with 2 huge panels of glass that get you a big view of the sky.
The front panel is a movable sunroof panel the will retract and vent and the rear just vents. The problem that develops over time is the rear stops working correctly.
A few considerations that should be taken into account when trying to do any repairs yourself are:
- Do you understand how the whole system works?
- If you unplug the electronics what will it do?
- If you decide to take it out, are you able to work around the curtain airbags?
If your answer is no, or 'I don’t understand' you are best not trying to fix it, in the long run it may cost you more.
When working around the airbags, know that your safety is at stake if not properly handled. Not just if you have a collision but if you need to handle them, are you doing so correctly?
Used properly, airbags will save your life, handled improperly, they can severely hurt you.
First of all, the dealership isn’t the only one that can solve your problem, they certainly have the know how but may want more than the car is worth. If you are going to find someone that is going to fix your roof you will need a shop that understands the mechanical and electrical portion of your roof.
- One simple point on all sunroofs in cars and trucks today is that they have some form of computer operated system, especially the ones with multi panels that move.
That means that anyone or any shop working on it must have the proper knowledge / process to sync the roof. For some, it is a process that can be performed by operating the roof in a certain order, or may also require a scan tool. In either case, you will also need instructions on how to do this correctly.
We frequently get calls from shops and/or owners asking for us to make things right. We teach classes and stay up on the latest technology (even before it is launched in new cars/trucks).
Another point is to make sure that one uses the correct type of lubricant. Using the wrong type will make things worse, and can cause further damage from the plastic parts being overworked.
You will also find multiple sunshades in vehicles like these that may move in different directions based on what position the panoramic sunroof is in.
- Getting your panoramic sunroof back to its original OEM working order doesn’t have to be a hassle. Ask good questions, and choose wisely.
photo by BMW.com
The BMW Z3 is one of those cars that will be around for awhile.
We find at Dick and Rick’s that this one car that our customers love to drive and continue to fix to have a great handling convertible that has a lot of BMW style.
- You need to remember if your top is original... BMW makes a great product, but it will not last forever.
Is your convertible top and / or window looking a bit tired? It may be decision time on what your next steps may be.
Many people come in and ask about replacement of their rear window because it has become fogged up and/or cracked. This is where a comprehensive look / valued information matters.
Yes, you can buy a replacement rear windows, before you start looking at your options, how about we go into some details:
First if you are going to replace the rear window consider the condition of your top.
- Does it look in good shape?
- Is the stitching around the rear window still holding or is it rotted where there are even stitches missing?
- The first stage of aging for the BMW convertible top is that the thread will turn white before it actually falls out.
- Take a close look at your canvas, does it have bald spots and / or worn edges on the seams?
- If your top is a light color, is it stained to the point where it will no longer wash out / clean up?
Every convertible top repair or replacement starts with an extensive evaluation of the whole convertible system, our experience and network helps us continue to be the leader (many dealers work with us because they can count on quality).
On a side note: This could also be the time that you change the color of the top and give your whole car a fresh look.
If any of these things don’t sit well and fit your expectations, here is one more thing to consider. If you get a new top, remember not all tops fit the same, or are of the same quality materials.
- I not saying you should only replace your top with a factory BMW top, but if that is your choice, it will be an expensive one.
We use an aftermarket top that give you the same fit and finish of a factory to with the same quality materials and construction of the top (which means it will fit like it should).
- Why are we the highest volume / quality shop in Minnesota for BMW convertible’s like the Z3?
Because of our quality reputation, in the case of the Z3, this is one the cars that if the top is not installed correctly it will have huge water leaking problems.
And many times, our chosen brand of convertible top will only be 25 to 35 percent more than what it would cost to just replace the window. One thing to keep in mind (even though this is not a part from BMW) if the quality wasn’t built into this top we wouldn’t use it.
On replacing the rear window, when you finally say “yes” to a new window which is a great choice as long as you don’t see short term future problems with your original top. The options are simple with this part. This is where I only recommend a factory part. I have seen many aftermarket versions of these windows and none of them meet the standards we have for our customers.
Most aftermarket windows will not install correctly and leave the exposed edge of the top where it would normally be fitted under a black plastic trim ring that is part of the plastic rear window.
As stated before, a poor quality part is not something we advocate or use, a quality repair is our goal.
BMW builds a great drivers car, but they all have problems and faults, the Z4 convertible is no exception.
This Blog is about what happens to the convertible top motor over time, which can cause failure.
Convertible Top motors are designed to withstand some moisture, but not get submerged.
These motors will fail if they are exposed in water, as witnessed by several in the shop already this year. Motor failure / corrosion can happen for various reasons, one of the most common is having leaves and debris fall into the drains of the left side rear quarter causing them to expose motors to excess water / moisture buildup.
To understand what actually happens you first need to know how the water drain system works. When you take a closer look at the top you will notice that the top comes from under the molding and on the inside of the rear body panel.
- Just to let you know, there isn’t a seal in the world that will keep all the water out by the design in the BMW Z4. This is a problem area that needs to be kept clean and functioning or it will happen again.
So BMW’s answer is to redirect the water to an area to where it can be drained out of the car. This is accomplished by what is called a drain trough, the trough channels water to both right and left rear body panels sometimes known as the rear quarters.
What happens next is, (when operational) the water will drain out just behind the rear wheels on both sides. This sounds like a good plan doesn’t it? With one exception, over time in the real world, if enough junk falls down in this area where the water is supposed to drain out, you have just put a stopper in that drain.
So, as you can see the lifespan of this convertible top motor has just been greatly shortened.
- Now that you know how it got to this point, what is involved into fixing the problem?
This type of work is going to require some advanced mechanical ability and proper removal of the whole top in order to get at the motor (which is located in the lower left side of the Convertible top frame). Also, if replacing this motor, it is extremely important that you use the correct fluid and be careful not to overfill it. If this step is overlooked or done incorrectly, chances are, your results will not be good.
Also plan on having help with the removable of the top, this is another area where a simple wrong move can easily dent or scratch the paint or rear body panels. If done correctly, as you reassemble and install the top, it should work as normal.
Now that the 2005 Ford Mustang convertibles are getting older, their flaws are starting to show themselves.
We see many cases of the frame bending and causing the top to come up very crooked, even to the point when it meets the top of the windshield, it will have to be pulled sideways to latch.
Other signs include the windows fitting improperly and the frame hanging down on one side or both. You may also experience binding when moving the top up or down.
There are many causes of what got the top to this point, they can include:
So what is the correct way to fix a situation or problem like this?
- Top shrinkage
- Lift cylinder and pump leakage
- and there's even a poorly designed frame part in the rear that is soft tube steel that is highly prone to bending and breakage
There’s most likely a couple of parts needed to start with. The obvious one are the frame sections. Fortunately you can buy them from Ford per side and you don’t need to buy a whole frame, at this time they can run about 750.00 a side.
What about getting used parts? I for one don’t have a problem using used parts from a salvage yard, but in this case it is really buyer beware. Because, these parts have a design flaw in them.
You might be buying someones else's problems. The hard part about finding a bad part is it is made of many little parts linked together. If each one has a little bend or twist in it, that reality won’t show up until you have it all put back together.
Bottom line: You many end up with a top that is still not aligned well, and that leads to more twisting, bending, and breakage.
Next, if the pump or cylinders are bad, leaking or weak, this can cause unequal pressure on the frame that can cause the frame to bend or twist to the point that the frame no longer fits the car. As you can see in the first photo, the one side goes up faster than the other, causing a twisting action that has bent one side. (very common occurrence over time with this model)
So what can be done to solve the problem of fixing my top before I have to buy new frame parts?
You may want to consider replacement of the lift cylinders, and/or pump/motor.
- Is this a guarantee my problem will be solved?
No, there are other factors like strong wind, miscellaneous items that may be in the well area, but replacement of these part is a must if your frame fails anyways, so it might keep you from buying the $750.00 in parts.
With every new model, all manufacturers have problems that don’t always show right away and can take several years before problems arise. So, there will always be issues to tackle, regardless if you have a Mustang or a Mercedes.
The Mix of One vehicle, Two brands | Problem troubleshooting, and getting it fixed
We just recently wrestled with a first in many ways. Auto interior repair is not hard when you properly find out what specifically is causing the issue / error. This is about a 2006 Jeep Commander that started out with a simple electrical problem caused by a spilled soda on the dash.
This vehicle was at several places before it had come to us, and one of them was the dealership. When we received it, it was still not working correctly, digging deep and finding the real cause / effect is what we pride ourselves on, we are the twin cities auto interior experts.
When soda had spilled into the dash, several items were not working correctly. There was a fuse panel/ junction box, and a wire harness in the dash were replaced by the body shop to see if that would fix the issue. If the harness and fuse panel had been damaged this would have qualified as a normal repair.
Auto Interior Troubleshooting | After installing these items, the 4 wheel drive and the radio still didn’t work.
The repair facility replaced the radio twice with a used radio, and it still didn’t work. This is where we came in to diagnose, and get the problem fixed. Upon inspection of the radio, we noticed it didn’t even light up and after hooking the scanner to it, there was no communication. Rather perplexing at this point, time to get deeper, and start backtracking the system to find the ‘real issue’.
This is where it is important to have good wiring diagrams, know how to read them, and test along every pathway. We checked for power. ground and all the fuses, they checked out.
Our next step was to get a known good radio which we acquired form a reseller of factory radios that was tested / checked out before we received it.
After plugging in the new radio, it did in fact light up, but still didn’t function correctly or produce any sound. So, we hooked the scanner back up and to our surprise we still had no communication to the radio. With further inspection of the wire harness and many print diagrams of the wiring and pin outs of the connectors, we found that the brand new harness was made wrong.
When they made the harness which was brand new from Chrysler, two of the wires had been installed incorrectly in the connector that leads to the back of the radio. Just happens these 2 wires were for the Communication leads or the CAN Network wires.
This is the heart and soul of how the vehicle talks to every component in the group, including the radio to the Amplifier. Now when you follow diagnostic flow charts based on the trouble codes retrieved with the scanner, they are not designed for a wire harness made incorrectly or pinned wrong.
This can tend to leave you scratching your head when everything should be working, and it is not. But fortunately electricity always plays by the same rules and even if it doesn't seem logical, most likely there is a logical answer.
Auto Interior problem solving | Next, we needed to tackle the 4 wheel drive system.
Given that we had problems with the new wire harness being made wrong at the radio, that shall be where our attention is focused next. And after inspecting many connections and tracing the wires on the complete system, low and behold all the wires were placed wrong on the switch that engages the transfer case for the 4 wheel drive. After moving them to there proper placement, we had high hope of everything working correctly.
- Not this time, so the next possible cause might be the fact that the soda spilled into the switch and shorted it out.
- Once we replaced it with a new switch, the end result was still the same.
At this point we suspected that since the switch had been inputting power and ground backwards into the 4 wheel drive module it was shorted out. After replacing and programming this module we eliminated all the the codes except for one code; a C140F.
- And this where it comes to something we have never have experienced before, and I might attribute this to a mix of 2 brands, Chrysler and Daimler (aka Mercedes).
In order to get this code to clear from the system. We hooked up the scan tool, brought up the code and performed a clearing command 3 consecutive times in a row.
Why trying to only clear it once didn’t work is beyond me, clearing one time is the standard for every other maker and system, this could be a result of 2 different makers with 2 different systems that sometimes don’t play well together.
In the end, we needed to replace the radio, fix a brand new wire harness from the manufacturer, and clear the system of trouble codes in an unconventional way. This just shows you you never know what problems you might face in automotive electronics.
Body shops and dealers want things to go smoothly, quickly, and get vehicles back to their respective owners ASAP, DickandRicks.com continues to be the only ‘go to shop’ in the twin cities for achieving high-tech (difficult) quality repairs in a timely manner.
Convertible top repair | Stuff like this happens, you were putting your top down for the first time this year, and you forgot about the ice scraper in the back well area.
Don’t worry, you are not alone, and it didn’t have to be that scraper that broke your window, it could have been one of many ways.
- It doesn’t matter that your window was glass or even plastic, they break, now is the time to make an informed choice.
The best way to look at it is, something needs to be done and depending on what your plans are for your convertible, this might be an opportunity to replace your top at a discount.
Let me explain, most cars have the window as a separate part, it may be attached to the fabric around it depending on the model. Many cars have started coming as a one piece top and window, in either case it will give a chance to upgrade your old top to a new one.
- Here is how you will benefit:
Regardless of how your top is designed (one piece or two), In order for a good convertible top repair, the top itself must be removed so that everything fits and performs as intended. Insurance companies are very well aware of this, and because it has to be removed, you might as well replace the top.
You have just got your insurance company to cover part of the labor for your top. A win-win.
No matter if you are planning to keep your car or even selling it, this has now become a great opportunity to make these changes at a discount to you.
Options at this point: This can also lend way to changing the color. If you have a window that is separate from the convertible top, it has the matching material attached to the glass which is all part the window assembly. Maybe you want more insulation from wind and/or noise, the time to gather more information is now. Call or fill out a form to better understand your options. Improve your driving experience, and enjoy your convertible.
Most of the time you have glass insurance that will cover your back window breakage, and if you don’t have glass coverage it might be a good idea if you own a convertible, it is well worth the cost of the insurance.
So back to how this works, since your insurance is covering the cost of replacing the window and replacement, this many of the times involves removing part of the roof to perform the window replacement task. This can defray the cost of having the top replaced at a different time.
You have just turned a unpleasant situation and added a some positive aspect to it. Is this taking advantage of the insurance company?
No, you are just working with a predetermined process that is already going to happen if you replace the top or not.
Imagine a safety and comfort system that is faster, adaptable, and can communicate throughout the whole vehicle, automotive technology is on a never ending pace to improve.
Communication throughout today’s vehicles, and beyond are becoming more integrated with our busy lives. Current CAN-BUS systems are going to be replaced with faster, more efficient and reliable formats. It is all about safety and comfort, we will have better, faster, safer in order to satisfy the demands of our fast paced world.
Here is a glimpse of what is to come.
- From the SAE article on March 10, 2014:
Changes in networking are likely to occur as safety systems are linked together to further reduce accidents and pave the way for autonomous driving. Many developers feel that the bandwidth of CAN (Controller Area Network) systems won’t meet emerging demands, so they’re moving toward Ethernet and FlexRay.
CAN remains efficient for standalone safety systems in current vehicles. While its role will remain in other areas, usage is expected to wane as the industry moves to connected safety systems that work together to provide a comprehensive view of the area surrounding the vehicle.
“Safety systems have generally been quite independent systems, with little networking between the sensors,” said Andy Whydell, Product Planning Manager at TRW Electronics. “One of the keys moving forward for autonomous driving is to network the systems so you can build a picture of the environment around the vehicle, showing anything in the full 360°.”
There’s no consensus on whether FlexRay or Ethernet will become a predominant architecture. Ethernet offers lower costs and ease of use, but FlexRay offers determinism, which can be important in safety.
“A distributed control system will be needed, and it will incorporate the use of time-triggered protocols such as FlexRay,” said Brian Daugherty, Visteon’s Associate Director of Advanced Development and Intellectual Property.
FlexRay was designed for automotive applications, so it’s seeing use in some vehicles now in or nearing production. But it hasn’t been able to build momentum over the past several years, leading many companies to explore Ethernet.
“We’re launching a new vehicle platform, and FlexRay will be part of that,” said Erik Coelingh, Senior Technical Leader at Volvo Car Corp. “Ethernet is a topic we discuss; it’s clearly attractive.”
One of FlexRay’s biggest obstacles is its cost, especially when compared to Ethernet technology. FlexRay’s volumes are still minimal, keeping device prices high, and its complexity drives up development costs.
“FlexRay remains a valid bus, but it seems to have a limited future,” said Davide Santo, Safety and Chassis Segment Manager at Freescale Semiconductors. “One problem is that it’s over-engineered.”
Though Ethernet’s still a rarity on production vehicles, vendors throughout the supply chain are doing a lot of development work with Ethernet. Tier 1s are gearing up for more demanding 360-degree sensors.
“The majority of sensors today have high-speed CAN or FlexRay,” said Kay Stepper, Regional Business Manager for Automated Driving at Robert Bosch Chassis Systems Control division. “Our next-generation sensors have Ethernet built in, at least as an option. Ethernet has bandwidth that high-speed CAN can’t provide, which is especially important when you’re talking about sensor fusion where vast amounts of data must be communicated.”
A number of auto industry vendors formed the OPEN Alliance, which promotes One-Pair Ether-Net, based on Broadcom’s BroadR-Reach technology. Another automotive group, the AVnu Alliance set up AVnu Automotive AVB Gen2 Council to promote the use of Ethernet Audio Video Bridging technology. Chipmakers involved in these groups say Ethernet has some great advantages, augmented by a couple groups that focus on automotive applications.
“Ethernet is scalable to Gbits/second,” Santo said. “With AVB, you can sync nodes and do point-to-point with gateways.”
Ethernet AVB is well suited to cameras, which are key sensors for safety systems. The network can also play a role in interiors, handling the range of infotainment options. STMicroeletronics is bullish on Ethernet’s potential.
We here at DickandRicks.com know the importance of keeping ahead of what is going to be on the showrooms at dealerships. Proper training and knowledge is going to be needed, we are there doing the work that matters.
Auto Technology is not slowing down anytime soon, with the advances in electronics, the abilities are becoming more clear everyday.
The fact that with technology, things like drivetrains will become more compact, efficient and last longer. Ford in collaboration with Schaeffler’s eMobility Systems Division, have taken the drivetrain concept and put it all inside the wheel. This is not new, however the packaging is creating opportunities that will end up in your driveway in the future.
Directly from the article:
[“The liquid cooling, power electronics, and controller can now be integrated into each wheel, which means that the complex wiring in the vehicle can be omitted,” noted Dr. Raphael Fischer, Director, Wheel Hub Drives Product Group, part of Schaeffler’s eMobility Systems Division.
The liquid-cooled hub drive (electric motor, power electronics, controller, brakes, cooling system) is positioned within each rear wheel. The combined drive/wheel unit weighs 53 kg (117 lb), approximately 45 kg (99 lb) more than a conventional wheel including bearings and brakes.
The Fiesta’s wheels are 16 in, and the design envelope is quoted at 16 L (976 in3).
The system is fitted to a development Ford Fiesta, now designated Fiesta E-Wheel Drive. Roger Graaf, Ford’s Project manager for the vehicle, stated that despite the higher wheel-sprung masses of the rear wheels compared to the conventional vehicle, testing had shown that the driving behavior of the E-Wheel in terms of comfort and safety had “remained at virtually the same level.” The E-Wheel has the added dynamic element of torque vectoring.
The hub system, now part of a research project listed by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, provides up to 40 kW (53.6 hp) per drive and a continuous output of 2 x 33 kW. Up to 700 N·m (949 lb·ft) is available. Voltage is 360-420 V. Compared to the first generation hub drive, the E-Wheel Drive Beta, as the second generation is known, has a power output increase of about 33% and 75% more torque.
Recent testing has been completed in northern Scandinavia in very low temperatures.
Although the project is based on a regular production car (the first generation was fitted to an Opel Corsa), wheel-hub drives have to be integrated into new vehicle concepts for their benefits to be fully demonstrated, stressed Prof. Peter Gutzmer, Member of Schaeffler’s Executive Board and Chief Technical Officer.
“Thanks to this highly integrated wheel-hub drive, we can re-think the city car without restrictions," Gutzmer said. "It will be a key factor in new vehicle concepts and automobile platforms in the future.”
He added that for electric cars used in urban environments where they may become obligatory forms of individual transport, the wheel-hub-drive solution made previously unheard-of space savings possible. “The vehicle platform provides maximum space for passengers, luggage, and for the battery, electronics, and communication systems," Gutzmer noted. "Vehicle manufacturers can use this as a basis for a range of different body designs.”]
The benefits of this type of technology will bring with so much more space, quieter ride, reduced parts, and long term value.
Tesla has already forged ahead with the fully electric car, that alone has opened enough eyes to realize that what was the standard for automotive platforms will now be a thing of the past.
- What we do here at DickandRicks.com is not only work on today’s complex automotive systems, we also teach iCar classes (to many technicians that will be working on electronic safety systems here in the Minneapolis / St. Paul area). Value that leads us into the future.
Components are changing all the time, we will be there every step of the way with the high tech tools, knowledge, and experience that puts your vehicles back on the road, in your driveway keeping you safe and comfortable.