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Minneapolis Auto Interiors Blog | For your Safety and Comfort

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Auto Interior Repair | 3 options - choosing an Auto Interior Shop

Auto Interior Repair | How do you know who can help you with that interior problem?

who to I choose for auto interior repair?How do you pick someone that you can feel will fix the problem but not create others in the process?

First, lets look at what you are fixing, if it is stuffed with hay and stitched together with some baling twine, you can pretty much pick anyone. If you own a car or truck from 2000 on or even in the late 90’s you might need to consider someone that has a few more qualifications.

Today’s auto interiors have within them complex systems designed to keep you safe and comfortable. In order to better understand them, here is how they got to where they are today.

Interior Repair, We can Help

Starting in the 1990’s, seats were no longer just seats, they became the basis for improved safety and comfort. Let’s go deeper…

  • Seat belts began to evolve into what we know today. Next, came the seat itself, technology made it possible to protect the occupant by absorbing the force or energy of an impending crash. 
  • Then came the driver and passenger airbags.
  • Side airbags were later added for better protection from side impact. 
  • Headrests are no longer for visual appeal, they have developed to help protect your neck and spine. 
  • Sensors were added to judge how close your body is positioned to the steering wheel, and also adjusted the airbag system to accommodate the size / weight of a child or an adult sitting in the adjacent seat. 
  • Now, technology has developed rear seat airbags as part of the seat belts.

In other words the seats in a car have gone from as solid and heavy as a park bench to an essential safety system.

How about the comfort part? This used to consist of a frame with some springs and one size fits all padding, like having your couch in your car and just as technical.

Over the years, manufacturers have added heat, cooling, power lumbar, power headrest, seat tracks with memory, and recliner just to name a few items. The point being, short of a drink dispenser and ice cream maker, the level of comfort and convenience is gone up exponentially.

Today’s interior seating is constructed with many wires, computers and several electrical components. Many of which may be controlled by the panel on the seat, switches on the dash or even by a screen incorporated in the radio. In all not so simple any more, if there is a malfunction with any of them. And in many cases the need for an appropriate scan tool to diagnose a problem is necessary.

Now back to the beginning question…

  • What happens if you have a torn or worn out seat? 
  • What if you have a safety issue or malfunctioning power seat. 
  • Who do you see?

Fact: Every component is intertwined with technology to provide safety and comfort for you and your passengers.

First Option:  The dealer might be able to help you with part of it, but maybe not all of it.

Dealerships like to fix the way your car drives, but many times fall short with the interior trim, electronics, and related safety systems. (What if you have a pinched wire within the harness, replacing parts is not the same a properly diagnosing and repairing the vehicle as a whole functioning unit)

Second Option:  And most interior shops can fix that seat cover perfectly, provided that is it only the seat cover, but if there is a electrical problem they may fall short in diagnosing and returning it back to OEM or better specifications.

The Third option which should be your first option; bring it to someone that understands both safety and comfort, and get you back to your expected 'normal'.

Our focus is on delivering quality diagnosis, proper technique to take your vehicle apart, find, and repair what needs to be, and put back together to return your vehicle to the safety and comfort you expect.

Auto Interior Repairs done right | If you have a problem and want to speak with someone who has the knowledge, and experience, we can help.


Dick and Rick’s is like that Dealership and Interior Shop all in one.

Premier Auto Interior is not responsible for any damage caused by using any content on this site.  Please get a proper diagnosis / repair by one of our trained professionals.

High Tech Autos | What does it take to repair an automobile today?

Manufacturing 06 resized 600What are some of the basic necessities needed to tackle automotive repairs?

We can start with the obvious physical tools, wrenches, screwdrivers and sockets etc. All a necessity for something that needs to be taken apart or removed / modified. Tools represent only part of what is needed before, during, and after one figures out what is actually happening, a huge part of repairs today require the right scan tool.

Scan tools come in many forms and when you buy them, they can range widely in cost and abilities. All of them require frequent updates to keep current and add new features. As a rule, no scan tool has the ability to do everything for all car makers, for that you will need the factory scan tool that only works on the cars it was designed for.

  • Our business model dictates that we have OEM scan tools for every make / model, the reason is; deliver quality results to our customers. Our focus is on outcomes, not output.

scan toolsThis isn’t the cheapest way, in fact it is the most expensive way, but is the best way. In essence this is the first step of many to a successful diagnostic and repair shop.

The second piece involves insight as to how the system works and a proper interpretation of what the scan tool readout has given you. For this, it may be looking up multiple wiring diagrams, and / or following steps in a flow chart.

online scan tool helpRegardless, you will need a place or an online subscription to get this information. There's a lot information out on the internet, but some of it is inaccurate and it is not all available.

For that you really do need the paid subscription route, this is one of those necessities to be successful in performing consistent quality repairs. There are couple of all-in-one providers available for a resource and you can also buy a subscription fee base information at manufacturer's sites.

    please note: The all-in-one sites state there information is a mirror image of what the manufactures have, that is only partly true. Nothing is as thorough as what you can get from the people that make the cars. (…why we have OEM scan tools)

  • Quotes from  An important point to keep in mind here is that a fault code by itself does NOT tell you which part needs to be replaced. The code only tells you that a fault has been detected, not what caused it. The code serves as a starting point for further diagnosis. Many people don't understand this and assume an inexpensive code reader is all they need to "diagnose" and repair their vehicle.The last involves having the right people in place that can put it all back together with OEM expectations or better.

  • OEM factory scan tools provide full access to virtually everything, but are very expensive compared to many aftermarket general purpose scan tools (though some of the high end aftermarket tools also cost thousands of dollars depending on their features). An OEM scan tool may cost $5000 up to $12,000 or more!

The best of everything only makes a good technician better. So education and experience continue to play a huge part of making all the pieces fit together. Education is about staying current with all the new procedures and processes that come out, as well as understanding new / improved ways to fix old problems.

Go ahead -Ask Us

Reality of today’s vehicles | We have had many cars come to our shop that have been previously worked on by people that have had less than acceptable results, and created additional problems with their system (this includes other shops, owners, and even dealerships). It is not their fault, often times a broad based scan tool can help you get a problem corrected, but when it becomes more involved, usually the scan tool and the knowledge base has just run out of the right information to get it right.

The automotive is changing faster than it ever has in history, that makes education a key part. Just like when you a drive a race car, that doesn’t make you ready for NASCAR, so just being equipped with the same tools as everyone else doesn’t make you instantly a winner. It’s how you use them, on the flip side you also need the right car to complete.

As you can see; current tools, people and process are are all very important to be successful.

Premier Auto Interior is not responsible for any damage caused by using any content on this site.  Please get a proper diagnosis / repair by one of our trained professionals.

BMW Z4 | Expectations of the next gen BMW convertible

BMW Z4 convertible repairConvertible Top Repair | The next generation of the Z3 is the Z4.

The BMW Z4 is a great convertible. This car has a redesign of looks and functionality of the top. The rear plastic window of the Z3 was replaced with a heated glass for the Z4. with this improvement, you lose the downfall of fogging, discoloration and the cracking of plastic.

The rear glass is a quite a upgrade, the down side is, if the rear window breaks, the whole top will need replacement. With that I would highly recommend that you carry glass coverage with your insurance company. This could easily pay for itself if your window gets broken one time.

  • Another note on top replacement is there are some great aftermarket top makers other than buying a factory top.
I don’t recommend all makers, but we have tested with regards to fit, finish, and most important of all, quality of the construction and materials used.
  • If you have done your research, and we expect you have, please insist on a conversation with us to add value to your decision.

This standard is something that is not acceptable any other way in all of the products we install. We chose not to install some customers products they have brought in because of sub-quality. Our goal with every transaction is a quality outcome that meets both the customers and our own expectations.

With the engineering and design changes in the Z4 came a more sophisticated convertible top hydraulic system. Every time the bar has been raised in terms of performance, comes changes and challenges in ‘getting it right’.

This has its good and bad points as well. With the new Z4 top system there are more wires and sensors in addition to hydraulics. Everything works together to improve the experience and expectation that makes a BMW what it is. This weeds out the basic repair facility or local garage that used to fix older convertibles of years past.

Z4 Convertible Top Repair

Make sure that you pick a shop that not only understand how your top works but has the necessary equipment needed to read and properly diagnose the car, in order to maintain OEM or better performance.

At Dick and Rick’s we have chosen to go the factory technology route. We have the same high-tech equipment neccesary to fix your top that the dealership has, and often times a better understanding. Today's BMW convertible is filled with closed loop electronics, CAN-BUS architecture, etc. So, if your going to be in the convertible top repair business, you will need to understand hydraulics, electronics, mechanics and of course how to correctly install a top.

What has worked on last years model, may not work on this years, we never stop our process of ongoing training and knowledge to keep up with what is the best process to retain the highest level of convertible top performance.

If the top doesn’t get installed correctly, we have seen broken parts and even the inside gets flooded. The last one we had like this that came into the shop after someone else installed a replacement top, it cost the owner $15.00 to find and fix the leak and $4000.00 to fix the water damage to the carpet, electrical and safety equipment.

Long story short, know what you are getting into before having anyone install, repair, or replace your Z4 convertible top.

Premier Auto Interior is not responsible for any damage caused by using any content on this site.  Please get a proper diagnosis / repair by one of our trained professionals.

BMW 328i Convertible | Help me get my top to close

What do I do when my convertible 1997 BMW 328i top gets stuck?

BMW convertible helpSo when you have a problem with your BMW top, they have a emergency override lever under the the rear seat.  This is also outlined in the owners manual.

But there's a couple of things that you need to know if and when you pull it.

  • What happens when the motors drop loose?

One for the top and one for the tonneau lid. But when this happens the whole convertible top sequence will need to be initialized to synchronize the top again. But there are times that the motors will not release as planned, now what do you do?

If rain is on the way and you need to get the top up, these might be your next step(s).

You will first need to locate the top and tonneau motors located in the trunk on the left side. Next, you need to remove the trim to visually inspect the motors and release mechanisms.

BMW top motor releaseThe top motor should look like this when it is disconnected from the top drive

If it hasn’t dropped, you need to help it by lifting on the black arm with the cable hooked to it. And there are times when the motor bracket gets so bent you may have to even pry it apart while working the black arm.

Atonneau release leverslso, the tonneau motor can get stuck, this is released a little differently because the motor makes it harder to gain access to get a good visual. The idea is the same as the top motor to disengage the motor with one exception if that doesn’t work.

The black arm with the single cable attached to it needs to be pushed down and if it is stuck, you may have to push really hard. If that doesn’t work the 2 cables hooked to the shiny arm with have to be removed. they usually have a clip that hold them on and once removed they will pop off.

One thing to remember, this will allow you to freely move your top. But it might be a good idea to have a professional look at your top to determine what started the problem.














BMW Convertible Top Repair

Premier Auto Interior is not responsible for any damage caused by using any content on this site.  Please get a proper diagnosis / repair by one of our trained professionals.

Mustang Rear Window Breakage | What to know, before / after

Rear Window BrokenHelp! 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.

Mustang Top Repair

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.

Premier Auto Interior is not responsible for any damage caused by using any content on this site.  Please get a proper diagnosis / repair by one of our trained professionals.

Volvo C70 Convertible | What to look for, Why quality matters?

volvo top repairWhen 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.

Volvo top repair or replace  

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.

volvo c70 repairRemember, 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.

Volvo top installationPeople buy convertibles for performance reasons, why only look good when the top is down? Our customers choose not to compromise.

Premier Auto Interior is not responsible for any damage caused by using any content on this site.  Please get a proper diagnosis / repair by one of our trained professionals.

BMW x3 and X5 panoramic Sunroof | Getting it Right again

BMW sunroof repairBMW 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:

  1. Do you understand how the whole system works? 
  2. If you unplug the electronics what will it do? 
  3. 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.

BMW motorworksFirst 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.


BMW Sunroof problems?


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

Premier Auto Interior is not responsible for any damage caused by using any content on this site.  Please get a proper diagnosis / repair by one of our trained professionals.


BMW Z3 Convertible | Repairing or Replacing window or top

Z3 convertible top replacementThe 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:

BMW convertibleFirst if you are going to replace the rear window consider the condition of your top.

  1. Does it look in good shape? 
  2. Is the stitching around the rear window still holding or is it rotted where there are even stitches missing? 
  3. The first stage of aging for the BMW convertible top is that the thread will turn white before it actually falls out. 
  4. Take a close look at your canvas, does it have bald spots and / or worn edges on the seams?
  5. 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.

BMW Convertible Top Repair

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.

Premier Auto Interior is not responsible for any damage caused by using any content on this site.  Please get a proper diagnosis / repair by one of our trained professionals.


BMW Z4 Convertible Top Motor not working | Helpful Information

BMW Z4 motor won't workBMW 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.

broken Z4 top motorConvertible 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.

z4 convertible top problemsWhat 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.

Z4 Conv Top Help

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.

Premier Auto Interior is not responsible for any damage caused by using any content on this site.  Please get a proper diagnosis / repair by one of our trained professionals.

Mustang Convertible Repair | Causes of breakage, what to do

2005 Must conv top resized 600Now 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:

  • 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
So what is the correct way to fix a situation or problem like this?

Mustang conv problemsThere’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.

Mustang Top Repair

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.

Premier Auto Interior is not responsible for any damage caused by using any content on this site.  Please get a proper diagnosis / repair by one of our trained professionals.

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