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Volkswagen Cabrio Convertible Top Problems



  • mpls66mpls66 Posts: 2
    Thanks a lot, I appreciate the effort. Hopefully I'll have the same results as you.
  • Hello,
    Iam looking to replace the rag top on a 93 Cabriolet. Are there any recommendations on any brands, cloth vs vinyl. Any help is appreciated.
    Thank you
  • Hope I'm not too late but I just happened onto this site. This past summer I put a new top on my wife's 1997 Cabrio. After much anguish over which top to buy, I settled on a Robbins. Most dealers wanted $400+ for this top but I found a site where I got one for $230, so it pays to shop. I can't say enough about the quality and fit of this Robbins top. It's perfect. Would recommend it to anyone. The Robbins company was very helpful in picking the correct fabric and color.
    Buy a Bentley manual for your car. It will give you very detailed and easy to follow instructions for top replacement besides being a complete shop repair manual. With a digital camera to take pictures of how things fit and some patience and common sense the top went on simply. Be careful, follow directions and as you remove the old top take pictures of how things look.
    Good luck.
  • See post #24. Cloth or vinyl? I did a bit of research on this also and discovered the following:
    Cloth (canvas) looks better.
    Cloth costs nearly 2x more.
    Cloth needs to be waterproofed yearly at least.
    Cloth needs more drying time before it can be lowered.
    Vinyl just needs to be cleaned once in a while and treated with a preserving agent.
    Both have about the same life cycle if cared for correctly.
    Vinyl is a better deal and easier to care for besides being original equipment on my car.
    I chose vinyl. The Robbins company tops look nearly exactly like the original, fit perfectly and are made with original vinyl. There are great tops. You won't be disappointed with the top but you need to install it correctly. A poorly installed top will look bad no matter who made it.
  • Thanks for the reply. could you tell me where you got yours from? thanks
  • I've just got a vw cabrio1998, :shades: almost everything original and working. I'd really like to know how to preserve the top and install sub woofers and amplis... :blush:

  • danas200danas200 Posts: 2
    I just pick up a 1996 CABRIO, it has some damage to the rear trunk cover, but the trunk opened while I was buying it but now I can't get it open! I'm new to VW cars so am having a time dealing with this. my key turns to the left and only halfway to the right. the button push's in without catching hold of anything just air. The rear seat is locked from inside the trunk so no way to enter it that way. I ran it by the guys at VW last night and they tried and failed to find a fix. The key is an after market type if that means anything. I was told to book it into the shop so they have tools to deal with it. Any ideas how to open my trunk? :confuse:
  • hallkanehallkane Posts: 20
    HI -
    The hydraulic motor on my 1999 VW Cabrio GLS convertible power roof must be a goner. I merely clacks when I want to put the roof down.
    I'm trying to get a handle on replacement options and cost.
    Anyone got an idea what the cost of just the part (motor) is?
    Anyone got an idea how involved it is to replace the motor? It seems relatively easy...but the huge VW service manual offers no discussion about the motor.
    We've checked the obvious (fluid on motor is ok, fuses not an issue).
    Or anyone got an idea of what a garage/VW Repair will charge?

    Thanks for any help.
  • vlbjunkvlbjunk Posts: 1
    I just had my car in the VW shop last week for my broken automatic roof on my 2001 Cabrio. I was informed that I was lucky b/c only some lever thingy on the driver's side of the roof was broken. Repair cost = $900!! I was "lucky" because if the entire hydraulic compressor was broken, the repair would be $3,000! Anyway, I asked the guy if my automatic roof could be converted to manual and he told me it could. I was told that there is a release for the hydraulic compression, but I picked my car up, drove it home without checking the top (dumb me) and found that I am not able to push the top down manually. I've been calling the dealership ever since without a return phone call. Service at my VW dealer is horrible! If anyone has info on whether an auto top can become manual, please let me know.
  • My 99.5 Cabrio auto convertertible top went out a few years ago. I did not look too deep into the options of getting it repaired or replaced. I was just glad I had the option to make it manual. Having logged a few years with the top automatic and a few years as top manual I can honestly say I prefer the top in manual mode. This is because you can just disengage the clasps and throw the top back in a 2 seconds vers 25 seconds. Doesnt sound like much but it is to me. The only minus is when it is time to put back up you have to get out of the car then back in to turn the engine off and roll up the windows. I pretty much keep the car in neutral to turn avoid engine on, off again cycle. Take all things into account I prefere manual.
  • hallkanehallkane Posts: 20
    HI and Thanks for your reply.
    I have since received the same type of info from my local foreign car repair specializing in VWs. The pump itself was a $795 part, retail. No quote on the labor cost involved. I was told the same motor is used from models 99 - 2001 -- so a junk yard might work. I was afraid another old motor from a 99 would have the same issues. VW does sell a repair kit for the roof motor, but it is meant for repairing fluid leaks, which I don't have. It appears a gear is stripped inside.

    I had the same surprise about going manual. We tried it at home, and couldn't lower it manually. The repair guy turned the toggle bar on the motor (not sure if clockwise or counterclockwise) and it released it. I can now lower it manually. Good luck!
  • hallkanehallkane Posts: 20
    HI and thanks very much for your reply.
    What a surprise to read you prefer manual roof changing to the automatic.
    You must be a lot stronger than me and/or taller than me!!
    I have a bit of trouble putting it up when standing behind the car but can do it.
    Standing off to the side and raising it is even tougher.
    But I'm really glad I have the manual option.
    I'll hope to "grow into" my new manual status like you did.
    Thanks for your post.
  • charocflcharocfl Posts: 18
    HI, I just bought a 99 Cabrio GLS here is FL ref: a/melbourne/218828846/113/index.html & there was no motor to operate the top but I did notice a switch on the dash board to raise & lower the top automatically.

    My questions is, did the 99 Cabrio have the automatic operation for the top as standard equipment or was it optional & not put on all 99 Cabrio? Also how many like/dislike the automatic convertible option for their Cabrio.
    Other Qs:
    How reliable are the convertible motors?
    How fussy are the automatic convertible motors?
    How expensive & labor intensive is it to install/maintain the convertible motors?
    How long do the convertibles motors usually last, especially in tropical areas such as FL?
    Does any one know of any aftermarket convertible motors?

  • The next generation Cabrio (which was the final generation for VW) was introduced as a year 1999 1/2. Based on the photo you sent, tip off being the headlights, it appears to me you have the new 1999 1/2 Cabrio. In that generation vehicle the "GLS" model came with auto roof as standard which probably explains why you have a switch on your dash.
  • barbara28barbara28 Posts: 1
    I have a 1999 Cabrio. The key thing is tricky. Try putting the key in so that the alignment is vertical. Press in, while holding in, turn to the right. That's how my trunk opens.
  • hallkanehallkane Posts: 20
    Greetings --
    Is this a new car to you or a new problem on a car you've had for awhile?

    If the car is new to you -- I remember being fooled by the trunk a few times too.
    In addition to putting the key in and turning the key, you have the push the whole black area "in" too. Also, if you're not familiar, check your manual, there could be a position you can leave your trunk lock in, so then you won't need to use the key to open the trunk if all doors are unlocked (presuming you have the same electric package I do, 99 GLS). You just have the push the black area "in" to open, without any key. I use it all the time!
  • catspawcatspaw Posts: 1
    There IS a way to raise and lower the convertible top manually. In the trunk, on my 2000 Cabrio, on the left side there is a circular opening in the side of the wall. In this opening, approx. 1 1/2 inch diameter, there is a metal switch. Wind or turn this switch counterclockwise to put in manual mode and tighten to the right to return to engage the motor for automatic mode. Once this switch is set to manual you can raise and lower the roof in a snap!
  • eenbeaneenbean Posts: 1
    OK, must be that time of year, the motor on mine croaked too. I had naively thought it was a simple screw motor but from looking at the forum I see it's a hydraulic jobby.

    I had been aware from reading the owner's manual when I first got it 2 years ago, there is a way to go manual, but I don't recall and thought maybe I could get the insider's view on the forum! It's a 99 but I don't know if old or new, had thought from the VIN it is a new but then the fuse box cover I bought based on that did not work (admittedly, haven't tried an "old" to see if it did the trick).

    When I look in the trunk the area where I think the lift is, on the left, is neatly covered with some sort of finish material, with a couple of fasteners I haven't ventured to try to off yet. Is that where I should be looking for the switch that I can flip/spin/turn to go manual, at least to get the top up?

    Also, I'm 5'4" and wondering if I'll be able to reach and easily raise and lower the top manually (without making the guys at work snicker).
  • hallkanehallkane Posts: 20
    Hi - Sorry to hear you lost your motor too!
    Yes, in the trunk, drivers side. Yes there is a neatly covered area. On the front side of that area, should be a round rubber circle. You can pop that off using your fingers, or take the whole housing off, it's only a few screws. You should see (or feel) a brass toggle bar once inside the circle. Turn it clockwise/counterclockwise to release the motor. Frankly I had trouble with it too..but it works.

    Yes, the roof is heavy. I'm 5'5" and probably much older than you. I can do it alone, but with effort. Standing from the rear is best to get it started upward but you will get the front of your clothes dirty from leaning on the car. Then you can slide to the drivers side to finish. When lowering, I was told to not force it down by pushing the entire way. Push to get it started and then when gravity works, let the pistons and gravity do their thing to lower on their own. I miss being able to raise/lower the roof at traffic lights!!
    Good Luck.
  • charocflcharocfl Posts: 18
    Hi, I am also 50+ & just bought my 99 Cabrio last month. I had to take it into the shop for a few issues & asked them to look at my convertible motor. There were a few things I wanted to know like was the motor still there, was it repairable if. I had figured that since it was apparent the top had been replaced this may have been an oversight for some reason. Well $225 later my top is up & running & I am very pleased with it operation. A few tid bits the mechanic said was that when the fluid gets below a certain point the motor will stop working, I guess it is a self protection mode. Also he said it was a bit of a bear to prime the hydraulics but with persistence all is working well. Other items I did not know since I did not get the owners manual is that the emergency brake must be engaged in order to operate the hydraulic rams in either the up or down directions.

    Maybe you may want to check the fluid levels in your hydraulic rams (I believe the mechanic said there were 2) before you give up on the top motor. I have been doing the manual operation for the last month here in FL & between the nice sunny days & the after noon storms & have been doing it quite a bit & the motorized operation is much nicer.

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