Volkswagen Cabrio Convertible Top Problems

momjennimomjenni Member Posts: 6
Me and my Cabrio live in Florida and the heat is a little hard on convertible tops. My top opened up at the 4th rib where the factory heat seals it and there is no stitching. I am looking for the best and most economical approach to it's replacement because there is no one who repairs these seams even though the rest of the the top is just fine. I have called an auto upholstry business here in Orlando. They told me the dealer would charge $4500.00 and they want $1900.00 to replace the top with one like the original . I found I can purchase a top on line, made of the same fabric, with a glass defroster window. This was about $675.00. I called another auto upholsterer nearby and they want $250.00 to install the top. I would like to hear from anyone who has changed their top and would appreciate any advice offered. In the meantime I have stitched it with fishline. Got the idea from this blog. It's OK for now but our afternoon monsoon rains have leaked through a little and I need to replace asap. Thanks,Jenni


  • lylasxolylasxo Member Posts: 2
    I have a 2001 cabrio aswell and actually i live in orlando too! My top is also coming up where there is no stitching.. i've found that boat glue..used on the tops of well for holding the top together.
    has anyone had any problems with the power windows no working? i've had to change the motor 3 times already.

    i've about had it with my cabrio. even though i love it i feel like its a hassel compared to other cars...especially in florida, my cabrio doesnt seem to like heavy rain falls. It breaks down and the windows leak! :(

    Good luck! :confuse: :(
  • jmking33jmking33 Member Posts: 1
    I live in Orlando as well. I just bought a 96 cabrio for my wife. It too needed a new top. I found a place in kissimmee that ordered and replaced it for around 550 to 600. It isnt the original fabric used on the top. But for the price alone, its well worth it. If you two check this post and want to know where its at, email me and Ill find the name of it. The guy did a good job. my email is [email protected]

    Hope this helps!
  • cabrio98cabrio98 Member Posts: 8
    Well, I'm in New Jersey, and I own a '98 Cabrio. I had to replace the top this July because it split just down that seam that you mentioned. It was the original top. It started to split on the right side first, and then it happened on the left side as well. both of the splits were on the curved part of the top, where the "roof" would meet the side panel. I took it to the place the dealer recommended, and i paid $950, for a supposed top of the line, Stayfast II top. Last week the top just collapsed inwards, on that same back right seam. The guy who fixed the top thinks that one of the boughs might be broken. Have you had any experience with this? I really don't want to get ripped-off or pay extra money to have this fixed.

    My top shrunk which is why it originally split. If you know your car well, you can feel that the top is shrinking b/c it gets harder to close the top after time.

    I do have a big problem with air-draft noise sneaking through the front gasket headliner. Does anyone else have this problem? I feel that i've actually lost hearing b/c in order to hear the radio while on the highway, i have to turn the volume way up. It's really annoying and replacing the gasket is expensive b/c only VW makes the part. Do your tops fit snuggly into the front gasket? When you go to put your top down, how much space is left in between the car and the top before you anchor it into place?

    Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks!
  • jllamarjllamar Member Posts: 2

    Where did you get the boat canvas glue. What's the name brand. We have the same problem, also with the drivers and passenger windows on a 2002 Cabrio.

  • jllamarjllamar Member Posts: 2
    On a 2002 Cabrio. Power windows don't work. Took door apart and found a plastic wheel had broken and the stell cable that pulls the glass up had come off the plastic wheels.
    Would VW repair, they should!

  • 99vwcabrio99vwcabrio Member Posts: 1
    I was wondering if anyone has any info on replacing a 99 cabrio convertible top... my GF's car was part of a stupid car theft attempt but thank god for VW ingenuity he couldn't get it started however he mad a nice hole in the convertible top... I have found a top for about 250 dollars but would rather not spend another 500 on installation... if anyone has any information on either installing the top or at least knowing where I could find that information would be greatly appreciated... Aaron
  • cdefmomcdefmom Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2002 VW Cabrio with an automatic top. When opening and closing the top on my car the top moves about 3 inches before it stops. When I turn the car off and on again it repeats another 3 inches. Right now I repeat this until the top is completely closed or open.

    Does anyone have any ideas on what I can do to fix this problem?
  • laddie22laddie22 Member Posts: 1
    I have a 1985 volkswagon cabriolet and i would like to know if there is another type of pad that can be used for the convertible. The pad is located in between the headliner and the top. Please email me or just repost the answer thanks very much.
  • marjidollmarjidoll Member Posts: 6
    Here's what we did with our 1990 Cabriolet. I found a new top with the bars,etc.on Ebay for just over $200.

    My husband, daughter and some friends downloaded directions from the internet (free) and then they set out to change the top. It took a couple of days, but they followed the step by step directions and completed the job for a fraction of what it would have cost to pay someone. It turned out beautifully.
  • 1958pilo1958pilo Member Posts: 1
    My 2001 Cabrio is also coming apart at the seam. Spoke with a local upholstery guy, he offered me 3 options. 1. He can glue it ($40) 2. I can remove top and he will sew the seem. 3. If he removes the top cost would be about $250, he said removing and installing the top is the headache. Personally, I'm going with the glue, then sell the car as soon as possible, before anything else happens to it. It is a shame that VW built these nice little car with so many problems. VW made a smart choice by stopping production when they did.
  • craffieldcraffield Member Posts: 13
    Bought a 98 Cabrio recently. Traded in a 98 Jeep Wrangler Sport for it. Had a jeep for about 5 years and did nothing but complain about the top. The person who designed that top should be tested for drug addictions. I was miserable. Traded one jeep for the 98 with a hard top....great for noise reduction but impossible to take off alone. Then theres the problem of where to put it. Daughter has a 98 cabrio and I drove it off and on. Love the top simple up and down, love the way the car handles. Whole lot better gas mileage. The 98 cabrio I bought had a bit of a gap between the top and the front rubber boot. There were two adjustment slots available on the top closer hook. I adjusted one slot and the noise is now minimal. Haven't noticed any splitting of top yet on mine or my daughters.
  • cabby1cabby1 Member Posts: 1
    Does anyone know where I can purchase a new snap for a 99 Cabrio Boot cover? This snap is used to secure the boot in place when the top is down.
  • elenam16elenam16 Member Posts: 1

    Do you happen to still have the instructions for replacing the top? Or do you happen to remember where you got the instructions?

    Any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated!


  • marjidollmarjidoll Member Posts: 6
    I will keep looking, not sure if I saved it or not. We just did a google search, "how to replace a v.w. convertible top. The directons were really good and easy to follow.
  • caligcalig Member Posts: 1
    Can some one please explain this to me!!! I can't find a satisfactory explanation online anywhere!

    I want to replace my top, it's ripped all aong the top of the back window. It's a manual top btw.

    Why are 2000 and previous models around $250 and the 2001 top is about $700?!?!

    My window is fine and doesn't need replacing. Can I use an older model? Am I incredibly stupid and missing something here???

    Thanks in advance for your help!

  • mpls66mpls66 Member Posts: 2
    I would also very much appreciate it if you could tell me where you found those instructions. I've googled and searched for a while now and have not found any. Thanks.
  • marjidollmarjidoll Member Posts: 6

    Forrest King
    Warning: Any attempt to repair you car may cause problems. I am not responsible for your car, your errors, or your economic losses resulting from your use of this information.

    Ok folks, I drive a 1991 Cabriolet that originally came with a dark blue canvas top. After sitting for a few years while the previous owner was inn possession, the top was a bit dilapidated. The canvas was torn left to right all the way across the top at the first fold point (about 1 foot aft of the header). I shopped around in my region and was quoted astronomical prices for the replacement of just the outer 'shell', anywhere from $675 at an upholstery shop to $1300 at Brad Noe VW in Tulsa, OK. After peaking with one of the local upholstery shops on the phone I stopped by to check out their operation and let them see the tops actual condition. This is when I decided to replace the top myself- the guy was going on and on about how much experience you need to do this repair and how VW tops are by far the most difficult, and then I met his shop help. The shop help was 17 and was in desperate need of some education, he had been working for the guy for 2 weeks and was in the process of replacing a Mustang top- alone.

    PREPARATION (physical and mental)

    Some required knowledge: The VW top is held on by three cables, one at the back and two on the sides. The side cables must be replaced and are available at your local VW Dealership for about $11 US. The rear cable can be reused and you will most likely want to do this as it costs $93 US at your dealer. The best place to learn about the VW top is the replacement top. I suggest you lay it out on your living room floor and just take it in for a few minutes. You will notice that there is no hole for the rear window, DO NOT TRY TO MAKE ONE NOW. You will also notice that there is a 'pocket' at the front of the new top, this is where the top is slipped over the frame on your car, it is the attachment point for the front of the car. You will see a thick bead stitched into the rear of the rear of the replacement top, this is where the rear cable runs and is the attachment point for the rear of the top. The sides have slots that run 1/2 the length of the entire top, or the area over the windows if you can picture this. These slots are for the side cables, these cables and their accompanying springs are the attachments for the sides of the top.

    I searched locally and on the internet for other people who had replaced VW Cabby tops themselves and found a few great references, I will include these links at the end. After viewing their reports I created a list of tools that I would need, it included all of these:
    * Screwdrivers, Phillips and flat
    * Utility Knife (or razor)
    * Craftsman 9mm/10mm offset ratcheting wrench (pt # 43367)
    * Wooden clothespin
    * Spray Glue, 3M or other reputable brand, get the strongest bond.
    * Pliers, needle nose preferably
    * Electric staple gun (with staples and extension cord if needed)
    * Roll of nylon string- not cotton and not rope
    * Miscellaneous other hand tools, including wrenches and sockets.
    A critical tool in the replacement of my top was the Craftsman Offset Ratcheting Wrench, it brings a certain amount of ease to a horribly difficult situation. Read On.

    To start, remove the lower bench of the rear seat, it is held in by 2 screws on the front lip of the seat- that's all. Remove the package tray, that is the piece covered in carpet that hides the contents of your trunk. Fold down the rear seat, you do this by pulling the knob hidden under the trunk door and then pulling the strap located on the side of the rear seatback near the top. Leave the trunk lid open. The seat back should fold down nearly flat. Removing all of these components will create more working area in your car and give you places to contort your body while attempting to remove the rear cable. Now look under the package tray sides (the parts that remained in the car), you will see the headliner is stretched over some points to hold it tight. Grasp the headliner and pull is firmly but gently in the direction of the points to remove it. After you do this to all of the points the headliner will hang loosely from the top. Roll down all of the windows. Pop the latches for the top but do not fold the top yet.

    Now is a good time to look at the side cables of your top- study them, make drawings, take pictures- whatever you need to do in order to create that same setup later.


    Note: In this section I am going to cover the removal of the top. The VW Cabby top goes on in exactly the same manner that it comes off, so once again study, take notes or take pictures. I found the best way was just to look at how the pieces worked and understand the system of parts.

    First, the rear window must be removed. This is a very simple use of brute strength. Crawl inside the car and have a friend stand outside of the car at the rear window. Place the palm of you hand, with as much surface area of your hand contacting the glass as possible, on the rear window at the upper corner. PUSH. The glass will slowly start to come out of the seal and will come right out after you release the initial hold of the seal. Have your buddy catch the window if you become overzealous in your pushing efforts, otherwise have him gently tug at the glass to free it. Now pull the window seal out and set it aside. Get your flat head screwdriver and remove ALL of the staples that hold the old top to the rear window frame (yes folks, they stapled it together). Once you remove the staples you can look around the inside of the top- study up.

    Next, remove as much of the top as you can with your handy utility knife. To remove the center section would be more than enough. Remember you are throwing this old top away, so feel free to sacrifice it in order to learn as much as you can. I suggest cutting it from about 1 foot behind the header, down the seams along each side, and across the back just below the rear window frame.

    At the front of the top there is a metal bar that crosses the header, it has some brackets that hold the corners on also. Start by removing the brackets at the corners and placing the hardware in plastic zipper bags, or visually separating them on a counter or other work surface. Remove the corner brackets and then remove all of the screws holding the header bar. You should then be able to pull the header bar off, taking care not to bend it. Now move you focus to the sides of the top. You will notice that there are rubber seals covering the area where screws would be. These rubber seals slide out of their brackets, but be very careful as they are no longer available from the dealer and are very expensive to locate. Once you have slid out all three of the seals on each side you will see the metal brackets that hold the seals and you should be able to see the screws that hold the bracket to the top frame. On
  • marjidollmarjidoll Member Posts: 6
    corresponding nuts. Boy you are screwed if it starts raining.


    You are more than half way done, if you have taken the time to observe the methods used to attach the top you will have no problems from here on out.

    Now take the top and put it over the empty frame. Do not try to put the frame in the pocket, or do anything right now, just place the top on the car and visualize what you are doing. It looks nice doesn't it.
    To start the operation you will need to put the top back on the ground. Go find the side cables you saved from earlier, and the new cables you bought at the dealership. The new cables came straight (not pre crimped). Take this time to put a crimp on the ends of the cable and fish a string or fish tape thru the slot in the replacement top. Tape the end of the new cable to the fish tape and pull it thru. Let the cable sit there quietly for now. Place the new top back on the frame, this time seat the frame in the pocket of the top. Now is the time to attach the header bar. Be careful and try to get the front bead of the top to sit flat against the windshield frame. If you mess up don't worry, you can re do this later to get the front edge of the top to seat correctly. You will most likely be doing this while standing on your front seats with the top in a half open position. Leave the top in this half open position and head to the back of the car. You are now going to thread the rear cable through the slots in the top and into the body of the car. This step is frustrating because the top can pop out of position and be generally difficult, if your helper has not consumed all of your beer use him to hold the top and cable in place. You may find it easier to thread the cable through the top on one side only and then slip inside of the car and screw a nut on the end of the cable just a few threads. You can then return outside and continue trying to line up the top and the cable. The idea here is to have the cable sit just above the bead on the rear of the top and directly over the groove. If you can get this to line up you are doing great. You will then want to slip the other nut onto the other end of the cable (if you have not already done this in the course of trying to line it all up). Using the backup wrench and the ratcheting 10mm put a small amount of tension on the cable. The Physics of tightening the cable to draw the top into the groove are all wrong. YOU WILL BREAK THE CABLE IF YOU TRY TO PULL THE TOP INTO THE GROOVE BY SIMPLY TIGHTENING THE CABLE. Use the end of the wooden clothespin to get the top and cable into the groove, a rubber mallet will help too, but don't tap the clothespin hard enough to tear the top. You can also position the clothespin on the cable, then you have to worry a little less about tearing the top, but it requires more force to seat the cable if you choose this manner. I suggest you start in the center and work your way to each edge. Have your friend keep an eye on it, too, and make sure the top does not go on crooked. Once the entire cable/top/groove system is seated you will need to return to the inside and tighten the 10mm nuts, using the backup wrench, tighten this up until you are worried. The tighter the better, unless you get it too tight and then you have to buy a new one... The sides and rear should all tuck in nicely as you tighten this cable, have your now drunk friend gently use the clothespin to insure it all fits. Now, drink a few Dos Equis yourself, that nut on the cable is a bear. (you should be at 3 beers in about 4 hours so far.)
    Now is the time to close the top. You want to make sure when it latches that it pulls the wrinkles out of the top and looks good. The sides should still be hanging loose at this point. Look at the front of the top, where the bead of the top contacts the windshield frame. You want that bead to be flush and uniform, so get your Phillips screwdriver out and make a few adjustments and see if you can get it to look nice.
    The sides are relatively easy. If you did the rear cable then you can do heart surgery and ice sculpture- the sides should be a piece of cake. Attach the side cables to the front attachment point and then re-assemble the spring tensioner assembly. Refer to your pictures, notes or beer bottle diagrams at this point to ensure correctness.

    Glue time. Get the upholstery glue that you purchased, it should be a strong glue that has a high release point temperature- 3M is good, but avoid their 77 and Super 77. Use a piece of cardboard to shield the interior of your car and spray small amounts of glue to the frame rails. You are applying glue to the part where the seals and seal brackets mount, NOWHERE ELSE. After you apply the glue pull the flaps on the top around the frame and stick them to the glue. Follow the Glue Manufacturers directions in regards to if you should place glue on each piece to be assembled, or just on one. Once you have satisfactorily positioned each of the three flaps you are going to install the seal mounting brackets. These brackets act as a clamp to ensure that nothing flops loose at 75 MPH. You will attach all of the brackets making sure to place them in the correct position and side from which they originally came; NO, they are not all the same. Once you have attached the brackets you will want to use the utility knife to remove the excess material on the inside of the bracket. Taking your time and cleaning up really pays off here, under the hood it doesn't matter too much, but in upholstery work cleanliness counts towards functionality.

    The seals slide into the seal brackets. Using Vaseline or another lubricant is helpful. Silicone spray is always a good bet when trying to lube rubber parts. Take care in replacing the rubber seals, think $$$$. I have seen a used set of these sell for $200+.
    After you have replaced the side rubber seals and are happy with the way the front fit you are going to want to trim the material from beneath the header bar. Take care to not cut through the headliner and really foul things up. You should be able to at this point, close the top and get in the car. You should be able to roll up the windows, and sit in peace within the confines of your car and drink another Dos Equis.

    While you are consuming the adult libation you may notice that you can't see jack out the rear window. This is because the rear window is sitting on the love seat in the family room. You can drive your car at this point and it looks really cool. It appears to be a mix between the European Golf Vans and a Cabriolet.


    The rear window is an easy installation. If you stopped and drove your car for a few weeks like I did then this additional step should take 45 minutes including setup and installation. If you are continuing on then it should be another 30 minutes or so.

    Feel around the rear window to figure out where the frame is, you are going to have to cut a hole inside the dime
  • marjidollmarjidoll Member Posts: 6
    Vans and a Cabriolet.


    The rear window is an easy installation. If you stopped and drove your car for a few weeks like I did then this additional step should take 45 minutes including setup and installation. If you are continuing on then it should be another 30 minutes or so.

    Feel around the rear window to figure out where the frame is, you are going to have to cut a hole inside the dimensions of the rear frame without getting even the slightest bit out of the lines, I suggest you cut small and then staple. Yes, staple.

    You should cut an X shape through the top within the window frame, you are going to need to make relief cuts in the top material at the corners in order to get it to lie down without wrinkles. THE TOP MUST BE CLOSED AND LATCHED COMPLETELY BEFORE CUTTING OR STAPLING. Be sure to not cut a circle out as this severely limits the amount of material you have left to tug on. You will pull the material taught and then use the electric staple gun to fire staples through the top material into the frame of the window. The frame is wooden if you are wondering, they just paint it black to match the interior. Now that you have stapled all the way around the frame taking care to use at least as many staples as the factory did you are read to pop the rear glass in place. If you have ever installed a wind shield into a gasket type setting then you are used to this. If not, read on.

    Take the rear window gasket and install it onto the rear window. Get a roll of nylon string and wrap the string around in the seal groove at least twice, if not more. If you have never done this before you will be wrapping the string and trying over, so don't fret. If you complete the following steps twice without success drink Dos Equis and then come back to it.

    You have the string wrapped around the seal, so set the window up against the outside of the car. Have your slowly sobering buddy hold it in place. Crawl inside of the car and find the END of the string (not the beginning...), gently pull the string at a 90 degree angle from the plane of the glass. This will roll the lip of the seal in and allow the whole thing to seat nicely. You wrapped the string twice or more so that parts of the gasket do not roll in on the first lap around the window they will have another chance on the next lap. VW windows fit well and this should be easy for anyone who can butter bread.


    You are now finished replacing the top. Congratulations. Send me pictures: [email protected] preferably of each step and the completed deal. Put your tools away and then go inside and apologize to your significant other. You are a touch too tipsy to drive so maybe have a nice dinner at home or have the previously mentioned significant other drive to dinner.

    I hope this helps. If you have problems with my spelling or grammar feel free to make a contribution towards my tuition: Forrest King, 1807 S. Jackson Ave #A, Tulsa, OK 74107.

    Top: World Upholstery, 1-800-222-9577 . Please tell them I sent you. The lady who answers the phone is a RUDE, but the product is amazing and fits perfectly. Better quality than JCWhitney. I paid $218 shipped for a vinyl cabriolet grain top in a custom blue.

    Wrench: Sears. Buy the damn wrench. You will thank me.
  • marjidollmarjidoll Member Posts: 6
    Sorry this had to be broken up in three sections..too long to post the entire thing.
    My husband found these directions to be very straightforward and easy to follow.
    They replaced the top on our Cabriolet and it really looks nice, very professional.

    Good luck, plan on this taking more than one day.
  • mpls66mpls66 Member Posts: 2
    Thanks a lot, I appreciate the effort. Hopefully I'll have the same results as you.
  • fmstrohlfmstrohl Member Posts: 2
    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
  • blackvertblackvert Member Posts: 2
    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.
  • blackvertblackvert Member Posts: 2
    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.
  • fmstrohlfmstrohl Member Posts: 2
    Thanks for the reply. could you tell me where you got yours from? thanks
  • jrmottajrmotta Member Posts: 1
    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 Member 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 Member 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 Member 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.
  • angelchicagoangelchicago Member Posts: 38
    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 Member 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 Member 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 Member 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?

  • angelchicagoangelchicago Member Posts: 38
    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 Member 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 Member 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 Member 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 Member 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 Member 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 Member 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.

  • ambrockedambrocked Member Posts: 9
    Hi. I don't have an answer to your question, but rather a question for you. =) My mom has the same car (same year), and her top just quit working too. No clacks tho, it's not doing anything. I'm wondering if maybe it's a fuse, but I can't find it (it's not in the rally under the steering). It sounds like you might have checked yours, so I'm hoping you can help me on where to look?

    Thanks much!
  • hallkanehallkane Member Posts: 20
    Hi CharO..thanks for the reminder about the fluids. Your mechanic is right, but unfortunately, that wasn't my problem. I am able to see my fluids. As a last ditch effort, I may get brave and open the motor to look for anything obviously off the "track inside". What have I got to lose, it's not working now?!
    Thanks for the post.
  • hallkanehallkane Member Posts: 20
    HI Amber -
    You and I have walked in the same shoes. Sorry to read about Mom's car.
    There are no fuses associated with the motorized roof, we thought of that and checked it too. Hydraulic fluid, checking it, is the next easiest thing. Next is turning the toggle bar in the trunk's housing (drivers side) to allow for manual raising and lowering. Lastly, if I get brave and have loads of time on my hands, I may open the motor and see if there's anything obvious to fix. Otherwise, new replacement (a $795 part), or a junk yard part (same motor used to 2001 I'm told) are final options. If you DO find a fluid issue, there is a rebuild-kit for a fluid problem, allowing you to NOT buy a whole motor. Good Luck!
  • charocflcharocfl Member Posts: 18
    Hi, for kicks you may also want to check out the rocker switch to see if all the wiring connections & the switch are good. You may may get luck that is since I am not sure what it will take to access the back side of the rocker switch.

    Good luck.
    MI, FL
  • charocflcharocfl Member Posts: 18
    BTY I have not been into the area to access the hydraulic rams yet to see for my self where the manual override switch/knob is located exactly. Also I am curious as to where & how one checks the fluid level for these rams. Is a single spot or do both rams need to be check separately? Also is it a dip stick, site glass or some other means of checking the fluid(s) level? And last but not least what type of fluid do the rams use in the system?

    Again thanks ahead for the feedback

    MI, FO
  • charocflcharocfl Member Posts: 18

    Something you may want to possible check is the override switch connected to the emergency break. It might be related to this item if the switch is sticking and/or jammed or related to the emergency break lever some how not activating the circuit to the rams. I.E. the emergency break not all the way engaged, which was one of the issue that my mechanic said would disable the ram motors & prevent them from working.

    Please post back when you figure out where & what your mom's Cabrio issue is as I am curious.

    MI, FL
  • hallkanehallkane Member Posts: 20
    HI Again CharO -
    Thanks for the great tip!! Definately could be an override switch issue connected with the emergency break...Had not heard/thought of that idea...these threads are a wonderful thing!! Yes, I'll keep you posted when I can get to investigate that.

    As for your other questions about the rams and fluids...the only fluids I can readily see is in the reservoir on the side/back of the motor. The reservoir is light colored plastic so you can see it easily, no dip stick needed. The fluid is a special VW fluid, I recall. No idea about any fluids/lubricant in the rams/hydraulics, mine seem to be a-ok and operating smoothly, haven't been forced to look into it.

  • topper2topper2 Member Posts: 3
    "Does anyone know where I can purchase a new snap for a 99 Cabrio Boot cover? This snap is used to secure the boot in place when the top is down."

    Hello all, new member here. I also need the answer to the above question. Any place beside dealers?

    Also, you might find this directions helpful in removing and installing top for MKIII Cabrio.



  • pulapula Member Posts: 1
    I live in South Florida and bought this 2002convertible about 3months ago. I have only put top down two times when I first bought it. The top is in great condition and when I took it by the dealer they thought it was a new top ----------EXCEPT suddenly the glue on the seam is seperating . I recently bought a cover to keep further damage BUT ineveitbaly it must be repaired. I have spoken with 3 shops ( one is ued by Geico, state farm etc) and I know that eventually I will have to go this route. Their prices range from $375,$400 and $675- the last would glue and seam and warrantee for 3 years - the others 1 year and seam only. It also seems this is a common problem on this vehicle . I heard from two of them that some customers have complained successfuly to VW and obtained some help.

    Meanwhile I would like to wait until the hurricane season has passed so that I dont have to spend for a second repair or new top.

    I asked the most reasonable shop if Glueing would work but she said that if I did that she might not be able to sew through the glue.

    I see the suggestion about using duct tape ( I have a small section that is open and I could tape it from the inside as weell as the outside BUT AGAIN I am told by an acquaintance that the duct tape residue might damage the canvas when it is removed. This seems unlikely to me since I am only talking about 2 to 3 months aand I am sure I will have to periodically remove and retape - I would think one could remove residue with something. Any comments or suggestions to get me through the HURRICANE SEASON INTACT??? I JUST FOUND THE "hole" TODAY AND I PUT A SMALL TOWEL BENEATH IT TO CATCH ANY WATER AND AS I MENTIONED IT HAS A BREATHABLE WATER REPELLANT COVER ON IT. I know this is not great for a really major thunderstorm- a hurricane would be covered by comprehensive.- minus deductible.
  • dscottendscotten Member Posts: 2
    I own a 2001 VW Cabrio convertible and live in the Tampa Bay area. The rear window has come unglued and has dropped out. The gasket that holds the glass up to the top is still intact. We called a local dealer and he referred us to an upholstery shop. They said that it you can't reglue that and that I need to replace the top. I just can't believe that. I repair inflatable boats and have some experience in gluing fabrics. I would like to know if it is possible to reattach the rear window? What type of adhesive can I get that will bond to these surfaces? Please respond
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