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Volkswagen Cabrio Convertible Top Problems



  • 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.

  • ambrockedambrocked 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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
  • topper2topper2 Posts: 3
    Do you guy even check out the links I posted?? It looks like the guy didn't even glue anything on the back window when he install his.
  • dscottendscotten Posts: 2
    There is no weatherstripping around this window. There's what looks like seam tape attached (glued) to the inside of the rear window. The flange of this is glued to the inside of the convertible top. I WISH there was weatherstripping like what you show in your posted link.
  • ambrockedambrocked Posts: 9
    Oh wow. I figured it wouldn't be cheap, but yikes! Good to know about the fuse. It's weird, because in the manual for the car there's one listed, but ON the car, where the fuses are listed, it's not there. That's what lead me to believe there was one, just maybe not where I was looking. =) So far, mom's just resorted to using the top manually. Can you tell me where to look for the fluid levels please? (I'm not even sure where the motor for the roof is located...) That's also an interesting idea to look into the emergency brake- I hadn't thought of that either, so thanks charO for the great idea! I really appreciate everyone's help here- you guys are wonderful!! =D
  • hallkanehallkane Posts: 20
    Yeah, I'm still raising and lowering manually. I prefer automation, but I'm too cheap for an $800 part!

    The fluids reservoir is in the trunk. For my year (1999), look on the drivers side for a bump "in" of the trunk. There are a few simple bolts holding down a black cover over that bump "in". Once you get that off, there's the motor. The fluid reservoir is part of the motor and very obvious once you get the cosmetic cover off. If your fluid is low, it will be obvious. I hope for your sake that you are. I think you need to buy the special fluid at a VW dealer. If you find you have a leak of fluids, there is also a special rebuild kit for leaks. Alas, my problem was neither of those. Enjoy the summer!
  • Hey Everyone,
    I have been doing research on my 2000 Cabrio's power roof to see what my options are.
    The roof motor is no longer working. VW has confirmed it is leaking fluid. They claim they have to replace the motor and the hydralics which has a price tag of $3300. This is a huge bill-about $2300 more than I expected. I have asked them if they can make it manual (answer is no) what my options are (answer is none) and I have had my car in the shop for the past week thinking about if I am going to spend this much for this repair.....I see that there are options here that VW has not made me aware of and I am pissed...I am printing off this forum and bringing it with me when I pick up my car today.....Has anyone else ever received a quote to fix that was this steep?
  • ambrockedambrocked Posts: 9
    Yeah, it sounds like you definitely need to get a second opinion (with an honest mechanic)! And I thought $800 was bad... Sheesh! I'm guessing you've already looked thru the rest of this forum, but posts #38 and #40 are particularly helpful in figuring out the manual operation of the top. Good luck!
  • ambrockedambrocked Posts: 9
    Excellent, thank you so much!! I'm keeping my fingers crossed! =D
  • My window has come loose also but I found a seamstres to fix it for me so to replace it isn't the only option. I reglued it then had it hand stitched and knotted between each stitch
  • I haven't read the whole thread but, if the resevoir is low look for a leak. The hoses on my 99 dry rot and one came loose behind teh rear seat trim panel. If the motor runs it's probably a leak. I'm sure you read the emergency brake must be on.
  • I've learned a lot from reading the blogs on the Cabrio and see that a lot of folks have the same issues I do with the Cabrio convertible I just purchased. The roof automatic motor stopped working (I have a button to raise and lower it on my dash) AND the factory glue just above the rear window where the roof bends started coming unglued and slowly but surely, it's coming apart all the way across. Not good since we just skidded by Hurricane Ike here in South Florida. The guy I bought the car from gave me an upholstery shop number in Ft. Lauderdale who wants $400 cash to remove my top, sew up the roof and replace it. He also told me he would look at the motor to see why it wasn't working , but I'm sure.

    I saw some folks were buying glue for the seam. Anyone use glue and have success? In Florida?

    Does anyone in Hialeah or South Florida know of other upholstery locations that will remove, sew and replace a Cabrio top? If the top looks brand new, is it better to repair than to replace???

    Any other recommendations in terms of vendors/mechanics/upholstery shops in the South Florida area would be GREATLY APPRECIATED! Thanks.
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