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NG900 & OG9-3 Workshop NG900 (1994 to 1998) & OG9-3 (1999-2002) & '03 Convertible Technical Forum

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  #1  
Old 8th February 2009
gelkins gelkins is offline
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Default Problem with convertible top locking into place

Hello Saab lovers,

When closing my top (96, Saab 900 convertible), everything works fine until the very last step. Essentially, the convertible top does not lock into place. Instead, the metal pieces (attached to the rear bow) that are supposed to fit into the 2 slot openings (on the back) don't enter the slots because there are metal bars in place that block the slot openings. The only thing I can think of is that the motor is not working. Any thoughts?

In any case, I don't want to spend big bucks to repair my top. I would be happy to do everything manually if that is possible.

Here's my question - is it possible to set up the top so that everything (opening and closing) can be done manually?

I would especially like to hear more from Canuckpal to get a better understanding of how to use the vice grips, etc.

Thanks in advance,
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  #2  
Old 8th February 2009
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this cleans things up quite a bit!

so it sounds like your latch motor is jammed in the closed position such that the 5th bow strikers can't get in place. have you tried operating the top at all? if so, do the two flaps on the tonneau move during the process? if not, the motor is likely jammed.
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  #3  
Old 9th February 2009
gelkins gelkins is offline
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Thanks for the response saabchilten. I think you are probably right about the latch motor being jammed.

If it is jammed, what is this Tech II that I am hearing about. I don't live close to a Saab dealer. Is it a simple procedure? Does it cost very much to have it unjammed?

Suppose we are looking at the worst case scenario (too expensive to fix). Would it be possible to bypass the system and do everything manually? I have a Miata with a manual top and I don't mind doing it manually at all.

Thanks,

gins
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  #4  
Old 9th February 2009
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gins,

I just got done messing with that part of my top this weekend. Take the vinyl cover off the motor/rod/latch assembly that's attached under the tonneau cover when it's flipped up. I think there are two small screws (mine were missing) and two larger ones. The rest is held on by about four metal clips.

If you look back you can see the motor gear moving (and the rods) as the tonneau is flipping up. If not, it might be wiring or the motor is innoperative or jammed somehow. Might even be some sort of limit switch issue or a bad potentiometer. I'm new to convertibles so I don't have a good list of things to check yet.

In my case somebody unclipped the connectors to the motor for some reason. I just plugged 'em in and made sure the red lock went down around 'em and off it went.

I hope yours is something simple. Spring is near!!
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  #5  
Old 9th February 2009
john bernard john bernard is offline
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Try pushing down the small lever behind the rear seat backrest. That disconnects the electric motors and makes manual operation possible.
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  #6  
Old 9th February 2009
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that makes manual operation possible, but the 5th bow won't latch at all in that case. if the motor is jammed, a tech II won't override anything, but it may be the way to determine whether or not that's the problem since getting nothing after sending a command to the motor would mean it's not working for some reason or another.





funny how at this time of year, all the convertible questions pop up. i just got home from a top-down drive.
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  #7  
Old 9th February 2009
Gabe 713 Gabe 713 is offline
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I just purchased a '98 900S convertible three weeks ago. I love it!

What about a windscreen is it worth it? I saw some for $400 YIKES!
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  #8  
Old 9th February 2009
gelkins gelkins is offline
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Thanks for your responses Vespa, John and chilten.

I have one more idea that I want to throw out there for you to think about. Since I don't have access to a Saab techie and I don't want to spend a ton of money to get the latch motor replaced, suppose I do the following cheap alternative:

Suppose I remove the two metal "thingys" that are bolted to the underside of the 5th bow. These "thingys" (I have no clue what they are called) fit into the tonneau cover slots to secure the 5th bow to the car. If I remove them, then won't the bow rest directly on top of the tonneau cover? I know the bow won't be totally secure, but will the weight alone of the 5th bow make it rest firmly on the tonneau cover? Would my only concern be possible rain leakage?

Any thoughts?
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  #9  
Old 9th February 2009
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well vespa just attached some from a junker to his car since not having them left the 5th bow unlatched. so, it needs those to lock in place unless you want a flood coming in the back in rain. are you sure there's no one around you at all?
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  #10  
Old 9th February 2009
gelkins gelkins is offline
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Well, there are some Saab repair options in Atlanta - about 2 hours from where I live. My work as a professor keeps me so busy that it would be difficult to take the time off to drive down and wait for the repair.

But do you think that rain will seep inside the car if it's parked? Won't the rain water flow down away from the point of contact between the rear bow and the tonneau cover?

And if I am driving, wouldn't the rain blow away from the point of contact?

I don't know - I'm a newbie with this sort of thing so I''m just guessing here.

Cannuckpal mentioned something in the other thread about using vice grips to clamp it down. But he hasn't gotten back in touch with me about how this would work.
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  #11  
Old 9th February 2009
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if i forget to treat the 5th bow seal, i have water seeping in on occasion. it's probably not the best idea, especially when you factor in wind and such and there really is quite a gap if it's not latched.


i just did a quick search in the listings section. maybe one of these places will be nearby and have good reviews.
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  #12  
Old 10th February 2009
gelkins gelkins is offline
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saabchilten, you have the voice of experience. Sounds like I better take your advice and find a solution.

But suppose Cannuckpal's solution works- he said that he places vice grips in a couple of locations to force the bow to fit tight on the tonneau cover. I've tried to contact him to explain to me how this works but he hasn't responded.

So where do you think he would place the vice grips?
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  #13  
Old 10th February 2009
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no idea. i've never done it and hope i don't have to.
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  #14  
Old 10th February 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gins
saabchilten, you have the voice of experience. Sounds like I better take your advice and find a solution.

But suppose Cannuckpal's solution works- he said that he places vice grips in a couple of locations to force the bow to fit tight on the tonneau cover. I've tried to contact him to explain to me how this works but he hasn't responded.

So where do you think he would place the vice grips?
My first thought is he probably got a pair of those mini vice grips (aprx 3-4") you can get at Harbor Freight for cheap and removed the bits that lock down the 'strikers' (the pieces that go in the tonneau slots) and clamped the strikers from inside the boot/trunk. Just a guess.

In other news, "BWAAAHAHHAAAA! My tonneau's locking motor stopped working this afternoon!". I think I'm suspecting the connectors that were pulled apart before. Maybe we're both looking at a bad connector or some dodgy wiring that may have been pulled out of the connector or wire that is fraying.

I'm going to look at mine, multimeter in hand when I get home tonight. I'll report back later.
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Old 11th February 2009
john bernard john bernard is offline
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Gins

It sounds to me that the fifth bow latches are in the latched position resulting in the 'thingys' being prevented from entering. Suggest you see flyhop current thread. He needed to unlatch the fifth bow and discovered how to do it. I think if you unlatch as he did, the obstructions should move and your fifth bow'thingys' should be able to enter and be latched

Last edited by john bernard; 11th February 2009 at 12:04 PM.
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  #16  
Old 11th February 2009
flyhop flyhop is offline
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...and I just posted a "How I did it" here:

http://www.saabcentral.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=148882
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  #17  
Old 11th February 2009
gelkins gelkins is offline
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Thanks John and flyhop. That may be the option. Do you think it is a permanent fix or just temporary?
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  #18  
Old 11th February 2009
gelkins gelkins is offline
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Hey Vespa,

I just read your post. Brilliant idea! It may be a temporary solution until I can afford to replace the latch motor. I may try it. Thanks.
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  #19  
Old 11th February 2009
flyhop flyhop is offline
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gins/gelkins...

Before you go tearing apart the convertible mechanism (expensive becuase you'll have to pay to have it reprogrammed at some point), let's try to diagnose this thing and make sure it IS the latching motor.

Assume the roof is closed and it's a lovely day out. You want to open the roof. So you push the ROOF button. The first that happens (other than the microswitches making sure that everything is where it's supposed to be) is the latching motor fires up and pulls two rods, each rod fitting into the 5th bow latch fitting.

You need to know if the motor is working at all.

1. Make sure the roof it closed and latched onto the windshield. With the car off, but the ignition switched to on, have someone sit in the driver's seat ready to push the ROOF button and lower the roof. You stand right beside the tonneau cover and put your head close the junction of the convertible top and the tonneau cover. The engine is off and everything should be quiet around you so that you can HEAR if the latching motor is working. Don't worry that the latch fittings aren't down in the tonneau cover holes.

Ask you friend to push the ROOF button (have the driver's door closed so it won't "ding" at you cause the key's in the ignition), but only for about a 2 second count. You should have heard the latching motor fire up. If it did, hooray.

I would now suspect that the latch fitting (the metal "thingy" that hangs down below the 5th bow) is simply misaligned and is just not making it down into the hole and allowing the rod to pass through and "lock" it into place. If this is the case, you simply loosen the hardware connecting the latch fitting to the 5th bow and through trial and error, get it to line up with the hole in the tonneau cover.



2. If you heard the latching motor fire up, and the latch fittings line up nicely with the holes but aren't going down, then it's possible that the control rods connected to the latching motor are disconnected. Here, you will need to raise the tonneau cover (use the ROOF button), and then shut off the car. Remove the plastic cover from the underside of the tonneau cover and see if anything is obviously amiss with the latching motor and/or control rods.

3. If you didn't hear the latching motor fire up, I'd try to test the motor. You can do this as I tried on mine, or disconnect the motor's electrical connection from under the tonneau motor (this is probably the easier route). Supply the motor with an in-line fused 12v power supply. If nothing happens, switch the 12v and ground connections to see if the motor will move the other way. If nothing happens again, the motor is dead. If something does happen, then your motor isn't getting power. I'd chase down the two electrical connections to see if one's loose (1 is under the tonneau motor; the other is the 10-pin connection described here (http://www.saabcentral.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=148882)).


Let us know what works.
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Last edited by flyhop; 11th February 2009 at 01:23 PM. Reason: additional thought...
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  #20  
Old 11th February 2009
flyhop flyhop is offline
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By the way, before you disconnect any motor's electrical fittings, I'd think good and hard about disconnecting the car's battery.

If the control module knows that something has been messed with, it will shut down all parts of the convertible's electrical components until the system can be reprogrammed with a Tech2 (that expensive tool that you live far away from). I'm NOT saying that removing the battery will definitely work, but it's worth a shot. I meant to disconnect my battery, but forgot; wish I had tried it.

If you do this, make absolutely certain that BEFORE you put the battery back, everything is exactly the way it was. If the latching motor had the control rods retracted, then make sure they are that way when you put the battery back.

And then hope and pray that it all works.

Note: I'm not sure that Vespa/Canuck's ideas will work without you tearing in the soft top bag. To be able to clamp down on the "strikers" (latch fittings), you need to access the underside of the tonneau cover when it's closed. I'm not sure that can be done without removing the soft top bag from the luggage compartment...which will then screw up the microswitches in the soft top bag and that will tell the control module something's wrong and it'll be back to Atlanta for another love session with the Tech2.

I would just be sure to get a FULL diagnosis of the problem before you start doing some pretty permanent or expensive changes to your convertible's soft top.
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Last edited by flyhop; 11th February 2009 at 01:39 PM.
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