How to Operate a BMW E46 Folding Top

Written by leonardo r. grabkowski
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The E46 was a model of the BMW 3-series sold from 1998 to 2005. Some E46 models are convertibles. The convertible model may come with either a manual folding top or an automatic folding top. The latter folding top is operated by simply pushing and holding a button, while the manual folding top requires a bit more effort to lower. Nevertheless, operating the E46's folding top is straightforward with either model.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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  1. 1

    Lower the windows using the electric window control switch. Put the gear lever into "Park" and set the emergency brake for safety.

  2. 2

    Grasp the convertible locking handle between the sun visors. Turn it counterclockwise and pull it downward. Inspect the area in front of the gear lever. You will see a button with a convertible top icon. Push it.

  3. 3

    Step out of the car. Grasp the rear base of the convertible top, beneath the rear glass. Lift it up about 1 foot. Beneath it, you will find the rear cover. Pull the rear cover up and rearward to move it out of the way. It is attached to the car by a hinge.

  4. 4

    Gently pull the front edge of the convertible top rearward to fold it into its storage compartment. When it is flat, push the rear cover forward to cover the folded top. Firmly push the cover down to snap it into place.

  5. 5

    Push the "Unlock" button in front of the gear lever when you are ready to raise the top. This will unlock the rear cover.

  6. 6

    Lift the rear cover to expose the folded top. Grasp the rear edge of the top and pull it toward the front of the vehicle to move it to the "Closed" position. Grasp the rear edge of the top and lift it about 1 foot. Fold the rear cover down, and then push the rear edge of the top back in its place.

  7. 7

    Turn the locking handle between the visors clockwise and push it upward to lock the convertible top.

  8. 8

    Some E46 models have an automatic folding top. To operate this top, push the "Open" button in front of the gear lever to open the top. Push the "Close" button to close the top. The car must be stationary.

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