Broken Cabriolet/convertible top mechanism- is manual operation possible? How?

Is there a way to manually raise or lower the cabriolet soft top?

I started to lower my top and heard a loud "POP" from the left side gearbox area.  The right side continues to function normally (no, I don't move it very far), but the left side appears frozen.  The small "disk" visible where the motor shaft enters the gearbox does not move on the left side.  I suspect a broken shaft, or stripped gears somewhere between motor and gearbox.  Anyone have an experience/solution to share?

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the procedure is in the owner's manual.  basically you pop the plastic puck out of the side panel, and then loosen the bolt behind it 3 turns.  be warned that once you do this, you cannot easily ever go back to power mode, and will need to buy those bolts before you try, as they are single use bolts.

Thanks.  My 968 did not come with an Owner's Manual from the previous owner, so I could not reference it.  I did remove the 19mm bolts and disengaged the actuators from the gearboxes on both sides.  The top is very easy to use manually. 

The blue residue on the threads looks like "Loc-tight" fluid used during installation to prevent them working their way out.  Is there something more that makes the "one-use" bolts?  I've never heard of those.

the threads are also cut differently, to provide a "self-locking" feature.  they are similar to the bolts used to hold down the seats, and the exhaust flange nuts, all of which are also single use items.

i cannot stress enough how re-synching the motors and going back to power is a painful and arduous process.  i just went through it. this is not for the faint of heart.  all through the process, i was freaked out about snapping a bow, because you have to put the top up and down a number of times to get it right.  were it not for the fact that i am selling the car, i would have left it in manual mode.  it's better, faster, and much safer.  years ago, i stopped counting how many people have broken the bow.  it's a piss-poor design, which was even written up as such in a magazine article.  there are those who will say "it's always worked fine for me", but that just means they have been lucky. the real problem is the canvas, and the rear window.  when they get old, they lose their elasticity, which then puts strain on the assembly.  because it does not do it uniformly, it strains one side more than another.  that's when the bow snaps.

be happy you are in manual mode, and free of that worry

Thank you, Flash.  Great info!  I had no idea the process was so complicated.  Thanks again!

Hi Matt, I'm one of the many "lucky ones" with 19 years of trouble free power top operation over two 968 cabs. I would suggest finding a tech that can do the job and get it repaired. Nothing screams "a car not cared for" more then leaving something broken. If you can't find an independent your local dealer should be able to fix it up for you. Good luck.

i doubt the dealer knows how to do this, or would be willing.  they would farm it out.  besides, that opens the door for them to blame things on you when they break it trying to fix it.  as i said, the procedure is not in any of the manuals.  i seriously doubt they would even read the part about the single use bolts.  i had to figure it out on my own, and it was a hair-raising experience, as i was constantly afraid i was going to snap something expensive along the way.

there is absolutely nothing wrong with having it in manual mode.  broken is one thing.  improved by modification is another.  if you want to fix the broken part, fine, but i'd put it in manual mode when you get it fixed.

porsche really screwed up on this design.  they definitely are not perfect.  some things need to be modified if you want to actually use the car.

manual mode works better, is faster, easier, and avoids the broken bow.  unless you are going to sell the car, don't worry about it.  the only reason i just went through the process of restoring power mode was that i am selling the car, and wanted everything working.  i am quite confident that the new owner is going to want it back in manual mode.  it's just the smarter thing to do.


Finally had to put up my top (manually), and had a very difficult time getting it to reach the top frame of the windscreen to latch it in place.  Now there is a gap between the passenger window and the seal at the upper rear corner of the passenger window.  It appears the vertical member of the top (the one that seals against the vertical trailing edge of the window) will not go into it's fully vertical position, thereby leaving a gap at the top-rear of the window.  I assume this is the result of the "POP" referenced in my original post.  Before I tear into a partial disassembly of the top, I am hoping there is at least one of my fellow members who can provide more specific guidance as to which structural member is the most likely cause of this, as I know I'm not the first to encounter this issue.  Thanks for your input!

Thank you! 

Not sure why you would have to replace bolts. The manual tells you to loosen bolts 3-4 turns to manually lift the top. Why would you not be able to tighten them after and make them work and the top work?

as i said earlier, like a few other bits of hardware on this car, they are single use design, with a "self locking" cut on the threads.  these also have a single use locking compound on them.  they WILL NOT hold torque a second time, no matter how much loctite you put on them.  i tested this thoroughly, hoping not to be down for a week while waiting for bolts, but no success.  after about 2 dozen operations of the top, the bolts backed off, did not do so evenly, and this created an uneven operation, which put the bows in extreme jeopardy.

Thanks for the info. I find it very odd that the owners manual does not include the fact that the bolts must be replaced. Well that means back to the car and loosen the bolts again. We are in manual mode. It's good I live in California and could do 8 month's down and 4 month's up. However, it is probably a good idea to raise the top once in a while to stretch it for the fit.


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