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Convertible top rattles?!

Hey follow listeners!

I’m going to try to call in about this next Saturday, but with my luck, I’ll have no luck getting through.

Anyway, I just bought a metallic blue 2002 330ci convertible. This was my dream car in highschool, and as such I was very excited to find one that is mechanically sound, relatively low in the in miles and for a pretty decent price. As I said before, the car needs nothing, but the top creeks and rattles a lot.

I’ve driven around with the windows up, with the windows, with the windows at half mast to attempt to pinpoint where the clattering is coming from and have deduced that it is both my windows and the top itself. The windows seem to be an easy fix, one that I will tackle this weekend. The top on the other hand I’m terrified of.

I was thinking about taking it into a dealer or a shop that deals with convertible tops. They want at least a hundred bucks just to look at the damn thing, which is fine if I could predict how much it would cost me at the end of the day. The forums I’ve been on told me apply silicon lube to various places in the roof specifically places where rubber meets other rubber, but can that really resolve my quandary? Doesn’t anything need to be tightened?

At the end of the day, I’m willing to pay a fair amount to fix this. I love this car, driving it with the top down has been a blast, but fall and winter approaching and I’d rather not be driving in a squeaky, and rattly drop top!

Thanks in advance for you help, and I hope someone here can point me in the right direction.


It’s a convertible thats what they do. Convertible tops flap in the wind and make noise. You can try to use silicon but I think you are wasting your time.

Well its fine on the highway, you can obviously hear the wind more than a hard top, but in city the the cracked up streets and potholes are really the main culprit…

Have you looked on the internet for books on building/repairing converible tops?

"in city the the cracked up streets and potholes are really the main culprit… "

That would lead me to suspect that the clamps that attach the roof to the top of the windshield frame may be out of adjustment, and are allowing too much movement when you hit rough pavement.
Are the clamps adjustable?

You should certainly try some silicone spray lubricants. You can also spray some on a rag to apply it.

All convertibles have a problem by design. The hardtop on regular cars adds a lot of strength and rigidity to the body of the car. Take off the top and you have to add reinforcements into the other areas of the frame and body to compensate for the lost strength. Some cars accomplish this pretty well and have minimum body shake when they hit bumps. Others, do it very badly and the car feels loose and like it is going to shake apart, the Chrysler Sebring convertibles are an example of one of the worst. Since reinforcements add weight there are limits to what a manufacturer can do, so all convertibles tend to rattle and shake on bumps more than the same model in a hardtop.

You might have some loose clamps, or some other parts of the top could be loose. Does it go up and down smoothly? I put my T’bird convertible top in the 1/2 up and 1/2 down position and try to lube and check some of the joints. If something feels loose, check the same joint on the other side to compare.

In the end you may have to live with this issue if all seems ok mechanically. My '04 T’bird is pretty tight and has very little wind noise at 70 mph with a nice quiet ride with top up and down. But, if I hit a big bump, or pothole, I’ll get a shake and rattle. The nature of the beast.

@VDCdriver, they’re automatic and I don’t see anywhere to where I can adjust them. The sounds seems to be coming from back, but its hard to tell especially when all the windows are down.

I just bought a e46 repair manual and will read up tonight on what I can do to diagnose and repair this.

The top operates smoothly, but tends to have a point where it comes down fairly quickly towards the end of its decent before the top piece attempts to mate with with the windshield frame. I’ve read that this is perfectly normal. As a precaution I hold it with my hand to soften the impact.

I’ll update after the weekend.

Thanks everyone!

This may not be exactly what you are after but it may help others with a rattle in their convertible roof - see my You Tube clip at

You’ll want to ask this on a BMW 3 series forum. Lots of those convertibles out there, somebody’s probably had this issue.

Um… I suspect that after 5 years the problem has been resolved. :grin:
Another old post rears its head again!

Oh man! I usually try to watch for that!

Yep, I solved the problem. By getting rid of that piece of junk! Thanks though, I’m sure someone searching through will benefit from this!

Wow. Almost 5 years later and you respond.

Are you the real @itsdave or a Sears version?