This page is going to be dedicated to FAQ. I get dozens of emails every day from fellow enthusiasts looking for advice. I've been spending an incredible amount of time answering emails and I still miss many of them. Hopefully a FAQ page will help alleviate this problem.
FAQ # 1: I own a Mustang, LeBaron, etc. I'm by no means a car mechanic. How hard is it to replace a top motor?
Answer: If you are capable of operating basic hand tools without hurting yourself or those nearby then you are fully capable of doing this job yourself and saving hundreds of dollars. For example, a Mustang typically requires the following tools:
a. A ratchet and 7/16 socket for removing the rear seat backrest mounting bolts.
b. 13mm or 1/2 inch open end wrench to remove the hoses from the pump
c. 8mm or 5/16 wrench (or socket) to remove the ground wire from the car chassis
d. Pliers or 11/16 open end wrench to loosen the reservoir bolt to drain the reservoir prior to shipping.
I can replace a top motor in a Mustang in about 15 minutes. I recommend reserving about an hour for anyone who has never done it before. Buying a new top motor from a dealer is $400+. Paying dealer labor to have it installed is $200+. Getting one of my rebuilt Mustang/Lebaron top motors is $75 + $10 shipping. Installing it yourself in less than an hour is.............."priceless"
FAQ # 2: I own a Mustang, LeBaron, etc. When I operate the switch, I hear a click noise from behind the rear seat but the top doesn't move.
Answer: The switch applies power to a control relay. The click you hear is the control relay activating to apply main power to the top motor. If you can operate the switch in both directions and all you get is the "click" then the switch and the relays are good and most likely the pump motor is worn out. If the top works correctly in one direction but all you get is a click in the other direction, most likely a relay has failed.
FAQ # 3: Sometimes my top operates normally and sometimes it doesn't do anything except make a click noise. If I thump the top motor it will start to work again.
Answer: Your top motor is at the end of it's useful life and needs to be rebuilt. The brushes are effectively gone and most likely the springs/braided copper wire is rubbing the armature. The mechanical agitation of thumping it may get it to make decent contact long enough to run for a few seconds but performance will be severely degraded and the armature will be damaged due to electrical arcing. I recommend doing this "thumping" only if your convertible top is stuck in the down position and you need to get it raised one more time.
FAQ #4: I'm going to send my top motor to you for repair. Can I operate my top manually or will it damage anything?
Answer: You can operate your top manually as much as you want while the top motor is installed. It will be awkward to do with one person and is much easier if one person is on each side of the car. If you do it slowly, fluid will pass through the clearances in the pump. Try to force it by going too quickly and you may bend some of the top frame components. Some cars (LeBaron and VW, maybe others also) have a small valve in the trunk which, when the valve is opened, allows easy manual operation of the top. This valve bypasses the top motor and allows fluid to easily pass from one side of the lift cylinder to the other instead of through the pump. DO NOT manually operate the top when the top motor is removed. The fluid from the lift cylinders will spray out of the hose fittings and into your trunk. Can you say "big mess" ? It also makes installation of the replacement motor much more difficult due to air pockets which will now be present in the cylinders.
FAQ #5: More to come........