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Convertible Top Replacement
FCA US LLC has no conventional convertible vehicles in its lineup at present. (Jeep® brand vehicles excluded.) The 2014 model year saw the last of them with the end of the 200 (JS platform). The 2011 model year was the last of the Sebring (JS Platform) convertible and the PT Cruiser convertible has been long retired. All together the JS convertible was built for several years (2008-2014) so you may still see one or two come into your shop for adjustment, repair or replacement.
The JS convertible came in two different styles — convertible soft style (CST) and retractable hard top (RHT). The system has integrated mechanical, hydraulic and electrical systems that work together to provide hands-free operation of the convertible top. Operation is completely automatic, including unlatching and latching the top at the windshield header. The top can be raised or lowered from inside the vehicle, or lowered remotely using the remote keyless entry transmitter. The top can be raised or lowered in about 30 seconds. The windows do not have to be down in order to raise or lower the top as that task is part of the raise/lower process. Also, the top cannot be lowered when the outside temperature is below 0˚F.
NOTE: Opening the top, then closing it without the engine running, can run the battery down. If the system voltage is too low, the top will not operate.
The Power Top Control Module (PTCM) controls all functions of the convertible top system including the driver and passenger rear quarter glass operation. The PTCM is located in the left rear quarter trim area. It uses a series of limit switches and hall-effect sensors to verify top position. The PTCM allows raising or lowering of the top only when the vehicle speed is less than one mph, the rear deck lid is closed and latched and the luggage protector is in place. Operating decisions are made based on inputs from (1) the power top switch, (2) limit switches, (3) hall-effect sensors and (4) CAN B data messages from various other electronic control modules.
The JS convertible top switch is an MUX-type switch located on the instrument panel and is a direct input to the PTCM. The power top switch has two top down detent positions. The first position causes the system to (1) lower all fully raised windows about 10mm, (2) lower the top to its fully retracted position and (3) raise the windows. The second detent causes the system to lower all the windows to the down position and fully retract the top.
Sometimes convertible tops get water leaks. There is a caution note in the JS service manual stating that high-pressure washes should be avoided as highpressure washes can cause water to be forced past the weatherstrips.
HOW TO CHECK FOR WATER LEAKS
What you’ll need:
- A garden hose with city water pressure of 45 psi and flow of 13-17 gallons per minute
1) Place the hose no closer than 12 inches from the vehicle. If it is not possible to keep this distance, keep the hose above the seal and let the water flow naturally down to the sealing surface.
2) Spray the vehicle with the hose.
3) Identify where water is entering the vehicle and under what conditions the leak occurs.
4) Dry off the vehicle and tape the vehicle (As shown in figure), except where the water is entering. Retest to confirm the water leak, then diagnose the problem and correct it.
Common problems include:
Improperly installed weatherstrip • Door and quarter glass adjusted incorrectly • Hole in molded corner of the header weatherstrip • Delamination of the mid-panel weatherstrip • Incorrectly installed drain tubes • Foam separating along the header
REPLACING THE CONVERTIBLE TOP
The soft top of the JS convertible, by the nature of the material from which it is made, is probably more prone to damage than the retractable hard top. Regardless, if replacement is necessary, the procedures for each design are quite different.
Removing the Convertible Soft Top
The soft top is one piece. To remove it:
❑ First remove the headliner, then the rear backlite (glass).
❑ Move the top to the vertical position.
❑ Remove the weatherstrips and make note of the quantity and location of all the shims used on the side weatherstrips.
❑ Remove the retainers and fasteners.
❑ Carefully pull the top cover from the forward edge of the header casting and fold it toward the rear of the car.
❑ Completing the removal of the soft top involves removing tension cables and the associated hardware.
❑ Then remove the push pins from the backlite opening and carefully pull the plastic edge retainers from the top and sides of the backlite opening.
Installing the new soft top is simply the reverse of the removal procedure. Be sure that the top is properly positioned and adjusted. Also, remember to install the side weatherstrip shims in the proper locations.
Removing the Convertible Hard Top
Material aside, the retractable hard top is quite different from the soft top. There are three sections to the retractable hard top: front, middle and rear. Often, the entire retractable hard top does not have to be replaced if the top is damaged, only the section that is damaged.
An assistant is necessary to help remove each section needing replacement. They must be removed one at a time. The headliner is also three pieces and only the section that corresponds to the top section has to be removed when replacement work is necessary. To remove it:
❑ Make sure the top is in the vertical position.
❑ Remove hinge covers.
❑ Disengage cable retainer and cable.
❑ Lower the top to the header. Do not latch the top.
❑ Remove the forward and rear mounting fasteners.
❑ Lift the panel from the vehicle. (Electrical connections under the headliners for the middle and rear sections must be disconnected before removing these panels).
❑ In the middle section, disconnect the micro-switch connectors. In the rear section, disconnect the heated glass connector.
❑ In the middle section, make note of the location, quantity and size of the shims located between the side rail and middle panel. These shims must be correctly installed to aid in the installation of each fastener.
❑ Drain tube must be removed to gain access to the mounting fasteners.
NOTE: When removing the rear section, mark the location of the hinge bracket. Remove the lower fasteners, then remove the two forward fasteners, leaving the top fastener on each side in place. These two fasteners secure the rear panel to the hinge assemblies. An assistant really comes in handy with the rear section, as it must be held in place while the remaining fasteners are removed. After those fasteners are out, the rear section can be removed from the vehicle.