Cadillac XLR Forum banner

Top malfunction

73150 Views 119 Replies 33 Participants Last post by  harrysxlr
I keep having problems with the operation of the retractable hard top. Is anyone else experiencing the same? In my case, the top sticks in the half-open position when retracting the top from the fully closed hardtop position.

I've had it back to the dealer 6 or 7 times, they "fix" it, and after one or two retractions, it sticks again.

It has happened so often, I've had to learn how to manually put it up - which is a bit of a chore.

Any hints, tips or secrets?

1 - 20 of 120 Posts
I have heard that if the car is NOT on level ground this may happen. I think it has some sensors that can tell if the car is not level. If it is not level at the start of a cycle it will not let you raise or lower the top at all but it maybe "just" level enough when you start making it go up but then with the weight of the top moving it makes the car off level so it stops. If it does it again you might try moving the car just a little to see if it starts again.
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Level Ground

Yes, I posted the message about that.

The top stuck halfway for me a couple of times, so I tried to figure out the setting before taking it in.

The two times it stuck were in my driveway, when I had just pulled out and wanted the top down. The driveway is a little bit downhill, not very much.

I checked the manual and it says that you should be on "level ground".

I suspect that if you are on a sufficient incline, the balance of the top gets out of wack and a sensor stops the whole thing.

If you "gently" pull back onto level ground, the top will work fine.

Hope this helps.
See less See more


Thanks for the replies to both eyedoc and motorboat. My retract problem happens virtually everywhere. (I live in Houston where everything is flat as a flitter.) Our top has literally stuck more times than it has retracted.

Tom Pea**** Cadillac has been baffled thus far because the fault has been intermittent...very often, but still intermittent. The thing just wants to work OK when it's in the shop, but nowhere else.

Today may have been a breakthrough, however. After taking "Our Beloved" for its weekly visit to the shop this morning I got a call from the technician.

"Halleluia! Halleluia!" (think Handel's Messiah) A microswitch finally failed during a retract test and the problem may be resolved.

We'll see....

I promise to report back.
See less See more
Top Malfunction

Top refused to go down this week. Took it to dealer who corrected it. Said that a right side "bolt" which is really a lug mounted on a cam, had turned a quarter turn and therefore was not in alignment with the socket it needed to enter for the top to continue to retract. All works well now.
Bill in FL
Top malfunction update

Quick update on my malfunctioning top:

According to Tom Pea**** Cadillac (interesting how the dealer's name is automatically censored by the forum. Hint: The dealers name is a peafowl that is not a peahen):

Apparently a microswitch residing in the bodywork just above the windshield on the passenger's side failed. I was told that this has happened often enough for Cadillac to revise the design of the mechanical interface. Unfortunately, the part is on back order.

They did a quick fix on the microswitch, so top is working now, but its too bloody hot and humid here in Houston to put the top down anyway.

More later...

See less See more
My Top Also Not Working Reliably

I took delivery on my black XLR end of June 2004. The top often gets stuck on the way down. It's always at the same point; the trunk is at it's most extended in the air, and the plastic facia is vertical. I do not know what of the myriad things I do eventually unstick it; putting the car in reverse, stepping on the gas, and then braking hard seems to be the more likely action to do the trick. It will do it on a flat horizontal surface; it will do it every time, for days, and then not for a couple days (humidity related?) The dealer doesn't seem to know what to do about it. Do you think the switch you mentioned on passenger side might be the problem?

BTW: when I ordered the car, I was told to expect delivery in early Spring. Then the dealer said that Cadillac halted production to fix a known top problem. Wonder if this is true, and if so, a different or the same problem?

Thanks for advice,
See less See more
Sorry to hear your top problems

I have a 95' 3000 GT VR-4 Spyder with the ASC folding hardtop. Soon after I received it, it was recalled to the Mitsu dealership along with ALL SPYDERS to put in stronger motors so it would work on any road angle. Other modifications were also performed. The car had to be left only 1 day. It cost Mitsu and ASC a fortune!!

Results: Here we are some 9 YEARS LATER and it has been working PERFECTLY in my Spyder (41,000 miles) as well as my brother's (75,000). :thumbs

So stay in close contact with Cadillac and ASC so your problems are ironed out early on. We all paid quite alot ($68,000 in 1995) for a special-feature car and these great companies will come through if you persist. Don't give up!!!
:flag Have a great summer! Bob @ WINDBAFFLE
See less See more
Top Sticking

It sounds like you have the exact problem that I've experienced. Always when putting the top down, always in the same spot - where the trunk is at its zenith, and the top has folded into the trunk. I'll bet it is one of the microswitches above the windshield.

You may want t make certain that that rectangular support gizmo in the trunk is properly snapped in place.

Have you learned how to manually put the top up? It's not terribly difficult, doesn't require great strength, and is worth learning. That way you are never "stuck" somewhere (in the rain) with the top half up, like I have been.

If your dealer can't isolate the problem, I may be able to help put you in contact with my guy. The technician at my dealership frutzed around with this for two months before we finally isolated the problem.

Let me know what is up.
See less See more

What is the best way to "learn" how to manually lower or raise the top?

Can you do it by going through the manual step by step. Or, should you have someone at the dealer run through it with you?
Manually Raising the XLR’s Top

As you mentioned, there is a procedure in the manual. It is somewhat helpful, but there are some tricks. It is easier than it looks.

I have not discovered a way to manually lower the top. I believe this procedure to be an emergency measure to raise the top in case you are out somewhere and the top is stuck in a half-open position.

Here is what I’ve learned:

1) In the trunk there are two wells below the carpet cover. One is on the left the other is on the right adjacent the sidewall. Each has a plastic cover. Remove both covers.

2) Look in the right well. There should be a fair-sized “L” shaped special Allen wrench which I shall affectionately refer to as Your Tool. You MUST locate Your Tool. It may also be in the glove box or the console. The car is supposed to have one. If not contact your dealer and they will give it to you.

3) Look in the left well. This is where the hydraulic pump that operates the top lives. Reach inside the well on the side of the pump and find a small T shaped handle. Turn the handle counter-clockwise. This relieves and equalizes the pressure on the hydraulic system. Leave this valve open for now.

4) Wait a few (5-10) minutes to let the system bleed off and equalize.

5) Confirm that the system is equalized by gently pulling down on the trunk lid. Don’t force it. This should only take a light tug. The trunk lid should try to close, but leave it open. If pressure is still on the system the trunk won’t budge. YOU SHOULD NEVER TRY TO MANUALLY OPERATE THE TOP MECHANISM WITH PRESSURE ON THE SYSTEM. You’ll bend something or blow out a seal, so don’t get tough. Easy does it.

6) Gently lift the top up and forward until the little “hooker deals” on the top align with the grooves on the windshield. It may look as if the top is not quite unfolded – sticking up slightly in the back. We’ll fix that in a minute.

7) Grab Your Tool and sit in either the driver or passenger side depending on your right or left hand preference.

8) There is a small round cover on the inside center of the top just above the mirror. This should remove easily with just your fingers or a small (clean) screwdriver, exposing an access hole.

9) While still sitting in the car reach out and pull down on the top at a location close to the folding joint. Simultaneously, place Your Tool in the access hole and turn clockwise approximately ¼ turn or 90 degrees. This requires a little muscle. I thought I was going to damage My Tool, before it finally clicked. Ahhh! It should give you a satisfying click when the top is properly locked. If not, you will get a “Top Not Secure” message when you crank up.

10) Immediately behind the headrest there are three interconnected covers: two small “wings” that rotate outwards and a large rectangular “flap”. Don’t mess with the flap. Reach behind the headrest and rotate one or both of the wings outward. They should easily move, and when they do, the flap will also lower.

11) IMPORTANT! Go back into the trunk, reach in the left well and close the T shaped hydraulic bleed valve by turning clockwise. If you forget, the hydraulic system will not be able to develop pressure for subsequent top (and trunk opening) operations, and you will have to open the trunk with your key. (Do you know how to do that?)

12) You now can close the trunk manually, and you’re ready to rock. Always put Your Tool where you know where it is – as with everything in life.

In reading/reviewing this epistle, the procedure looks more difficult than it actually is. It only takes about two minutes after the system is bled down. It really beats calling a wrecker and seeing Your Precious hauled off with the trunk stuck open and the top down, and/or getting the interior wet. It’s also a lot easier than putting the top up normally on a Jeep Wrangler.
See less See more
Why not ask GM or ASC to make up and supply a "DVD" to everyone which instructs you how to manually raise the top in emergencies. You could play it step by step right on your dash.
We had a VHS supplied for the 3000 GT VR-4 Spyders. You couldn't play it in the car back then. Bob @ Windbaffle
Luckily, we live in sunny California, where rain is a rarity.. well, maybe not so lucky ( I hate the heat)... anyway, I can't imagine being in a sudden, heavy downpour and having to wait 5-10 minutes in order to put the top down? The rain could be over by then!

Great set of directions for the getting the roof down. I have not had to do it on my XLR but I did perform the function for an XLR owner passing through town. But it not a method that you would want to use in a down pour.

DFXLR :cheers :iagree

You're welcome.

If you guys could just bottle that Southern California climate....

Ironically, it was a beautiful early May day urging me to put the top down on my bride's freshly waxed XLR . It was cool, low humidity (for Houston), and with a few scattered clouds. I pulled over in front of a Taco Bell, pushed the button, and the top hung up - trunk lid up, top folded therein.

&%$#@!! I began at step 1 of the procedure above. As you point out it does take a while if you include the bleed down period. That's long enought for serious climactic changes here. Before completion, An XLR sized cloud drifted over us and began to rain. I got wet. The Taco Bell didn't. This is Houston, and I do love it (most of the time).

Sometimes you eat the Bear, sometimes he eats you.
See less See more
Allen - How do we get Cadillac to do the Video?

The idea of a video demo is a great one.

Maybe Allen can give us insight on whether this is something that Cadillac would do?
Happened to me - try the wiggle

Finally happened to me.

I just got my XLR back from the shop (working non ignition switch). I went to put the top down (to demo to a friend) and it got stuck.

I was in the garage, on a flat surface. I tried cycling the switch, but nothing.

Before getting out the manual and the above instructions, I got out and "wiggled" the top (most of the way into the trunk anyway) a bit.

I got back in and tried again, this time it completed the cycle -- the trunk lowered and everything latched.

Opening and lowering again worked fine.

Anyone else tried the "wiggle"? I did not force anything, just tried to move it a bit to see if that might "reset" one of the switches that have been mentioned.

If this works for others, it might be an alternative to the manual approach.
See less See more
Your Tool

Top sticking in the middle of demo for a friend. Embarrassing, ain't it?

If it happens again I'll try "The Wiggle". Cadillac has apparently fixed my problem. Halleulia, amen! They did a great job to solve an elusive problem.

Regardless, everone who has an XLR should be able to locate "Your Tool", as described that "epistle" I posted earlier. It is a special tool designed for your XLR that you will not be able to latch the top into place without. If you can't locate Your Tool get one from the dealer. It was supposed to be in your car at delivery.

As stated, that long procedure is what you should do right before calling a wrecker. I suspect that every XLR owner will need it at some point.

And I keep My Tool hidden in a safe and secure location - just as I do any essential tool that needs to be brought into service at a moment's notice. ;)
See less See more
I have misplaced the tool that came with my car.. does anybody know where to get one? You guys make me nervous not having one.. even though I thought I would never need it.
Your Tool

I'll bet you put it back where it was in the first place. See items 1 & 2 in the epistle above.

Look in the right well in the trunk.

Failing that, check with your dealer.

1 - 20 of 120 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.