'73 Eldorado Convertible Top Lift Motor Help Needed

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The Classic Cadillac Forum Discussion, '73 Eldorado Convertible Top Lift Motor Help Needed in Past Cadillac Vehicle Discussion; Hello all. I have a '73 Eldorado convertible, with what I believe is 52,000 original miles, and I'm having a ...
  1. #1
    1973_Eldorado's Avatar
    1973_Eldorado is offline Cadillac Owners Member
    Automobile(s): 1973 Eldorado convertible
    Join Date
    Feb 2013

    '73 Eldorado Convertible Top Lift Motor Help Needed

    Hello all. I have a '73 Eldorado convertible, with what I believe is 52,000 original miles, and I'm having a problem with the folding top.

    It will fold down normally, but when I try to put it up, it will only raise about one quarter of the way. It just stops. If I hold the button, it doesn't click or snap or make any sound at all, the motor just slows to a stop and doesn't move anymore.

    At first I assumed a weak motor, but I also read somewhere that it's the relay that could be getting weak, and is not delivering the proper voltage to the motor. Would that by why it doesn't overload and the circuit breaker inside doesn't sound like it's doing anything? Or is the circuit breaker in the switch, not the relay?

    What is anyone's experience with replacing just the motor or just the relay? Or did you end up replacing both anyway?

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  3. #2
    mrbojangles041 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
    Automobile(s): Deville
    Join Date
    Aug 2010

    Re: '73 Eldorado Convertible Top Lift Motor Help Needed

    Hmm... It could be the relay. Although I've always found that relays tends to fail open rather than supplying insufficient power. I have the same car and I've noticed that the top motor is pretty quiet while at the same time not all that strong. You might want to try greasing up all the hinges, joints and gears of the scissor lift if you haven't done so already. You could also try turning the headlights on, and have a friend watch to see if they dim a little more when the top stops moving. This would suggest that the motor is getting sufficient power and is struggling to move but can't. Also you could run a voltmeter across the wires to the lift motor to see if it's reading 12 volts or not.

    Hope that helps you troubleshoot the problem.

  4. #3
    smelvis is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
    Automobile(s): 1970 deville convertible
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Cumberland, RI
    I researched some for my 70 Deville. Most of my research said the motors are pretty solid.

    The switches are notoriously bad and mine was. The switches in the 70 were not strong enough it seems. Mine was just about melted and the car came with a previously melted one in the glove box. It would go down but struggle on the way up. I jumped the motor to the battery at the switch to test the first time. There was definitely more power going up and after lots of lubing and having a buddy help the top up a few times she went up freely. I also replaced the switch with a 30a toggle.

  5. #4
    Jaykeane is offline Cadillac Owners Member
    Automobile(s): 73 LD Ragtop
    Join Date
    Sep 2012

    Re: '73 Eldorado Convertible Top Lift Motor Help Needed

    On mine, I just had to cleaned the contacts on the relay.. Baisically, i unplugged them and re plugged them in a few times.. a squirt of contact cleaner followed by a blast of shop air for good measure and the top motor performs great..

    Relay is behind the rear seat back.. Lube the cables while you're messing around back there..

  6. #5
    1973_Eldorado's Avatar
    1973_Eldorado is offline Cadillac Owners Member
    Automobile(s): 1973 Eldorado convertible
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Thread Starter

    Re: '73 Eldorado Convertible Top Lift Motor Help Needed --Solved

    Last week, I was finally able to get back to this problem and solve it. I was lucky. Able to get off easy and not spend any money. I called the people at Convertible Service (convertibleparts.com) and explained my symptoms to them. The man I talked to was very honest, and if I ever do need to buy parts, for sure they are who I will call.

    He explained to me how much the scissor-type top mechanism, motor and gear servos differed from the regular hydraulic system most other convertibles have, and how much more power it uses, and basically that the engine must be running to use it.

    I've had a '71 Cutlass convertible for many years, and putting the top up or down without the engine running is routine for me. But in regards to my Eldorado, the guy at CS told me that after lubricating everything, all the pivot points, to then put the top up, latch both sides, disconnect both cables at the servos (not at the motor), and use the palm of my hand to slap the bottoms of both top mechanism arms to make sure they were both fully spread out and settled in, in the same position as each other, then hook up the cables (with the top still up), release the latches and try it again, this time with the engine running.

    It worked, and that's all there was to it with my car.

    It was an easy job, and didn't even require removal of the back seat or trim panels to do it.

    Watching it work, it's clear to me the scissor mechanism is inferior to the older style. It was designed that way so the back seat could be a lot wider, because the side arms fold down behind the back seat, instead of along each side of it. In that sense, it works and does what it was designed for. But watching it work, it's flimsy looking, rickety, and I can see why broken parts are such a big problem for the scissor-style mechanism. It seems to have lots of play, lots of movement built in, so the mech arms can both pivot inward and back at the same time, where the old style mech basically just folds one way, straight back.

    But it does do what it's supposed to do. Keeping it well lubricated and checking on it often are probably the keys to making it last.

    If I were a dedicated one-car man like many of you, I would have bought a new motor, relay and cables just on general principles, but this is working well for now, and if I need to buy parts in the future, it won't be too difficult to install them.


  7. #6
    talismandave's Avatar
    talismandave is offline Cadillac Owners Master
    Automobile(s): 1987 Brougham, 1974 Fleetwood Talisman, Volvo C70,
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Madison WI

    Re: '73 Eldorado Convertible Top Lift Motor Help Needed

    Glad to you had such great luck with it, and got that gorgeous convertible performing as it should.

    This info will be of great help to other owners. As well as the heads up to an honest, helpful vendor who had nothing to gain from being so. Since it wasn't the motor perhaps the moderator could change the name of the thread to make it easier/more clear for future searchers to find it?

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