TopDown Windscreen for BMW Z3

This article reviews TopDown’s windscreen. This product eliminates turbulence in the cockpit formed while driving with the top down. I will preface this by saying I own a 1999 Z3, which I purchased new. I used the factory windscreen, and was mildly satisfied with it; I then upgrade to this one. Briefly, this is one of the best purchases I’ve made so far for my beloved Z3. This windscreen cost $164.

TopDown’s windscreen attaches to the roll hoops on the later model Z3’s, on a total of 6 points, using Velcro-based fasteners. This windscreen is made of clear 1/4 inch Plexiglas. When installed, it does not shift or rattle. I ran my car up to 100 mph, and it didn’t flex or move about.

What’s unique to TopDown’s windscreen are the winglets, flaps folding out extending coverage, blocking the turbulence between the car door to the outside seat edge. Typically, every other windscreen mounts onto the seats, which blocks only the turbulence that enters between the seats. Therefore, occupants are protected on one side, the inside seat edge. TopDown’s windscreen with winglets prevents turbulence on both the inside and outside edges of the seats. The winglets fold out, sealing the gap from the outside edge of the seat to the door windows. Then, the winglets can be folded back in, so the windscreen can remain in place when the top is placed back up. All-in-all, these winglets are a great idea that really provides a lot of performance.

Performance:

The biggest fan of this windscreen is actually my wife, who has long hair. Without any windscreen in place, her hair blows around terribly. With the factory windblocker I was used, the turbulence is still moderate, and my wife’s hair still swirls around somewhat. With no windscreen, she’s tolerant of driving top down for 15 minutes. With the factory windscreen, she’s tolerant of driving top down for 60 minutes.

This is the only windscreen that my wife doesn’t mind driving around all day with the top down; her hair no longer swirls about. For me, with this windscreen in place, I can talk clearly on my cell phone, hear my expensive stereo system, and cruise at night gazing at the stars out without freezing. With the factory windscreen, I could do these activities, but to a lesser degree. This windscreen provides much better performance, hence a better top down driving experience.

The windscreen also comes available with a high quality vinyl satchel, which I use to store my windscreen when not attached to my car.

Conclusion:

I’m glad I purchased this windscreen It has the highest performance of all windscreen available for the Z3, it looks good, and it doesn’t impede the rear view.. I would recommend this product for those considering purchasing a windscreen, or as an upgrade to the factory windscreen. The only knock I have on this product is that it works only for the Z3’s with the roll hoops. It’s a great product, and I wish it could be made available for all Z3’s.

Contact:

TopDown can be contacted at www.topdown.net, or 206-222-8058. This windscreen costs $164.

Chrome Windshield Washer Sprayers

Pros: More Chrome (always a good thing)
Cons: Loose “Heated” Option
Cost: $59 from www.zchrome.com

BMW makes two different windshield washer sprayers for the Z3, a regular version and heated version. If your BMW Z3 has heated seats then it also has heated side mirrors and heated windshield washer sprayers. www.ZChrome.com sells a chrome version of the regular BMW windshield washer sprayers. My Z3 came with the heated version but the two versions are interchangeable so I decided to add an additional touch of chrome to my Z3. I don’t live in an area where it gets cold enough to freeze windshield washer fluid so loosing the heated option didn’t concern me.

Two make the swap you will need two of ZChrome’s chrome windshield washer sprayers, about an hour of time, a phillips head screw driver and a roll of electric tape. If your Z3 does not have the heated washer sprayers then you will not need the electrical tape.

Open the hood of your Z3 and notice the two areas on the hood pad that have preformed square bulges. Behind these bulges are the back sides of the windshield washer sprayers. To get to this area you will need to at least partially remove the hood pad. To do this you will need to use the phillips head screw driver. Along the edge of the hood pad you will find phillips head screws in plastic clips. Remove whatever screws you need to so you can work comfortably behind the pad.

The phillips screws go into these plastic clips. You do not need to completely remove the phillips screws from the clips. Just loosen the screw enough so the entire clip can be removed from the hood.

The hood has holes in in that these plastic clips snap into. The screw spreads out the legs out and hold the clip and the pad to the hood.

Next Step

The heated washer sprayers have two connections, one for washer fluid another for power to heat the windshield washer sprayer.

Non-heated washer sprayers just have the washer sprayer connection.

Remove the washer fluid hose first. Then unclip the gray portion of the power connection from the black part of the connection.

To remove the wiring clip from the hood rotate the mount counter clockwise a quarter turn and it can be pulled straight out.

The washer sprayer snaps into place. The connection is tight and will require some effort to remove. Pinch the top side while pulling up on the unit. At the same time tilt the lower so it pushes through to the other side. The unit will be removed from the top side of the hood once we work it loose from the bottom. Be careful not to use to much pressure so you don’t dent the hood.

Once the unit is loose you can pull the entire washer sprayer out from the top (outside) of the hood.

The www.ZChrome.com replacement part slides in from the top.

Push the side opposite the washer sprayers down and towards the front of the car.

It will take some pressure to snap the front (washer sprayer) side down into place. Be Careful, this area of the hood can be dented if you push down to hard. If you are having trouble use more forward and less down pressure.

Hook the washer fluid hose up to the new chrome non-heated washer sprayer.

Make sure the connection is tight. BMW’s washer sprayer system uses more pressure than you would expect.

Those who started out with heated washer sprayers will need to make a decision as to what to do with the remaining power connection.

I choose to use electrical tape to wrap the connection and secure it to the washer fluid hose.

There is actually one remaining step, you will most likely need to adjust the tiny hose nozzles inside the windshield washer sprayers. The first time I used them four stream of washer fluid shot over the car without even touching the windshield. I used nail with a fine tip inserted into the hole of the washer sprayer nozzle to adjust the aiming. The washer sprayers will pivot under pressure so through trial and error you can re-aim the nozzle sprayers if yours need adjustment.

Rear View Mirror Adapter

There is something you just have to love about Z3 owners. We drive one of the best roadsters on the market yet it seems that dozens of owners have come up with ways of making the car ever closer to being ‘perfect.’ Does the car make them creative or does it draw creative people to it? It doesn’t matter really, either way we all benefit.

A very common owner complaint is that the rear view mirror blocks a large portion of your forward vision out to the right side. It is caused by two things. The mirror itself is positioned to low and it is rather large. On the ‘M’s the mirror is even larger and presents more of a problem. After taking delivery of my car in ’96 I quickly learned to duck down and look under the mirror for right hand turns. This was annoying but what could I do? Nothing… at least for a while.

Early in 1999 Gary Hansel bought his M-Roadster. Like many owners before him he was annoyed with the rear view mirror. Unlike everyone else he decided to tackle this problem and see what could be done. He came up with an elegant solution.

The result is Gary’s ///Mirror Adapters. http://www.z3mirrors.com/

Gary’s adapter lets you mount a GM, Chrysler or Ford mirror, depending upon the adapter used, to the BMW lug that is glued to your windshield. Unlike BMW mirrors GM mirrors are adjustable vertically, you can move the entire mirrors face up and down to suit you. We want the mirror up high near the windshield header to improve visibility. With Gary’s adapter and a GM mirror you can position the mirror so its top edge is hitting the header just to the front of the dome light. This gives you the best forward view possible.

GM manufactures many different mirrors, with Gary’s adapter you have a choice of an assortment of mirrors that you can install. Gary typically sells four different styles of mirrors to go with his adapters.

A rectangular compact mirror (8 5/16″ x 2 1/2″) This is the mirror you want if you are only interested in getting the best forward visibility possible.

A medium rectangular mirror (9 1/2″ x 2 1/2″) Just a little larger version of the mirror above. The extra length to the mirror adds a little more vision to the rear.

A dual reading lamp mirror (10 1/4″ x 2 1/2″) This mirror isn’t quite a rectangle. Its sides are slightly curved and the upper edge has a very slight curve as well. It has more depth to its body. On the underside it has two toggle switches to turn on/off each of the lights built into the base of the mirror. If you were looking to add map lights to your car this is the way to go. The lights on the GM version of this mirror will also illuminate when you open the doors. This mirror is wider than the mirror that came on my Z3 but not quite as tall. Since you can position it higher you still get a nice increase in forward visibility. The mirror needs to be wired into the car.

The last is the electrochromatic (EC) self dimming mirror. (10 1/2″ x 2 3/4″) This mirror’s sides angle in similar to the factory BMW mirror. It also has a small projection on the bottom with a “Off/Lo/Hi” switch that illuminates in green when power is applied to the mirror. On the upper right hand side of the mirrors face there is a small circle for the rear facing light sensor. The body on this mirror is the largest of all. The mirror needs to be wired into the car. This is the mirror I have had installed in my car for over 6 months.

Most mirrors have two surfaces that reflect light for the day/night positions of the mirror. In the day position you will always see faint ghost images caused from the night surface. When you put the mirror into the night position bright lights above the mirror will reflect full brightness at you. The result is when you drive under a street lamp at night with the top down you are going to be blinded.

The EC mirror is totally different. It is a normal mirror in that it has a single reflecting surface. There are no ghost images seen in this mirror and driving under street lights no longer blind you. The surface of the mirror literally dims itself as needed to reduce the amount of light reflecting off it. It constantly adjusts the tint based on the amount of light to the front and rear sensors built into the mirror. The switch on the bottom controls the amount of dimming. I leave mine on ‘HI’ all the time and the mirror does the rest.

I installed all of these mirrors in my car and measured their positions to see how they compared to stock. I measured from the top inside edge of the windshield down to the bottom edge of the mirror to see how much higher each mirror was.

* Stock: 4.5″

* Small: 3.25″

* Medium: 3.25″

* Map light: 3.25″

* EC: 3.75″

All the replacement mirrors lower edges were closer to the top of the windshield. In all cases the replacement mirrors face was about 3 – 3 1/2″ closer to you then the stock mirror as well. The EC mirror’s bottom sits lower than the others for two reasons. The mirror itself is taller but also the pivot on the mirror is more in the center of the mirror. On the other mirrors the pivot is right on top. So for the EC mirror to clear the top of the windshield header you need to adjust the mirror somewhat lower. Even so it still gives you a nice increase in forward visibility but not quite to the same degree as the other mirrors.

The different pivot position of the EC mirror can cause a problem for taller drivers. When I received my EC mirror and adapter from Gary months ago I quickly ran into a problem. I am 6’5″ and I wasn’t able to tilt the mirror up enough to see straight back out of the car. The two pivots on the mirror were at the edge of their adjustments. I mentioned this to Gary then modified my mirror to let me adjust it as needed. This worked fine and I promptly forgot about it.

Gary didn’t. At Homecoming I stopped by the ‘Owner Solution’ tent to meet everyone and check out their products. Gary showed me a ‘tall guy’ version of his adapter to correct the problem I had run into. This adapter is a little different then his others. Instead of being a flat disc it actually is an angled spacer that changes the orientation of the mount on the GM mirror. This ‘tall guy’ adapter lets the EC mirror adjust properly for a taller driver. Another elegant solution to a problem!

The ‘tall guy’ adapter is not needed on any of the other mirrors, just the EC. If you are over 6’2″ or so you probably will need the ‘tall guy’ adapter if you want to install the EC mirror.

Installation:

How difficult the install is depends upon the mirror you choose. For the first two mirrors they install will take a minute or two. With the second two mirrors (map light and EC) the installation is more involved.

To remove the factory mirror just grab the stalk that attaches to the windshield. Twist the stalk clockwise about a ¬ turn and the mirror will be released from the lug that is glued to the windshield.

If you are installing the non-powered mirrors you just line up the new mirror, with adapter already attached, at the same angle the factory mirror released at. You will feel the adapter fit over the lug when you have it correct. Then just rotate it counterclockwise about ¬ turn and it will lock into place. Adjust the mirror as needed and you are done. Don’t forget you can now move the mirror up and down as you desire.

If you are installing the reading lamp equipped mirror Gary has full instructions. Basically you need to tap into the existing wiring for the dome light to power the map lights. When you are done you mount the mirror and connect the plug into it.

For the EC mirror things are a little more complex then the map light wiring. You need to supply switched 12v power to the mirror. You can not use the dome light wiring as it is unswitched and the mirror could drain your battery over time. You need to decide where you want to get a source of switched power. I used the switched power that runs to the radio you could also use the connector for the cellular phone setup or any other switched source of 12v power.

Start out by disconnecting the battery. Assuming you use the radio power you will need to remove it. Depending upon the radio it may be held in place with an Allen key or it may use a special BMW 5 sided tool. If your radio needs the 5 sided tool you might be able to get it out using a 2 mm Allen wrench if you are lucky. Take the radio out so you have some room to work.

You need to run a power wire for the mirror from the radio up to the mirror. I ran the wire around the passenger side footwell and up the A-pillar then across the header so that the wire ends behind the dome light. You will want to tuck the wire away as much as possible. Pop the dome light out so you can make the electrical connections easier. Slide the cut end of the mirrors wire harness behind the trim panel in front of the dome light. Solder the power wire you ran up from the radio to the 12v input on the mirrors wiring harness. Insulate it well. For a ground there is a torx screw behind the dome light, take it out. You need to mar the surface on the bottom of the screw head to get a good electrical contact from it. Do that then reinstall the hex screw with the ground wire for the mirror under it. You can reinstall the dome light now.

Now you need to tap into the 12v switched power to the radio. On my car it was pin 5 on the radio connector and the wire was violet with black. Use a sharp razor to peel back the insulation on the wire without cutting the copper itself. Then solder the wire for the EC mirror to that. Be sure to insulate it well when you are finished. Reinstall your radio and install the EC mirror and adapter into your car. Plug the mirrors wiring harness into the mirror then reconnect your battery.

When you turn on your ignition the switch on the mirror should illuminate. If it does your electrical connections are fine and you should be all set, if it doesn’t you need to recheck your wiring. Most likely the ground isn’t good. You can double check the power wire and the ground with a multi-tester.

Gary’s ///Mirror adapter let me kill two birds with one stone. I reduced the blind spot caused by the factory mirror and as a side bonus it let me convert to the EC mirror that I really love.

This mod is highly recommended! I could not imagine going back to the factory mirror.

HMS Window Blanket for BMW Convertibles

Pros: Provides additional protection for the delicate and expensive rear plastic window.
Cons: Harder to fold and store because of the bulkier design
Cost: 39.95

BMW created a device we owners quickly named the “window blanket”, it was a simple yet functional blanket that draped across the rear window and protected the window from scratches when the top was folded down. But the one thing the BMW blanket didn’t do was stop the window from creasing when the rear window folded incorrectly (with a wrinkle). HMS improved the BMW design and took it one step further by adding a bulky area to middle of the blanket which makes the window fold in a more rounded way in order to keep the window from creasing. It also appears HMS used a heavier fabric so there is some additional padding associated for the entire area that the blanket covers.

The bulky area appears to be filled with beans or something similar. The added weight from this bulky area forces the top to fold correctly and keeps it from folding to sharply (which can cause creasing). The improved design works better than the original design in protecting the top from these creases but there are some trade-offs. The HMS design is harder to fold and store because of the extra padding. The padded area is divided into three sections so folding it width wise is limited to three three sections. With the original BMW blanket I kept it tightly folded up and stored in one of the pockets of the trunk organizer. However with the bulkier HMS design this was no longer possible. I end up rolling it lengthwise and laying it in the area behind the center console. This might actually be a better location since it helps remind me to use the blanket when I want to put the top down.

I’m trying to get in the habit of using the boot cover and HMS blanket more often since I was starting to see some wear and tear on the plastic window. For this reason I like the HMS blanket more so than the BMW blanket. It keeps the top folded correctly and provides additional protection for the delicate and expensive rear plastic window.

Sold By:

HMS Motorsport

www.hms-motorsport.com

(888) HMS-3BMW

Clear Windscreen

Pros: Better visibility, Good at blocking wind, Cost, Blocks/reflects sound, Makes installing the boot cover easier
Cons: Blocks access to rear storage area (for those without the subwoofer), Blocks access to the area behind the rear console when the top is up.
Cost: $85 includes shipping (fromwww.roadster.8m.com)

My first Z3 was a 1997 1.9, and one of the first “accessories” I wanted was a windscreen to cut down on the amount of back draft that was hitting the back of my head. My desire for the windscreen was greater than my patients when I learned that BMW’s windscreen was available in Germany but not in the US. Even the Atlantic ocean could not keep me away from that windscreen, I had a Z3 owner in Germany purchase the windscreen from his BMW dealership and mail it to me.

Once that 1st windscreen was installed I was forever a windscreen fan. However when I traded in that 1997 1.9 for a 1998 3.2 the old windscreen wouldn’t work with the new Z3 because of the roll-hoop rollbars. BMW had a new windscreen for the roll-hoops, so without hesitation I purchased the new BMW windscreen when I ordered the car. The new design didn’t stop wind as well as the original design but it was good enough and since the only other alternative was no windscreen at all it was a easy purchase decision.

I’ve spent over a year with the BMW roll-hoop windscreen, and I have to admit that a year later I’m concerned about the amount of wear the BMW windscreen is showing. In some places the black material has faded to a yellowish brown, it appears to be sagging in the middle and the single support rod that runs inside the top of the windscreen has torn the material in a couple places. It still functions as well as it did when it was brand new but it is starting to look worn and ugly (at least to this owner).

As luck would have it another windscreen option opened up for me. A Z3 owner named JD was contemplating purchasing the BMW windscreen, but there were some aspects of the BMW windscreen that he didn’t care for. After a discussion on the Z3 message board JD set out to make a clear Plexiglas windscreen on his own. When word spread of his clear windscreen plans several other Z3 owners expressed an interest in his efforts. One thing led to another and now JD is in the windscreen business. After watching the $100~$150 BMW windscreen wear over the first year I decided to try JD’s clear windscreen.

Installation

Before long a long slender box was waiting for me on my doorstep. JD shipped the box well labeled as fragile to ensure the safety of the contents inside.

When I opened the box I found instructions, six Velcro straps, some foam padding and a Plexiglas windscreen with protective tape around it. The instructions informed me that this was version 5, an improvement over the previous version in which some modification were made to the shape to improve its abilities as a windscreen. The instructions also walked me through the brief assembly and installation.

Note: With the instructions below, the text in red is from the original instructions that came with the windscreen. The additional black text are my own comments in relation to that step.

Remove protective paper by carefully peeling it off.

This takes a little longer than you would think it would. The protective backing is stuck onto the glass but peels off cleanly. Be careful around the edges of the Plexiglas because it can be sharp.

Take one of the short pieces of the protective rubber tape and place it 1/8 inch away from the edge of the windscreen. Start from the outside edge and work it around the curve. Finish it off in the center

Included in the instructions is a template, you can lay the clear windscreen over the paper template and it will show you were to install the rubber padding.

Now do the same on the other side.

Make sure the curve of the tape is even and smooth. This tape serves as a cushion between the windscreen and the roll-hoops.

Insert the straps with the soft fuzz on the inside so that it will face the roll hoop.

There is no more soft fuzzy side. JD improved the strap design, the new design is stronger and easier to work with.

Do the same for all the strap locations. Straps need only to overlap about 3/4″ to be secure. They may seem a bit tight at the bottom location.

The windscreen is held in place with three straps per side, one of the straps is longer than the other two and the longer strap is for the lower part of the inner support.

Position the windscreen in front of the roll hoops and behind the seats. It may help to move the seats forward for access.

The bottom of the windscreen has a foam/rubber padding on it so you can rest the windscreen on the top of the rear storage area. However after properly installed the top edge of the windscreen should follow the curve of the roll-hoops and leave a gap at the bottom of the windscreen.

Secure the straps around the roll hoops. Put a slight amount of tension on it, especially at the lower strap so that it bows in just a little. This will eliminate any vibration.

You can “scoot” the straps around so that the end of the overlap edge is up in the cutout portion. That gives it a much neater appearance. To eliminate the static build up and also to clean your windscreen, periodically apply one of the many brands of plastic cleaners. Do not use any abrasive cleaners on the plastic.

Once the windscreen was installed my initial reaction was positive, however I wanted to wait before making up my mind. I decided to give this new windscreen a couple months and then record my feelings about it rather than make any snap judgements. There were a couple upcoming Z3 events so I knew I could get other’s opinions as well.

Long Term Update

After the initial installation JD contacted me and said he was working on some different straps to secure the windscreen in place. The original straps I had received with the windscreen were solid Velcro with differing material on the two sides, the straps worked well for me but JD was concerned that the straps might not hold out well over time.

JD tried a couple different straps before coming up with the ones pictured to the right. The new straps hold the windscreen firmly in place and appear to be well constructed.

Since there are now two windscreen designs available for those Z3’s with roll-hoop rollbars, it only makes since to compare the two designs against each other. Each design has its strengths and weaknesses, the following is a discussion on each aspect of a windscreen and how the two compare against each other.

Cost

The BMW windscreen usually sells for around $150 from the average BMW dealership. You can mail order the BMW design for roughly $108 including shipping. JD charges $85 for his design and that price includes shipping. At least for me the BMW design started showing a lot of wear and tear after the first year. We’ll have to wait to see how the Clear Windscreen holds up but currently it appears to be doing fine.

Ability to decrease the wind turbulence

Comparing the two designs I can tell that there are differences. At times the BMW design seems to do better on really windy days, especially with strong side gusts. However I think on the average day the Clear windscreen might stop more wind. Its really too close to tell both do an adequate job.

Rearward Visibility

Personal preference is going to make this different for different individuals, but for me I prefer the increased rearward visibility that the clear windscreen offers. The BMW mesh windscreen is harder to look through which has its advantages and disadvantages.

At night the BMW design decreases the light that comes from the headlights of cars behind you, but in general I always felt a little blind at night with the BMW windscreen. On the positive side, the BMW mesh windscreen can also function as a sun shade if you park your car facing away from the sun. In regard to rearward visibility this is where the two windscreen designs differ the most, some will prefer the increased rearward visibility with the Clear windscreen, some will prefer the privacy and decreased visibility of the BMW windscreen.

Cabin Noise

Although not intended in its design, the clear windscreen also seems to change some of the acoustical characteristic of the Z3 interior. The solid Plexiglas appears to function as a sound wall that blocks some of the road noise coming from the rear of the car while also reflecting some of the stereo sound back into the middle of the cockpit.

Access to rear storage area (for those without the HK subwoofer)

The BMW windscreen is designed to rest against the back side of the rear compartment. The advantage to this design is that those Z3 owners that don’t have the HK stereo have a storage area back here and can lift the lid while the windscreen is installed. The version 5 Clear Windscreen blocks access to this storage area since it installs over the lid. However if you have a Z3 with one of these storage areas JD makes another design (version 4) that rests on the back side of the roll-hoops allowing the storage compartment to be opened.

Installation

Both windscreens can be installed and uninstalled somewhat easily. The BMW design uses clips that snap the windscreen in place holding it down over the roll-hoop rollbars. The clear windscreen uses six Velcro straps to tie the windscreen to the front of the rollbars. If you use the BMW boot cover the BMW windscreen interferes with the rearward snaps making installation more difficult. The clips on the BMW windscreen can also come in contact with the clear plastic window when the convertible top is lowered/folded. Some owners have reported scratches in the clear window from the BMW windscreen clips. The clear windscreen’s installation does not come close to the lowered/folded convertible top.

I guess the bottom line is that I like JD’s Clear windscreen design over the BMW design. For me the important facts are (a) it blocks wind just as good, (b) costs less than the BMW windscreen, (c) gives me better rearward visibility and (d) should last longer than the BMW design. I now own both windscreens and have decided to use the clear windscreen for these reasons. There might be times when I go back to the BMW design but for the majority of the time the clear windscreen is now standard equipment on my Z3.

Swapping Z3 and M Roadster Rearview Mirrors

Pros: Easy to uninstall and reinstall
Cons: Expensive to purchase from BMW
Cost: unknown (possibly free if you can find someone to swap with)
The Days Events

  • Gathering at Rory’s
  • Fixing Paint Chips
  • X-Pel
  • Swapping Mirrors
  • Boot Cover Swap
  • Chrome Front Grill

  • The Z3 and the M roadster have different rear view mirrors. The M roadster mirror is bigger and sometimes gets in the way of taller drivers. The Z3 mirror is smaller but maybe isn’t as attractive as the M roadster mirror. The question was, could the two mirrors be swapped between cars.

    Turns out that all you need to do to remove the mirror as a counter clockwise, quarter turn (turn the entire mirror and its mount). We removed a Z3 and M roadster mirror and installed them in opposite vehicles in just a couple minutes.

    Boot Cover Swap

    I Can See Clearly Now, Too!

    Let me state for the record that I DO enjoy the fact I have a folding rear window like the classic roadsters of days gone by. The day I start whining about wanting a defrosted glass rear window, seating for four, and more storage space — please sentence me into a LeBaron for 30 days. Even so, after reading Robert’s eye-opening article on Meguiar’s plastic window product, I figured I should recommission the one I bought months ago and shelved away.

    I’ve never really done too much to clean mine since delivery back in September ’96. Upon recommendation from the dealer, I remember once trying Pledge spray on it. That didn’t work well. It just resulted in me having to exert lots of work getting rid of oily residue off the surface. I HAVE taken care of the window by using the supplied Rear Window Blanket #82-11-1-469-778, but two years will build a hazing no matter what precautions are taken. This hazing or fogging is caused by microscratches on the surface. The bad practice of using a glass cleaner might rid the surface of dirt and waterspots, but thanks to FredK’s excellent explanation, you’ll know better to stay away from it…besides, it doesn’t remove the microscratches.

    Robert used the heavy-duty regimen of Meguiar’s #17 Cleaner followed by Meguiar’s #10 Polish. I used a slightly different product, Meguiar’s #18 Cleaner/Polish. I suspect most who’ve cared for their rear window as I have will only need to use this all-in-one product. The steps are quite simple — spray on, wipe with cloth, and use a drier side to buff clean.

    I elected to use smooth cotton polishing cloths. They were the consistency of a thick cotton t-shirt (which would probably work just as well). One cloth was used to spread the sprayed liquid, another cloth was used to polish dry the area. I worked in small sections at a time and only used straight back and forth motions… not circular! Both inside and outside of the window was cleaned this way. The passenger’s half was done first to show how dramatic the difference was.

    Use newspaper or a beach towel to line the rear console plastic as errant spray droplets will be bothersome to buff clean. Once you’re finished, the plastic window will look just as clear as the day it rolled off the assembly line! The bottle was hardly used and I suspect the window will only require no more than three cleanings a year.

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    Cleaning the Plastic Rear Window

    To say my rear window was dirty was an understatement. Honestly, I can’t remember ever washing it in the time I’ve owned the MZ3. It had gotten to the point that rear visibility, especially with the windscreen, was zero. With the homecoming approaching, I figured it was time to clean this window. Turned out to also be a good time to try out the Meguiar’s window cleaner and polish to see just how good this stuff is.

    In the graphic below, the top picture is of the window before I did anything (except remove the windscreen). The middle picture is after I used Meguiar’s #17 Clear Plastic Cleaner on both the inside and the outside. The cleaner was difficult to use, especially on the inside. This stuff coats on then dries to a paste just like car wax does. Rubbing off that dried pasty/wax was difficult especially when trying to work on the inside of the window. It took me about 30 minutes but the results were simply amazing. Except for a harsh black line of buildup in a fold mark, it removed everything.

    The next step was to use the Meguiar’s #10 Clear Plastic Polish, I had already decided I was not going to mess with the inside window since my back was aching from the cleaner. But honestly it wouldn’t have been very hard since the polish doesn’t dry to a paste like the cleaner. The polish took the buildup in the fold line off with very little effort. The very bottom picture in the graphic below was after the cleaner and the polish. Looks like a practically brand new window as far as I am concerned. I’m very pleased with the Meguiar’s cleaner and polish, however I think I’ll clean and polish the window a little more regularly from now on.

    I’ve seen BMW dealerships sell some of the Meguiar’s products in their parts department. But if you are having a hard time finding them you can always purchase directly from Meguiar’s. Meguiar’s has a web site with a dealer locator, but you have to call the number below to actually place an order.

    To Order Call: 1 (800) 545 3321

    Fax: 1 (949) 752-6659

    Or Write: 17991 Mitchell South, Irvine, CA 92614