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Smart Top Roof Control Installation

Pelican Technical Article:

Smart Top Roof Control Installation


15 min





Applicable Models:

Porsche 986 Boxster (1997-04)
Porsche 986 Boxster S (2000-04)

Parts Required:

SmartTOP control module

Hot Tip:

Operate the automatic feature with extreme caution

Performance Gain:

Open the top while driving less than 15 mph

Complementary Modification:

Check your fuse box for blown fuses
101 Performance Projects for Your Porsche Boxster

This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Wayne's new book, 101 Performance Projects for Your Porsche Boxster. The book contains 312 pages of full color projects detailing everything from performance mods to changing your brake pads. With more than 950+ full-color glossy photos accompanying extensive step-by-step procedures, this book is required reading in any Boxster owner's collection. The book is currently available and in stock now. See The Official Book Website for more details.

The Boxster roof controller is somewhat bothersome in that you need to bring the car to a full stop and apply the emergency brake in order to raise or lower the roof. This can be annoying to both you and other drivers if you're trying to raise or lower the roof at a stop light. This restriction is designed to protect the roof so that you don't damage it while driving and exposing it to large wind forces.

Fortunately, there are a few ways around this restriction. You can purchase an aftermarket module that plugs into your car. The SmartTop, designed and manufactured by Mods4cars and available at is one of these replacement relay / controller modules for your Boxster. This module allows you to raise and lower the roof while the car is cruising at speeds under 25 mph (40 km/h). In addition, the roof can be raised and lowered with one-touch operation: simply press the button once and the roof will completely raise or lower itself without you having to hold down the button. But beware: if the roof catches on something or someone sticks their hands in the roof during this one-touch operation, the results can be ugly (see Pelican Technical Article: Convertible Top Repair). Installation is a snap: simply put the roof down, turn off the ignition, pull out the old controller relay from your relay panel and install the SmartTop unit in its place (see Figure 1).

There is also a "poor man's version" of this feature-override. By removing one of the pins on the factory convertible top relay, you can override the speed control limiter and open the roof while driving. You will also need to pull up on the emergency brake one click in order to activate the switch. Of course, this will allow you to open the roof when the car is going 60 mph: which can be dangerous and will certainly damage your roof. Exercise caution when you have these overrides installed.

Adding this is a snap: simply remove the relay, and bend pin #18 down towards the center of the relay so that it won't be inserted into the relay socket any more. The pin numbers are written down on the back of the relay. You can also override the emergency brake switch too by simply grounding pin #15. You can do this by bending the pin over pin 15 and soldering a wire to it and then connecting that wire to a chassis ground. Or, you can remove the wire that goes to pin 15 in the relay socket, put it off to the side, and install a ground wire in its place.

This photo shows the location where the SmartTOP module is installed.
Figure 1

This photo shows the location where the SmartTOP module is installed. This relay panel is located above where your left foot rests while driving. The yellow arrow shows the foot rest, while the green arrow shows the location of the panel that covers the fuse box. The SmartTOP module replaces the factory control module located in the center of the relay panel (red arrow). The inset photo in the upper left shows the back of the relay with all of the pins labeled (pin #18 indicated by the purple arrow).

Comments and Suggestions:
RT Comments: Hello. Love the sight, thank you. I have a 2004 Boxster convertible and the button just stopped working. The top was working fine until just now and when I hit the button nothing happens. Obviously i have unhitched the latch. Any advice? thank you.
May 2, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would test the button and see if it is switching power when pressed. Especially if no other symptoms exist. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Becks Comments: I have a 2001 Boxster. The "roof open" light on the dash stays on. I have been able to get the top down in the past, but now it won't go down. I can't find the fuse box diagram to see if I just need to change a fuse. Any help or suggestions about what might be the problem would be greatly appreciated.
April 7, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The switches at the windshield latches may be the issue. I would manually open the top and check if the latch switches are functioning. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Mel Comments: I wish to buy the SmartTop relay but cannot find on your website, for a 2005 987 Boxster in Australia
February 6, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The smart top relay is only for the 986 Boxster - Casey at Pelican Parts  
Pete Comments: I purchased a relay about a month ago for my Porsche Boxter 986 to be able to lower/raise the roof with one touch but now it will only lower the roof if you keep my finger on the button is it faulty yours Peter stamps
September 15, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Can you explain what happens when you keep your finger on the button? I don;t understand. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Mr T Comments: I have a 2001 Porsche Boxter S
The Windows do not drop when the roof latch is released.
I need to manually drop the Windows otherwise the roof sticks.
The Windows will however rise up and engage when the roof goes back up and the latch is closed.
What is it that controls the movement drop & rise of the wimdows and where is it ?
May 10, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The windshield latch switches may be faulty. I would check if that is the issue. When opened, the windows should drop. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Bob Comments: I have a 2000 s, top will not operate. When I pull brake, no indicator comes on the dash. Brake relay? Windows do not go down as usual when I operate switch, either.
April 17, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The switch for the parking brake handle may be out of adjustment. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Mike Comments: Please can I open the roof without pulling up the emergency break ?!
November 18, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What type of vehicle? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Matt Comments: Hi, If I were to do the cheap version of this mod would I be right in assuming its a fairly safe option still as you have to first mechanically open the latch before the relay acknowledges that the open button is being pushed. Or would the roof try to open if the button was pushed & the latch was still locked? Obviously would still need to be careful when the roof is down. Thanks
November 17, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The latch would have to be opened first. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
MarkG Comments: HeyNick,

Your cure seems to work.
Used WD40 on door latch and top and windows function fine so far.

Thanks for your help.

August 16, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Awesome. Thanks for the follow up. make sure to lubricate the latch as well, WD40 is not a lubricant.- Nick at Pelican Parts  
saline Comments: Is the module shown that is located above the driver foot well available for a 996?
August 14, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
MarkG Comments: I have a 2004 Boxster with a top problem.
At times, the top will not work unless I slam the door once or twice.
Also, the windows are going up on their own.
Anu ideas?
August 12, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Possible problem with the door latch switch. Try cleaning and lubricating the door latch. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Vincent Comments: Should you need to hold the button all the time when opening the roof of a 1998 2.5 boxster ?
July 29, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes. Pull and hold.- Nick at Pelican Parts  
micksa Comments: Bought a brand new relay 986.618.111.02 at some cost £114 + VAT and it's still not working. Could someone tell me the correct operating procedure as I'm not sure if the roof open light should be on or off once the latch is released.
Handbrake light is on and working
Windows drop when the latch is released
Roof open light comes on for a few seconds and then goes out
Nothing at all happens when I press the switch to lower the roof
April 9, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I do not recall if the roof open light goes on when releasing the front latch, but I don't think so. You may want to try pressing and holding the top close button. I have found on a few of these cars that when the top can be latched, the motor in the back has not yet moved the transmissions all the way to their closed position when they make contact with the microswitches (which deactivates the light). Can you hear any movement with the handbrake up and pressing the close top button? Did the old relay have any corrosion or signs of moisture present? Also try to gently assist the top while holding the button to open. Sometimes it might get stuck. You may want an assistant to check voltage back at the motor when pressing the button. If you have voltage but no movement, the motor is faulty. I've not yet seen a motor fail. Let me know! - Casey at Pelican Parts  
micksa Comments: Can you tell me if the "roof open light" on the dash should remain on until the roof is either fully up or fully down?
My roof won't open currently. Handbrake switch is working light comes on, the windows drop when the roof latch is released. The roof indicator light on the dash illuminates and then turns off. When I press the button to lower the roof there is nothing at all
March 24, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Most likely the convertible top relay in the driver footwell. ?command=show_part_page&please_wait=N&SUPERCAT_FLAG=Y&make=POR&model=1043§ion=ELSWCH&page=2&bookmark=4&part_number=986-618-111-02-M100

There is a model year split so be sure to order the one that fits your provided for example only.
- Casey at Pelican Parts
Steve Keys Comments: I have a 1997 Boxster 986 with a missing roof control module. just near the fuse box I have a second hand one but im reluctant to use it as it may be programmed to another car. Can i safely use it or do i need to purchase a new "blank unprogrammed" one. Thanks
February 11, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I think you can swap that one without programming. is it the same part number? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Tom Comments: The top open warning light on the dash of my 2004 Boxster stays light all the time. The top functions perfectly with no problems except for the light. Any suggestion where to start looking. Where is the top open sensor located?
May 8, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: There are many switches, are you referring to the latch switches. I would start by checking the vehicle for fault. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Trackrocket Comments: Love these write ups.
Just bought a 2004 base Boxster loaded without engine/trans.
Also both window regulators have been "borrowed " from said vehicle.
The top won't operate and I'm wondering if it's due to the system needing to see the window regulator motors for the partial down function?
April 19, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would think the regulators need to be in place and functioning for the top to work. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
rkh986 Comments: This question is for a 986S Boxster built in May 2000.
After body shop repair of top broken cables and bent rod, and with the Smart top module replacement, the closed position is out of synch red top light on dash stays on. Techs got the 2 sides in synch, but did not know how to synchronize the closed position with the sensor electronics.
Will the synch reset by pulling out the top control circuit box, activating and then turning off ignition, then replacing the top control, then activating ignition again?
Or perhaps is the synch only set by the position of the transmission discs, and if so, what is the controller synch procedure?
March 14, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: When repairing the top, there are many measurements that have be within specifications. The top will not function normally otherwise. If all measurements are in spec, I would check that both microswitches are working properly. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Gerry Comments: Greetings: I have a 2000 Boxster S and am new to the Porsche family; if I install the SMARTTOP mod, can you still partially close the roof for engine access?
August 3, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes. The SMARTTOP mod adds function to the top, also leaving all the original functions. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Patrick Comments: Justin, I am having the same problem on my 1997 Boxter. Passenger side lifts but the driver side does not move. Have you been able to track down what the problem is? I just had mine stop working yesterday.
May 28, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Hi guys. The answers to troubleshooting your top repair can be found in our other tech article here: In addition, I will copy this question to our Boxster forums, and perhaps someone there can help. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Amora Comments: which relay on this panel control the convertible and up and down windows
May 14, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The big "relay" controls the windows and the convertible top. it's not really a relay though - it's a control module with integrated circuits inside. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Justin Comments: I have a 1997 Boxster, having problems with the rear metal lid, only the passenger side starts to lift when attempting to to lower the top. The drivers side seems to be stuck down. Any idea what would cause this to happen?
January 6, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You could have a faulty pushrod on one side. Try to open the clamshell, once the one side opens, see if you can reach inside and disconnect the push rods. Then you can open the clamshell and inspect pushrod operation. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
mods4cars Comments: For the 987 Porsche Boxster there is an add-on, too:

RKLBPE1 - RemoteKEY for Porsche 997 Coupe+Boxster 987+Cayman
Comfort controller for model year 2004+
January 25, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Howard Comments: Hi,

I have a clk 320 2001 w208 and the smartop will only work with the clk320 w209. Can you tell me the pin/wires to disconnect and ground.

Thanks for any help.
September 15, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sorry, this is for a Boxster, I would contact SmartTop directly for that information. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Wed 1/17/2018 02:13:05 AM