There’s something about cruising down the road in a convertible that feels alluring and luxurious. Yet, taking care of a convertible top isn’t quite as luxurious, or alluring for that matter. Convertible tops need a bit more care than your average car and the appearance and quality of your top varies greatly on how well it is cared for. Proper maintenance of a convertible includes frequent washing and protection based on the material for your particular convertible fabric. Relying simply on hand washes or drive-through car washes alone is not enough to maintain your convertible. In fact, it could result in premature deterioration becoming unpleasing to the eye and increasing the chance of leaks and costly repairs or replacement. Here’s how to take care of a convertible top so that your convertible remains pleasing to the eye:
Convertibles should be washed on average at least every one to two weeks, especially if your convertible is not protected by a garage or covered parking structure. In the summer, it is recommended that convertibles be washed more frequently because the hot weather is difficult on the soft top. Vinyl and fabric tops will vary greatly in their care. Before you begin, you must first determine what material your soft top is made of. To do so, refer to your owner’s manual, contact your vehicle manufacturer, or complete the vinyl or fabric convertible test.
How to Clean Vinyl Tops
When washing your vinyl convertible top, be sure to use a gentle car shampoo with a feathered bristle brush to help release dirt and other particles from within the textured areas of the vinyl. Avoid using shampoos with gloss enhancements. Gloss enhancements are ideal for the exterior surface, but it is detrimental to convertible tops. For heavy dirt and grime, use a cleanser made to breakdown grease and grime that does not contain soap or detergents. Many convertible top cleansers include a built-in protectant for mold and mildew. To use, spray the top with water followed by the cleanser and use the brush to gently scrub the area. Rinse completely.
How to Protect Vinyl Tops
To protect your convertible top, once clean, a vinyl protectant should be utilized to help preserve the color and texture and help prevent cracks and fading. Protectants are used not only to prevent discoloration, but they also protect the top from the sun’s harmful UV rays and resist dirt and grease. Ideally, to keep your soft vinyl top in prime condition, take care of it from the very start. Damages once started, are irreversible. Weekly washes with a gentle shampoo, vinyl cleaner, and once per month application of protectant are the most effective way to care for your vinyl soft top.
How to Clean Fabric Tops
Cleaning a fabric convertible top is nearly identical to vinyl top care, the only difference is that you’ll need to use fabric-specific products and a more rigid brush for scrubbing to remove dirt from the fabric fibers. Fabric tops are treated heavily during the manufacturing process to repel water and impurities; however, this treatment lasts for a limited amount of time due to environmental influences and care and maintenance. You’ll need to observe the area looking for water puddling or wet spots that would indicate water has saturated the fabric. If any of these issues are identified, the top must be treated again.
How to Protect Fabric Tops
After the area has been washed and dried entirely, apply a protectant. It’s best to add a few coats of the protectant allowing each application to dry thoroughly before the next. Use only a small amount with each application to avoid soaking the area. Protectants should be used monthly for best results against repelling water.
How to Care For a Convertible Top
Whether your soft top is made of fabric, canvas, or vinyl, steer clear of any cleanser or protectant that contains citrus, bleach, or silicon/petroleum products. Using any products with those elements could reduce your top’s ability to repel water, which will lead to the breakdown of seals, seams, and quite possibly invalidate your vehicle warranty. A shampoo free of detergents or glossing agents is ideal for washing a convertible top. If cared for properly, your convertible top can last between 5 to 7 years.
- Avoid leaving a convertible top down overnight.
- Do not put the top down when the temperature falls below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Hand washing is preferred over using an automatic car wash.
- Clear areas of debris and repair all small rips, tears, and leaks before they become major repairs.
- Do not allow convertible to sit unused for an extended period of time with the top down.
- Rinse cleansers immediately after washing to prevent fading.
- Do not use glass cleaners or paper towels to clean plastic windows.
- If top malfunctions while going up or down, do not attempt to force the unit to open or close. Contact a professional for assistance.
- Clear all areas of debris and other items when putting the top down to avoid permanent damage to plastic and glass windows.
Now that you know the best way to care for your convertible top, you can hit the road. You’ll feel confident that all the heads turning in your direction are looking at a well-cared-for car with a convertible top in prime condition. Follow our tips and you’ll be sure to enjoy driving in the lap of luxury while the wind whips through your hair in your beautiful convertible.