We are lucky in South Florida. Except for the occasional hurricane, our weather is glorious. There is hardly a better place to own a convertible than the south-east coast. While the feeling of the summer air in your hair is great, tiny jets of air in your neck on colder days aren’t. Convertible tops do require a little more maintenance and repair than other types of cars. Before we take a look at what this involves, first you need to determine the type of top.
Vinyl or Fabric?
These are the two types of tops commonly used by manufacturers. The easiest way to tell them apart is to use some water. Drop a drop of water on the material and press down. If it stays in a little ball and makes a smear when you try to remove it, your top is vinyl. You can also tell by the color – vinyl tends to be shinier than fabric tops. Your vehicle’s service book should give you information on the top, but remember that unless you’ve owned the vehicle from new, someone could have replaced the top with an aftermarket one of a different material.
Caring for the top
The biggest enemy of your soft top, irrespective of which kind you have is sunlight. As much as possible try to keep your vehicle shaded when not in use and store it in a garage. Wash the top with mild detergent and a sponge and chamois. For stubborn grime, work the detergent into the spot using a brush. Be careful not to put too much pressure on the stitching as it could weaken it. After the top has dried completely finishing the process depends on the type of top.
Vinyl tops need their protective coating covered with a UV shield such as an aerospace protectant. Fabric tops are impregnated with a wax sealant which deteriorates with age. It is advisable to reapply this sealant once every year.
There are also some tricks in your use of the auto that can preserve the top:
· Don’t leave it permanently up or down:
When the top is up, pressure is put on the stitching. Relieving this occasionally by putting the top down will preserve its life. Consequently, when the top is down, the material is creased. This will accelerate deterioration along the crease lines. So a good balance between up/down is recommended. Additionally, the lifting and lowering mechanism need operating from time to time to ensure that it works efficiently.
· Flexi-Glass Windows:
These tend to scratch easily, so be careful how you treat them when operating the top. Keep children, dogs, and sharp objects away from them.
Repairing your soft top
Minor tears or cuts can easily be repaired using a patch kit. If the flex-glass window gets very scratched, it will become clouded. It can also become yellowed due to excessive UV exposure. A specialized polish kit that uses a hand drill can make it sparkle again.
Help! A seam has blown out:
Losing a seam on your soft top isn’t the end of the world, but repairing it is better left to the experts. Why not stop by our automotive repair shop and have our friendly ASE-certified team have you back on the road in no time?
If you have any other maintenance questions or want to pick up a kit to give your soft top some TLC feel free to pop in. Remember to check out our ultimate detailing guide for other great detailing tips