Taking care of your convertible’s top should be high on your list of car maintenance tips for summer, especially if you live in the kind of climate where sun damage is unavoidable. Although modern vinyl and cloth roofs are tougher than they used to be, there are still a number of things you can do to keep your top looking its best. Most of them won’t add more than a few minutes to the time you already spend looking after your pride and joy. Here are four tips to keep your convertible top looking its best throughout every season.
Similar your car’s paint, keeping your convertible top free and clear of contaminants is key to making sure it lasts the lifetime of your vehicle — and looks good in the process. When it comes to vinyl convertible roofs, you should avoid any cleaning products that contain silicon, as they can dry out the material over time. You can also use a brush to directly clean your car’s top without running the risk of damaging the paint.
2. Protection From the Sun
You wouldn’t go outside on a summer day without sunscreen, so why expect your convertible’s top to do the same? One of the most basic convertible car maintenance tips is to treat your top with a protector product after you’ve cleaned it to keep it shielded from the UV rays and chemical pollutants resultant of everyday use. If your vehicle has a cloth top, you’ll need to use a fabric treatment product to replenish it and keep water-repellant chemicals bonded to the roof.
3. Store With the Top Up
When parking your convertible for an extended length of time — say, anything more than a day or two — you’ll want to make sure to store it with the top up. This is one of the easiest car maintenance tips for summer that will prevent it from becoming creased and keep it stretched out across its frame, making it more pliable for latching into place over the long term. This storage method is also easier on your clear plastic or vinyl rear window, should your convertible be so equipped, as friction and folds can lead to creasing and hazing of this important porthole.
4. Don’t Put It Away Wet
A final word of advice: never fold your convertible top down when it’s wet. Any moisture left on your top while it is stored can damage the vinyl and fabric roof materials as well as corrode the mechanism that operates the top. Always dry your top with a terry cloth towel prior to folding it, or keep the roof up, blast down the highway and let the wind do the work for you. Either way, keeping your top dry will prolong its life immensely.
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Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time. I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.