You left your convertible top open, because when you parked, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. A few hours later, you look out the window, and it’s suddenly pouring! You run outside and close the roof, but the damage is done — your interior is soaked, or at the very least, water is everywhere.
First things first: don’t panic. Cars aren’t as delicate as they seem, and automakers do their best to prepare convertibles to deal with the occasional moisture overload.
You can get everything dried and back to normal, as long as you follow these easy steps.
Vacuum Up Standing Water
If you left your convertible top open long enough to really get hammered by rain — or if the storm was especially fierce — there’s a strong possibility that you’re dealing with an inch or so of standing water on the floor of your car. In this case, the single most effective way to start the drying process is to use a wet/dry vacuum cleaner to suck out as much water as you can. Yes, your car has drains designed to deal with this kind of thing, but they can be easily overwhelmed by flash storms, so the assistance of a vacuum can dramatically speed up the drying process.
Soak Up the Rest
Once the standing water is expelled, it’s time to use some towels. Take all of the floor mats out of your car so that you can access the carpet underneath, and use a series of towels to soak up the water sitting on the floorboards. You’ll also want to wipe down seats, the dash and any other surface that got wet when you left the convertible top open.
Ventilation, Ventilation, Ventilation
Towels and vacuums wont be able to get all the moisture out, so you’re going to have to rely on evaporation to take care of what’s left. There are a number of tools at your disposal to hasten the drying process. First, use one or more rotary fans to blow a current of air through your car’s cabin. Next, set up a dehumidifier if you have one, inside the vehicle, to suck out water still trapped in your upholstery. Finally, run your car’s heater, with the air conditioning system turned on, to blow warm, dry air through the ventilation ducts. When combined, this should help get things dry as quickly as possible and help curb any smells or mildew.
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Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
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.