The summer is the best time to go cruising with your convertible top down. However, situational awareness on your part can avert potential trouble and costly repairs. As you prepare to drop the top of your convertible, keep in mind the following points:
Soft Top Considerations
Soft tops are either manually or power-operated. Models that have power-operated tops come equipped with a manual override, which allows you to bypass the folding mechanism. Your owner’s manual will outline any features unique to your vehicle. You should never try to force a motorized unit down, as it may cause irreversible damage.
Before lowering a soft convertible top down, always verify that the roof is clean and dry to prevent mold or mustiness. Any obstruction on top of the roof or in the compartment holding the folded roof can cause the material to rip or the folding mechanism to jam, which can require costly repairs.
Hard Top Tips
Almost all hard tops are power-operated, and unlike most soft or cloth top convertibles that fold accordion-style into a compartment behind the rear seat, most hard tops fold in sections or in one piece. Once folded, a guidance system stores it in the trunk.
Before storing the convertible top in the trunk, you should always check the area where the roof will rest to make sure it is clear. If you have anything stored in the trunk when you begin the folding process, sensors in the trunk should detect an obstruction and keep the convertible top from dropping. That said, you should remove luggage or other stored items from the trunk and place them where they won’t interfere with the roof’s path.
Theft avoidance is a concern for all convertible owners, especially when the top is down and unattended. For this reason, you should always keep the roof raised when you park or leave your car. If you simply must leave your top down, make sure to park your vehicle in a well-lit and highly trafficked area.
One reliable theft deterrent is to take your valuables with you when you leave the car. Further, locking your car and activating the security system is a must. The best security system may be an engine immobilizer that senses your ignition key or key fob before permitting the car to start. With such a system in place, your vehicle will be impossible to hot-wire. Investing in a high-end security system may lower your car insurance costs, too.
Convertible Top Maintenance
Beyond any storage and security concerns, your convertible’s top needs special care. Your owner’s manual is the best place to look for those instructions. Here are some critical maintenance tips to follow:
- Invest in a convertible top cleaner and protectant, which can be applied whenever you wash your car.
- Pay special attention to the roof during pollen season and avoid parking directly under trees.
- Protect the roof from damage during and after a storm. This means gently removing snow buildup that could rip a cloth roof or even damage a hard top.
- Your convertible top’s moving parts, such as the hinges, bearings and bushings, can benefit from the occasional lubrication to keep these parts from rusting or becoming stuck.
Before you set out with your convertible top down, make sure you perform these checks and safety measures to ensure a smooth, hassle-free ride.
Check out all the body & accessory products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on convertible top care, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Image courtesy of Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.