Auto maintenance: Special maintenance tips for a convertible

How to care for a convertible top

Convertible tops are a great way to feel the sun on your face, but the need some special maintenance to keep the in good condition. Find out some valuable tips you can use in this article!
The top is down, your hair is flying in the breeze, the sun is on your face, the wind is blowing your troubles away, and you feel the freedom that comes with driving a convertible car. Those are some of the pros of owning a convertible. However, on the flip side of the coin, along with that feeling of freedom comes some special maintenance needs for the top.

Convertible tops basically come in two different materials: canvas (also known as “rag tops”) and vinyl. They are installed on cars as well on some boats. The windshields on a boat, or the back window of car that has a canvas or a vinyl top, are often made of clear plastic, rather than glass. This plastic has special needs of its own.

Auto maintenance: Special maintenance tips for a convertible

As soon as you become the owner of a boat or a car that sports a convertible top, you should read and follow the instructions in the owner’s manual in regards to its special care. The top is subjected to sunlight, rain, heat, and other elements that can damage it if it’s not properly taken care of.
To start with, here’s a tip that you need to know: you need to periodically clean your convertible top to keep it looking its best. Put it up and use a vacuum hose with a soft brush attachment to clean out any dead bugs, dirt or debris. Be sure that you reach into the corners and into the folds of the top. Next, use a damp rag to clean off the frame, plus any other hard parts that make up the convertible top. If the window or windshield is glass, you can just use any window cleaner to clean the inside and the outside. A word of caution, though, be careful not to overspray the window cleaner onto your canvas or vinyl top. If, however, the window or windshield is clear plastic, you need to use special care so you don’t scratch it. Here’s another tip: the best cleaner is a clean, soft cloth that is dampened with tap water. Then, wipe it dry with another clean, soft cloth. If the plastic surface is extremely dirty, there are products on the market that you can purchase that are specially designed for cleaning that type of surface. And, if the plastic windshield or window does get a number of scratches on it, there are also plastic polishes that you can use to buff them out with good results.

Canvas tops on convertibles are easier to maintain than vinyl tops are because they can usually be washed with the same detergent that you use on your car or boat. Make sure that you have sprayed down the entire boat or car with clean water first, before you clean the top. If the top has stains or stubborn dirt, you can usually use a soft brush and the same detergent to loosen them up so you can rinse them away. After the washing, be sure that you spray down the entire boat or car again so that any remaining detergent and suds don’t run down onto the lower, painted surfaces of the vehicle. Here’s another tip: then, you can use a special dressing, such as an ultraviolet protectant, for your canvas top to help protect it and keep it looking good.

Vinyl tops on convertibles can be cleaned with a good quality, all-purpose cleaner and a soft scrub brush. Again, make sure that you have sprayed down the entire vehicle with clean water before you scrub the top. And, after the washing, spray down the vehicle again to rinse away any remaining detergent and suds. Be sure to use a good protectant afterwards.

Finally, be sure to remember this tip: never try to clean the top of your convertible with a copper scratcher, steel wool or any other abrasive material.

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