Convertible tops require different care and cleaning than hard tops. Big surprise, eh? Hard tops are made up of rigid glass and steel whereas convertible tops are made of materials such as canvas or woven polymer. In this article, we will look at the care and upkeep of typical soft tops.
Convertible Top Materials
You will find that there are two different materials making up soft tops. The first are tops made of polyester canvas materials. These types of tops are attractive, and they are available in a multitude of colors. Owners do have to be careful, though, because these porous materials can stain.
The other material you will find is vinyl. Vinyl tops are economical to make and easier to maintain for the owner. They are waterproof and are difficult to stain as easily as canvas tops are. Our detailing consultant at Marburger Chrysler (Shelby, NC) suggests being careful about leaving vinyl tops out in the direct sun for long periods of time, however. The Sun’s ultraviolet rays can yellow many vinyl materials.
Cleaning Your Convertible Top
When you find your soft top needs cleaning, wash it with a non-detergent-based shampoo. The recommended scrubbing tool to use is a soft scrub brush that can dig down into the surface/fabric. When drying the top off later, use soft cotton rags or towels, not paper towels which can leave lint.
Sooner or later, something will get deposited on your convertible top. Common stains include bird droppings, tree sap, grease and other road gunk. Unfortunately, you may find that many of these stains won’t come out with standard cleaners. What you need is a strong detergent that can penetrate and release foreign matter from the material. Your local automotive supply store will have special cleaners made just for this purpose.
Protecting Your Convertible Top
It’s a good idea to maintain your convertible top with protectants. Available at most automobile supply stores, you will find liquid protectants in bottle or spray form. Note that some contain anti-fungus agents to prevent mold and mildew.
And for vinyl tops? Although vinyl doesn’t need waterproofing, vinyl tops can use some protection too. A good vinyl top protectant can prevent discoloration damage from road gunk and UV light.
How-to Apply Top Protectants
The important concept here is to avoid getting overspray from the protectant all over your car’s finish. You can avoid this by masking off your top with tape and newspaper. Use tape and newspaper to mask the areas where you don’t want over spray to land. Then apply the protectant as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
Give a Helping Hand
Besides keeping your soft top nice and clean, there is another thing you can do to help it out. Here’s the issue: today’s engineers have designed tops to fold into small spaces, but canvas and vinyl tops do not always fold flat very well. Here’s how you can help: Lower the top about halfway and then stop the mechanism. Then use your hands to smooth out the canvas or vinyl to ensure it does not bunch up when the top is lowered all the way.
Another thing you can do will help protect rear vinyl windows. The problem is that when lowered, your vinyl window may rub against the “abrasive” top material. To prevent this, you can use a section of soft cotton to protect it. As you lower your top, after smoothing wrinkles, lay the fleece across the window then close the top all the way.
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