The Comprehensive Guide to Convertible Tops
We’ve written a lot about car upholstery recently, so today we are covering how to care for convertible tops. Convertibles were made for cruising in the sun, but not so much for the rain, wind, and snow. The elements can wear down the fabric overtime, but cleaning a convertible top can help it last longer. In the end, every top will need to be repaired or replaced at some point, so we’ll
Cleaning a Convertible Top
Without cleaning a convertible top, dirt and dust collect on the fabric. The abrasiveness wears it down, and washing it off makes your top better able tor resist the weather. Luckily, cleaning a convertible top is quick. Tops can be made of two different materials: Fabric and Vinyl. Both just need a few common items to keep them clean.
When cleaning a convertible top made of vinyl, start with a car shampoo. You want to wet the top and work the shampoo in with a brush to was off any dirt and dust. Even though a rag or sponge will do the job, a good brush will really dig deep. The best brushes are either feathered or made of horsehair, and are best used with a shampoo without any gloss. Cleaning a convertible top with gloss will just dry out the fabric. Save it for when you’re actually washing the paint.
Cleaning a convertible top that is really dirty might require a cleaning solution. Again, this should be gently worked in with the brush and some water. Cleaners can handle grease or sap and pollen stains, and can be applied to both vinyl and fabric. Ones without detergent are best for cleaning a convertible top.
Afterwards, coat the vinyl top in a vinyl protectant. This prevents sun and rain damage, which will protect the tops color and texture. Cleaning your convertible top once a month will help it last longest.
Cleaning products need to formulated for fabric, but besides that they are cleaned in the same way as vinyl. You still scrub in the shampoo, wash it with cleaner, and finish with fabric protectant. As you wash it, look for spots where the fabric absorbed the water. The puddles mean that the waterproof sealant has worn off, and you may want to repair it.
Repairing a Convertible Top
Eventually the dirt, wind, and rain wear down the top and make it easy to tear. If the tear is small enough, you can repair the fabric yourself with a few items. It’s hands on and can be time consuming, but repairing a convertible top can be done in an afternoon.
First, you need to tightly sew the tear together. This is the finger-numbing work that will take a bit of time to complete. Compared to the sewing, the rest of the repair is quick and easy.
Grab some scotch tape and some strong glue, like superglue or gorilla glue. Get inside the car and tape the underside of the tear—this will make sure none of the glue seeps through. Take the glue and fill in all of the holes in the stitching. This ensures that no moistures leaks into the car.
Once that is done, it’s time to sew the fabric over the seam of the sealed tear. First, measure out the tear, and cut out a section of cloth that is one inch wider and longer. Then you’ll need to put your cramped fingers back to work sewing.
Now that the fabric is sewed, glue and seal in between the stitching. Just like when you sewed the tear, this further protects the fabric from moisture. Keep some sandpaper no hand if you want to sand away the excess glue.
At this point, you are finished repairing your convertible top!
Replacing a Convertible Top
Eventually, time and the elements will wear down your convertible top. If it’s on its last leg, it’s kinder to your interior to just put it out of its misery.
Unlike cleaning and repair, which can be done by hand, replacing a convertible top is best left to professionals and the especially handy. The job requires two people, as well as power tools and removing the panels with rivet guns.
The important thing is that we keep your convertible on the road all year! A little forethought can go a long way in protecting your convertible top, and repairs are cheap and easy.
If you would like a professional convertible top replacement, contact us today and our expert mechanics will get the job done.