In a city nicknamed, “The Valley of the Sun” it’s almost as if convertible tops were made for Arizona. Though we have about four months of intense heat, the rest of the year has fairly agreeable weather making Arizona ideal for convertibles. Those months of heat and dry dusty air can take its toll on the delicate material of the convertible top, though. Caring for a convertible top to keep it looking new and free of leaks or tears will take a bit of work, but it is worth it to feel the wind through your hair as you cruise down the 101 or head up north to Flagstaff. Here are our best tips on convertible top care in Phoenix.
A convertible car requires a bit more TLC than your average car. Depending on whether your convertible top is made of fabric or vinyl, there are different methods you’ll need to apply to keep it in prime condition. Soft tops will deteriorate over time due to weather conditions, especially when left in the sun. Keeping your convertible protected from the elements in a garage or covered parking space as well as ensuring it is regularly and correctly cleaned and maintained can help extend the life of your convertible top.
Convertible cars should be washed every two weeks, especially during the summertime because the harsh weather is especially difficult on the soft top. How you clean your convertible will depend greatly on whether your top is made of vinyl, cloth, or canvas. If you’re not sure what yours is made of, refer to your automotive manufacturer, owner’s manual, or perform the fabric or vinyl convertible test.
Use a gentle car shampoo and a convertible top brush with feathered bristles to release dirt from the textured vinyl of the convertible top. Wash the top as the rest of the vehicle but avoid using shampoos that enhance gloss. While they may be good for the exterior paint, they’re not made for convertible tops. For really dirty surfaces, use a cleaner formulated to breakdown grime and grease with a cleanser that does not contain soap or any kind of detergent. Certain convertible top cleansers come with built-in protection against mold or mildew. Simply spray the top with water and then the cleanser, using the brush and scrub gently and rinse thoroughly.
Once the area is clean, use a vinyl protectant to preserve the texture and color to help prevent fading or cracking. Many protectants do more than just prevent discoloration. They protect against the sun’s harsh UV rays, repel grease, oils, and dirt without making the top look glossy or greasy. Tip: You can preserve the nice condition of a new vinyl top by protecting it from day one. Once damage starts, it cannot be reversed. Weekly washes with a mild shampoo, vinyl cleaner, and applying protectant once a month is a great way to protect your vinyl top.
Fabric top cleaning is similar to vinyl top maintenance; however, you must use products made specifically for fabric. You’ll also want to use a stiffer brush to scrub and release dirt from within the fibers of the fabric. Fabric tops are made to repel water and any contaminants due to heavy treatments performed during manufacturing. Yet, this repellent doesn’t last forever. In fact, it’s longevity is based simply on how well it is cared for, as well as environmental factors. Monitoring its ability to repel water is key. Regular washings, unfortunately, can reduce its ability to repel water over time. Monitor the area closely. If you see puddles of water or wet spots where water has seeped into the fabric, it’s time to have the top treated.
Apply protectants only after the area has been washed thoroughly and has had time to dry completely. Do not saturate the area—a few light coats with ample drying time between each application is best. Protectant can be applied monthly to maintain an efficient degree of repellent.
Care & Maintenance
No matter the material of your convertible top, stay clear of products containing bleach, citrus, petroleum, or silicone products as these substances reduce the top’s resistance to water, cause deterioration of seams and seals, and may even void your factory warranty. A gentle detergent free shampoo without a glossing agent is most recommended for washing your convertible top. Here are some other tips to care for your convertible this summer and all through the year:
- Avoid taking your convertible through an automatic car wash. Always hand wash.
- Repair minor tears, leaks, and clear debris right away. Minor problems can turn into big problems in no time.
- Rinse convertible top cleansers immediately and thoroughly after washing to avoid fading.
- Wash plastic convertible windows with a soft microfiber towel and water only. Do not use paper towels or glass cleaner. Glass cleaners leave behind spots and create fogging over time.
- Do not store a convertible for an extended period of time with the top down.
- Close convertible tops during monsoons.
- Ensure areas are clear when putting the top down to avoid damage to plastic or glass windows and frame components.
- Do not force the top closed if it malfunctions. Seek help from a professional immediately.
By caring for your convertible top properly, you’ll be able to enjoy all the benefits of owning a convertible in Arizona all through the year. You can cruise down Route 66, drive up to the Grand Canyon to spy one of the most beautiful natural wonders, or drive over to Old Town Scottsdale for some shopping and good eats. Feeling confident that your convertible is in the best possible condition ensures you’ll enjoy the ride.