With each adventure and Sunday drive, it is important that you properly maintain your convertible top to increase the longevity and keep it looking sharp.The convertible’s soft top is exposed to as many harsh conditions as other surfaces on your car, however it is not remotely as resilient. Composed of more fragile materials, your soft top is not as strong as the steel parts that make up the rest of your prized vehicle. Your convertible top was made to handle day-to-day wear, perhaps not as much as other parts of your car but it is still impressive just how durable your soft top is. However, it does require specific care that is a little different than the maintenance routine you’ve established for other parts of your vehicle. The type of top, vinyl or cloth, will determine the specific care your convertible top needs. Vinyl tops were originally designed to mimic the look of leather. They appear to be a little shiny when compared to the matte look of cloth tops. Vinyl tops are harder, smoother, and easier to clean in comparison to cloth. If your vinyl top were to become damaged and/or begins to deteriorate, you must replace it as it is difficult to repair. Vinyl and cloth tops can both show signs of fading and wear from the sunlight. Cloth can become faded and shrink, vinyl can also become faded, dry out, and crack. For each, there are a few things you must consider to keep it clean and preserve it. The following are some tips to keep your convertible looking great for years to come…
Don’t Wait to Clean Your Soft or Vinyl Top
Considering the sensitivity of the materials, one of the easiest ways you can allow everyday life and environmental contaminants to ruin your convertible’s top is to let them sit on the surface too long. Such contaminants can become embedded into the fabric of your cloth top rather easily. You should clean your vinyl or soft top as soon as you can when you spot bugs, sap, debris, bird droppings, excessive pollen, or other contaminants. Take the time to thoroughly look over your top for any indication of soiling, and when you discover such, clean them quickly to avoid set-in stains that are much more difficult to remove.
Keep Your Convertible Out of the Sun
As you know, the sun’s UV (ultraviolet) rays can be extremely damaging to many things including all surfaces on your vehicle. Your convertible top is no exception. It is always nice to take advantage of a sunny day and wash your car. However, as tempting as it may seem to wash your vehicle in direct sunlight, you should never do so. Car wash soap and other chemicals, including protective coatings and wax, dry too fast on an exceptionally hot surface when positioned under direct sunlight. This is why it is important to clean your convertible top in the shade or inside a car wash.
Using the Right Brushes
Car detailing professionals will be the first to let you know that it is important that you own an assortment of brushes to clean the inside and outside of any vehicle. This is also true when it comes to your convertible top. Certain brushes were designed with specific surfaces in mind. The brush you use on your steel wheels and rubber tires is going to be much different than what you will use on your cloth or vinyl convertible top. We advise our customers to use a soft bristle brush that will be easy on the soft fabric and not result in any damages or blemishes on the vinyl top.
Be Sure to Get Out All Dirt and Debris
The seams in your convertible top, as well as around your rear window and under the edge at the bottom of it are notorious for trapping dirt and debris. Before you spray your convertible with water, take the time to blow and brush off the top. You can also use a brush attachment on your vacuum to get it cleaned off. Cloth tops are more commonly harmed by excessive dust and dirt as it is known to settle into the fabric’s weave and is quite abrasive. This is why it is imperative to act fast when it comes to cleaning dirt and debris off of your convertible quickly.
Spray the Entire Top with Water
If you have cleaned spots on cloth car seats, you are aware that even if you are able to get rid of the spots, a large ring will form around where the spot was. For this reason, you have to wet and clean the entire seat. This holds true for convertible tops. You cannot treat just one spot, otherwise a large ring will appear after it is dry. You must spray the entire top with water and keep it wet throughout the cleaning process. When you are finished, rinse it off thoroughly then let it dry.
Be Cautious Using Chemicals
As with the brushes, there are certain chemicals designed to clean each specific area of your automobile. So whether you are cleaning your car at home, taking it to the car wash there are certain chemicals in the form of cleaners, conditioners, and protectants that are necessary for the high quality job you are expecting. From a pH balanced washing soap to leather conditioner for your seats or the polymer sealant designed to protect your wheels while making them look as good as new. It is vital that you use the right chemicals when cleaning, preserving, and protecting your soft convertible top. Vinyl tops may be cleaned with the car wash soap you are using on the rest of your ride, just as long as it does not have any gloss enhancers as these can be damaging. However, cloth tops require their own cleaner. You should never use dish soap or other household cleaners on your convertible top. Trust us, good products are worth the investment.
Take It Easy
When cleaning your convertible top, you must be gentle. There is not a single surface on your automobile that is able to withstand an aggressive and abrasive buffing with towels and brushes, or pressurized water and air. This is the reason that soft-touch car washes use cloth and foam brushes instead of the old vinyl ones. These new cleaning tools gently agitate any contaminants while assisting the chemical cleaners in doing their job. Using a coarse brush and/or towel will leave swirl marks in your paint and abrasions on your convertible top. To adequately clean the window fitted in the top, use clear water and a microfiber towel or a clear-plastic cleaner that will help you avoid pesky water spots and scratching. A good clean does not require rubbing so hard the paint off.
Cover All the Areas
When you put your convertible top up, it will cover portions on the tops of the quarter panels as well as the trunk lid. When you clean the top, make sure that you are getting in the lower edge of your convertible top. This area is prone to build up of dirt and debris so you must retract your top a little to get well into each crevice.
Dry then Apply
As it is being built in the factory, convertible tops are treated to withstand the harmful effects from UV rays. However, that treatment does not last forever. After you clean your convertible top with the proper cleaners, you have to let it dry prior to applying any protectant or sealant. Keep your top up while it dries so it does not become mildewed or covered in spots. After it dries completely, coat your convertible top with a protectant that is specific to the type of top on your convertible, be it cloth or vinyl. This will help keep you top protected from UV rays waterproofing it for approximately 2 months.
Failing to protect your cloth or vinyl tops will cause them to deteriorate as time passes. This is the reason it is important to remain proactive by cleaning any contaminants on your convertible top immediately using the proper products and treating it consistently with a protective coating. Check your owner’s manual for maintenance recommendations to provide the best care for your convertible top. This will also inform you whether or not you can take your vehicle to an automatic car wash– some specific models do not suggest this so be sure to check your manual before heading off to the car wash.
Professional washes and detailing make a huge difference to the looks and longevity of your car or truck!
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Bailey’s Car Wash & Detailing
Bailey’s is a local and family owned car wash providing a range of washing and detailing options for our customers! Since 2002, we have been providing outstanding services to the Greater Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky area. Our experience, customer service, and overall value is what sets Bailey’s apart from our competition.
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