Convertible Soft Top Care

Choosing a Convertible?
Convertibles are more expensive to service and repair!
Check your warranty options for FREE before you BUY!


Below are a few quick tips for convertible soft top care. I posted the list of top care stuff I use with pics at the bottom of the page. Regularly clean the lower part of the roof which is most exposed to dirt. The average recommended maintenance period depends on the storage: every six months for garage kept cars, every three months for outdoor kept cars or when the top accumulates much dirt.

Choose a soft brush, a sponge or lint-free towels for this purpose. I use this Raggtopp Convertible Top Vinyl Cleaner & Protectant Kit for this purpose, it does not include towels but is great in all other ways and is good for both cloth and vinyl. I also opted for this one for it being non-toxic and biodegradable. Environment care also matters anyway;)

Vacuum cleaner also works great to remove dirt and dust from hard-to-reach crannies and folds. Leaving the folds dirty causes increased wear and cracking. Just do it when the top is dry.

Proper maintenance prevents the damage most soft tops on convertible cars sustain over time, such as fading from UV rays, cracking and staining. Although basic soft top care procedures for all types of ragtops are the same, methods slightly differ depening of the material the roof is made out of - canvas / fabric or vinyl and the cleaner of your choice. First of all, define if your car roof material is fabric, vinyl or vinyl coated cloth (some drivers don’t know!).

Vinyl And Vinyl Coated Fabric Care

First off, avoid washing the roof in the direct sunlight. Find a shaded place, wash it before noon or when the sun is not already so high or better go to a self-service car wash.

Make sure the roof is not hot before you start

First wet the top then spray a thin layer of the cleaner and start gently removing the dirt with the sponge. A trick! Wetting the surface will help you spend less cleaner which is good for both your pocket and the environment. However, that part depends on the cleaner brand. Some recommend not to water the top before applying the cleaner, such as Meguiars #39 Heavy Duty Vinyl Cleaner. This one is also effective but I prefer the one I mentioned above for being no so damaging to ecology.

Wash the cleaner away with water before wiping the roof with towels.

Let the roof dry before your put it down to prevent mildew and must.

Apply convertible top protectant to prevent cracking, the damage vinyl roofs suffer most. The one I mentioned above includes a universal cleaner and vinyl protentant. The best time to apply protectant is before summer season when the effect of the sun is the strongest, and before winter furies.

Fabric / Canvas Tops

Cloth tops don’t need such a frequent wash as vinyl ones. You can easily remove dust, lint and small dirt elements by the means of a sticky paper roller, the same as used for cleaning clothes, or vacuum clean it. Just do so regularly.

However, you’ll have to apply protectant on a canvas top once the protection applied at the factory or during the previous maintenance wears off.
I use this Convertible Fabric Top Cleaning and Care Kit , it’s really cheap though I prefer Raggtopp kit as a cleaner. The protectant prevents water leakage and soaking, protects the fabric from UV-rays, dust and dirt elements and prolongs the lifespan of the fabric. The best time to apply protectant is before summer season when the effect of the sun is the strongest, and before winter furies, no need to explain why.

How To Wash Fabric Tops?

Before washing:

  • Choose cleaners designed specifically for canvas / fabric tops.
  • Avoid washing the roof in the direct sunlight. Find a shaded place, wash it before noon or when the sun is not already so high or better go to a self-service car wash.
  • Make sure the roof is not hot before you start
  • Use a soft brush to wipe off any pieces of dirt
  • Use sticky paper roller to remove smaller particles and dust

Washing:

  • The cleaner may go as a spray foam or a solution that can be applied by a sponge or from a spray mottle, either will do as long as it’s for canvas tops.
  • Don’t pour any water on the top, just evenly spread the cleaner you’ve got on it and start making gentle movements by a sponge, very soft cloth or specialized brush. Don’t use just any brush or common cloth to prevent lint! Apply extra cleaner on problem spots.
  • When you are done removing dirt, wash away the cleaner with clean water or remove by a clean sponge. Rinse the sponge in clean water after absorbing every new portion of cleaner from the canvas.
  • Continue until the water is clean.
  • Make sure the cleaner or brush doesn’t contact the plastic window!

When your are done washing, let the roof dry until it’s a little damp and apply the protectant

How do I know when it’s time to apply protectant?

The protectant is usually applied after washing the fabric roof. Generally, the frequency of protectant application depends on how much you use your sport car and where you keep it. For regularly driven outdoor-kept cars it’s once in about 6 months, for garage-kept cars or more or less occasionally driven this is once a year or even less frequently. If you are not sure whether it’s time do a simple water test. Put the top up and pour some water on it. If it the top soaks and doesn’t bead water at all, it’s not before time that you have applied particle protection. If the water beads unevenly, some beads seem half-soaked into the fabric, it could wait a bit but better apply it now for you want to prevent dust and dirt particles from penetrating the canvas for better durability. If the top bids water well, protectant can wait till another day. Just remember to clean the fabric really well before applying the protectant.

Soft Top Care Precautions:

  • Never wash the tops with cleaners or powders you generally use in household for washing dishes, sink, toilet or any other chlorine containing essences! Although they will do the cleaning part really well, you will say good-bye to your soft-top very soon after that “top care” episode for it will start cracking and leaking. If you bought your soft-top for less than $5000, roof replacement will cost your a very essential percent of the vehicle cost.
  • Never let bird dropping stay on your top, not just on soft tops but also on hardtops and on any other part! Putting aside aesthetics, bird-bombs are very acidic and may damage the coating sooner than you think. Wipe it off as soon as you notice it and thank the God that cows don’t fly. For this purpose you should always have bottle of no-salt seltzer water in your car or a pack of bird dropping wipes, no matter what roof you have. The more expensive the car, the more it will cost to fix the surface damage from a bird-bomb.
  • The sensitivity of roof material on different makes and models differs, so may preferable or even only suitable convertible roof cleaners, protectants and recommendations regarding the care in general like maintenance intervals. More precise information can be found in the manufacturer’s manual which is often not available together with older sport car models and need to be purchased separately.
  • Approach the choice of roof cleaning chemicals seriously for the lifespan of your roof depends of the quality of cleaner, consult the manual whenever possible. For maximum durability use pH neutral car cleaners or shampoos. I’d recommend the following brands: Renovo Fabric Soft Top Dry Cleaner, Porsche Cabrio Top Cleaner, Wolfstein’s RaggTopp cleaner (for soft tops) ; Renovo Vinyl Soft Top Cleaner or Meguiars #39 Heavy Duty Vinyl Cleaner (vinyl tops, deep cleaning).
Choosing a Convertible?
Convertibles are more expensive to service and repair!
Check your warranty options for FREE before you BUY!