Car Care / Tech

Tech: Winterizing Convertible Tops

Drop tops are great when the air is warm and the sun is shining, but in regions that have four real seasons convertibles have a lot of top-up downtime. So as the seasons turn and the dark months approach, it is wise to prep your top for the harsh conditions at hand. This thinking ahead also ensures your top will be ready to perform when the sun makes its comeback.

Know Your Top

There are two basic convertible tops: fabric and vinyl. Each material is cleaned and cared for differently so knowing what you have over your head is important. If you’re unsure about your top’s construction simply put a droplet of water on the top and press it with your thumb. If it is absorbed into the top you have a fabric top. If it sheets off, the top is made from vinyl. Be aware, a fabric top with a healthy protectant coating may not absorb as readily as a neglected top. Fabric tops are chemically treated to repel water, and time and the elements can breakdown the top’s chemical barrier so be prepared to pay extra attention to these types of tops.

Clean Your Top

Convertible tops have it tough… they bear the brunt of Mother Nature’s worst… the battering sun, tough contaminants like tree sap and bird bombs, rain, snow, and everyday pollen and fallout. Any of our car washes will do a great job for regular cleaning, but if you go too long between washings or your top is subjected to a lot of dirt and grime, use our Convertible Top Cleaner. It works great on both cloth and vinyl tops, maintains your top’s factory appearance, adds a fresh citrus fragrance, and leaves no residue to attract dust and dirt.

The key factor of concern when it comes to cleaning convertible tops is agitation… gentle agitation. We recommend one of our soft Microfiber Cleaning Pads or a Horse Hair Interior Brush in most situations. In the case of a fabric top that needs a little extra horsepower, a Nylon Carpet & Upholstery Brush can be used.

Once your top is clean, seal the deal with our Fabric Protectant. This product guards against future oil- and water-based stains, increases the water repellency of the top material, and guards against fading by UV rays. It’s a triple-win. Further, its non-silicone formula will not attract dust or dirt. Apply two to three times per year, more often in sunny climates, or whenever water stops beading on the top’s surface. We also recommend doubling down and applying two coats of Fabric Protectant to build up more repellency and significantly increase product durability.


Know Your Window

Plastic or glass?… that is the conundrum when it comes windows. Glass is best. It’s easy to care for… just treat it like any other window in your car. Vinyl is another story. It tends to age faster than the top material and can turn on you in any combination of ways. It can yellow to the point you can no longer see through it. It can get scratched up and hinder vision, and it can develop cracks which lead to a leaking top. Also pay attention to the polycotton stitching. It keeps the window, glass or plastic, in place and benefits greatly from proper care.

Clean Your Window

There are three products to reach for when addressing plastic windows. First evaluate the condition of the window and determine if the plastic material is soft and pliable or heavier and harder. Most plastic windows, especially those that are cleaned regularly, will do well with our Plastic Cleaner. It returns plastic to its original brilliance and won’t scratch as it cleans. After cleaning, use Plastic Polish to remove blemishes, defects, and restore the plastic surface to its original clarity. We have a kit, The PFM® Plastic Care Kit (pictured below) that covers all the bases and saves you money compared to buying each product separately. If you’re working on harder plastic windows, try Correcting Cream for the blemish removal step.

Winterization Tips & Tricks

Don’t store or even park car overnight with top down. This invites creases and can accelerate wear.

Sun and the elements are the enemy. If you can’t park in a garage use a quality car cover.

Be sure top folds properly, fold the top halfway and tuck the fabric properly before completing the process.

Consider putting a microfiber towel in the fold of the window so it won’t rub against itself as you drive and cause blemishes.

Clean entire top, don’t just spot clean as this can discolor the top.

Do not use ammonia, bleach, detergent, alcohol, vinegar, bleach, silicone, or petroleum-based products as they can compromise the top’s water repellency and cloud vinyl windows.

Be aware that soft tops do not show dirt like paint, so wash the top every time you wash your car.

Do not use paper towels on vinyl windows, they can cause surface scratches.



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