Proper Care for the Convertible Top and Preparation for Winter


Convertible owners have every reason to rejoice when the sun shows its face in spring and the folding roof can finally be opened after a long winter break. Often, the convertible remains in the garage over the winter months, leaving noticeable marks on the fabric roof. To ensure that the convertible top shines again and remains beautiful and especially watertight in the coming years, car owners should not neglect the important care of the convertible top. reveals what matters!

Convertible top opened for cleaning

Car wash is possible, but hand washing is better

Generally, visiting a car wash with a modern convertible is no problem. The material, whether fabric top or hardtop, is not damaged by the soft brushes and cleaning agents. However, the use of hot wax should be avoided as the wax settles in the pores of the fabric, resulting in unsightly white streaks.

Depending on the car wash, there are even special cleaning programs for convertibles, where the brushes move over the car with less pressure. However, this option is rare and can only be found in large car washes. Those driving a classic, like Mercedes SL R129 or BMW Z3, should avoid car washes. Hand washing is much gentler on the convertible and therefore better suited. Car owners can decide how intensive the cleaning should be and which care products are really necessary.

Important basic rule: A high-pressure cleaner can damage the fabric roof! Therefore, it should not be used for cleaning the convertible top. Instead, it's sufficient to first remove coarse dirt with a soft brush. Alternatively, a sponge can also be used, always rubbing in the direction of the fabric structure to avoid leaving marks on the material.

Beware, avoid aggressive cleaning agents!

Light dirt, pollen, or sand can be removed with a dry brush. If necessary, some cold, clear water can help with cleaning afterwards. Only if stains remain on the convertible top after this process is it advisable to use a cleaning agent.

However, it is essential to ensure that it is a special top cleaner that is gentle on materials and acid-free. Aggressive chemicals can attack and damage the material. As a result, the fabric roof fades, becomes spotty, or even cracks.

Even if it's a special care product, it doesn't hurt to test the product in an inconspicuous place. Each fabric roof has its peculiarities, so damage can never be completely ruled out. At the same time, the effectiveness of the cleaning agent can never be guaranteed.

In any case, the manufacturer's usage instructions should be read and followed to carry out the cleaning as effectively and consequence-free as possible. The use of general stain removers, commonly used in households, should be strictly avoided.

An impregnation protects against dirt

Convertible top made of leatherAfter cleaning, it is advisable to apply a special impregnation to protect the convertible top from new dirt. The material should first dry completely to ensure the best possible adhesion of the impregnation. It is generally important to let the convertible top dry after each cleaning and rain in the closed state to prevent mold or mildew stains. Also, odors in the vehicle can be prevented this way.

It is advisable to choose an impregnation with UV protection, which also protects against fading from sunlight. A convertible top has many rubber seals that absolutely need to be cared for. Special care products based on silicone are suitable for this. This prevents the rubber from becoming brittle or cracked over the years, making it leaky.

Depending on the convertible model, there is a plastic window in the rear part of the top, which also shows signs of wear over time. The material usually becomes cloudy, brittle, or scratchy, which not only affects the optics but also safety. Unfortunately, replacing the plastic windows is not easy, so it's better to focus on early care.

What matters in top care

  • Remove dirt as soon as possible
  • Avoid car wash, perform hand wash
  • Remove light dirt with a soft brush
  • If necessary: use as little cold water as possible
  • Aggressive cleaning agents only in an emergency!
  • Thoroughly dry the top after cleaning
  • An impregnation protects against new dirt
  • Don't forget seals, frame & windows

A hardtop makes convertible care easier

Owners of a convertible with a hardtop, i.e., a steel roof painted in the car color, have significantly less work. Visiting the car wash is no problem, and there are usually no differences compared to a classic coupe. If necessary, even polishing the paint is possible to achieve a radiant shine.

However, even owners of a convertible with a steel roof cannot avoid caring for the mechanics. The frame is usually more complex and more robust because a steel roof has a much higher weight than a light fabric roof. Regular lubrication is recommended, but the manufacturer's specifications must be strictly adhered to. A look at the corresponding convertible manual provides information about the need for care.

Cabrio mit Hardtop

The convertible top frame as a necessary basis

The convertible top frame has a significant influence on the functionality and tightness of the convertible top, so the care and inspection of the mechanics should not be forgotten. In the first step, the frame should be cleaned of dust and dirt with a soft cloth. The convertible top box should also be cleaned, as leaves and other dirt usually accumulate here.

If necessary, the joints should be greased. The correct procedure can be found