Convertible Care: When to Repair the Top

A convertible car is a unique and fun driving experience that allows the driver to take advantage of cooler weather. Make sure your convertible is up to the task before you try to put it down. At VIP European Auto Interiors, our mechanics can repair and replace your convertible top so you can hit the road with the breeze in your hair.

Soft-tops are made from fabric-like materials such as polyester or vinyl, rubber or canvas. Popular soft-top vehicles include the Mazda MX-5 Miata, Ford Mustang and the Chevrolet Corvette.

Hardtop convertibles come in two forms: detachable and retractable. Both are made from sturdy materials such as steel, plastic or aluminum. Detachable tops, which were more popular in pre-1990 vehicles, consist of a singular roof piece that can be removed from the car and stored elsewhere. Retractable tops are multi-piece units that mechanically collapse and are stored in the back of the car. U.S. News and World Report ranks BMW 4 Series, Mercedes-Benz SL and the Jeep Wrangler as some of the best hardtop convertibles of 2019.

Does My Convertible Need Repairs? 

The telltale sign of a convertible in distress is its top not opening or closing at all. This is most likely caused by the pump or motor malfunctioning or not getting power. If it’s not the pump or motor, then the relay fuse or the convertible switch might be bad, or a hinge may be damaged or misaligned.

If your top opens or closes slowly, it could be time for a checkup. Sluggish movement can be caused by a weak lift cylinder, low fluid levels, corroded relay contacts, air in the lines or worn out cylinders. In some cases, the car battery may also be the problem.

Remember, don’t force movement! Forcing a mechanically retractable top to operate could cause more damage to your vehicle.

When You Need a Replacement 

Due to the material, wear and tear is more common on soft-top convertibles and the lifespan ranges, on average, from 3-6 years.

In both hardtops and soft-tops, a hole in the roof, water inside the car, sagging, rust or a broken top window are calls for an immediate replacement. Leaving any of these unchecked could damage the inside of your car.

Soft-top roofs can begin to pull at the seams which is a sign it needs replacing.

Mold and mildew can form if the tops are not clean. In some cases, mold and mildew can be treated at home, though severe growth should be inspected by a mechanic to see if your top needs replacing.

Both soft and hardtops can experience discoloration from the sun, but this is generally aesthetic and does not typically need attention.


Here are a few tips for prolonging your convertible’s life:

1.    Do not attempt to lower top while vehicle is in motion.

Ever stick your hand out of a car window? That air rushing through your fingers exerts a lot of pressure on your hand. Your roof is much larger than your hand, therefore the wind is putting more strain on the opening/closing mechanism and roof. This strain can damage your convertible over time.

2.    Do not force parts to move.

If a part does not move as it is supposed to, never try to force it to work. Adding force to the mix creates the risk of breaking part of your vehicle or harming yourself.

3.    Keep your car out of the sun

The most damaging thing to the look of your car is UV rays from the sun. Keep your convertible top up to protect the interior, park it in the shade whenever possible, cover it or store it in a garage to keep the paint looking like new.

4.    Clean your soft-top before it gets dirty to prevent mildew growth

Looks can be deceiving – a clean convertible can still be susceptible to mold and mildew. Although most soft-tops are mildew resistant, it doesn’t mean mold and mildew can’t form on a film of dust or dirt. Use Raggtopp Cleaner and Raggtopp Protectant to ensure your top will be clean and protected before any problems occur.

VIP European Auto Interior can provide you with a free quote and is well-equipped to handle all your convertible top repair needs. Let us ensure you make the most out of the fall!