Convertible Top owners know the joy of the first day of the year that’s warm enough to take the convertible top off…the wind-blown hair and feeling of elation and freedom. But there is a price to pay. If you’re fortunate enough to have a convertible vehicle to enjoy, your focus is probably on the vehicle sans top, not on the top itself.

A unique set of care issues come with your convertible top. Fabric, clear plastic and vinyl are far more delicate and vulnerable to radiation, acid rain, and the elements than painted surfaces. They must be protected and it can be difficult to keep it clean or clear. In addition, finding a good quality product can be a challenge.

I know the frustration that one may feel in obtaining good information on how to properly care for fabric, plastic and vinyl that are constantly barraged with UV rays, wind, rain, humidity, pollution and a number of stressors that threaten the strength, integrity and beauty of these somewhat fragile surfaces.

I would like to stress that the best cleaners for any convertible top are low-pH, low alkalinity, and gentle enough for repeated use over years. They will rely on proteins and enzymes for their safe, but effective, cleaning power. Harsher chemicals leave behind eroding residues, especially harmful to the stitching.

Be aware that rubber and vinyl surface protectants that you have for your dash and interior surfaces, especially those that have been around for years may not address the unique problems of an exterior vinyl or plastic surface. They were not made to stand up to rain; they can run, quickly streaking up your car’s paint. A quality protectant for either fabric or vinyl will have one key ingredient, powerful UV stabilizers. UV rays are the single biggest factor when attempting to protect surface that is constantly in the sun.

A quick word to the wise: If you have the opportunity to protect your convertible top—whether it’s vinyl or fabric—do it the very first day you bring it home, before it has a chance to get dirty. Pay special attention to the stitching. Manufacturers use poly-cotton thread—comparatively weak, and always the first thing to go. The stitching needs a UV sealant or protectant, if it’s to hold things together for any amount of time.

Regardless of what your convertible top sits upon, once in its reclined or removed position, we all experience a taste of the same, unmatched state of awareness–the rush of the breeze, the warmth of the sun, and a rare oneness with the world around. Here’s to tops-off!

Romero’s Auto Tops Inc.