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Winter Maintenance for Your Convertible Top

Photo: Porsche
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Justin Pritchard
Convertibles need special care in winter months
That convertible cruiser, sports car or roadster is hardly a good investment if it stays in the garage for half the year. Countless Canadians are catching on to this and demanding convertibles that can be used year-round. For that reason, it's now more common to see a Camaro Cabriolet or an MX-5 driving around in the winter months, covered in snow and salt.

And why not?

Automakers have made strides towards unmatched levels of year-round performance and durability from their products, and convertibles are no exception.

Douglas Haartz is the International Sales Manager at Haartz Corporation -- a company that creates textiles used by Tier 1 automotive suppliers in convertible tops for Audi, BMW, Rolls Royce, Aston Martin, Porsche, Chrysler, and many others.

"Today's soft-top convertibles are true, all-season vehicles," commented Haartz.

"The evolution of convertible-top materials in the past several decades has enhanced the market for all-season enjoyment. Through innovations in surface or combining composites, the owner today can be assured that the top material is up to the challenge of everyday use. All materials used in modern convertibles is engineered to withstand the four seasons, and what Mother Nature can dish out."
Porsche Winter test
Photo: Matthieu Lambert

However, just like any other system in your car, truck or SUV, convertible tops require a little extra attention to maintain their appearance and functionality in the long run -- especially when they're driven in wintertime.

Here are a few tips to keep that convertible looking its finest for years to come:
  • Frequent washes/rinses at your favourite coin-operated car wash are a great idea. These will maintain the shine and luster built into your top by removing abrasive salt and sand that can diminish the top's finish over time. Hand washing is ideal, but soft-cloth car washes can be used, too.
  • Treatments that offer cloth-top protection and water repellency are available, and can be applied ahead of winter driving for an added layer of protection. Haartz mentions "a good cleaning and retreatment application several times per year will keep your top looking the best."
  • After a snowfall, remove all ice and snow from the convertible roof. Don't hack and chip away at ice or heavy snow, and be sure to use a soft brush or your hand wrapped in a mitt. Do not use a hard-bristled brush or ice scraper. Let you car warm up or park in a warm garage ahead of time to use temperature, not force, to loosen snow and ice. Heavy brushes and scraping could possibly damage your roof fabric.
  • Don't operate your roof in cold temperatures. There's no need to cycle your roof between "up" and "down" positions in cold-weather months, anyways.
  • This rule goes for all year: Don't put your roof down if it's wet. This can cause premature wear, and is an invitation for damaging mold and mildew.
  • Be careful with that ice scraper when cleaning frost or ice from your windows. One slip, and it could scratch your convertible top. Use it with extra care, or pre-heat your convertible to melt frost from the windows ahead of time.
Justin Pritchard
Justin Pritchard
Automotive expert