9 Signs You Need a New Convertible Top


When you’re in the convertible top business, every convertible you see gets your attention. Here are a few things I’ve said this month alone:

Beautiful two-piece look Miata top. Looks like new!

Wow! Burgundy Haartz Stayfast Cloth on a Sebring Silver Metallic Honda S2000 — I never would have thought of that combo on that model. Looks great.

That top must be leaking all over the place. What are they waiting for to replace it!?!

Let’s just say that my family (all the way down to the 4 year old) can spot a convertible, and often they can see whether or not it needs a new top.

You may not have the benefit of more than 30 years of working with convertibles like our team at TopsOnline, so how do you know if it’s time to invest in your car and replace your convertible top? Allow us to help.

Here are the top 9 signs that it’s time to replace your convertible top:

  1. A hole in the top. Yes, we’ll start with the obvious. Duct tape and prayers should only last a short time if you fall in this category before you replace your top. For the integrity of your vehicle’s interior and the resale value of your car, if you’ve got a hole in your convertible top, it’s time to replace your top, ASAP.

  2. Pulling at the seam(s). Convertible top seams are normally heat-sealed and when in the proper operating condition, should never show pulls or stress at the seams. If you see this, then you may be past the life of your current top and should replace it. Top Tip: There are four times to check for stress on your top’s seams. First, when it’s in the up position. Next, during both the raising and the lowering process. Last, when your top is in the down position. 

  3. Discoloration on your top. Most convertible top fabrics come from the manufacturer with a 3- to 6-year warranty, depending on the brand. If you are past this date range and see discoloration, it’s an indication that you may be past the shelf life for your top and could have other issues with the top’s construction. Maintain the integrity of your vehicle and protect your car’s value with a new top.

  4. Mold or mildew on the top. This sign can have a more subtle diagnosis, because sometimes your top just needs some TLC to restore it to its former glory. If you see mold or mildew on the fabric of your top, clean the area gently. For vinyl, use a vinyl cleaner (Raggtopp makes a high-quality cleaner that we recommend) and for fabric tops stick with a mild soap and water (Raggtopp also has a cleaner for cloth tops that is great). If the mold or mildew is on the window unit, then you should clean plastic windows with water (to rinse off dirt and debris) and then use a soft cloth with mild soap and water to clean the surface in a side-to-side or up-and-down pattern (not in a circular motion). For glass windows, use a water-based cleaner, but try to avoid letting the cleaner come into contact with your seams and seals. If you’ve done these things and still see mold or mildew, or have recurrence on your cloth, you should consider replacing your top. Top Tip: Avoid using commercial car washes and hand wash your top only to preserve its life. Never use spray wax or chemical rinses on your top to avoid damage to the fabric and window panel.

  5. Water within the car. Sometimes seam-stress, seal gaps and other issues are present, but not readily seen. When this is the case, the most common symptom that there is a problem is when there is moisture and water within your car. Ignoring this kind of an issue can result in water damage and increased replacement cost for your car’s interior, so it is worth the expense to install a fresh top.

  6. Sagging in the top. This is often a sign of a bent or improperly installed top frame, but it can be a sign of aging fabric or vinyl. It’s best to get an automotive upholstery or trim shop to look at your top to see if the frame needs replacing or if it’s the top. In most all cases, especially if sagging is visible, when your frame is replaced, you should also install a new convertible top to get the best fit for your vehicle. Although you may not notice wear on the top’s material, when you take it off the frame and go to reattach it, the age of the material often starts to show in how well it handles and responds.

  7. Rusting convertible top frame. Rust on a convertible top frame will ultimately damage the convertible top, causing discoloration, snags or tears. So, it’s important to check the convertible top frame itself for age and rust. If you find rust on the frame, have a professional automotive upholstery and trim shop remove your convertible top, sand and paint the top frame, and replace the convertible top.

  8. Window damage. Damage to convertible top windows can come in a variety of ways, so I’ll put them all in the same category for simplicity. Most often the window damage is a scratch, shatter or break in the window itself — these are obvious when you are no longer to see out of the rear window (or worse, if you’ve got glass all over the inside of your car). But sometimes the window can become delaminated from the convertible topping material around it, which is just another way of saying that the window and top material are separating. In most all of these cases (except a minor scratch) the top should be replaced for safety. Top Tip: For some make and model tops with a two-piece convertible top construction, you can replace the convertible top window section without replacing the convertible top cover section.

  9. Excessive sound in the car. We all know that convertibles can be have more road noise than a traditional vehicle, but when you have excessive noise, it can be a sign that your top has aged and needs to be replaced.

With these tips, we recommend you give your convertible top a thorough inspection to see if you should be getting a new top. As always, TopsOnline is happy to take your calls and questions about replacing your top and choosing the right top for your vehicle. And if we see you out on the road, we’ll be sure to say “hello” and give you a thumbs up or down about your top’s condition. Shop our selection of convertible tops.