When you are a convertible owner, you have a love affair for your car, and taking it out on the road gives you a great deal of satisfaction.  But when your convertible top is showing age or damage, if you don’t have the budget to invest in the best quality replacement top on the market, that can weigh you down.  Many convertible owners are seeking a budget-friendly way to fix up their convertible, whether they plan on keeping their car forever, or whether they want to spruce it up before they trade it in for a new one.  Regardless of the reason, if you are shopping for a replacement convertible top on a budget, here are a few ways you can trim the cost and get your sun-loving beauty in a new top.  


One way to save some coin is to consider alternative materials for your replacement convertible top.  Many convertible tops come in a variety of fabrics that vary based on thickness, vinyl vs. cloth, soundproofing and other factors.  This translates into options for different budget levels and can allow you to trim the cost off of your replacement convertible top by choosing a material that is not as thick or soundproof as another.  Some fabrics can be hundreds of dollars cheaper than others, even when the rest of the top is the same, so this is a great way to trim the cost of your replacement convertible top project.

When shopping with TopsOnline, we list all the fabrics available for a make, model and year and you can use the different fabric types to help you get into a price-point that you are looking for.  Keep in mind, that sometimes the factory-original cloth may even be a step lower in quality and expense than some of the premium, aftermarket options available for some soft-tops. That means you can get a factory-original material and still save money.  Yes!


Another way to trim cost on your convertible top replacement project is to choose a brand that specifically targets the budget shopper.  One such company is Xtreme Auto Tops, which uses some differences in the manufacturing process and sourcing of materials to save money that they pass onto the customer.  Replacement convertible tops at this budget price point still come with a warranty that is similar to premium brand replacement soft tops.

Another budget-saving brand is our very own private-label brand of TopsOnline replacement convertible tops.  We don’t offer all makes and models, but do cover popular models including:

These TopsOnline convertible tops use the same factory-original patterns and designs as other tops in quality materials like Haartz Twillfast RPC Cloth.  This can can help you save money compared to other brands that are using different materials. One example can be found here, with BMW 128i and 135i where the TopsOnline brand can save you more than $200.  The primary difference in TopsOnline private-label tops is the fabric, so this is a great way to get a quality top at a discount over premium materials offered.

Also, the TopsOnline brand offers the same warranty as premium replacement convertible top brands.  For example, Topsonline replacement tops that have glass windows come with the same lifetime window bond warranty that our premium manufacturers offers.

Reusing Hardware & Accessories

Convertible tops not only require the material for the top, but also the frame, pads and cables.  If you want to trim the cost of your convertible top replacement, then re-use these components when possible.  You will need to do an assessment of whether they are in good enough shape to reuse. Never reuse any components that have sustained water damage or corrosion.

The convertible top frame itself is almost always re-usable.  If it is bent or warped in any way or does not raise or lower properly, then you may check with your installer about a repair or need to replace your convertible top frame.  Most vehicles do not require convertible top frames to be replaced in their project.

Between the new convertible material and your convertible top frame, there are convertible top pads, which protect the material from friction damage when the top is raised or lowered.  If you are truly on a budget and if these pads are not worn thin or damaged, then you re-use these to save money.

Side-tension cables help the convertible top to raise and lower in an even and smooth manner.  In most cases if your top is opening and closing smoothly and not sagging or leaning to one side, then your side-tension cables are likely in good shape.  Take care not to damage them during removal and inspect them for water damage. (Check out this blog for more info on re-using your cables.)   

Re-using these elements can help you to save hundreds of dollars on your convertible top replacement.


With the advent of the Internet, there are any number of resources available to toolbox wielding auto owners who are accustomed to DIY.  We’ve found with experience that convertible top installation is one of the hardest installation jobs that you’ll run into with your car, so we would recommend leaving it to professionals.  They are efficient and can save you from a devastating error that may end up damaging the top or causing a costly leak that may require repairs on your convertible interior. Check out our list of Installers Near You to get a quote on the installation of your new convertible top.

If you have a strong automotive upholstery repair background and the available time and tools (see this blog which lists the tools you’ll need), then you will be better equipped than the typical weekender hobbyist.  For those with auto upholstery experience, TopsOnline offers installation videos on popular models that can be purchased as DVDs or available from our streaming library.  When you purchase a replacement convertible top for these select models we include the streaming installation video free of charge.

Repairing vs. Replacing

Having been in this industry since 1987, we can attest that repairing ripped or damaged convertible tops is a lot harder than it seems.  We went into this in great detail on this blog about convertible top repairs, so would recommend that you check it out if this is something you are considering.

Save Hundreds by Shopping with TopsOnline.com

Shopping with these tips in mind while on TopsOnline can help you get a new convertible top while on a budget, cutting hundreds of dollars from your overall investment and getting your convertible top looking and working great again.