With snow piling on the news in so much of the United States, we thought it was time to remind all of our convertible owning friends about some best practices for dealing with snow and ice on your soft top. While all of the convertible tops sold by TopsOnline are made to withstand snow and cold, you still want to do your best to relax the burden on the top if you want it to last longer and look it best.
First, our no-brainer tip is to do your best to keep your convertible in the garage (or in your car port) at night and when you are home. This minimizes the duration and severity of winter moisture problems on your canvas or vinyl top. But you can’t keep your beauty indoors always, and your convertible may even be your daily driver, requiring you to ease her out of her shelter when winter has shown its full force, so we’ll quickly move on.
If you can’t keep your convertible garaged, or if you were out and ran into winter moisture, don’t fear. The first step is to deliver a preventative blow to an iced car by prepping your doors so they won’t freeze shut, by treating them before the snow and ice arrive. This means that you can jump in your convertible when it’s iced over and start the engine, allowing the interior to warm up. Warming up your interior will go a long way to loosening any ice that has built along the top so you can get the ice off without damaging your soft top. YourMechanic.com recommends using a lubricating spray applied to the door seals. They have several tips on how to prevent doors from freezing and deal with them if they are.
Ideally you should run your interior heater for 10+ minutes to get the cabin nice and toasty, which will loosen the ice layer on your soft top*. When you start to brush away any ice, don’t reach for a scraper or anything rigid -- this puts your soft top at risk of damage. Instead reach for your soft bristle brush or soft gloved hand and use a sweeping motion to move the ice off the top’s surface. If the snow is freshly fallen, then you you can use a cloth hand mitt to sweep it away. If you are out and don’t have your kit with you, you can use a soft cloth wrapped around your hand (or even soft gloves). (*Just a friendly reminder: before you start your car in a heavy snow, make sure to clear away all snow from your exhaust pipe, so that you don’t risk the exhaust backing up into the car. It’s a simple step but it’s really important!)
Keep in mind that with winter weather comes harsh chemicals and salt-treated roads that will spray up on your convertible top, so keep your soft top clean between snow falls so that it will last longer. We recommend using RaggTopp products to clean and also protect your convertibles soft top. They have a Protectant Spray for vinyl and for another version for Cloth soft tops that can be especially helpful to protect in extreme cold (and hot) temperatures. When cleaning your convertible top, they also offer gentle and effective cleaners that are the industry standard. For the best care of your soft top, we recommend hand washing your convertible. However, in in winter weather temperatures that may be difficult. If you can’t hand wash, then a coin-operated wash that you operate by hand will do. We do not recommend automatic car washes that you drive through. The heavy brushes are not gentle on your soft top and can accelerate wear or cause damage.
Image Courtesy of: Klaus Berdiin Jensen
Also, a quick note on windows. We’d like to see windows de-iced by heating the interior and using a soft cloth to wipe off the ice. Please don’t use a scraper on plastic windows. Some convertible tops also offer a heated glass window that will have a built-in defrosting mechanism, which will help to de-ice the window safely. If you live in a cold climate where snow will be winter occurrence, then this a great investment. Our customer service team is happy to check whether this is an option for your convertible make and model.
We’ll leave you with one final reminder, which is to not lower your convertible top in cold weather. We’ll assume you thought of a great reason why you should do it, but will ask you to shelve that idea for warmer temperatures because convertible tops aren’t meant to be operated in cold temperatures. You’ll be putting your top and it’s frame at risk of damage and if you do get the top down and back up without a hitch, you may find that your soft top has become less pliable in the cold and is not wanting to stretch when it’s back up. If that’s you, then pull your convertible into a closed garage and use heaters to warm the interior temperature. Don’t run your convertible’s engine in the garage, because it will generate toxic exhaust fumes that should not be inhaled. Instead use space heaters to warm the air. Ideally, when the air temperature warms, the soft top will have more give and allow you to fully close it.
We hope these tips get you ready to face winter without fear. Before you know it, spring will be here and with it -- hopefully some warm days to enjoy your convertible at it’s best -- top down!