You've searched "How to repair a convertible top" and you’re looking for answers, because your convertible top has a hole, a tear, or a rip, and you want to fix that problem. Cheaply and easily. We understand. At TopsOnline, we are passionate about two things: helping our customers solve their automotive upholstery problems the right way, and giving our customers the real, honest information they need to make a wise decision. The same holds true when we’re asked by our customers “How can I repair my convertible top?”. So, although we’re in the business of selling replacement convertible tops (and other automotive upholstery products), we really do want to help you. And the only way we can do that is to take a different approach from what you’ll normally find, which are articles about how easy it is to repair a convertible top or videos which make it look like hand-stitching, patches and adhesive will do the job. But we can’t in good conscience do the same thing and here’s why: 


Repairing a convertible top is not as easy as stitches and patches.


So, please give us 3 minutes to let us share what our experience since 1987 in the industry has taught us. We get a lot of calls from convertible owners that have tried the repair route and are now ready to replace their convertible top. If you can take the time to learn from our customers’ experience, then you have our blessing to go forth and make the decision that’s best for you.  


Tear in Convertible Top First things first, there are no conventional adhesives which will hold patches on vinyl or clothing convertible top materials. So that’s one of the reasons you see convertible tops with duct tape instead of patches -- there just isn’t an adhesive that does the job well. So you’ll need to use something to seal your tear and hold the patch and that’s why people use stitching. Stitching, of course, presents issues with waterproofing, so any stitches done will need to be sealed, so you don’t get water through the repair.


If you need to use a patch, you’re going to need to remove the top from the top frame to do machine stitching, which will give your patch the best chance to work. Hand stitching is a last resort and only really applicable for tears at the binding, where you may be able to get by with keeping the convertible top on the frame. But binding tears represent a minority of places where a top may need a repair.


Instead, most tears happen in other locations. For these convertible top repairs, you’ll need to take the convertible top off the frame for the popular stitch-patch-and-seal job. And it’s this fact -- the need to take the convertible top off the frame -- that presents the biggest hurdle in repairing your convertible top.


Years of moving the convertible top up and down, making the top taut then loose, changing temperatures from hot to cold, in wet and dry conditions means your convertible top material has been put through extreme contrasts. Quality convertible tops have material that is made to hold up to that stress, but it has limits. When you take the top off the frame and start handling it for a repair, you push those limits. One of the most common things that we hear from convertible owners is that when they take their old top off the vehicle, they see that it was in much worse shape than they realized. Also, it’s very common to tear the top when you try to get the glued sleeve off -- after all, it’s glued. When you carefully remove the glued sleeves, you will still be dealing with the fact that convertible topping material can lose its integrity when it’s being handled beyond its normal routine. Assuming the material maintains its shape and integrity, you’ll still need to make the actual repair and ensure it’s watertight. And of course, you then you have to get the newly-repaired convertible top back on the frame -- without re-tearing the repair you’ve made. With this in mind, you can see why most of the customers we hear from don’t make it past the top removal stage before they want or need to get a replacement.


For these reasons, when a customer insists that they want to try to repair their convertible top, we always encourage them to PLEASE take their top to a professional upholstery trim shop. (We want you to be happy with your convertible, and trying to remove the top from the frame yourself almost always ends with bad results.) So, taking your convertible to a professional gives you the best chance of success, especially if the upholstery shop has experience sealing any stitches to ensure the top is watertight. However, sometimes the cost-benefit analysis is not as great as you might want. That’s because most professionals charge for the convertible top removal, then the cost of the repair, and then the cost of replacing the top on the vehicle. Also, most repairs are not guaranteed to work, and experienced trim shops will not guarantee they won’t tear the old top when removing it -- because removing an aging convertible top simply comes with those risks. Sometimes the benefits of a new top are not far from the overall cost and lack of guarantees that come with repair jobs.


Repairs  Replacement
Repairs not guaranteed
No adhesive made for tears
Issues waterproofing the repair
Finding color and material matches for patches
Needing to get the top off and on without damaging it
Access to a sewing machine for repairs
Eyesore of repair showing on the top
Brand new flawless top
Comes with 6-year warranty
Lifetime window bond warranty for original purchaser (for most tops with glass windows)
Ease of mind


Whether you repair your top or replace it via an upholstery repair shop, you’re going to have the a few costs that are the same in either scenario: original top removal and installation of the new or repaired top. Given that a typical repair job could cost you $100-$200, your net savings may be less than a couple hundred dollars when compared to a new top. For those extra hundred dollars you get a brand new top that looks and works great, ease of mind and a warranty on the top itself (6-year) and, for most tops with glass windows, the window bond (limited lifetime). At the end of the day, that may be worth more than doing a repair and the uncertainty that comes with it.


 In the end, if you do decide to move forward with a convertible top repair, please visit our list of professionals [link to Installers page] to see if there’s one near you. They’ll give you the best chance for success. And if you’d like to buy a new convertible top instead, feel free to shop here at TopsOnline, or contact us and we’ll help point you in the right direction.


 All of the tops we sell include an industry-leading, 6-year warranty, and most tops with glass windows include a Lifetime Window Bond Warranty for the original purchaser -- so even if you decide to buy a new top, you’re getting that plus the warranty. That should provide an extra sense of security, something a convertible top repair simply can’t provide.