Winter Maintenance for Your Convertible Top

Buying a convertible is hardly a good investment if it stays in the garage for half of the year. Countless Canadians are catching onto this, and demanding convertible vehicles that can be used all year round. To some, using a drop-top in winter is blasphemy— though it’s now more common than ever to see a convertible Camaro, 200, A5, MX-5, Bentley or Mini driving around in the winter months, covered in snow and salt.

Automakers are making 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” he comments.

“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.”

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 for the long term—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 favorite 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 re-treatment 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—not a hard-bristled brush or ice scraper. Pre-warm your car or park in a warm garage ahead of time, using temperature, not force, to loosen snow and ice. Heavy brushes and scraping will probably 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 round: 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-warm your convertible to melt frost from the windows ahead of time.