Caring for a convertible top takes special effort and special tools. We show you how it’s done.
Convertible top care is as much art as science. As any drop-top owner knows, the top creates two car care challenges. First, the inside of a convertible gets grungy from being constantly washed with road dust and dirt while driving top-down. Second, the top itself is very difficult to keep clean if it is a soft-top, and even hard-top convertibles have their cleanliness oddities.
We suggest a thorough interior wipe down with a damp cloth, followed by a good soaking with an interior cleaner and a scrub. Follow that up with a damp cloth once more and the inside of your interior should be back to clean. If you have a leather-trimmed interior, a leather care product will help keep your seats and trim from being sunburned and dried by the sun.
One tip for those with new hard-top convertibles; To avoid mineral spots, don’t put your top down immediately after a wash. Drops of water will find and cling to the top of your roof which hangs upside down when stowed. Those drops can leave behind calcium spots that are extremely challenging to remove. Instead, drive the car a bit to blow out the water left behind after a wash before putting the top down.
The all-new Fiat 124 Spider has created a whole pool of first-time convertible owners. Many had asked on-line for help with cleaning tips regarding their top. BestRide went right to the source and asked Haartz Corporation for some advice. Haartz is the company that makes the soft-tops for many popular convertibles, including the Fiat Spider. Haartz donated a RaggTopp cleaning kit which BestRide, in turn, donated to Bill Johnson, a new Fiat Spider owner. Bill agreed to test the kit and show us the results. Be sure you buy a kit that is designed for the type of top you own, vinyl or canvas.
If you have a soft-top, start with a vacuum. Use the brush attachment and gently remove any loose dirt and dust.
Use soft-top cleaner to help remove any dirt and dust. A soft brush helps to work in the cleaner solution.
After the cleaning and brushing, rinse the cleaner away and don’t forget to rinse and dry the car body afterward.
Thoroughly dry your top with a soft towel and then give it some time to also air dry to ensure all of the water has evaporated.
Is your top now covered with lint? Try a lint brush to remove that.
Apply a protectant next. One tip Bill offers is to treat the protectant with respect. Bill went so far as to use painter’s tape and some cleaning rags to ensure he didn’t get overspray on his paint, glass, and chrome. Removing the overspray is tricky and it is best not to get it on anything but the cloth top.
Bill reported excellent results from the RaggTopp kit provided by Haartz.
One last word of advice. As all soft-top convertible owners quickly learn, it is much more time-efficient to keep the top free of tree sap and other nasty stuff than it is to clean that off. Park defensively and consider a cover if you park outside year-round.
Shopping for a new or used convertible? Why not start your search at BestRide.com?
Our thanks to Facebook Fiat 124 Spider 2017 Club member and contributor Bill Johnson for his time spent testing the cleaning products generously donated by Haartz Corporation and for his images. Top of page image by John Goreham.