Summertime is the time of year that a lot of car owners finally get to bring their convertibles out, drop the tops, and get some long-awaited sun while driving around town. When you think about it, convertible tops can take quite a bit of wear and tear, since they provide only a thin veil of protection from the outside elements when they’re up, and they get crunched up into a small compartment when they’re down.
Nowadays, auto manufacturers produce convertible models with hardtops made from the same panelling as the rest of a car that tuck away robotically. Cloth or vinyl convertible tops are referred to as soft tops or ‘ragtops.’ There are still some soft tops on the market—and even though they’re made of heavy grade, durable materials, auto detailing professionals still need to provide some extra protection to keep them in good condition.
If you’re considering pursuing an auto detailing career, read on for a few convertible top care tips whether you’re working on new or old models!
1. Providing the Initial Treatment on New Vehicles in your Auto Detailing Career
When working with soft top convertibles, it’s important to remember that they’re typically made of vinyl, but will sometimes have a cloth layer over top to give them a more aesthetic look. To provide an initial protective treatment on soft tops, you’ll need to run a vacuum over them to pick up any dirt, debris, or other particles. Once you do this, you can thoroughly wet the top and clean it using any auto detailing cleaning products that work with fabric/vinyl interiors with a soft nylon brush. Give the soft top a good rinse, then let it dry.
Once dry, you can apply a protective layer. Convertible top protectants are typically applied in three separate coats to ensure that they last, and they usually require about 10 minutes in between coats to dry.
2. Auto Detailing Techniques for Reconditioning Soft Tops on Older Vehicles
Some convertibles get stowed away for the winter and in these cases, the tops can accumulate quite a bit of dust and grime—especially if they haven’t been properly maintained for a while. If the convertible top on an older model has gone without appropriate maintenance for a while, it will need to be thoroughly cleaned before you add a protective layer.
Before wetting tops that need to be conditioned, you’ll need to vacuum them. In cases where there’s a thicker layer of grime, you can use an upholstery brush that will allow you to really scrub some of the dirt loose. Once you’re done, you can wet the top down and use a vinyl cleaner on it. If it’s been a while since the customer had their top cared for, you can let the cleaner soak in for about 10 minutes—but don’t let it dry out, because that will just add another layer of film for you to clean off.
You might learn in auto detailing training that older convertible tops in rough condition might need multiple cleanings, since several layers of dirt can accumulate over time. Once an older model’s top has been thoroughly cleaned and dried, you can add your protective layers to seal it off and keep it looking clean. A reconditioning job on older soft tops should take you anywhere between two to three hours.
3. Providing Regular Maintenance to Soft Tops During your Auto Detailing Career
Once a convertible has been treated with a protective layer, the car is safe to receive regular detailing and car washes. For maximum protection, auto detailing professionals recommend that vinyl tops be re-treated once every two months to make them last. Basically, the more a convertible top is treated, the easier it is to maintain because it won’t have time to accumulate a layer of dirt and debris.
Maintenance treatments involve giving soft tops a wash, dry, and three coats of protective product. By knowing how to maintain convertible tops, you can add this service when customers come in for regular detailing throughout your career!
Looking to take an auto detailing course that will teach you the latest car care techniques?
Visit ATC for more information!