Want an Auto Detailing Career? 4 Tips for Cleaning & Repairing Convertible Tops

A convertible top is the unique feature that makes this vehicle appealing to so many, enabling drivers to travel with the top down and experience the fresh air from the comfort of their seats. However, the life of convertible tops can be shortened when they are not properly cleaned or maintained. 

If you’re interested in a career in automotive detailing, here are some tips to keep in mind when handling convertible tops.

1. Those in Auto Detailing Should Establish Which Material They’re Dealing With

Convertible tops can be made from many different materials, and before beginning the detailing process, it’s important to determine what material you’re working with in order to avoid further damage. A soft top is typically made from vinyl or canvas. Vinyl tops are durable and waterproof, thus they can be cleaned with water and soap or other commercial products. Canvas tops are water resistant rather than water proof, and are tightly woven to prevent water from entering the vehicle. However, water damage can occur to canvas if the proper cleaning measures are not taken. Canvas tops require the use of certain cleaning agents which will not harm the fabric, and auto detailers should be careful to distinguish between the two before beginning the cleaning process.

Convertible tops require routine detailing and maintenance

If you have professional automotive detailing training, you can test the material of a convertible top by conducting a water test. Pour some water on the top of a convertible, rub it into the material and see whether it soaks in. If the water is soaked up by the material, then this material is fabric, as vinyl doesn’t absorb water. Once you know what material you’re working with, you can begin the cleaning process.

2. Follow These Steps When Cleaning a Convertible Top

When cleaning a canvas top, you should follow these steps:

  • Remove debris and dirt using a soft brush and a vacuum.
  • Use water to soak the roof, which will allow for the cleaning detergent to penetrate for more effective scrubbing.
  • Apply the canvas-compatible cleaning detergent to the surface. Leave this substance on for at least fifteen minutes before starting to scrub.
  • Scrub the convertible top’s surface with an approved tool, avoiding materials such as sponges or lamb’s wool which can leave debris on the surface.
  • After the scrubbing is complete, rinse the top with water.
  • Apply an approved roof protector after the material is dry to keep the roof safe from elements which can stain or harm it, such as UV rays or bird droppings.

If the convertible top is vinyl, follow these steps instead to ensure that it is properly cleaned.

  • Use a soft brush to get rid of dirt from the top’s crevices before cleaning.
  • Clean a vinyl top with a mild soap or dish detergent mixed with water, or if the surface is especially dirty, a cleaning product compatible with vinyl can be used.
  • Rinse the surface of the convertible top by spraying the surface with water. 
  • When dry, vinyl can be protected with a silicone preservative or a coat of wax, which can protect the material from sun damage and other harmful elements. 

Vinyl is not as sensitive a material as canvas, and this allows for a more straightforward cleaning process. 

3. Avoid These Mistakes When Cleaning a Convertible Roof Top

While cleaning a convertible roof top may seem simple, there are a few important mistakes that those in auto detailing should look out for. For one, auto detailers must ensure that they don’t neglect the well into which the top folds, as well as the metal mechanisms which lift and lower the top. The well should be dusted and vacuumed to remove any objects that might harm or puncture the material of the convertible top. Additionally, the metal mechanisms should be waxed to prevent rusting, and oiled to keep the hinges moving smoothly. 

Auto detailers should avoid cleaning a convertible top under direct sunlight

As an auto detailer, it’s also important to avoid cleaning the rooftop under direct sunlight. In tandem with water, UV rays can lead to the deterioration of canvas, or in the case of vinyl, sun spotting and discoloration. 

4. Convertible Tops Should Be Kept in Good Condition After Cleaning

After they have been cleaned, convertible tops should be kept in good condition to improve their longevity. As an auto detailer, you can give convertible owners a few pieces of advice to help them maintain their convertible tops. Drivers should keep their convertibles in a covered space to protect it from sunlight and other elements, and it’s also important that their garage be free of damaging mildew and mold. Drivers should also know that there is no harm in vacuuming their convertible top and its well every now and then, as dust and dirt can eventually stain a convertible top or cause it to deteriorate.

Is an auto detailing career right for you?

Explore program options at ATC Surrey today.

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