How to Replace Auto Vinyl Tops

by Brenda Priddy

Over time, cars with vinyl roof tops will eventually need a new roof. Sun exposure, dry air and excess moisture can ruin a vinyl roof top and crack or damage the surface. You can save some expense of replacement by replacing the vinyl top yourself. Simply remove the old top and clean the roof of the car before installing the new vinyl top. This project will take three hours to two days, depending on the condition of the original top.

Step 1

Remove all window moldings and car top moldings holding the original vinyl top in place. Use a chisel, pry bar or your hands to remove the trim pieces. You may have to unscrew a few screws holding the trim pieces in place. Set any screws aside.

Step 2

Pull the old top away from the top of the car. You may have to use adhesive remover to loosen the bond between the car and the vinyl. Remove any remaining adhesive from the top of the car with adhesive remover and a soft cloth. Wash the roof with dish soap and warm water. Allow to dry before installing the new top.

Step 3

Measure the width between the two outside middle seams on the vinyl top. Divide this number in half.

Step 4

Draw a line on the top of the car with chalk marking the vertical center of the roof, from the windshield to the back window. Take the measurements from the previous step and measure this distance out from the center line. Mark a line on either side of the center line at this measurement.

Step 5

Spray the top of the car with spray adhesive. Spray the vinyl seams with spray adhesive. Align the seams with the lines on the car. Press the seams tightly against the surface of the car.

Step 6

Pull the top tightly down from the center seams down toward the sides of the car and over the windows. Add more adhesive as necessary to stick the vinyl to the top of the car.

Step 7

Trim any excess vinyl with a utility knife. Install the trim pieces over the vinyl to hide the unfinished edges and hold the vinyl in place. Replace any rusty screws with new screws.

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