Vinyl Vs. Cloth Convertible Top

by Tobias Starr
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Convertibles are cars that represent fun and freedom, but they require special types of maintenance that other cars do not need. There are special precautions to care for the removable tops. There's also an initial decision to be made on cloth or vinyl tops. Things to consider are the protection they provide and the maintenance and care.

Cloth Top Vs. Vinyl Top

Converible cars come with either cloth or vinyl tops. There are pros and cons to both, so you need to choose based on your needs.

Some people prefer the shiny look of a vinyl top, along with protection it provides as it is harder than a cloth top. However, vinyl tops tend to peel and crack due to weather and age. There is no repairing this; you must replace the top. Vinyl tops are also known to get mildew in places. Cracking and mildew aren't issues with cloth tops.

Cloth tops generally are not as appealing visually nor do they stay as clean easily or provide protection from extreme weather.

Caring for a cloth top or a vinyl top is basically the same. The difference is with tools and products used to care for the specific needs of the material.

Caring for a Cloth Top

For a cloth top, you should invest in a set of brushes. A soft brush is used to gently scrub the cloth, while a medium-bristle brush is for loosening and removing dirt and debris from the fabric.

Avoid using any shampoo that boasts it's gloss-enhancing as that is not necessary for a cloth top. If you want to use a cleanser, you can buy some specifically designed for convertible cloth tops. Using cleaner in conjunction with the brushes allows maximum cleaning power.

After cleaning, apply a protectant specifically designed for cloth tops.

Caring for a Vinyl Top

In caring for a vinyl top, avoid gloss-enhancing shampoos; this isn't necessary. You can use a general car shampoo to wash the vinyl top just like you'd wash the rest of the car. Always wash the vinyl top with the rest of the car.

If you notice mildew in any crevices on your vinyl top, you need to break it up by spraying with water, then using a special vinyl cleaner.

Unfortunately, if vinyl begins to peel or crack, you will need to replace it. You can prevent this with weekly shampoos and monthly protectant applications.

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