Common sense care will pay dividends for summer drives

Summer is almost here. So for those with convertible cars, what better time to hit the road with the roof down and the wind in your hair.

However, if left unchecked, one of the best features of summer motoring could soak you in despair. Therefore it is important to keep your rag top in tip-top shape in order to enjoy the most of the summer weather that lies ahead.

Citroen have just released a traditional soft-top version of the DS3 hatch and spokesman Simon Rose gave Driven his insight to soft-top care.

"It is a matter of just applying common sense. Most soft tops are watertight, lightweight and easy to clean," said Rose. However, when you clean and maintain your roof, be careful how you go about it. "I wouldn't put one through your local garage car wash, it will be fine, but who knows what chemicals are being used that may not make best friends with the canvas roof," said Rose.


Here are five tips on keeping your soft top in the best condition possible.

1. Careful where you park
A good way to prevent wear on your soft top is to be mindful of where you park. If your convertible is unable to be garaged, a good car cover can be purchased from all automotive specialist stores. If not at home, avoid parking under trees, as leaves and bird dirt are never a good thing. Don't leave the roof down overnight, this will help retain the original shape of your top and prevent creases.

2. Wash it
Whether your soft top is made of vinyl or fabric, keeping it clean is everything. Use cold water and either soap or detergent to wipe and then rinse. A small toothbrush should get into those hard to reach areas of the canvas.

When you finish, do not put the roof down until it is completely dry. Any excess water could lead to a build up of moisture or mould.

3. Plastic Windows
These can become dirty and visibility can be lost very quickly if left unchecked. Prevent this happening by using clear plastic polish available from any Repco or Super Cheap Auto store. Apply polish to a microfibre cloth and clean in a side to side or a top to bottom motion. Never in a circular motion; this can damage a plastic window.

4. Rubber seals
These make sure the natural elements stay away from your car's interior. Cracked or damaged rubber roof seals could lead to excessive wind noise at speed and water seepage. Replacing them can be done through any soft-top specialist.

5. Frame components
As convertibles age, the structural frame, joints and clips tend to suffer as a result. Water can cause these to rust and in some cases seize. You can prevent this by coating the metal in wax and oiling the hinges regularly. Both wax and oil can be bought from the Warehouse and automotive stores.