The great British winter can play havoc with our vehicles and unfortunately most convertible enthusiasts and owners alike, button the roof down, despite any cabriolet malfunctions that may be looming from heavy use in the summer months and wait for either the problem to disappear or leave until Spring awakens. Open-top driving is not only for 4-5 months of the year despite popular belief!
Rethink this strategy, soft-top and hard-top cabriolet owners – the winter months can be hard enough! Have some fun, wrap up warm and crank up the heating, close the windows and take an exhilarating ride!
Protecting your convertible soft-top in winter
Looking after your convertible is as important in the winter months as it is in the summer. Yes – there are harsher elements to deal with, however good maintenance for your fabric on soft-top cabriolets, together with drain clearance and seal rejuvenation for both soft-top and hard-top cabriolets will ensure a warm, dry ride whatever the winter weather!
So we have established if you’re are game enough soft-top and hard-top convertibles can be enjoyed in the winter – we have compiled a guide to frequently asked questions and misconceptions when owning a cabriolet in the winter;
Whilst hard-top folding roof systems have tried to take over the cabriolet market, many manufacturers have kept the soft-top folding roof system models in their range and in some cases discontinued the hard-top folding cabriolet roof systems all together!
The soft-top folding cabriolet makes a statement, leaving its’ audience with no uncertainty of what it is not pretending to be!
Newer versions of the fabric folding roof system are by their very nature warmer and more luxurious than their older relations – seals are newer, fabric more water repellent and soundproofing and warmth an important consideration and comfort for the driver and passengers.
It is however equally important to maintain these vehicles before water ingress and ill-fitting hoods become a distraction, unsightly fabric roofs ruin the appearance and blocked drains let water into the cabin and boot area.
For older cabriolet roof systems, understand that whilst the roof may only get used a few months of the year, and the vehicle may have incredibly low mileage as a second or fun weekend vehicle, realistically probably all of the seals are factory fitted and are the age of the car. These seals deteriorate over time through age, road and tree debris and grime and maintenance is essential.
Are soft-tops ok to drive in the winter?
Yes, soft-tops are great to drive in the winter months. However, it is important to get your cabriolet winter-ready, whatever its’ age – check the seals (these often get missed when regularly washing and cleaning the vehicle) – open the roof system on a nice day and inspect them all thoroughly for dirt and debris build-up.
Clean soft top seals and clearing drains
Cleaning the seals and inspecting and clearing the drains is an essential part of owning a convertible. Ask your garage on its’ annual service to unblock and blow out all front and rear drains and make sure you clean the seals thoroughly with a warm soapy cloth. Rejuvenating and lubricating the seals can be an effective way to restore older seals – we recommend a lubricant called Krytox that can be applied to clean and dirt free seals.
Seals work only if the two contact surfaces are clean and dirt free, creating a bond to resist water ingress. Dirt and debris build up will hamper their design and lead to smelly and damp cabin and boot areas for cabriolet owners.
If you find in the mornings that there is a condensation build-up in your vehicle, it is almost certain that water is entering the vehicle. Be conscious that carpets and padding of the vehicle can soak up water that has entered the cabriolet – check and feel the carpets – check the boot area and think about tackling the problem.
The water will not go away unless we have a dry and sunny spell – these are few and far between in the UK – take a look at our blog to tackle these water issues;
Are soft-tops cold to drive in the winter?
Soft-tops do not need to be cold in the winter – a fully proofed fabric will repel the rain and snow. Often soft-top fabric replacement is considered the most beneficial way of treating your cherished cabriolet if the fabric has become porous or letting water in, however this can be costly; with a limited budget and some extra time to devote to your cabriolet roof, you can transform your faded or algae forming cabriolet fabric with reproofing products.
With proper maintenance and cleaning, great results can be achieved at a fraction of the cost of a new cabriolet fabric, giving new life to the existing soft top hood.
Check out our guide to restoring and cleaning a soft-top roof system.
Ensure all windows are closed correctly and in the fully up position – sometimes over time, windows can lose their original placement, leaving gaps for draughts and wind noise. Check the cabriolet fabric has not shrunk from the roof frame through age as this can cause gaps, wind noise and water leaks – the resolve for this would be a new fabric.
We are a hardy bunch in the UK – don’t be afraid to make a bold statement on a fresh autumn day – the shops are full of knitted sweaters, hats and gloves – open that fabulous roof, wrap up warm, turn up the heater and feel alive!
How to protect a convertible soft-top from snow
The most important thing to consider when storing your cabriolet during the winter months is to put the roof up (common sense if parked outside), however if stored in a garage, snow is not the only element you are protecting your convertible against in the winter months. Furry friends, like rats and mice can seek refuge in cabriolets – easy entry with the top left open in the winter and an inviting option.
1. Invest in a water-resistant, breathable cover
Whilst garaging a cabriolet is ideal, for most of us we do not have this luxury. Consider investing in a good quality cover – do not use a tarpaulin as this can trap moisture, but consider a water-resistant yet breathable cover, one that is thicker for cars parked outside and a proper snug fit. A cover that is too loose could do more harm than good if it is flapping against the paint job in the wind!
2. Use a soft brush to remove snow and ice
After snowfall, remove all ice and snow from the convertible roof. Do not hack and chip ice and snow away – use a soft brush or hand wrapped in a mitt. Let your cabriolet warm up or park in a warm garage ahead of time to use the temperature to loosen the snow and ice. Heavy brushes and scraping could damage the fabric on your soft-top.
3. Don’t operate the roof in cold and wet weather
Do not operate your roof in cold temperatures. There is no need to cycle your roof between “up” and “down” positions in the colder months. The rule for this applies to wetter conditions also – do not put your roof down when wet. This can cause premature wear and invites mould and mildew that can damage the appearance and condition of the folding roof fabric.
4. Keep the cabriolet battery charged
If you do not frequently use your cabriolet in the winter months, make sure your battery stays charged. A low voltage on the battery can affect the roof system with operation faults that can stop the roof halfway mid flow. Consider investing in a trickle charger and always operate the roof with the engine running.
How to clean a convertible soft-top
Hand washing is ideal for a soft wash for roof’s cabriolet fabric – this will remove salt and sand that can diminish the top’s finish over time. Pressure hoses can damage a fabric and leave unsightly marks. Seals on a vehicle are not designed to withstand the force of a pressure wash and can leave the occupants a little damp and dreary and ruin the rubbers. Take care with your cherished cabriolet!
Driving with the roof down in winter
Driving with the roof down in cold and winter weather can be taxing on the body. Layer up and with all winter driving, make sure you have plenty of petrol and supplies in case of an emergency.
Make sure your engine is cared for equally to your cabriolet roof system and always ensure your tyres are safe and have plenty of tread. Always drive to the road and weather conditions.
Road and wind noise will make you fatigue faster – know when you have had enough and put your folding roof in the closed position.
Some cabriolets have a wind deflector, a feature that keeps wind noise to a minimum and makes it a lot easier to drive in comfort, especially in the colder months.
To keep the wind from being so blustery, be sure to keep the windows up and this keeps the wind noise down.
Ask us to prepare your cabriolet for winter driving
If you require some winter assistance from the team at Cayman Autos, Contact us today on 01737 761599 or visit us at 51 ORMSIDE WAY, REDHILL, SURREY, RH1 2LG. We have customers from across the UK, including Hampshire, Kent, the Midlands and North West.
You can also keep up to date with the latest Cayman Autos news via our website, Facebook page, Twitter account, and LinkedIn page. Don’t forget to check out reviews from our customers on Facebook, Google or our website.