Caring for your soft top

Caring For Your Car’s Soft-Top/Hood

We’re entering the time of year now, when, traditionally, classic and sports car owners start rolling their beloved vehicles out of locks up and garages the length and breadth of the country. We’ve already touched upon laying up and reinstating such vehicles from/to the road, and things owners need to do each season to ensure the cars stay in tip top shape.

But, and more specifically, many owners cherish vehicles with a soft-top, or ‘hood’. Often made of Vinyl or, more commonly nowadays, mohair or ‘cloth’, these are often expensive and vulnerable areas of these cars, not least because of the sometimes damp, and musty conditions in which the cars are stored for months on end.

Most soft tops nowadays are fitted with glass rear screens, but in years gone by most manufacturers used plastic. Plastic can be fine, but it can become brittle, particulary as it gets older and is exposed to more UV rays. So, whenever a roof which is fitted with a plastic window is lowered, particulary if it hasn’t been lowered for quite a few weeks or months over Winter and/or if the roof or environment in which it’s been kept is cold, you must remember to ‘unzip’ the window first, if a zip is present. By unzipping the window, pressure on the rear window area is reduced when the roof is lowered and folded down onto it, and thus, if brittle from UV or the cold, it is less likely to hole and become damaged.

It’s not unusual for hoods to become quite tight if they have been left for a while. Very often, a wash and exposure to some sunshine and warmth will help to relax the tension slightly. In fact, a correctly fitted roof should be quite tight anyway, so don’t panic too much.

Now, something that is worth noting is ‘rain channels’. These are small channels that are sometimes fitted to some makes of car to allow rainwater to run off, often inside the cars bodywork, to exit via a small drain hole in the cars wheel arch or sill. If, these drain holes are allowed to become blocked, and this is moreso a problem from cars that are often parked outside under tree’s where leaves can cause the blockage etc, the water can sit inside the car’s panels, eventually causing either a flood inside the car, or, worse still, rust inside the panels. Therefore, it’s imperitive that adherence is made to car manufacturers guidelines for keeping channels clear. Some aftermarket and classic car suppliers actually sell miniature brushes to help push through dirt and debris, but always ensure there’s no danger of damaging anything, or removing rubber bungs, if you use these.

Finally, when it comes to cleaning your cars hood, consider it to be to a car, what a face is to a human. Don’t use abrasive cleaning agents, don’t use a pressure washer with too much pressure across a hood, or too close to a hood, and pay particular attention to how you clean any delicate plastic windows. There are some aftermarket suppliers of hood sealants and cleaners and we would suggest you contact your main manufacturing agents for recommendation and advice on whether to use these on your own car.