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How Long Does A Car Soft-Top Last

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  • 24-01-2022
How Long Does A Car Soft-Top Last

How Long Will a Convertible Top Last?

On average, a convertible car top will last roughly seven years. However, this timescale will differ depending on various factors, including the type of material the top is made from, where you park the car and how often you use it.

Naturally, through regular care and maintenance or storing your car in a garage, you can extend your folding roof's lifespan.

For soft-top convertible car's, two of the most common materials they are made from are vinyl and canvas, which are both hardwearing. However, they will still need regular care to keep them in good shape. 

For extended periods, keeping your car outside will deteriorate the convertible top far quicker than storing it underneath a cover or within a garage.

Damp conditions promote the growth of mould and green algae in fabrics, meaning your soft-top could begin to suffer.

Additionally, if your convertible car is parked in direct sunlight, this can lead to the material fading under the UV rays on sunny summer days, ruining the colour. 


A wide range of products on the market can help you extend the life of your convertible roof's material and help keep it in perfect condition, alongside the steps already mentioned, allowing you to push the seven-year lifespan up to around ten years.

However, nothing lasts forever, and after a certain amount of time, the material will naturally degrade to the point where it will need to be replaced. 

Convertible Roof Types

There are primarily two types of convertible tops: hardtops and soft-tops. Both types come with their own unique advantages and disadvantages regarding ownership and longevity. Here we will go through some of these differences and what they mean for convertible car owners.


Hard-top Roof

One of the main advantages of having a hardtop convertible roof is the added protection from the more robust material.

Naturally, a metal roof can stand up to the elements and damage far better than a fabric roof could.

Hardtop roofs might also be more aesthetically pleasing to certain owners, offering another benefit in terms of style for your convertible car.

Hardtops will look more harmonious, with similar materials running seamlessly into one another than the dramatic contrast between soft-top fabrics and the metal car body.

Soft-top convertibles also allow more wind noise on the open road for you and your passengers than their hardtop counterparts when driving, providing another advantage to choosing the hardtop version.

Regarding the disadvantages, metal hardtop convertible roofs will cost you more money than fabric ones, given how they are constructed. The features and systems that operate the convertible motion of the roof are also more robust and therefore expensive. If these systems break down for whatever reason, they will also be more expensive to repair.

The weight of the heavier material will also affect your car's fuel economy and efficiency, given that the heavier weight will put more strain on the engine.

The weight also means it will handle differently than a lighter vehicle, being less agile with heavier handling than a soft-top car. Hardtop roofs are also bulkier than soft-top versions, meaning they need more space to store them. 

With the hardtop roof in the retracted position, more often than not, it will go into the car's boot. This is because there is a limited amount of space in a convertible car where the roof can be stored.

Therefore, the roof retracting into the vehicle's boot can limit the storage space available more than in other cars. This may be something you need to consider if you need your boot space often for shopping or carrying luggage. 

Soft-top Roof

One of the main advantages of soft-top convertible roofs is that they are often far cheaper than hardtops. This is because cloth, canvas or fabric is cheaper than metals, and the operating systems that retract and extend the roof are simpler.

Therefore, if something goes wrong with your soft-top convertible roof, it is more likely to be far cheaper to repair than with a hardtop roof.

The aesthetic contrast between the metal and fabric of the car body and roof, respectively, is also an advantage for certain owners, depending on their stylistic preferences. 


In terms of disadvantages, soft-tops are more easily damaged given the fabrics they are made from. This also means weaker security protection.

While the fabrics used to create soft-top convertibles are durable, if some ill-intentioned bypasser has any type of sharp object, they could easily cut their way through a soft-top to gain access to any valuables left inside the vehicle.

As previously mentioned, soft-top roofs are also known to allow more wind and road noise into the car when driving than hardtop convertibles, given the amount of air that can make its way through the gaps in the seals, which can also make them more uncomfortable given the reduced protection from the cold.

The visibility in soft-top convertible cars is also a thing to consider. While they are easy enough to drive when the roof is down, it's a completely different story when you raise the roof.

Are Convertibles Hard to Maintain?

On the whole, convertibles are not that difficult to maintain compared to non-convertible vehicles. Given that fabric roofs present certain risks, such as leaks, moisture damage, and fading, they may require special treatment. They also allow more of the elements inside the car than closed off non-convertibles, meaning more interior cleaning may be needed. 

The difference in convertible roof material also needs to be considered, as hardtop metals can be cleaned normally, while fabric convertible roofs will require special care. Harsh chemicals can cause significant damage to fabrics, meaning they are not the best for soft-top convertibles. Driving with the roof down can also mean more dirt and dust from the road getting into your car, meaning even more interior cleaning, particularly in the rear seating area.

While none of this additional cleaning is overly taxing or difficult, convertible cars do generally require more maintenance and cleaning than non-convertible cars. Therefore, if you do not feel like you are up for the challenge of maintaining a convertible, you may want to consider another type of car. 

Cleaning & Maintenance Tips

Here we've provided you with a few tips on keeping a properly maintained convertible top that is well cared for if you decide to go with this option rather than a standard car roof. These tips are a general guide to keeping your roof in great condition, but for more information on looking after your new roof fully, checking the manufacturer's suggestions is the best option.

The first thing to remember is that as soon as you notice a bit of tree debris or damage or worn areas of your roof, conduct cleaning and repairs immediately. If left, small issues can develop into significant ones sooner than you think. 

If you choose a convertible fabric roof, most manufacturer's recommend that you refrain from using cleaning solutions with citrus, bleach, silicone or petroleum bases. These harsh cleaners can damage your roof's fabric, making it less water-resistant, which can, in turn, void the warranty your car is covered under. 


The best cleaners to use for your fabric roof are mild ones with natural bases and no detergent. The most commonly recommended convertible roof cleaner by manufacturers is Wolfstein's RaggTopp Cleaner. 

Once you have used an appropriately mild cleaning solution for your car's roof, rinsing the material thoroughly straight away is the best thing to do. Otherwise, leaving the cleaner to soak into the fabric can fade the colour, making it less resistant. 

Microfiber cloths are also the best way to clean vinyl top material, rather than a brush or paper towel. Using a soft-bristled brush is the best way to remove any dirt you notice on cloth or canvas tops compared to vinyl tops.


This almost goes without saying, but you should never take a convertible car through an automatic car wash unless you want a disaster. 

For the plastic rear windows in the convertible fabric, never use conventional window cleaners, which can be detrimental to the back window material. Instead, using a normal microfiber duster and some cool water is the best method. 

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