Can You Take A Soft Top Convertible Through An Automatic Car Wash?

can you take a soft top convertible through an automatic car wash

Do you love the feeling of driving with the top down in your convertible? There’s nothing quite like experiencing the open road in your soft top convertible on a sunny day. But as a proud convertible owner, keeping your car clean can be a chore. You may be tempted to take your convertible through an automatic carwash for convenience, but is it actually safe for your soft top?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through everything you need to know about washing a soft top convertible in an automated car wash. We’ll cover the risks, best practices, maintenance tips, and frequently asked questions to help you keep your convertible looking great. By the end, you’ll know whether it’s safe to take your soft top convertible through a carwash and how to do it properly.

What Are the Risks of Using an Automatic Car Wash for a Soft Top Convertible?

While automatic car washes provide a fast, convenient way to clean your convertible, they do come with some risks for fabric soft tops. Here are the main concerns convertible owners have about using carwashes:

Can the Spinning Brushes Damage the Fabric?

The spinning scrub brushes used in many automatic car washes can be too harsh for soft convertible tops. The bristles can abrade the fabric over time, causing premature wearing and scratches. Car wash brushes designed for standard cars are simply too rough for delicate convertible materials.

Soft top convertible owners need to take care that the brushes do not make direct contact with the roof. Otherwise, the vigorous scrubbing can damage the waterproofing treatments and lead to leaks. Avoiding brushes altogether is the safest option.

Are the High-Pressure Sprays Too Harsh?

In addition to brushes, the high-pressure sprayers in automatic car washes also pose a risk to your convertible’s soft top. Powerful water jets used to clean regular car exteriors can be too intense for fabric materials.

The forceful impact of a pressurized spray can weaken convertible top seals over time. Using excessive water pressure can also lead to moisture infiltration through tiny holes in the fabric. Look for car washes that offer lower pressure settings.

How Do Soaps and Detergents Affect the Top?

The soaps and detergents used in car washes help blast away dirt and grime from car exteriors. However, harsh cleaning agents can prematurely dry out and deteriorate convertible tops. Strong chemicals can damage the fabric itself as well as protective treatments applied to the material.

Convertible drivers should use caution with soaps and limit exposure. Choose a wash that advertises gentler “convertible-safe” cleaners or stick to plain water. Quickly rinsing off any suds will help prevent the detergents from soaking into the fabric top.

Precautions to Take When Using a Car Wash

To safely take your prized convertible through an automated wash, there are some important precautions car owners should take:

precautions to take when using a car wash

Check if the Car Wash Has a “Convertible Cycle”

Many car washes even offer a special convertible washing program or mode. This cycle will use soft brushes, mild cleaners, and lower water pressure. Washes advertised as “convertible-safe” are ideal since they cater the wash to be gentle on soft tops.

Ask About Brush Type and Water Pressure

Don’t be afraid to inquire about the car wash’s brush materials and water pressure settings. Confirm that they use soft-cloth or microfiber scrubbers safe for fabric tops. Also verify the machine can use a lower spray setting for a delicate convertible wash.

Ensure Proper Top Fit and Function

Before driving your convertible through a carwash, double check that the top is properly secured and all seals are tightly fastened. Make sure the windows are completely up. Test that water does not leak in by using a garden hose. Only proceed if the top is watertight.

Avoid Washing Right After Top Installation

Brand new convertible tops need some time to cure and properly adhere to the car body before going through a vigorous wash. Wait at least 2 weeks after the install before running your convertible through the automated cleaning machinery.

Wash Weekly to Prevent Dirt Buildup

While you don’t need to wash your car daily, frequent cleaning helps prevent layers of grit and debris from accumulating on the exterior. Washing your convertible at least once a week will limit the need forscrubbing that could harm the soft top.

Pre-Soak Top With Water First

Before entering the automated wash bay, use a garden hose to liberally pre-soak your convertible’s top. This helps the fabric absorb clean water rather than harsher detergents. Soaking also allows you to rinse away loose dirt beforehand.

Dry Thoroughly Afterwards

Always completely dry your convertible’s soft top after washing, whether by machine or by hand. Use a lint-free microfiber drying towel to carefully blot moisture and prevent water spots. Never put the top down while the fabric is still wet.

Best Practices for Washing a Soft Top Convertible

best practices for washing a soft top convertible

If you want to safely clean your convertible while avoiding any risks of damage, follow these best practices:

Use Touchless Car Washes

The most gentle automated washes are touchless systems that use only sprayers and no brushes. Touchless car washes clean vehicles solely with high-pressure water jets and/or chemical spray. Without fabric-scratching bristles, these washes pose little risk to soft tops.

Opt for Soft-Cloth Brushes

If choosing a traditional wash with brushes, select one that uses soft cloth or microfiber scrubbers. Avoid stiff nylon bristles. Confirm that the facility adjusts the brushes to avoid direct contact with the convertible’s top.

Look for Specialized Convertible Washes

Some car washes cater specifically to convertibles and promote specialized fabric-friendly cleaning programs. They train employees on the safest washing methods and may even hand wash the tops. These convertible-customized services are ideal.

Wash by Hand if Unsure

When in doubt about a car wash’s convertible-washing competence, politely ask the employees. If you do not get reassuring answers, play it safe by hand washing and drying the soft top yourself before sending the rest of the car through the automated system.

Follow Your Owner’s Manual

Your convertible’s owner’s manual will have instructions on washing and caring for the top. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended guidelines regarding automated washes. Also check any paperwork from your convertible top installer for advice.

Maintenance Tips to Protect Your Soft Top

Taking proper care of your convertible’s soft top will help keep it looking pristine wash after wash. Here are some useful maintenance suggestions:

Regularly Check for Leaks

Inspect around the window seals, corners and seams of the top every few weeks for new leaks. Catching problems early makes repairs easier. A waterproofing treatment can also be reapplied to reinforce the fabric’s weatherproofing.

Re-Apply Protectants Frequently

Use convertible top protectants and conditioners regularly to replenish water repellency and elasticity. Protectants help seal the fabric from the elements. Reapply every 1-2 months depending on your usage and weather exposure.

Park in Shade to Avoid UV Damage

Help guard against sun damage by parking your convertible in covered spots or under trees on sunny days. UV rays from prolonged direct sunlight can fade and dry out fabric top materials. The shade will provide relief.

Immediately Clean Bird Droppings or Sap

Bird poop and tree sap are challenging to remove if left on the soft top for long. As soon as possible, gently wipe away these contaminants before they have a chance to really set in and stain.

Avoid Using Harsh Chemicals

When cleaning your convertible’s top, stick to mild, gentle cleaners designed specifically for fabric materials. Avoid dish soaps, detergents, alcohol-based products, or abrasive compounds that could degrade the top prematurely.

Frequently Asked Questions

For more convertible washing guidance, here are answers to some common soft top car wash questions:

Are convertible washes really necessary?

A designated convertible wash isn’t mandatory but is the safest option for your soft top. The specialized settings, equipment and employees make these services ideal for delicate fabric tops that need extra care.

What about using a self-serve wash?

Self-serve washes are risky since there is no staff to ensure the proper settings are used. Also, the maintenance and upkeep of self-serve equipment is often inferior. Supervised auto washes are a far better choice.

Can I take my convertible through a touchless wash?

Yes, you can safely use most touchless car washes on your convertible provided the water pressure is not too intense. Some touchless systems also have an extra-gentle convertible setting. Avoid any with harsh chemical sprayers.

How often should I wash my soft top?

Aim to wash your convertible’s soft top at least once a week during the warmer months when it’s more exposed. Wipe down with a damp cloth between full washes as needed. More frequent cleaning maintains the top’s appearance and lifespan.

Key Takeaways on Washing Your Soft Top Convertible

To sum up, here are the key tips to remember:

  • Choose a car wash with specialized convertible settings or equipment
  • Use touchless washes or those with microfiber soft brushes
  • Avoid washing right after a new top installation
  • Pre-soak the top and carefully dry it after washing
  • Check for leaks and reapply protectants regularly
  • Follow the manufacturer’s care instructions

By choosing a gentle, fabric-friendly car wash and properly maintaining your convertible’s soft top, you can confidently keep your car clean without damage. Drive safely in your convertible all season long with a great-looking top!

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