Convertible top cleaning & care covertible_top_cleaning_care

Convertible Tops are expensive to buy and repair. 
You will get the most our of your convertible top by taking proper care of it. 
 Follow the guidelines below to maximize the life of your convertible  top and its  operation

Opening and Closing Your Convertible Top

  • Always follow the instructions in your owner's manual for lowering and raising our top.  Unlatch your top at the front before unzipping your rear window or zip the window closed before latching the top unless the owner's manual or top manufacturer direct otherwise. 
  • DO NOT use your handles as leverage to close your top.(they could break and/or bend) 
  • DO NOT use your convertible top well (the space where the top goes when it is folded down) as storage. Even small items stored there can damage your top, window and frame. 
          This is especially crucial it your top has a glass rear window.
          This also includes under your                convertible top well - no audio equipment. 
  • Put the top UP after driving with it down.  When your top is folded and scrunched down in the well, it is wearing and rubbing against metal parts and itself.  Scratches in the rear plastic window increase with every vibration of your moving car. (you can put a terry towel between the top and rear curtain to reduces scratches.)  Also, creases in the topping material become more pronounced the longer your top is stored in the well of your car.  
  • Tops should NOT be left folded down overnight.  If left down creases can become permanent and the top could shrink making it difficult to close. 
  • We do not recommend putting a top down when the weather is below 50*. Vinyl's get stiff and shrink in cold weather. If your top is old you could rip it putting it up and down it cold weather. It could also be difficult to close. 

The Sun and Your Convertible Top

  • Do whatever you can to keep sun off your convertible top- park in the shade or use a car cover.  The sun destroys the material over time.(so does silicone based products.example amoral)
  • If you must park in the sun and you have a plastic rear window, park facing south when possible.  the sun moves across the southern sky during the day. Parking with the rear window facing away from the sun will keep it form "baking" during long summer days. 
  • Periodically inspect your top and window for early signs of wear or damage. 
  •  If you spot these, your top can often be saved by a timely convertible top repair or rear window replacement. Also, in the winter months be careful removing snow from your top-vinyl when old and cold is very brittle. Use the brush side only. and try not to use too much pressure. 
  • Use of the 303 Convertible Top products  will help reduce sun and weather damage- it has a UV protector in it. We carry the full line of 303 Products. We also carry rear window plastic cleaners to keep plastic window clear and protected. 
  • If you own a canvas convertible top take special care to notice if the rain water is beading or just soaking in?  If is soaking in you need to add a fabric protector to your top after washing. these protectors should be applied every year. 
  • You can not prevent convertible top shrinkage - it is a given with age. With the proper care your top can last you for years. Once it has shrunk there is nothing that can be done- except replacement. All convertible tops will have to replaced at one time or another. Avg. is about 10 years.  Please, if your top is leaking because of age have it replaced as soon as possible. water will get under your carpet and soak up into seat foams. When the water ages and "mixes" with the smells in the seat and ripens- that smell does not come out without replacing the carpet and sometimes replacing the seat buns. Airfreshners do not remove these old moldy smells. 

Dos and do not's................
  • Do not lower your convertible top and/or the rear window curtain when the temperature is less than 50 degrees.  If your top has a plastic rear window, don't fold temperature is less than 60 degrees. (cracking can occur.)
  • Do not lower your convertible top and/or rear window curtain when the top is wet to avoid mildew, discoloration or other damage to the topping or inside backing.  If you have mildew on your convertible top - outside cleaning with a mild soap and bleach solution - rinse well.  Look at your top closely or bring it in for us to look at.  Is the vinyl deteriorating and is the mold actually  growing in the layers on the convertible top?  Did you leave the top down and mold grew?   Your top could start to dry rot- and will need to be replace as soon as possible. 
  • Do clean the plastic window before folding your top down.  If your window is left dirty, grit on the window inside the fold works like sandpaper on the plastic ads the car moves. Rear plastic windows that are part of your top you can fold a white towel lengthwise and insert in the crease of the window as you put your top down too keep the window from sticking to itself. A few Corvette catalogs have these - we should have some in stock this summer. 

Cleaning your Convertible Top

 Consult the owner's manual of your car for the manufacturer's advice on top cleaning.  If                           omitted  or incomplete, follow the instructions below.
  • When cleaning your top, Merrillville Auto Glass & Restyling recommends vacuuming it first (if it is a cloth top),using an upholstery brush attachment to pick up dust, dirt, bird dropping, ect... If your top is clean simply rinse it with water and your' re done.  You don't always need to wash your top with soap when you wash your car. 
  • If your tops needs washing, we recommend hand washing it in the shade.  When done, put the care in the sun to dry the top.  While the top should never be folded down wet, install top boots and Tonneau covers while still damp to preserve fit and shape, but never store wet.
  • 303 Cleaners / Ragg Topp  is what Merrillville Auto Glass & Restyling recommends for top cleaning.  We recommend it because it is the only cleaner recommended by the The Haartz Corp.. Makers of 99% of the worlds top  material.  use it on both canvas and vinyl tops, as well as boot covers, SUV tops, Tonneau covers, ect.. Merrillville Auto Glass & Restyling always  303 Products in stock. 
  • Wet the top and spray Cleaners evenly over the entire roof.  Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes, then use a sponge or soft bristled brush to lightly scrub the top.  Never use a stiff bristle brush because it can scuff the outer vinyl or canvas layer.  After washing, rinse the top thoroughly to remove all traces of soap. 
  • Use cool to lukewarm water on the top.  If you live in a hard water area you will want to soften your cleaning water.  Do not use hot water.
  • In spite of our recommendation, some people will still use a car wash to clean their convertible.  If you use a care wash use on that uses water jets and hanging clothes heavy barrel brushes can damage top materials. 
  •  Do not let the car wash put spray wax or other chemicals on the top.These could break down materials and fabrics.  
  • Mild soap and water and a light coating of 303 protectorate may be applied. No silicone product should be used. Look over the weather stripping- most can be adjusted by gently pulling or pushing to make them "meet" where they bend apart. Weather strips are an expensive replacement so make sure you take care of yours. 
  • Also, white grease or WD40 folding joints to keep them operational. They get dirt and grim in them - it helps them move smoothly with out jerking which can wear you top frame. 
  • Some tops like Sebring have deep pockets that can collect dirt and leaves to clean this area, put you top down halfway to give you access to the rear part of your top where it meets the body.  Then you can clean out mud and leaves left to keep you top from and damage. 

Heavily Soiled Areas
 For more stubborn cases, mix a solution of no more than 1/2 cup (4oz.) bleach and 1/4 cup                (2oz.) Ivory Snow  Cleaner per gallon of water, soak for approximately 20 minutes and scrub               lightly as indicated above. (Excessive soaking with the bleach solution can deteriorate seam               threads.) Rinse thoroughly to prevent streaking on painted and chrome surfaces. Several                    cleanings may be necessary.

        Once dry, cleaning must be followed by re-water repelling with 303   Protestant. (This                          product does not contain CFC's and therefore, is not harmful to the environment.) Failure to                 apply will result in rapid resoiling of the unprotected fabric.

Once clean, your top can be made more resistant to soiling and ultraviolet sun damage by                    application of fluorocarbon protectors products. Merrillville Auto Glass &  Restyling                                  recommends Raggtopp and 303 Products for vinyl tops and Fabric Protection for   canvas                     tops.  Apply two or  three light coats to a dry top allowing 10 minutes between coats.  When                    finished put in the sun for an hour to cure the protectors UV stabilizers. 


  • Glass rear windows:  Clean glass windows with water-based glass cleaners.  Do not allow the cleaner to drip into seams or heat seals.  Heater/defroster glass windows should be cleaned very gently to avoid damage to the element lines and/or the power source connection. 
  • Plastic rear windows: Plastic rear windows should be cleaned in the shade.  the first step is to get the fine gritty off the window.  We recommend thoroughly rinsing loose particles off the window.(a spray bottle with water only works great.)  Next, use a damp cloth (terry) or paper towel to "blot"up the remaining grit, turning the side after each blot.  Use a blotting motion - not side-to-side, up and down or circular motions- these movements can scratch your window.  After all the grit is off the window wash it with mild solution of dish soap and water. A  plastic polish specially  made for plastic windows can then be applied with a micro-fiber towel as a final cleaning step. 
  • Mothers Plastic Polish was formulated to clean, shine, and protect plastics and clear plastics. It is highly versatile and can be used on anything from the plastic gauge cluster cover on the instrument panel to convertible top windows. The best part is it actually beautifies these sometimes finicky surfaces by filling in and buffing out little nicks, hairline scratches, and tiny flaws as it cleans the surface, freeing it of smudges, dust, and fingerprints. Mothers Plastic Polish is a true polish, and can tackle even the seemingly baked on ‘yellow’ film and ‘cloudy’ streaks from the most sensitive plastics...such as convertible top windows. The tough cleaning combines with a gentle polishing process that, while it removes all the undesirables, leaves the surface sparkling clean, clear, and bright  and on automotive plastics, what more could you ask for?
  •  Finally, apply. 303  Vinyl Protectorate to give the window an extra layer of UV protection.  We do not recommend the use of any other products on your window. 
  • Also, lets not forget you convertible top well- this area should be vacuumed and then wiped clean to keep the grit and grim off the inside of your convertible top . 

  • If the material is pulling away from your "rear window" it has shrunk  from age.   Unfortunately the only way to repair this condition is to replace the rear curtain.  Also, note if the backglass is in this kind of condition your whole top is drirotted even if it "looks good" 

  • A Convertible top last approximate. 7 -10 years on avg. depending on the climate conditions and care. 
All instock now!
303  Fabric Guard
303 Aerospace Protectorates
Both Ragg Topp and 303 Cleaners are applied the same way 
Customer Information Bulletin


The problems that owners are experiencing with their collectibles convertibles, both intermediate and full size cars, are surfacing across the country. 

Most of these vehicles have been on the road being bounced around for many years, causing misalignment of frame structure, as well as the terminals tied into the body. 

We are also seeing metal failure in many of the convertible arms and bows causing bowing, and thus throwing the opening and closing out of adjustment.  This brings undue strain on the fabric, resulting in early convertible top material failure.  

Another problem we are beginning to see surface is the fact that most cars are not garaged.  Rust follows after a number Of  years of exposure, thus binding up some of the flexible joints.  This leads to uneven closing and opening of the top, also resulting in fabric stress and tearing.  

The age of these convertibles is showing up in their flexible joints.  To keep your ragtop functioning properly have your trim shop check these critical areas.  

National Association of auto Trim & Restyling Shops 
convertible tops
Bestop Clean Vinyl window cleaner
Bestop Soft Top zipper cleaner and lubricant
bestop cleaner kits and twill cleaner and protector