Cleaning Convertible Car Roofs

Cleaning Convertible Car Roofs

It's important that your cabriolet's hood be periodically cleaned and reproofed with the correct products.

This will keep it looking like new and prevent it fading, growing moss, becoming worn and falling apart.

Cleaning convertible car roofs
With proper cleaning with the right products, an old hood can be made to look like new. A periodical top up with a good coating of reproofer will keep it that way.

The Problem with Fabric Car Roofs

Cars look dreadful with a green/grey dirty looking roof which had faded and covered in lichen. It's almost certain that when you bought a car with a convertible roof, you had in mind that the car would look great and make you look and feel good when you are cruising around with the top down. Having the roof turn faded and green will no doubt feel like a bit of a wet blanket. So, what can you do about it?

They would say that, wouldn't they?

You and do it yourself, there are DIY kits available online or from your local motor accessory shop, and there are one or two superb ones. Renovo is a company we’ve been dealing with for many years, and they do a great range of products designed to help you take care of your mohair roofAutoglym also do quite a good kit which we have used, it works, and the results are pretty good.

However, we will tell you that getting good results is all in the cleaning. Then cleaning it again. And Again, and then two or three more times just to make sure!

Yes, it's hard work, and it can also be messy work. In our opinion, these kits work if your hood is just looking a bit tired and faded, maybe with a bit of green. If your hood is what you might describe as, "a bit of a state" then you might consider other options. You can still do it using the cleaning and refinishing kits... but it's hard work doing it by hand without the kinds of machines that professionals use.

It's a bit like when you have a Flymo hover mower, and you are trying to cut your overgrown lawn.

So, we would recommend getting it done professionally by a convertible roof specialist if it’s already looking green, faded and just not vibrant any more.

Not Rocket Surgery, Just Elbow Grease.

We're sorry to say that there's no real magic to cleaning hoods. The DIY kit consists of a cleaner and a protector.  The hydrophobic coating you get to put on are all similar and all do the job, the cleaner is a detergent which will loosen dirt, grime and organic matter without damaging the hood or leaving residue of the soap it's self. The rest is all labour. The difference between doing it DIY and getting a professional to do it is that we have practice, experience and a few special machines. We have electric brushes, air tools and the equipment needed to flush through a lot of water which definitely makes the job easier and saves time.

So, how do you find a good professional company?

You could come to us, we have been doing hoods for years and our reviews are very good. You couldn't find a better company than us... we're also very modest. But we are here in Chelmsford, Essex and some people reading this will be the other side of the country or even the other side of the world.  So, you should set out to find somebody local.

Our suggestion is to do a little homework. Try asking dealers who use for their professional valeting/detailing and see who they trust to be very professional. Then interrogate them to see if you feel they know what they are talking about.  I know it sounds pretty unfair, but this is not a job for your car washer guys. It needs someone who knows how to treat the roof. In other words, not damage it using a  jet washer very close up. This is something we see a lot of, roofs can be badly damaged by pressure washers.

You might be able to find a franchise like Autosmart or Autoglym, they do a complete trade range, so ask them who they supply to that they would recommend.

If you speak to their head offices and ask for your area franchisee/rep, then call them up... Try to get two or three companies from them, then look at their reviews on Google and give them a call.

A little tip here, is if they are doing a lot of recolouring, then I would give them a miss. We only recolour the very, very worst ones. Most people make the mistake of putting the colour over the dirt, thinking the dirt is fading. It usually means it’s not clean, so putting the colour over the top can end up in a right mess, as you can imagine. That would be a little bit like cleaning your garage door and leaving the dirt on patchy parts and then giving it a good paint. And the re-colour is a paint. You can't re-dye a fabric roof, you can only paint over it, so while this might be okay for older cars, you will not be getting the same finish you got from the factory.

Ask them if they guarantee their work. Ask them how long I’ve been doing it. If you’re not sure, pop down and see them. They should be happy to show you what work they are doing and advise you on your route before your booking.

Hood cleaning.  Before and after.


Five good reasons why you should look after your cabriolet roof.

1. You may not be thinking that you will be replacing your roof in the time that you own the car, however when you come to sell, your buyer will be looking for a looking for a car with a roof in good condition. They don’t want to be replacing it in their ownership period.  A new roof on a small car will cost anything from £400-£500,  £1500-£200 on a medium-sized car, and a bigger car a lot more. And uncared for, unprotected roof will probably only last about half the lifetime of the car. The grit and dirt which gets into the fabric in the roof causes wear.

2. Most people buy a convertible car because I love the feeling of freedom that it gives and the good looks it promotes, so a nice clean roof is all part of the nice clean feeling that you get from driving a nice clean car.

3. The water can get through the roof and in particular the rubbers that seal it on. So, when you’re getting your roof Cleaned/refurbished, or you’re doing it yourself, make sure that the rubbers are all cleaned and conditioned with the correct products. 

5. Clean and look after your roof also the surrounding drains. Many roofs have drain areas where, when they’re folded away, water can escape from. So ensure these are not filling up with debris each time you fold your roof down. The dirt from the roof is carried into the compartment and then gets in the way of the water running away. If there is a blockage, it can cause havoc inside your car. The Porsche Boxter, Audi TT, Volvo, and BMW cabriolets all suffer with this. 
6. If you just let the dirt build up it can then accommodate other stuff to grow on it, which causes rot. Let’s take this as an example. If you were to remove your roof and then walk it across the field and find a tree next to an old pond and leave it there for two or three years, then come back and take a good look at it, it’s more likely going to be wrecked. It’s the green stuff (lichen) that comes from trees and hedges that is the beginning of the perishing process, it digs in deep, destroying the fibres.

So don’t put it off, do it yourself or get it done professionally. If you are going to do it yourself, give it a good clean and then check it when it is dry, the chances are you’ll have to do it again and again. But don’t despair, each time you do it, it will get somewhere between 60 and 80% better. Just remember, the cleaning is everything. If you were to imagine you could take the whole roof off and put it in a washing machine, the machine would run for a good hour and if your roof was very dirty, you may want to put it on twice. So get yourself quite a good scrubbing brush, not too abrasive, and be prepared to scrub scrub scrub scrub all day long. 

Danny Argent

technical writer and customer education.


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#ConvertibleHoods #CeramicCoating

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