Soft Top Restoration | Mini Cooper S

Apr
08
2021

This Mini came into us with a few problems. It had a bit of a leak, there was condensation inside the car and there was some assumption that the convertible roof was leaking.

Roofs don't often leak, at least not the actual roof part, usually it's the additional exotic drainage systems they have that get blocked. Or the rubbers shrink, harden and get dirty where the roof meets the windscreen or around the windows which unlike other cars are missing their door pillars.

This is nothing we can't handle, we do lots of these as part of our Leak Detection Service. A bigger problem long term is the state of the roof. As they age, the hydrophobic coating which keeps the hood dry begins to wear off. The hood stays wetter for longer, dirt gets into it and things begin to grow. The fabric outer layer of the roof (which isn't actually the waterproof bit, it's just for show) will then begin to rot, wear and perish.

This doesn't look good on your car while you own it, and when you come to sell it nobody will want to buy it. Conversely, convertible cars with hoods in good condition are sought after and command higher prices at resale. But mainly, it's about it looking good while you own it, after all, that's why you bought a soft top in the first place isn't it? They look cool!

Somebody had tried to blast the dirt out with a pressure washer which is not a good idea. The pressure coming out of those washers is pretty fierce and actually enough to cut through the fabric like a knife. Even getting too close will cause damage. This was really our main concern with this roof, but once we cleaned it, aside from a few slight marks, it generally came up quite well.

Many people think you need to get the hood recoloured,  but re-colouring never looks anywhere as good as the original finish, and we find that once a hood is thoroughly cleaned, it looks a little darker, and then the new hydrophobic coating, although clear, darkens it up and evens things out. 

I think you'll agree, this car looks splendid and at the fraction of the price of a replacement roof.  If your soft top needs a clean and re-waterproofing, give us a call. 

How to clean a Mini convertible roof

We  do recommend that every couple of years you do get your hood professionally cleaned and re-waterproofed, but how do you maintain it in the meantime?

First we recommend you get a Convertible Roof Cleaning Kit. You can get these in Halford's or buy online, and there are good ones by AutoGlym, Renovo, Raggtop and others. They are all pretty good, but none of them are a magic bullet for getting your hood clean. If you were to ask our opinion on which we would recommend, we would suggest Renovo. Renovo are specialists in hoods and coverings, it's what they do, and we trust them.

When you get a convertible roof cleaning kit, you will usually get a detergent which formulated for removing the green and organic matter, and you will get a weatherproof coating.  We suggest you also get yourself a couple of brushes, because regardless of what soap you use, you need to do a lot of scrubbing. 

As mentioned above, when cleaning your hood, do not go too close to it with a pressure washer, in fact it is best if you keep pressure washers well away from your hood. Instead, wet it down with a hosepipe and apply the soap, then brush the roof. You can actually brush it quite firmly with a scrubbing brush, but be careful around areas of stitching. Then rinse and repeat. You need to keep rinsing and repeating until those soap bubbles are running off white and clear. 

This is all assuming that your hood is in fairly good condition to begin with. If however it hasn't been done properly in the last couple of years, then we highly recommend you take it to a trusted professional. You can definitely do it yourself, but it could be an all-day job. That means hours of scrubbing it by hand.

Once you are happy with how clean your roof is... or you have run out of energy, then you can apply the waterproof coating. You can't go far wrong with this as long as you follow the manufacturers instructions and use sparingly.  This is one of the reasons we recommend Renovo, you get a nice lot of it and can liberally brush it on without worrying about running out. 

How do I tell if my waterproof coating has worn off?

Assuming you have cleaned the hood properly and applied the weatherproofing correctly, once it's dry, any water hitting your roof will bead up and roll off. The weatherproofing is a hydrophobic coating and will repel water, and it will repel it so much that it won't want to stay on your car.

However, this will only last a short time. Once dust begins to land on your roof, its sharp edges will break the surface tension of any water droplets, and you will no longer see this effect. But that doesn't mean your fabric hood is no longer waterproof. If you put your hand on the roof and feel it, it should still be mostly dry. If however the fabric is sopping wet, then you know it's time to get your hood re-weatherproofed. 

What is Neoprene, and why should I care?

Neoprene is a synthetic rubber, and it plays an important part in your cabriolet roof. You have probably worked this out already, but that top layer of fabric which makes your hood look so pretty isn't actually what is keeping the water out! Underneath that is a neoprene membrane which is the part that actually stops the water getting in your car. So the answer is 'no', it doesn't matter if the water is soaking through the fabric hood. That isn't the point where you need to get your hood re-waterproofed. 

More importantly, there are neoprene rubber seals all around your hood. Across the top where the hood meets your windscreen, and around the tops of the doors, and even between the door window and rear quarter window, (because cabriolets tend not to have a door pillar).

These rubbers need to be kept clean. We recommend paying as much attention to these as you do the rest of the hood. We see dozens of convertible cars every year that have leaks, and often the water is leaking through these seals. This is another expense you could do without, so it pays you to keep them clean, don't use harsh soaps that can dry them out, and if possible keep them soft and supple by treating them with a product like Krytox Roof Care Lubricant.

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