Thinking of Buying a Convertible? Here’s What You Should Know
Rag tops. Soft tops. Drop tops. Whatever you call them, convertible cars conjure images of carefree, sunshine-filled days, hair blowing in the wind and cool breezes – all perfect for pleasant autumn days. If you’re contemplating purchasing a convertible, you’re probably already intrigued by the options and fun they can offer. Still, many first-time buyers have questions about convertible vehicles. Here’s what you need to know before you buy that shiny new drop-top:
Since you’ll likely want to take advantage of the convertible top, you’ll often be riding with the top down — that means the weather can be a concern. As the autumn approaches, you’ll want to keep a hat, scarf, or long-sleeved shirt around to protect from cool winds, says Saab enthusiast blog Saabism. These might also help shield you from the sun on especially sunny days. And crisp days don’t necessarily need to be a deterrent to dropping your convertible top, according to Consumer Reports. Many newer models now offer seat and neck warmers or blowing heat vents designed to keep you warm when riding with the top down. Consider your choice of interior color scheme, too – dark leathers or fabric may heat up quicker under the sun.
If you’re thinking about buying a convertible, be sure to consider its roof and maintenance costs, says AutoTrader. Check both hard and soft tops for leaks before buying the vehicle, and to be aware that leaks can happen. While AutoTrader says motorized convertible tops are built to last for years, there’s still a chance it can break during ownership — and it can be expensive to repair. In all, says Edmunds, convertibles’ most significant maintenance cost will be top repairs, but auto manufacturers are constantly improving their durability and today’s soft tops last longer than in years past.
Hard- vs. Soft-tops
According to Consumer Reports, the choice between a hard or soft top is dependent upon your priorities. Hard tops are heavier and tend to be costlier but offer better protection from noise and the elements. Soft tops, meanwhile, tend to be more economical, but might allow cold or water to occasionally seep through. Still, recent improvements in both types of tops mean fewer mechanical failures and better top maneuverability and durability.
Blind spots due to small rear-windows tends to be one of the most common safety issues in both hard- and soft-top convertibles, says Edmunds. AutoTrader suggests inquiring about warning systems to help minimize blind spot risks. Potential owners should also ask about roll bars and crash or roll safety ratings, since convertibles are typically at a disadvantage in car accidents, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Finally, suggests Edmunds, convertible owners should always remain aware of the dangers of a retractable roof. Cars should never be left unattended with the top down, and adequate security systems should be installed to help protect from break-ins.
Sure, summer’s over, but it’s not too late to enjoy cruising the road in a convertible this fall. Take into account your particular wants and needs from a car in certain weather conditions, and a rag-top or hard-top convertible could be a fun option — even in the crisp afternoons of autumn.