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Blissful Cruising

By SGCM_editorial on 21 Feb 2014

Attached Image To the sunshine-loving motorist, few things can top the sensation of driving with the top down. But in the current COE climate, buying a brand-new convertible is prohibitively expensive, so the next best option would be to pick up a pre-owned unit.
Aside from the usual buying tips, such as making sure that the vehicle has a sound service history and hasn’t been in an accident, would-be owners also need to focus on several key areas that are unique to convertibles.
The most obvious would be the roof system. According to Ivan Koh, sales director at Vincar, if the roof is made of fabric, you should inspect it closely for tears on the canvas. Don’t forget to take a careful look at the “inside” portion that covers the cabin, too.
If the convertible has a folding hardtop, Ivan’s advice is to operate the roof while listening for any unusual noises and watching for “hiccuping” movements in the mechanism. A problem-free roof will not emit creaking sounds and its action will be smooth, whether going upwards to deploy or downwards to stow. The same applies to manually operated soft-tops, perhaps on a two-seater roadster.
Attached Image First-time “topless” drivers might not be aware that convertibles generally aren’t known for their interior insulation. Be it a soft- or hard-top, it is normal to hear some rattling from the roof area, especially when the car is driven over rough road surfaces.
A convertible’s roof should also be free from leaks. If a dealer claims that they’ve put the vehicle through a car wash, they should have no qualms about doing it again to prove that the canopy is indeed waterproof. Look out for any water that seeps into the cabin – even a few drops could be a sign that the overhead seals have deteriorated.
Now, if the topless wonder you’re eyeing meets the aforementioned criteria, all that remains is for you to ascertain the dealer’s after-sales support. Ask the agent how quickly they can get you a new or refurbished roof in case your existing one needs to be replaced. Good dealers (Vincar being among them) will be able to source the item in about a month’s time.
Keep these pointers in mind when buying that nifty used number and you can look forward to many kilometres of topless, trouble-free cruising

This article was written by Jeremy Chua, writer for Torque.  

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tanbk Feb 21 2014 09:15 AM

Good read. Some more tips I found.


Test Drive a Roof

There are two ways to test drive a convertible roof. The first is the most obvious: standing still. This is when you have all the time in the world to either get the top up or down. It’s not going to be difficult to operate a roof with a power top, of course. During the stand still test, with a manual roof, you’re basically seeing how difficult it is to operate the latches that secure the roof. You also want to see how easy it is to fold the top and secure it in the down position.

Be brutally honest with yourself in your appraisal of how easy it is to manually operate the latches associated with opening the roof and securing it. The latches may – and I emphasize may – become easier to use as time passes, but probably not. If your hands aren’t strong enough to open the roof now, they’re probably not going to be strong enough six months down the road.

Speed is another important test. See how quickly you can put the top up. Now, this doesn’t matter with a power roof because it only goes up as fast as its engine allows it to. Where it makes a difference is with a manual roof. You’re going to want to see how quick you can put the roof up in a rainstorm.


Types of Roofs

There are two basic types of roofs: fabric or hardtop. The hardtop roof is made of the same sheet metal as the rest of the car and folds down with the aid of a motor. Fabric tops can be made of a variety of materials such as vinyl, canvas or an acrylic/polyester blend.

Test the roof itself by spraying water on it, specifically at the points where the roof hits the windshield and where the glass hits the roof along the sides. You’re looking for leaks. They can happen even in a hardtop convertible. A 2010 Infiniti G37 S convertible I test drove had a slight drip problem after a heavy rain. A good roof seal lets in no moisture.


The Storage Space

Check out the well where the roof is stored. Most have some kind of removable top that locks into place. See if there are signs of rust inside the well. It could demonstrate leaks that are going to eventually destroy the roof if it is stored improperly. Examine how securely the top snaps into place. Loose tops contribute to the destructive moisture problem. They could also fly off at highway speeds.

drivinghazard Feb 21 2014 09:53 AM

I prefer hard top to a soft top. Somehow the idea of having a fabric looking-like material keeping out the rain does not register.


But on a practical front, the only car that I ever owned closest to a convertible is one with a Sun-Roof. Even then, I rem that my sunroof leaks water under those high pressure car wash. But maybe it's because the car is more than 10 years old.

ManHong Feb 21 2014 12:02 PM

I always think it's not awesome to cruise with open top, eating dust on the road. But when I do, I'd just enjoy.

tanbk Feb 21 2014 02:28 PM

I always think it's not awesome to cruise with open top, eating dust on the road. But when I do, I'd just enjoy.


Who tell you to open the top on a dusty road? lol

Davetan86 Feb 21 2014 10:30 PM

Been owning a 2 seater hard-top roadster for coming 5 years. So far only rattle roof sound can be heard in the rear of the latch. Given a correct lubricant spray on the roof mechanical arm screw every few months to eliminate the rattling noise. 

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