Can You Take a Convertible / Soft Top through a Car Wash?

Whether you are looking into purchasing a new convertible, or the proud owner of a soft top you are probably wondering how to wash and care for the vehicle. It is hard to beat the convenience of a car wash; luckily most convertible soft tops are car wash friendly. This article, Can You Take a Convertible / Soft Top through a Car Wash, provides you with all you need to know about washing your soft top convertible.

Quick Answer

Different soft top convertible models have different recommended wash styles; however, most soft top convertibles have no limitations to the type of wash they can handle.

  • Every vehicle model is quality assured and tested prior to its market release.
  • Check top frame rigid to determine if your soft top can handle the car wash. Rigid greater than 31 mph is car wash friendly.
  • The best place to check and see if your soft top convertible model is indeed car wash friendly is with the manufacturer, or in the user manual.
  • The high-pressure water (900 pounds per square inch on average) ejected during a car wash is aimed at the wheels and doors, not the top.
  • Loose fabric on a soft top can compromise its integrity causing problems during a car wash.

There are many factors that impact caring for a convertible. Continue reading to learn more about how to wash your soft top convertible.

Can You Take a Convertible / Soft Top through a Car Wash?

Different factors will influence whether or not you can take your soft top through a car wash including the vehicle model, and type of car wash.

What Type of Car Wash is Safe for a Convertible / Soft Top?

Understanding what type of car wash is safe for your vehicle is an important step to avoiding damaging your soft top. When looking for a car wash, consider the following:

  • Look for a car wash facility that offers touchless car wash.
  • Looking for a reputable car wash is important, because of the chemicals that are used during a wash could cause long term damage.
  • Research different local car washes online, or look for word of mouth recommendations to find a trustworthy facility.
  • Call ahead to ensure the car wash facility is fit for soft top convertibles.
  • Avoid spot cleaning your soft top, which can leave a ring look behind.
  • Some car wash chains are known for being high quality. Check and see if your local area is home to any of the following car wash chains: Zips Car Wash, Mister Car Wash, Quick Quack Car Wash, International Car Wash Group, or Autobell Car Wash.

Pros and Cons to a Touchless Car Wash

A touchless car wash was invented as a safer alternative to the traditional automatic car wash. Touchless car wash offers an automatic wash free of contact, making it ideal for soft top convertibles.

Industrial brushes: A touchless car wash eliminates industrial brushes, which are hard on the top of a vehicle. The brushless design is ideal for a soft top.

Chemical products: Some car wash facilities are known to use cleaning products during a touchless wash that can damage the vehicle over time.

Speed: A benefit to touchless car wash is speed. This wash will be completed in 10 minutes or less on average.

Inexpensive: The touchless wash is relatively inexpensive costing $5-$10 per wash on average. Some car wash facilities offer membership pricing.

Convenience: All of the materials for the wash are provided, so a touchless car wash requires little effort for the vehicle owner. All the driver needs to do is show up and park their vehicle for the duration of the wash.

Little attention to detail: One shortcoming of the touchless car wash is due to the automatic nature of this wash there is no attention to detail.

Pros and Cons to a Hand Wash

Hand washing your soft top convertible is the safest option; however, there are shortcomings to this maintenance approach. Some of the pros and cons to hand washing a convertible include:

Attention to detail: A hand wash approach is the best for reaching every spot on the vehicle. This method ensures every inch of the vehicle is cleaned appropriately, including tough to clean dirt and grime in the wheel wells.

Versatile cleaning products: A soft top convertible requires different cleaning products for different places on a car. By having a person wash the vehicle they can incorporate all of the best cleaning products.

User error: A downfall to washing your soft top by hand is mistakes can be made. For example, the washer could accidentally use the wrong cleaning product, and damage the vehicle.

Less water spots: Washing your soft top convertible by hand will avoid water spots left behind by automatic cash wash blowers. To avoid spots your soft top should be dried with a microfiber towel.

Time and cost: Washing a car by hand is the most time-consuming method. The going rate to hand wash a soft top convertible is up to $50-$100 per clean.

Why Not to Do a High-Pressure Spray Wash

High-pressure spray wash involves using a machine that produces water pressure between 750 to 30,000 psi. This method is popularly used to remove tough to get grease, grime, dust, and dirt; however, it is not ideal for a soft top convertible. Here is everything you need to know about why not to use a high-pressure spray wash on your soft top convertible:

  • A high-pressure spray wash can damage the fabric of a soft top, as well as cause the paint to chip.
  • If the soft top has any holes or rips in it the high-pressure wash will most likely cause further damage.
  • High-pressure wash does not allow cleaning products to saturate on the surface evenly, leaving rings and spots behind.
  • If you must use high-pressure spray to wash your soft top make sure to hold the hose back at least 4-feet, move the hose consistently, and do not spray directly for more than a second.

Will a Car Wash Brush Damage a Convertible / Soft Top?

If you are considering taking your convertible / soft top through a car wash you are probably wondering if the car wash brush could damage your vehicle. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about how a car wash brush effects a soft top:

Does a car wash brush effect different soft top convertible the same? A car wash brush will impact various models differently. To determine if your soft top can handle a car wash brush contact the manufacturer, or check your owner’s manual.

What is a soft brush and how is it different? A soft brush is the most common type of brush found in automatic car washes today. This brush has soft bristles that are less damaging.

Will a car wash brush compromise the integrity of my soft top over time? As the frequency of car washes increases, the condition of your top decreases. The use of a car wash brush during an automatic wash will age your top faster.

There are many different approaches to washing a car. Understanding how the way you wash your soft top convertible impacts the condition of your vehicle is important when selecting the right method.

Soft Versus Hard Convertible Tops: How to Spot the Difference & How to Care for Each

There are two different types of tops your convertible might have, the more traditional soft top and newer hard top. The manufacturer and model often dictate what type of top your convertible will have. Knowing how to spot the difference is an important step towards caring for your vehicle correctly.

Soft Top Convertibles

  • A soft top convertible is made up of a blend of fabrics. A soft top is the more traditional look of a convertible, compared to the hard top that looks more like a regular car.
  • Soft tops are usually cheaper to replace, but wear out quicker than a hard top.
  • A soft top is easier to use, and is less likely to break from a mechanical problem.
  • The recommended method to clean a soft top first rinse the top with water and then apply convertible top cleaner. Last, scrub the cleaner off with a soft bristle brush.
  • Most soft top convertibles are automatic car wash friendly.

Hard Top Convertibles

  • Hard tops offer more security, and are harder to cut through than soft tops.
  • There is a thicker barrier to protect the interior from weather, such as snow and rain.
  • Hard tops are better insulated than soft tops.
  • A hard top will last on average twice as long as a soft top.
  • A hard top is easy to mistake for a regular car.
  • The maintenance and upkeep on a convertible’s hard top tend to be more expensive than a soft top, costing upwards of $1000 on average over the course of the vehicle’s life.

Tips for Cleaning a Convertible / Soft Top at an Automatic Car Wash

Most convertible’s today have a soft top. If you own a soft top convertible chances are you might not have a ton of time to devote to hand washing your vehicle, or the funds to spend on hiring someone to hand wash it. If this is the case you may be wondering if there are any tips or tricks to washing your soft top at an automatic car wash. Here are several tips on washing your soft top convertible at an automatic car wash:

  • Check with your manufacturer or in your owner’s manual to make sure your vehicle can go through an automatic car wash.
  • Call the automatic car wash you plan to visit in advance to determine if they are compatible with soft top convertibles.
  • A touchless car wash is the safest automatic option for a soft top.
  • Always wash the whole top at one time. Spot cleaning can leave water rings that stain the top.
  • A soft top is made of fabrics, so gently formulated cleaning products should be used.
  • Inspect your soft top before going through an automatic car wash. Ensure there are no rips or holes in the top prior to washing your vehicle.
  • Make sure your top is secure before entering the car wash.
  • While driving your vehicle through the car wash, pay attention to the top to ensure there are no small holes you may have missed during your inspection.
  • After washing your vehicle, make sure the top dries evenly. If necessary, consider patting the top dry.
  • Limiting your use of automatic car washes will improve the lifespan of your soft top.

What Brands of Convertible Are Okay to Take Through a Car Wash?

Every brand and model of convertible will differ in its ability to go through an automatic car wash. Some brands are more compatible with automatic car washes compared to others. Below will talk about some of the most popular convertible brands and their ability to go through a car wash.

    • Ford’s Mustang convertible is a best-selling model. The manufacturer recommends hand washing, but does state it is automated car wash capable.
    • BMW Z4 convertible should be hand washed. It is possible to take a BMW Z4 through a touchless automatic wash.
    • Audi A5 convertible offers two washing options, touchless car wash and hand wash.
    • Mini Cooper convertible can go through an automated car wash; however, hand wash is recommended for this best-selling model.
    • Volkswagen Beetle is another popular convertible model. This model can go through a car wash; however, the driver should watch for leaks.
  • Mazda MX-5 Miata convertible should be monitored when run through an automated car wash, because they can leak around the windows.
  • Chevrolet Camaro convertible recommends hand washing the vehicle, or using a touchless car wash.
  • Fiat 500 convertible can be run through a touchless car wash, or handwashed.
  • BMW 328 convertible is recommended to be handwashed. Touchless car wash is an option, but not the recommended method.
  • Fiat 124 Spider is a popular convertible whose manufacturer recommends handwashing, but states that car wash soaps are safe to use on this soft top.
  • Mercedes Benz C-Class recommends a soft touch car wash.
  • Porsche 718 Boxster can go through a car wash, preferably a touchless car wash.
  • Lexus LC 500 should not go through an automatic car wash. Instead owners should opt for hand washing or touchless car wash.

Wrap up

If you own, or are thinking about purchasing a convertible, it is important to understand how to care for your car. While washing your vehicle can help maintain its quality, if the wrong method is used the consequences could include damage, or advanced aging of your vehicle. If you are interested in caring for your convertible please leave a comment below.

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