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Correct convertible top care, part 2

July 09, 2014
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Last week in the article titled, Correct convertible top care, part 1, we covered covertible top materials and products to be used. This week, we discuss reconditioning treatment methods.

If the convertible top is on an older vehicle or has not been appropriately cared for, the top will need to be rejuvenated before adding protection.

Detailers should:

  1. Start by thoroughly vacuuming the top with an upholstery brush.

  2. Then thoroughly wet down the top. Spray it with a cleaner approved by the manufacturer.

  3. If the top is heavily soiled let the cleaner dwell for up to 15 minutes, but make sure it doesn't dry out.

  4. Then scrub it gently but thoroughly with a soft nylon brush, using a circular or back-and-forth crisscross motion.

  5. Rinse the top thoroughly and until all foam from the cleaner dissipates.
    Multiple cleanings using the process above may be necessary to remove as much of the accumulated soil as possible, especially for tops that are several years old.

  6. After all of the cleaning is done, allow the top to dry completely.

  7. Once the top is thoroughly dry, apply an appropriate protectant evenly across the entire exposed fabric surface.

It may be necessary to use up to two times the number of coats recommended for a new top. It's better to apply light coats, allowing 10 minutes or so of sun-drying time between coats.

This entire process may take from one to two hours, depending on drying times.

Wholesale charges range from $75-150 per vehicle. Retail convertible top reconditioning service can easily fetch $150-250 dollars on a standard vehicle.

Post-Treatment: Regular maintenance

Once the initial treatment is complete, it's important to inform customers that following up with regular re-treatment will keep their convertible top looking great and protected for years to come.

Vinyl tops should be properly cleaned and re-treated every four to six weeks for maximum protection.

Likewise, fabric tops should be cleaned and retreated every three to six months.

Between formal treatments, standard carwashing is acceptable and advisable. Although most automatic carwashes are safe for convertible tops, those using barrel brushes should be avoided.

Tap the market

The more often a convertible top is treated, the easier each treatment process is. A pricing schedule for regular convertible top maintenance should reflect this.

For example, fabric top maintenance every three months should cost at least $100 per treatment.

Convertible top maintenance is a golden opportunity for the professional detailer to take advantage of a virtually untapped market.

Target markets include both new and used dealerships as well as retail customers.

The process of cleaning and protecting convertible top material is rather simple but must include the use of chemicals that are approved by the manufacturer to avoid unnecessary damage to the material.

Prentice St. Clair is the president of Detail in Progress, Inc. ,the San Diego-based business which offers consulting for the automotive detailing and reconditioning industry. Prentice can be reached at prentice@detailinprogress.com.

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