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Many car enthusiasts love the idea of buying a convertible to get the open-air driving experience. However, this usually comes at an increased price. Buying a used car with a soft top can be a great way to get the experience at a more affordable price. Soft tops usually can be obtained for cheaper prices compared to a hard-top convertible, due to having fewer mechanical components. However, it’s important to be aware of certain factors when shopping for a used car with a soft top, including the condition of the top itself, the vehicle’s history, and overall wear and tear. From checking for leaks to inspecting the fabric, it’s important to be mindful of the potential issues when buying a used car with a soft top. Know what to look for to ensure you’re getting a reliable and safe vehicle.

Modern convertible car with a soft top

Soft top fabric condition

The first thing to check when buying a used car with a soft top is the condition of the fabric. Look for any signs of wear and tear, such as rips, tears, discoloration fading, or cracking, this may indicate that the vehicle top requires replacement soon. Another sign of poor maintenance is hints of water damage or mildew. It’s also a good idea to check the condition of the plastic or metal framework that supports the soft top. Look for any signs of rust or damage, as these can be expensive to repair.

Water damage and leaks

Another key consideration when buying a used car with a soft top is to check for leaks. Soft tops are more prone to leaks than hard tops, so it’s important to make sure that the vehicle does not have any water damage. The canvas material on top should be a waterproof material, however, general wear over time can reduce the efficacy of the rooftop sealant, and without adequate maintenance and replacement, can lead to the vehicle losing its waterproofing. Damage, rips, or tears are also another easy way for method for water to leak into the vehicle. Check the interior of the car, including the seats and flooring, for any signs of water damage. If the soft top has been poorly installed, there is a chance that water can seep in from the rubber seals between the top and the windows. These seals can wear out over time so it is essential to check the condition of them.

Soft top functionality

It’s also important to check the functionality of the soft top. Make sure that the top can be raised and lowered smoothly and that all the latches and locks are in good working condition. If the soft top is not working properly, it can be costly to fix, and it may indicate that the vehicle has not been well-maintained. Take the car for a test drive with the top down to check for any wind noise or leaks. Also check if the boot cover, which covers the top when folded, is present and in good condition.

Assessing Vehicle History & Soft Top Condition

Another aspect to consider when buying a used car with a soft top is the maintenance history. A well-maintained vehicle is less likely to have problems with the soft top, so it’s important to find out if the vehicle has been serviced regularly. Be sure to review the vehicle’s history before making a purchase. When negotiating with the owner, make sure to ask for a full-service history report, and whether the car has undergone any additional modifications, alternative soft-top installations, or customisation. The service history report will give you information on any accidents, repairs, or damage to the vehicle, which will help you determine the car’s overall condition. Find out when the vehicle’s soft top was last washed and sealed properly, or if it has had any issues in the past such as leaks. It’s also a good idea to have a trusted mechanic inspect the car, specifically look for any signs of water damage and past accident repairs.

Overall vehicle wear and tear
In addition to checking the soft top and reviewing the vehicle’s history, it’s important to also look at the overall wear and tear of the vehicle. This includes checking the condition of the paint, tires, brakes, and other mechanical components. Look for any signs of rust or corrosion, which can indicate that the vehicle has been exposed to moisture. Check the condition of the tires to see if they need to be replaced. Also, take the car for a test drive to check for any unusual noises or vibrations.

Does your vehicle need a soft top replacement or maintenance? Keep your soft top in the best shape possible, with our range of soft top care maintenance products such as fabric cleaners and cleaning brushes. Alternatively, if you are looking at getting a new soft top installed, then you have come to the right place.

Over 10 years we’ve established a nationwide network of specialists to professionally install your new soft top, whether it’s your BMW, Ford, Mazda MX-5, or Mercedes-Benz convertible.

To organise a quote send us an enquiry via our Enquiry Form or alternatively, you can email us at or call us at 1300 308 600