Convertibles are a symbol of a fun and carefree lifestyle. Owners love the feel of the wind in their hair as they cruise with the top down on a beautiful day. Because convertible tops are generally made of vinyl or fabric, they require special care to remain in prime condition. Even with proper maintenance, it is possible for a rip or tear to form in your convertible top. If this occurs, there may be a way to fix it without replacing the entire top.
This guide offers advice and instructions for repairing a tear in a soft-top convertible. The first step is examining the tear and gathering the necessary tools for the job. Depending on the damage, repair options include sewing up and patching the tear. To avoid similar rips in the future, convertible drivers are encouraged to adopt preventative measures. Supplies for repairing a tear in a convertible top are found at home improvement supply chains and hardware stores. These materials can also be purchased from online auctions sites like eBay Motors and many Internet merchants.
Preparing to Repair a Convertible Top Tear
Before repairing a convertible top, decide if you are ready and capable of completing this type of do-it-yourself project. First, evaluate the rip closely to determine the extent of the damage. Then, prepare for the job by finding or purchasing all the necessary tools and materials.
Assess the Damage
Upon noticing convertible top damage, the owner's initial reaction is sure to be one of annoyance or anger. Rather than succumbing to strong emotions, the best course of action is immediate observation. The seriousness of the cut tends to dictate whether or not it can be fixed at home. Many mechanics encourage replacement of the entire top if the tear is longer than 12 inches. Severe damage may warrant this reaction, but it is likely to be expensive. To save money, consider sewing up the tear yourself. While it is not impossible to fix a large rip, repairing smaller tears is much easier. The shape of the damage is also a determining factor. A jagged gash might be more difficult to patch than a straight cut. Additionally, the placement of the tear may influence your ability to make successful home repairs.
Gather the Necessary Supplies
If your observations prove the damage to be manageable, then it is time to put together a tool kit. This way, everything you need is within arm's reach once repairs are underway. Some people prefer to purchase a canvas patch kit or vinyl repair kit rather than buying each item separately. While they can be convenient, these kits are not likely to include supplies for sewing up a tear. Here are the basic materials needed to successfully sew and patch a tear in your fabric convertible top:
- Duct Tape
- Curved Upholstery Needle
- Upholstery Thread
- Marine Canvas
- Adhesive Glue
- Fabric Seam Sealer
Simple Steps for Fixing a Tear in Your Convertible Top
After a thorough assessment of the damage, the owner must decide which repair technique is most appropriate. For a quick fix, duct tape on the inside and outside of the convertible top may do the trick. Though this is only a temporary solution, it make sense to keep a roll on hand in case of emergency. Some people prefer patch kits, while others are willing to take the time to sew up the tear. While it is possible to sew vinyl, the following approach is geared toward fabric convertible tops. A specialty repair kit might be the best option for repairing small holes or cracks in a vinyl convertible top.
Sew Up the Tear
Sewing up a tear in your convertible top is not necessarily difficult, but it does require patience. Some people skip this step altogether, opting for a patch only. Due to the thickness of the fabric, the entire process may take several hours to complete. To keep the fabric taut for sewing, put the top up before you begin. Using a generous length of matching upholstery thread, stitch the two halves of the tear back together. For best results, the stitches should be approximately a quarter inch from the tear. Work slowly and deliberately, aiming for an even seam with stitches that are tight, straight, and close together.
Apply an Adhesive
Before gluing the seam, cover the stitching on the inside of the car with a piece of duct tape. This extra step prevents glue from leaking into the convertible. Several types of waterproof adhesive are suitable for convertible tops. These include fabric glue, silicone glue, and polyurethane glue. Apply whichever type of glue you prefer to the seam and allow it to set as directed by the manufacturer's instructions.
Add a Patch
A patch is often the most effective option for covering a wide gouge in a convertible top. It also acts as a second layer of protection over a sewn-up tear. Patches can be glued in place, but hand-stitching tends to provide a stronger hold. To make a patch, find marine canvas that matches the convertible top. Cut out a shape that is an inch or so wider than the rip or hole. With two layers to sew through, this step can be painstaking, but the outcome is worth the effort. Once the stitching is complete, waterproof the patch with fabric seam sealer. Then, remove the duct tape on the interior side of the seam. If desired for cosmetic reasons, you may choose to stitch up the underside of the patch as well.
How to Prevent Tears in Your Convertible Top
The average lifespan of a vinyl or fabric convertible top is about ten years. The stress of putting the top up and down gradually weakens the material, making it more likely to tear. Though it impossible to prevent damage entirely, certain habits help boost the longevity of vinyl and cloth convertible tops. Avoid leaving the top down for extended periods of time, as this can lead to permanent folds and cracks. Instead, preserve the original shape and fit of a convertible top by storing it in the up position.
Convertible Top Care and Maintenance
Storage and cleanliness influence the condition of a convertible top. Whenever possible, store a convertible out of harm's way, preferably in a private garage. This way, the top is not subjected to sun damage, precipitation, or stray tree branches. If an enclosed storage area is not available, consider using a car cover or a large tarp. Each time you wash your convertible, remember to clean the top as well.
Pollen, bird droppings, and other types of grime are damaging to cloth and vinyl tops. Luckily, there are convertible top cleaners and conditioners available, as well as UV protectants. Regular maintenance improves durability by keeping your convertible top in good condition. Try to clean your convertible in the shade to reduce sun exposure. First, use a soft cleaning brush to gently loosen and sweep away accumulated dirt. Then, apply the cleaner, allow it to dry, and follow up with a layer of protectant.
Use eBay Motors for Tools to Repair a Torn Convertible Top
To find all the supplies you need to fix a torn convertible top, visit the eBay Stores and auction listings. eBay Motors offers a wide variety of automotive-related items up for sale or auction. Check there for convertible top repair kits and cleaning products by searching from the eBay Motors homepage. To find items for sewing up a convertible top, extend your search to the entire eBay website. Look for the search box on any page and type in a few relevant keywords.
With eBay, you can browse various colors of marine canvas, find matching thread, and look for a suitable adhesive, all on the same website. You also have the option of searching for specific items, like "vinyl filler" or a "canvas repair patch." Either way, eBay saves you time and makes gathering all the required materials less of a hassle. To keep an eye on listings and compare products, add them to your personalized eBay Watch List.
Adding Items to Your Watch List
When you watch an item, eBay makes it easy to compare listings you might be interested in purchasing. After adding items to this list, you can view them by visiting My eBay or launching the eBay mobile app. Items you are no longer interested in can be removed from the list at any time.
Though many drivers appreciate the freedom of a convertible, no one likes dealing with convertible top damage. Replacement can be costly, and sometimes it is the only feasible option. If the damage turns out to be relatively minor, consider repairing it yourself before contacting a mechanic. All the tools and supplies needed for the job can be purchased on eBay Motors. There are several methods to consider when repairing a tear in a fabric or vinyl convertible top. All-in-one patch or repair kits are a convenient option for those that want a quick fix.
Sewing up the tear is a more thorough method but may require additional supplies. This type of repair project can take several hours or longer to complete, so patience is essential. After carefully sewing up the tear and sealing it with waterproof adhesive, consider applying a patch. Patches are also an option for repairing rips that are too wide to sew. Since convertible tops only last about ten years, some damage is to be expected with age. Proper storage and regular maintenance can prevent vinyl and cloth tops from weakening prematurely.