5 basic things to know when buying a convertible

Article by Christian A., on August 16, 2018

Every time you see a convertible on the road, perhaps you can’t help but be left in awe. After all, convertibles – cars with removable or retractable tops – have a charm of their own that are different from their fixed top counterparts. They offer the joy of open-air drive and ride. Hence, they attract more attention on the road than typical fixed roof cars.

Because of their inherent charm, you might have plans to buy a new convertible, also known as roadsters, spiders or open-tops. But before doing that, it might be wise to know the characteristics of a convertible. This way, you won’t be surprised if you find something not agreeable to your tastes and preferences.

1. Tops

Depending on how they were designed and built, convertible might have removable or retractable tops, which are offered either as soft or hard ones. Soft tops are either removable or retractable and are made from fabric using various materials like acrylic, polyester and cloth as well as PVC (polyvinyl chloride).

Soft tops usually don’t take up much space when stowed, which means more room for the cargo. Because of their lighter weight than their hard top counterparts, soft top convertibles usually have a lower center of gravity. However, soft tops aren’t that effective as hard tops in filtering noise that goes into cabin.

Hard top convertibles, meanwhile, offer greater levels of passenger protection – both against accidents and the elements -- thanks to their stiffer nature. Likewise, hard tops offer a more silent cabin than soft tops. However, hard tops are usually bulky, which means they can compromise trunk space.

2. Safety

Even though soft and hard tops are often reinforced with roll bars and available airbags, they don’t offer the same level of protection as fixed roofs. In addition, despite the vast improvement in roof materials, there is not enough guarantee that leaks won’t occur during heavy rain and snow.

3. Trunk Space

Whether the convertible has a soft or hard top, the trunk space is really compromise. This is because, when the driver decides to go on open-top driving, the roof will have to be stowed in a space on the rear. This space eats up the room usually reserved for the trunk. Usually, but not always, soft tops offer more trunk space than hard tops.

4. Passenger space

Most convertibles offer two seats – one for the driver and the other for the front passenger. There are convertibles that have rear cabins, but rear passengers have to endure the lack of ample legroom. If you have a family of four or five, a convertible might not be suitable for you.

5. Costs

In case you noticed, convertibles are more expensive – by between $5,000 and $9,000 – than comparable coupes or sedans. This is because of the added mechanisms for the retractable or removable roof, reinforcements and other additional elements. In addition, convertibles may need more servicing as they contain more complex systems than their fixed roof counterparts. Furthermore, soft top versions might need to be replaced when damaged.

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Topics: tips, convertible

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