Projects & Repairs --> Maintenance --> Convertible Top Treatment

Maintaining a convertible top with vinyl conditioner.

Applying Vinyl Conditioner To Protect A Convertible Vinyl Top

Keep A Convertible Looking Good With Proper Maintenance

In This Article:

The vinyl top is rinsed and wiped, then allowed to dry. Vinyl treatment is sprayed on and rubbed into the vinyl. The residue is rinsed off and the glass is cleaned.

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Skill Level: 2 (Basic)

Time Taken: A Couple Of Hours

By Jim Wilk, Licensed Auto Body Technician


When I purchased this 2000 Chevrolet Cavalier two years ago, the convertible top was dried out. If a vinyl top dries out too much, it will start cracking, and the cracks will get bigger over time until the vinyl develops a hole.

Chevy Cavalier 2000 rejuvinate convertible top.


Dried-out vinyl convertible top.

There are many products that can keep a vinyl top flexible, waterproof, and looking like new. I prefer Maguire's vinyl treatment.

(It's also great for dashboards.)


One good thing about a black convertible top is you can clean it with just water and a rag, which will not remove any of waterproof treatment left from the last time. Cleaning vinyl top with garden hose.


Car Washing Tip:

After two decades of working in the auto body repair business, I've learned that one of the best, most economical cleaning products for washing a car is ordinary laundry detergent. I'm told it's gentle on the car's finish and is less likely than dish detergent to remove any wax that has been applied to improve the car's shine.

There are many excellent car wash products available, and these products often have additional ingredients that improve the shine and help water bead up.


Cleaning covertible top water and a rag. I cleaned the top twice. You can still see in the photo the water beading up. I like to treat the vinyl top four or more times a year.

This may seem like a lot of trouble, but a convertible is a special type of car that needs extra maintenance.

In the two years I've owned this vehicle, the top has not leaked and snow does not stick to it.

I park in a carport at night, and in the winter if it's snowing I brush off the snow as needed. The weight of the snow can stretch the top and cause sagging.

After cleaning top with water, the cloth had some dark grime on it, which is normal. Dirty rag after cleaning convertible top.


Letting convertible top dry after cleaning top. Before the treatment can be applied, the top has to completely dry.


I have researched some of the detail shops in my area (Traverse City, Michigan) and Meguiar's #40 was recommended the most.

Caution: This treatment should be done in the shade or on a cloudy day. Avoid direct sunlight when applying this product.

Meguiar's vinyl and rubber conditioner used to treat convertible top.


Insructions on bottle of Meguiar's #40 vinyl conditioner. View of back of spray bottle.


You do not want to use a Terri-cloth towel... a dish rag or old cotton sock will work well for an applicator. Type of rag used for applying Meguiar's vinyl conditioner.


Applying vinyl top conditioner to convertible roof. I sprayed the treatment on the vinyl top, and using a circular motion with the rag, I worked the liquid into the vinyl. I did a small area at a time.


View of small area treated and drying. The white film will soak in and disappear. Vinyl top treatment applied and drying.


Half of vinyl convertible roof treated with conditioner. View of half of convertible top done. The left part in the picture has been treated.


I always apply the treatment twice. Convertible vinyl top after conditioner had been applied.


Recycle rag used for vinyl  convertible top cleaner. I try to use the same treatment rag that is soaked with the product a few more times by placing it in a sealed plastic bag.


After the treatment dries, I like to rinse off the residue instead of wiping it off.

Then I let the car dry and cleaned the windows (on the outside) and wiped the painted areas down with a chamois.

Rinsing residue from vinyl top after applying conditioner.


Convertible top after application of vinyl conditioner. View of convertible top in the sun.


Ready to sell in early spring. Convertible with well-maintained vinyl top.


More Info:

Tools Used:

  • Garden Hose
  • Soft Cloth Rags

Materials Used:

  • Meguiar's #40 Vinyl and Rubber Cleaner/Conditioner.
  • Glass Cleaner

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Written May 6, 2010