Live that drop-top life even in the cold.
Some may think that owning a convertible car is a waste purely based on the idea that you can't cruise around with the top down in the winter. Having a warm cabin makes sense if you're ferrying passengers around, but true enthusiasts will want to enjoy their convertibles year round. While some will happily pop the roof up on chilly days - one of the benefits of having a car like the evergreen Mazda MX-5 Miata - you can still thoroughly enjoy your time out with the roof down, even if it's cold. Here are five tips for driving your convertible in the winter.
The first step to enjoying your time in your convertible in the cold winter months is to ensure you're bundled up. A warm jacket is essential, as are thick socks and closed shoes. Whether you decide to cruise around with the top up or folded down, you will need to be dressed for chilly weather. Even if you're planning on cranking up the heat, it will still be cold when you get out, so dress appropriately.
For those hell-bent on enjoying the crisp wintery air with the roof down, make sure you wear a beanie or other knitted hat and some gloves. This will help keep you warm as much of your body heat will escape through your head and neck, which are exposed to the cold - and likely even more so if you've got the roof down. Make sure your gloves are either fingerless or suited to driving, as you need grip on the steering wheel, and some fabrics can be too slippery.
If you've decided to drive with the roof stowed away, roll up your windows. Not only does this help create a bubble that you can warm up to stay cozy in, but it also helps with airflow around the car. The sound of the wind buffeting around you will also be reduced if you keep your windows up.
Turn up the heater inside your car and make sure you point the vents at your fingers to help keep them from being cold and stiff. You can also turn up the heat in the footwells if it's really cold, which will also help keep your body warm. These are ideal tips for older convertibles that aren't blessed with the lates tech - some of the newest convertibles offer neck-warmers to gently blow warmed air at neck-level while you cruise around with the top down.
If the weather turns particularly bad, it's a good idea to consider closing the top up. Many of the top-rated convertibles can do this at the touch of a button in half a minute or less, although you may need to slow down to a certain speed to do this safely. Driving a convertible with the roof down in heavy rain or snow will cause damage to the interior, so rather pull over if you must, and raise the roof.
Ensure your car is ready for the cold by checking that service items are up to date, you have sufficient antifreeze in your coolant system, and you've chosen appropriate tires for your car. Check that your battery is in good condition, especially if you need to electronically open or close the roof. And if you're wondering how to protect your convertible's soft top in the winter, consider investing in a waterproofing or water-resistant soft-top conditioner that will help to keep it in good nick and prevent it from perishing.
You may not have a choice in the matter, but if you do, storing your vehicle indoors is always the safest bet. If you can't keep your convertible indoors, make sure you roll your windows all the way up, close the roof, and invest in a waterproof car cover that will protect against the elements. And if you've got a car with an optional hard roof like the Honda S2000 hardtop, it's best to store it with the roof installed.
Leaving your convertible out in snow for extended periods of time can be harmful in some ways, even with the roof up. A car cover is essential in this case, but if you don't have one on hand, make sure you brush accumulated snow from the roof with a soft brush as often as possible. The weight of heavy snowfall can be damaging to the fabric cover and the frame that supports it, so beware of leaving your soft-top convertible unprotected in the winter.