Who says convertibles aren't for the winter?
The majority of enthusiasts see convertibles as a frivolous waste, because who in their right mind would want a car that doesn’t have a roof? People prefer to have a closed roof for a variety of reasons and one of the misconceptions is that convertibles cannot be used during the cold, winter months. As the extremely proud owner of a 1992 Mazda Miata that is driven year round—including the months with snow on the ground—I can confidently state that convertibles can be used in the winter. Here are five tips to follow when driving a convertible in winter.
Tip 1: Make sure the car is up for it. While some people prefer to “winterize” their vehicles by getting the cars ready to face winter in the garage, getting a convertible ready to face the cold is a similar task. If the convertible is a soft top, make sure the roof is free of any holes, tears, or rips and is in working condition. The last thing you want to see is snow pouring into your car’s interior because of a dodgy soft top. A ripped top will also bring cold air in, which is not what you want. Just like any other car, put a set of winter tires onto the convertible to ensure that the vehicle has some grip and make sure the heater works. Your convertible’s heater is crucial to you surviving the brutal winter, so spend some time on the car while the weather’s warm.
Tip 2: If you don’t have any garage space and are forced to leave your convertible out in the snow, clean off the top before driving. While that’s the considerate thing to do, the majority of soft tops aren’t rated to hold a massive amount of weight and a large amount of snow can damage the soft top’s metal frame. A bent frame could mean that the soft top would have to be replaced, which is something that you don’t want to do in the winter and can be avoided.
Tip 3: After clearing the snow off of your convertible, it’s important to make a decision—drive with the roof up or down. The greater part of the automotive world prefers to use vinyl or fabric for its soft tops, which shrink in cold weather. This means that if you put the roof down while it’s cold, there’s a high chance of it ripping when you try to put it back up. Don’t believe me? I’m speaking from experience here, because it happened to my Miata last month. Take some time to warm the soft top up before locking it back into place again or just don’t put it down.
Tip 4: Before going out for a long drive with the roof down in winter, be sure to bundle up. This may sound like an obvious thing to do, but being open to the environment leaves you susceptible to hypothermia. Wear a hat, some gloves and plenty of layers. Don’t forget the glasses. Small particles can come in through the open roof, windows and other locations and can be extremely annoying.
Tip 5: Driving with the roof down is taxing on the body. The wind and road noise will make you fatigue faster, so know when to call it quits. If you’re getting too cold or have had enough, pull over and put the roof up. Some automakers, like high-end luxury ones, offer some features that keep wind noise to a minimum, such as a wind deflector. While this may seem like an easy thing to pass over when purchasing a convertible, something as simple as a wind deflector will make it a lot easier to drive the car, especially during the colder months. To keep the wind from lashing out on you, be sure to keep the windows up; that will also help to keep the wind noise down. With these five tips, you can enjoy your convertible throughout the entire year, which is a wonderful thing.