Should Convertibles be Garage Kept? Pros & Cons

Modified Nissan 350Z roadster in a parking garage

What about protectively storing your prized drop top when you’re not out joyriding? Should convertibles be garage kept, or is simple street parking sufficient? There are good arguments on both sides of this debate.

On one hand, garaging your convertible shields it from the elements, lessens door dings, and maintains optimal function of sensitive components. The controlled environment protects from temperature swings, UV rays, sap, bird droppings, and other hazards that can degrade surfaces and materials over time. But for many owners, sacrificing precious garage space is difficult. Is it really worth the hassle?

Casual street parking may seem convenient, but it leaves convertibles vulnerable. Moisture invites mold and mildew, UV radiation can crack leather and fade paint, pests nest in crevices. Careless drivers and pranksters also pose risks. We’ll examine the unique storage challenges for convertibles, when garaging is advisable, and tips to protect your drop top if space is limited. Read on to learn how proper storage can extend the life of your coveted convertible.

Key Takeaways

  • Garaging protects from weather, pests, UV damage, dings
  • Climate control optimizes roof, electronics function
  • Street parking risks moisture issues, fading, infestations
  • Garaging recommended but not always possible
  • Regular maintenance critical either way
Mercedes AMG GT Roadster with red soft top stored in a parking garage
Mercedes AMG GT Roadster

The Perks of Garage Storage for Convertibles

Convertibles have specialized vulnerabilities that make garage storage ideal. Outdoor exposure can lead to issues over time.

Do Convertibles Need to be Garaged

  • Shields interior and exterior from rain, snow, debris
  • Prevents sap dripping, dust/pollen buildup
  • Reduces UV ray damage to leather, paint, plastic
  • Maintains optimal temperature for roof mechanisms
  • Lessens dings, dents from other vehicles
  • Deters joyrides and theft when out of public view
Winter parking for convertible cars
Photo by Asael Pena

The Risks of Exposing Convertibles to the Elements

Leaving convertibles continuously parked outside risks:

  • Moisture seeping in allowing mold and mildew growth in cabin, trunk
  • Pests like rodents and insects nesting in crevices
  • UV damage degrading convertible roof, leather, plastic, vinyl
  • Excessive heat/cold hampering roof and electronics operations
  • Tree sap bonding to paint finish, bird droppings etching finishes
  • Pollen, dirt accumulation in ventilation intakes, gaps

So while garage storage is ideal, is it absolutely necessary? The answer depends on climate, parking location, and usage.

Convertible Roof Management in the Garage

For convertibles, a key garage storage benefit is maintaining roof function. But to close or not to close the top? It’s a debated topic among owners.

To Close or Not Close: The Convertible Roof Dilemma

Roof Up Pros:

  • Protects interior from dust, pests
  • Maintains shape, prevents sagging
  • No water marks on glass, cabin
  • Keeps cabin clean

Roof Down Pros:

  • Allows roof to relax in neutral position
  • Promotes airflow to avoid mildew
  • Ready for spontaneous drive

There are good points on both sides. Consider climate and driving frequency.

The Impact of Extended Roof Down Time on Convertibles

Leaving the roof retracted for weeks or months can:

  • Cause material to stretch and sag
  • Lead to water marks from washing, morning dew
  • Allow significant dust, pollen, and even nesting pests
  • Promote mold and mildew growth without airflow

The occasional overnight isn’t concerning, but avoid extended down periods in storage.

Using Battery Maintainers for Stored Convertibles

Maintainers ensure roof readiness by keeping batteries charged. Key functions:

  • Maintains optimal voltage if unused for weeks
  • Prevents sulfation during long-term non-use
  • Allows driving at any time without hesitation
  • Powers hydraulic roof mechanisms at peak efficiency
  • Provides confidence car will start after storage

A small investment that pays dividends for spur-of-the-moment adventures.

BMW M3 Convertible E36 in Laguna Seca Blue color on a drive way
BMW M3 Convertible

Seasonal Considerations for Convertible Storage

Convertible storage needs vary by season. Here are some tips for summer and winter.

Winter Storage Tips

To store your convertible for winter:

  • Wash/wax exterior to protect paint from salt, grime
  • Clean/condition leather to prevent cracking
  • Lubricate weatherstripping to keep seals flexible
  • Add fuel stabilizer to prevent condensation
  • Disconnect battery and connect maintainer
  • Place desiccant bags in cabin to control humidity
  • Use fitted car cover to reduce dust, pests

Summer Storage Considerations

For summer storage:

  • Park in shade to limit UV damage
  • Crack windows for ventilation if top is up
  • Use windshield sunshade to lower interior temp
  • Check tire inflation; heat causes air loss
  • Keep battery tender connected to combat heat drain
  • Wash frequently to remove bugs, bird droppings
  • Inspect seals for drying and shrinkage

Proper seasonal preparation is vital before storage.

Vintage Ford Mustang Convertible parked on the street under the tree
Vintage Ford Mustang Convertible. Photo by Nick Mollenbeck

Can Convertibles Be Left Outside Without a Garage

Limited or no garage access poses challenges for owners. But alternatives exist to protect your investment.

The Difficulties of Convertible Storage Without a Garage

The problems posed include:

  • Exposure to weather extremes, seasonal storms
  • Higher risk of damage from falling branches, debris
  • More dust, pollen entering cabin
  • Constant temperature fluctuations impacting roof
  • Extensive UV exposure degrading paint, interior
  • Inability to clean/maintain some areas

Tips for Protecting Your Convertible Without a Garage

If garage storage isn’t possible:

  • Use fitted car cover when parked
  • Seek covered parking when running errands
  • Install UV-blocking window film
  • Tint windows to reduce interior fading
  • Park under trees to limit direct sunlight
  • Wash frequently to prevent sap, grime buildup
  • Inspect seals regularly; rejuvenate as needed
  • Use battery tender when parked

While not ideal, with effort you can maintain appearance without garage access.

See Also
Cabriolet vs Roadster: Key Differences in Open-Top Car Styles

Additional Tips

Beyond parking, proper maintenance is vital for longevity.

Regular Maintenance Guidelines

  • Inspect roof seals yearly, lubricate
  • Check hydraulic fluid level on power tops
  • Clean roof drains, inspect hoses
  • Replace wiper blades before wet season
  • Rejuvenate leather annually
  • Clay bar paint twice yearly
  • Use protectant on vinyl and plastic
  • Check tire inflation frequently
  • Use jack pads if storing long term

Common Issues and Solutions

IssueSolution
Roof leaksInspect seals, fix gaps, lubricate
Slow/noisy roofCheck hydraulic fluid, inspect mechanism
Faded paint/cracksWaxing, touch up, professional detail
Battery drainsUse maintainer, check for parasitic draws
Moldy interiorShampoo carpet/seats, disinfect HVAC

Don’t neglect regular maintenance for longevity.

White BMW M6 Convertible in a parking garage
BMW M6. Photo by Timou Turner

Expert Opinion

After over 20 years of owning various convertibles, I’ve learned the hard way just how important proper garage storage can be. There’s nothing better than taking your convertible out for a spin on a beautiful sunny day, feeling the wind in your hair as you cruise around town. But keeping these vehicles in peak condition requires some special care and maintenance.

Convertibles have vulnerabilities that standard hardtop cars just don’t have. The soft tops and open cabins need protection from the elements, especially moisture, UV rays, extreme temps, and pests. Leaving them parked outside 24/7 exposes them to all sorts of risks that can degrade surfaces, fabrics, seals, and even critical electronics like the roof mechanics over time.

I’ve seen firsthand how something as simple as a tiny nick in weatherstripping can lead to a waterfall pouring into the cabin during a rainstorm if left undetected. Or how sun-faded leather and carpets can be restored with garage parking. The climate-controlled environment does wonders for longevity.

My advice is to garage store your convertible whenever possible. But if that’s not feasible, be diligent about inspections, covers, maintenance. Watch for leaks, fraying, surface damage. Keep it clean. Park in shade. Use UV protectants. And don’t skimp on proper seasonal preparation. The time invested pays off in years of enjoyable top-down motoring. Treat your drop top right and it will deliver miles of smiles for years to come! 

Conclusion

Proper storage and care are vital for preserving convertibles. Consider climate and parking when weighing garage vs. outdoor storage. Use covers, UV protection, frequent cleaning if no garage. Don’t skip seasonal maintenance. With diligent care as outlined here, your drop top can deliver years of top-down enjoyment. Let proper storage be your convertible’s fountain of youth!

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I keep my convertible parked with the top up or down?

For short-term parking, either is fine. But avoid leaving the top down for more than a few days when storing to prevent sagging and mildew.

Does it matter if my convertible sits outside in the sun all day?

Prolonged sun exposure can fade paint, crack leather, and damage plastic parts. Use a cover or park in shade when possible.

How often should I run my convertible top?

Operate the top fully at least once a month to keep the hydraulic system lubricated.

View Comment (1)
  • Love this! As a convertible owner, it’s so important to take good care of these special cars

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