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How to maintain your sunroof / hood

Keeping a cool head Published: 17th May 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

How to maintain your sunroof / hood
How to maintain your sunroof / hood If possible, don’t lower a fabric hood if wet otherwise it can crease or distort.
How to maintain your sunroof / hood Extend a sunroof to its fullest extent initially, even if you only want it cracked open slightly.
How to maintain your sunroof / hood Regularly clean the runners and treat with a de-watering or silicone spray for lubrication.
How to maintain your sunroof / hood Take time and care when lowering and raising - the hood can rip if forced
How to maintain your sunroof / hood Keeping plastic rear windows clear and new is a job for a specialist cleaner
How to maintain your sunroof / hood Keeping plastic rear windows clear and new is a job for a specialist cleaner
How to maintain your sunroof / hood The outer skin can even rip off at high speed
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Winter may be upon us but you need to care for your hood or sunroof all year round if you want to have some worry-free spring and summer fun

Many people who own a car fitted with a hood or sunroof don’t appreciateor make the most out of the fact! They only use it in baking hot weather and yet going topless can be just as exhilarating in the winter as it can be in the summer. That wind in the hair feeling (assuming you have hair and that goes for women too – we’re not sexist here -ed) can make a good classic a great one and if you take some simple steps then you can experience it, trouble free, for many seasons to come.

Maintenance matters

Remember that old adage ‘if you don’t use it you’ll lose it?’ Well, that equally applies to hoods and sunroofs. By battening down the hatches over the winter, you can be storing up problems when the mercury rises. The fact is that the longer any roof is left inoperative the more chances there are of it jamming and failing on you. Open and close it at least once a month (if dry) to keep the mechanisms free. This is particularly relevant to powered hoods and sunroofs where resistance will burn out the (expensive) motor. On sunroofs, ensure that you regularly open the roof and clean the runnersm of dirt and grime when washing the car. A proprietary allpurpose spray is an ideal lubricant although some experts reckon silicone is better. Refrain from using grease as it attracts dirt and helps form a damaging paste that will jam the runners.Clear any water drainage channels with a straightened coat hanger, or similar, regularly. Our weather is a chief enemy of any fabric or material top and they do age quickly if left unprotected against the elements. The best way to help prevent PVC tops splitting or deteriorating is to keep it supple. Washing-up liquid is a killer as the salt contained in its make up makes the vinyl dry out faster. It’s much better to use one of the dedicated vinyl roof cleaners on the market along with a similar ‘dressing’ to keep the roof soft and supple. Failing this even plain shoe polish will do the trick. Canvas roofs – either the traditionaldouble duck cloth or the man-made Mohair and its lighter Stayfast offspring – last longer so long as you do not wash with soap or water. Instead either brush the cloth to chase out the dirt trapped in the fibres or simply hoover itbefore treating to a special fabric hood cleaner that most car care specialists market. Are you opening and closing the roof correctly? Sounds silly but it isn’t. Modern sports car and cabrio hoods are so light and easy to operate that they are one-handed wonders. Not so older hood designs fitted to the likes of MGBs, TRs and Triumph Spitfires where if you don’t unclip the rear first of all it can jam or even rip the hood. Plastic rear screens go milky with age and can cost as much as a new hood to replace (remember this when buying a classic). Cleaning products such as Renovo Plastic Window Cleaner or the excellent Hindsight can help rejuvenate them, although it also requires a fair bit of elbow grease. Fabric sunroofs demand special care. According to leading sunroof specialist Peter Harvey of Kent, even if you wish to open the roof slightly you should fully extend it initially and than pull it to the desired opening to keep the folds even and so help prevent it coming off its runners. Bet you didn’t know that!

Raining on your parade

Convertibles are quite simple to check in so far that their main failures are down to aging, general decay and vandalism. So long as the frame isn’t worn, distorted or damaged, then it should work okay for the life of the car.  Fabric sunroofs are trickier because a lot of the troubles are hidden from view – and the biggest worry is rust! Of course, a fabric roof can’t rust but its front and rear plinths that secure the cover can once water gets underneath the skin. The problem is compounded by the fact that apart from the likes of Webasto and Golde (the Rolls- Royce and Bentley of sunroofs) most of the cheaper designs feature cheap metal plinths that rot away. Once this has occurred the outer skin can even rip off from the car at high speed… If you are buying a classic with a sunroof, carry out this simple check. Press down on the front and rear plinths; if you hear and feel crumbling then the frames are past it and will at some point need replacing. More serious is water ruining the ash frames which if bad will require replacement. Glass sunroofs are very simple in comparison; they either work or they don’t (but can scratch). Just beware of leaks and water traps causing the roof to corrode.

Head transplants

Vinyl took over from canvas as the most popular material during the 1960s thanks to an explosion of affordable sports cars and is still a preferred choice today. Its chief problem is that it shrinks, becomes brittle and cracks due to aging; replacement is the only cure. That said they do last a decade or longer if used correctly and treated right. New replacement hoods are easy to obtain. Most of the popular models can be bought off the shelf either from specialists, owners clubs, the aftermarket and even main dealers. Prices for a typical hood varies according to material. For example, a replacement roof for an MGB is typically £165 for a basic vinyl model, but you’ll double this for a superior Mohair cloth alternative. The choice is yours. If desired, you can also upgrade and change the material or colour, depending on how strict you want to be on authenticity. If you’ve a folding sunroof then bear in mind that time is slowly running out if it is broken. Apart from Webasto, the bulk of the other makes such as Golde, Britax, Weathershield and Slideaway have all gone bust, while Webasto doesn’t even hold spare parts for old cars.According to Peter Harvey this means that fitting sunroofs will become increasingly harder in the future. As it is, he has to modify or make do and mend other roofs to accept Webasto parts he stocks and even these are becoming harder to find. A good example of this being the decorative plinths used on the interior handles. The good news is that the most common failing, the front and rear frames, can be remanufactured. Harvey has them made in rot-proof aluminium and they cost £30 each. He also charges less than £300 for a full re-roof with new frames and headlining and given the fact that they are made better than new that’s pretty good value. In contrast, a full on installment involving cutting the car costs the thick end of £1000.

Choose with care and don’t be hoodwinked in choosing a new top!

HHeeaavvyy dduuttyy PPVVCC Cheapest and most basic material but suffers from a short life. Fine for a cheap classic though and okay for originality too

SSuuppeerriioorr VViinnyyll As used by most carmakers and good value if you shop around. Bona fide but not as good as proper and ‘cabriolet’ vinyl.

CCaabbrriioolleett VViinnyyll Best bet and popular because it’s so good. Should last over 10 years if cared for. Can be dear though, especially OE fits

DDoouubbllee DDuucckk Standard convertible material made before the 1960s, but fades quickly and can shrink over time. OE fit for early Stags

MMoohhaaiirr//SSttaayyffaasstt Former is still popular as it’s very long-lasting and waterproof. Latter alternative is lighter-weight alternative



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