Sellers of used convertibles have been waiting since fall to pawn off last summers’ joyride to a new owner because once fall hit, prices dropped. But the beginning of summer marks the peak of demand in the used rag top market and they get snatched up quickly. So how do you make a snap decision to ensure your “Summer of Automolove,” without spending the sunshine months making lemonade from a newly purchased lemon? These drop-top beauties come with their own special potential problems in addition to the usual used car checkpoints and this checklist will help you sort those destined to be cruisers from those destined for the crusher.
It’s What’s on the Inside that Counts
Convertible interiors suffer more damage than any other vehicle. Many spend a large portion of their lives with the top down, in the sun’s damaging UV rays, and showers catch nearly every convertible owner off guard eventually. Add to that dust from your gardener’s leaf blower as well as your fellow commuters’ exhaust settling into every exposed nook and cranny, and the question when buying a convertible becomes not if, but how much damage have the elements done? Here’s a few tips to help you make the right decision:
- Reach under seats (front and back) and feel the higher exposed foam to see if it crumbles to powder from too much UV exposure. How different in color is the bottom of the seatback compared to the top of the seat cushion?
- Look for two-tone interior panels where there was only a single shade when the vehicle was new. Fading of higher, more exposed panels is a sure sign this car spent many days baking in direct sunlight.