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Instructions for your first convertible

Posted by John Reed on

Copyright by John T. Reed

When you become successful, you may be tempted to buy your first convertible. Enjoy, but there are some things you need to know.

Do not use the windshield washer or headlight washer when the top is down.

Put the side windows up when you have the top down. It often gets too cold and windy if you lower the side windows.

Get a broad-brimmed hat that is tied to you so it doesn’t blow off. Or not, in which case you can get skin cancer on the tops of your ears and elsewhere. I recommend a Tilley hat for informal wear and an Indiana Jones style fedora for more formal occasions.

Have a long-sleeved shirt in the car at all times in warmer weather to protect your arms from the sun.

If you are in the habit of giving other drivers the finger, lose that habit when you have the top down on a hard-top convertible and completely if you have a rag top (canvas convertible top).

Do not leave the top down on your car when you are no longer in it. This has not been a good idea since the bird was invented. And birds are not the only animals that might wish to visit the interior of your car. There are also skunks, squirrels, cats, dogs, wild turkeys.

If you ignore the advice I just gave about not leaving the top down when you are not in the car, remove all your valuables from the car.

Do not put the top down if the weather is hot and humid. The air-conditioner is more comfortable.

The temperatures at which you should put the top down are higher than just nice weather. There is a wind-chill factor from the speed at which the car is traveling.

Generally, do not have the top down when you are driving on the freeway. A 70-mile-an-hour wind is not a lot of fun and the noise from that wind and the semis and such roaring down the road next to you make for an unpleasant experience. Just put the top down when you are on the local 35-MPH-or-less roads. There is also dirt and grit flying around. It will get your car interior dirty and you can feel it hitting your body as you drive.

Don’t freak when the stereo gets louder when you put the top down. It does that automatically to compensate for increased road noise.

With a convertible, you will have a new experience of having to clean leaves and other debris and dirt out of the inside of the car.

When you are driving south in the afternoon, beware of getting your eyes blasted blind by the sun when you look over your right shoulder to change lanes. Same thing when you are driving north in the morning.

Two-door cars have longer doors so you need to avoid narrow parking spaces even if you suffer from parking-space-proximity phobia (the fear that the space in which you park was not the absolute closest one to the door you plan to enter at the time you parked)

If you like to shop at so-called big-box stores, take your other car.

If you get a hard-top convertible, be prepared to be stared at when the top is going up or down.

If you get a Matador red 2006 Lexus 430 SC and certain other similar cars, be prepared to get compliments from strangers on how good looking your car is and questions about whether you paid extra for the standard wheels.

Be prepared to receive requests from your younger relatives to use your car for certain special occasions like parades, weddings and big dates.

If there’s a chance you will be putting the top down, make sure there is nothing in the top-stow-away area of the trunk before your leave home.

Do not have loose papers in the interior of the passenger area when you put the top down.

When you have the top down and you see a wet pavement on the road ahead next to some operating irrigation sprinklers, do not drive through it.

If your car has run-flat tires to save precious trunk space, be aware that these are also known as extremely expensive tires that cannot be purchased at Costco or repaired.

If the car is a two-seater literally or as a practical matter, you cannot recline the seats to take a nap either when the car is moving or when it is parked.

Do not attempt to put the top up or down when the car is moving or in a strong wind when it is stopped.

Do not drive the car when the top is part way open or closed.

Think about pertinent laws and the configuration of your car if you want to transport a child who is required to be in a car seat.

Put the top up and close all the windows and trunk tight before your go through a car wash.

Keep everything and everybody away from the moving parts when you put the top up or down.

When you put the top up or down, make sure there is enough clearance above the car for the various movements of the top.

Do not put the top down if it is wet. Dry it off first or the water will fall into the inside of the car or trunk and mildew. This is most likely to occur after a car wash.

Do not turn on the rear window defogger when the top is down and the rear window is in the trunk.

Do not open the trunk unless the top is fully up or fully down.

Do not put anything on top of the luggage cover in the trunk. That is a cloth that reminds you where the top needs to be when you put it down and which the car checks for lack of objects before it will let you put the top down.

Don’t be afraid to run the air-conditioner, seat heater, or heater when the top is down. The goal is to be comfortable. You’re not poor anymore, remember?

Do not occupy a rag top convertible when there is lightning. It is not lightning safe even with the top up.

Do not open or close the top indoors unless you are absolutely certain there is enough overhead clearance

After reading all this, you may think a convertible is too much trouble. Nah. It’s fun.

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