Tips for driving a convertible

Carlton Boyce / 09 June 2016

When the sun comes out, it's time to go topless - in your car, of course!



While topless driving can be an all-year-round pursuit, most owners tend to reserve it for the summer months when the sun is out and the risk of rain is (marginally, if last year is anything to go by) lower.

The benefits of drop-top motoring are many: a panoramic 360° view comes as standard; you get a truly multi-sensory experience (smelling the rain before it arrives is a rite of passage!); and the higher noise levels make in-car arguments almost impossible…

10 laws motorists ignore or forget.

Here’s our guide to enjoying your convertible in the summer - plus some bonus tips to let you enjoy it even in sub-zero temperatures!

Put the windows up

Having the front windows rolled down when the roof is folded can sometimes be too much; try rolling them up a bit to reduce the gale that is howling through the car.

Wind diffuser

Most new convertible cars come with a netting screen that fits behind the front seats. It’s called a wind diffuser and while it doesn’t look like it would make much of a difference, you’ll be amazed at how effective it is at stopping neck-level draughts.

If your car doesn’t have one as standard, you can generally buy them as an accessory from the dealer who sold you the car.

Read our guide to five of the best summer drives in the UK.

Sunglasses

Sunglasses are an essential piece of apparel that will help keep road grit and insects out of your eyes, as well as shielding them from the sun.

They also make you look even more fabulous.

Sun block

You need to apply sunscreen if you are driving a convertible when it’s sunny. Even the slowest drive will generate enough of a breeze to fool you into thinking that it isn’t as hot as it actually is, leaving you dangerously exposed to the risk of sunburn.

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Wear a hat

Speaking of which, a hat is always a good idea. A baseball cap or similar will shield you from the sun in the summer - but may well blow away if you are tall - while a woolly hat will keep your head nice and warm in the other three seasons.

Of course, the very best way of protecting your hair is to wear a headscarf like Jackie Kennedy or Audrey Hepburn. Bonus points are awarded if you wear large sunglasses as well.

Five beaches you can drive on.

Don't leave things on view

A fabric roof is lovely when it’s furled, but it isn’t as secure as a metal roof when it comes to keeping thieves out, so don’t leave anything tempting on display.

When I drove a Mazda MX-5 as my daily driver I invested in a small car safe. I secured it under the seat with a tough metal cable and it was the perfect place to keep my phone, passport, wallet and valuables safe so I didn’t always have to carry them with me.

It was probably the best £50 I spent on that car.

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Don’t leave it parked with the roof down

Never leave your convertible parked with the roof down. Not only are you inviting a casual thief to have a rummage through the glovebox, there is a sad and lonely breed of people out there who love to put their chip wrappers and half-eaten pizzas inside your car in a pathetic display of insecurity and jealousy.

Read our guide to planning a road trip.

The next four tips are designed to help you enjoy your convertible during the autumn and winter; my most memorable drive was during a snowstorm with my young daughter sitting next to me. She was huddled into a blanket and was transfixed by the sight of snowflakes whirling around her head as we whizzed through the dark Yorkshire night. I’m not sure whether she remembers it as vividly as I do, but I do know that I wouldn’t have had that memory if I’d left the roof up.

Scarf

Even the warmest autumn day will generate an uncomfortable breeze around your neck. You could use a scarf, but I prefer to wear a Buff as it stays securely in place no matter how windy it gets.

Use the heated seats

While your car’s heater will do a great job, it’s still worthwhile using your heated seats when it’s very cold to supplement it. 

Keeping your body core temperature stable is the key to staying warm and you’ll be amazed at what a difference it makes to a mid-winter drive.

Six tips for driving long distances.

Wear a fleece

I’ve invested in a fleece to slip under my coat for mid-winter drives. It’s thin enough that it fits under even the tightest coat, yet still gives me plenty of insulation – plus the high neck slips under my buff to keep out the wind.

Wear gloves

No, I don’t mean the string-backed ones with holes over your knuckles. What you need is a tight-fitting pair of unlined leather gloves. These will be thin enough that you can still operate even the smallest of dashboard switches but will still keep the back of your hands nice and warm when the mercury drops.

For more tips and useful information, browse our motoring articles.

Do you have any tips for new owners? If so, we’d love to hear them!

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.