1) When in doubt, put the top up. Okay, we don’t mean to be a buzzkill right off the bat, but the truth is that when you drive with the top down, you expose yourself and your car’s interior to the elements. A little drizzle might not seem like much, but it could wreak havoc on your interior, not to mention your own health. Besides, that light rain could turn into a sudden downpour, and you definitely don’t want to be in the middle of the highway when that happens. So, if the weather suddenly takes a turn, pull over and put the top up. And on that note…
2) Don’t put the top up while the car is moving. If your convertible’s top is operated electronically, then chances are its functions are limited once you reach a certain speed. Even then, we recommend you don’t toggle the roof unless you’re pulled over. And if your top is manually operated, don’t even think of trying to put it up—even if the passenger is the one doing so—while the car is on the go. Working on the roof when you’re fully stopped not only protects it from wind and G-forces pushing against it, but also ensures that your focus remains on the road, where it should be.
3) Don’t leave any loose items lying around when the top is down. If you’re used to driving with a fixed roof above you, you might not think twice about leaving your phone, receipts, coins, and whatever else lying around. But if you decide to drive with the top down, make sure you don’t have any loose items in the cabin. It’s very hard to chase that oh-so-important receipt or toll ticket you absentmindedly stashed in the cupholder when you’re driving in excess of 80kph.
4) Make sure your pets are secured as well. The difference between a loose receipt and an excited dog is that the latter can run or jump around at the worst possible time. This is especially true if your pet is easily startled by sudden noises. If you’re going to ride in a convertible with a furbuddy, make sure it’s secured in a portable cage. After all, your pet probably wants to get to the destination intact just as much as you do.
5) Protect your eyes. Remember what we said about feeling the wind in your hair? Well, you might feel it in your eyes, too. Driving with the top down leaves your eyes susceptible to dirt, debris, bugs, and anything else that might get caught up in the wind. To prevent those things from getting into your eyes, wear a pair of sunglasses.
6) Protect the rest of your body while you’re at it. It’s not just your eyes that are potentially left unprotected when you’re driving with the top down—so is your skin. Whatever isn’t covered by your clothes is exposed to harmful UV rays. Long-sleeved shirts (or sleeve protectors), a hat, and the aforementioned sunglasses can help protect your skin from the sun. Pack some sunscreen in your glove compartment as well.
7) Always buckle up and stay in your seat. We really shouldn’t have to say this, but it bears repeating: In a convertible, there’s a very real risk of falling out of the car. Dancing while standing in the back seat like Rebecca Black might sound like a great idea, but it’s really not worth the risk. Oh, and for the love of all that is sacred in motoring, please wear your seatbelt.