Used car buyers guide: Convertible cars

Used car buyers guide: Convertible cars

So, you're looking for your next used car and you want a convertible. The convertible car is a great choice of motor and offers the option to enjoy the very best of the British weather when it finally arrives. It may only last a few months but those roof down moments are what convertible car ownership is all about.  

We have sold hundreds if not thousands of used cars over the years with plenty of convertibles sold along the way. We also carry out convertible  car servicing and MOTs regularly too. This means that we know a thing or two about what to consider when purchasing your next used convertible car. Read on to find some useful tips for your convertible car buying adventure. 

Should you buy a convertible with an electric roof or manual roof?

There are two types of mechanisms for retracting the roof of a convertible car. Firstly you have the simple manual roof, easy to fold away and light as a feather. Secondly you have the electric roof, these don't require physical operation but are often heavier than their manual counterparts. There are pros and cons to both variations of overhead protection which we will break down here:

Convenience: The winner in this instance is the electric folding roof. While you'll have to move a manual roof yourself an electric roof can be raised or dropped at the touch of a button. You could also have the option to remotely raise or lower your roof from the key fob on certain models of car. Electric roofs are also self latching in most cases meaning you won't need to mess around with latches yourself. 

Practicality: In general an electric folding roof is much bigger and heavier than a manual roof, this means that more storage space is required when the roof is down. For this reason you will likely find that a car with a manual folding roof is usually more practical.  But we don't buy convertible cars for the practicality do we? 

Reliability: With more components to fail it is no surprise that you will find cars with an electric folding roof often suffer with problems that manual folding roof owners simply don't need to worry about. When purchasing a car with an electric folding roof it is essential that you make sure it operates correctly at the time of purchase.

Ultimately, the choice between an electric or manual convertible roof comes down to personal preference, convenience, and budget considerations. If ease of operation and additional features are important to you, an electric roof may be the better option. However, if you prefer simplicity, reliability, and potentially lower costs, a manual roof could be more suitable.

Should you buy a convertible used car with a soft top or a hard top?

An important consideration when purchasing a convertible car is the type of material your roof is made from. Do you want a sleek hardtop or a light and easy soft top? here are the differences between the two:

Weight: The biggest difference between a soft top roof and a hard top roof is weight. While the soft top is going to made of light fabric, the hard top will be made from metal and plastics along with heavy duty electrical components that will always be heavier than a simple soft top. 

Insulation:  A hard top car offers better insulation with the roof up than a soft top thanks to thicker materials which help to better protect the car from wind and rain.

Maintenance: Soft-top roofs will require maintenance over time, as the fabric material can be susceptible to wear and tear from exposure to the elements. Hardtop roofs won't suffer with that issue but still need servicing for mechanical components like the retracting mechanism.

What should i check when buying a convertible used car?

When buying a used car there are certain things that you should always check for -car service history, MOT test record, accident damage and so on. You should always carry out these checks when buying a convertible car as well as some extra checks for your peace of mind. These checks include:

  • Test the convertible top's operation thoroughly. Ensure it opens and closes smoothly without any unusual noises or hesitations.
  • Make sure there are no leaks present in the vehicle, check the interior windows and floor pans for signs of damp or wetness.
  • Inspect the latching mechanism to ensure it securely fastens the top when closed.
  • On a soft top you should check for any tears, rips, or wear on the fabric or the seals around the convertible top. 

Advantages and disadvantages of owning a convertible vehicle  

Compared to your standard vehicle, there are some key advantages and disadvantages to owning a convertible.  If you are going to use the vehicle as your sole form of transport all year round then take a look at this list to help you decide if a convertible used car is for you.


  • Open air driving: The biggest draw for a convertible vehicle is the ability to put the roof down when the hot weather hits.
  • Improved visibility: With the roof down, you'll have a distinct advantage when it comes to visibility.
  • Resale value (summer): The car market is an ever flowing entity and is very much reactive. When the sun is out you'll benefit from a higher re-sale price for your convertible car. 
  • Aesthetic appeal: while this is subjective, a convertible car offers a unique look that you just cant get from a closed roof machine.


  • Weather vulnerability: Convertibles, especially soft tops, are more susceptible to weather conditions such as rain, snow, and extreme temperatures, which can limit their usability in certain climates.   
  • Noise and Wind Intrusion: Wind noise and buffeting can be more pronounced compared to closed-roof cars, potentially affecting comfort and conversation inside the cabin.    
  • Security concerns: Convertibles are more vulnerable to theft or vandalism when parked with the top down, and securing valuables can be more challenging.    
  • Limited cargo Space: Convertibles often have reduced trunk space compared to their hardtop counterparts, due to the space required for the convertible top mechanism.

We hope this blog post can be of assistance to you when purchasing your next used car. We here at E&J Jarvis LTD specialise in providing high quality used cars in Southampton. If you're looking for your next used car please get in touch to see how we can help.

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