Tips for Buying a Used Convertible

Buying used is a great way to own the convertible you’ve always wanted without paying the premium of purchasing a brand-new car. But before you sign the paperwork and accept the keys, there are a couple of things you need to check to make sure that you’re getting a good deal.

Before buying a used convertible, it’s important to consider factors based on your lifestyle, such as cargo and seating capacity. Unlike regular sedans, you also have to pay extra attention to the quality of the retractable roof.

old man planning to buy a used car convertible
Before buying a used convertible, it’s important to consider factors based on your lifestyle, such as cargo and seating capacity.

Cargo Space

More often than not, the roofs of convertibles will be stored in the trunk’s cargo space. Therefore, you need to make sure there’s enough room in the back for all your belongings. It’s important to think about how much stuff you put in your vehicle regularly.

Number of Seats

It’s also important to consider the number of passengers you’ll need to drive regularly. Some larger convertibles can seat up to three passengers in the back.

Roof Quality

Carefully check the state of the retractable roof before finalizing your purchase. Look for tears and scratches in soft-top convertibles and dents and scratches in hard-top convertibles. Ensure that the convertible roofs are air-tight and still fit over the vehicle.

Red Flags to Watch Out For When Shopping for a Used Convertible

Some signs that should make you think twice about purchasing a used convertible include a malfunctioning roof, mismatching VIN, missing or damaged seals, a shoddy repair/repaint job, and dampness in the interior.

Roof Struggles to Detach, Open, or Close

Odds are, you’re getting a convertible over any other vehicle type because you want a vehicle with a removable roof. It’s important to check if the roof opens and closes properly. Ask the seller if you can test it out—if the roof strains when it moves or if the seller outright refuses, the car is probably no good.

Mismatching VIN

If the VIN of the vehicle doesn’t match what’s on the title, there’s a possibility it was stolen. This is typically done by “title-skippers” who want to avoid paying sales tax and other registration fees. This is a crime in every state.

Missing or Damaged Seals

The seals are among the most important parts of any convertible because they prevent air and water from entering the vehicle through any gaps in the detachable roof. Check the seals are fully intact. If they’re dry, cracked, or missing, you should check for signs of water damage inside the vehicle.

Poor Repair and Paint Job

If a vehicle’s paint is mismatched in some areas, odds are the seller painted over scratches and other signs of damage. This was likely done to hide blemishes and critical flaws, making for an easier sale. Similarly, if the vehicle has a lot of malfunctioning or corroded parts, you’re better off looking elsewhere.

Watch Out for Dampness and Sloshing

Check for water leaks by feeling for any dampness in the car’s interior. If there are any signs of mold or rust inside, or if the carpeted areas are moist, move on. These are clear indicators the convertible can’t keep water out anymore.

Listen closely for sloshing noises, and try swinging the car door from side to side. If you hear water, that’s another indicator you should find another convertible.

Final Tips Before Buying a Used Convertible

Always test drive a vehicle to get a feel of how it handles, which features work, and whether or not it meets your standards.

It’s also a good sign if the seller can provide the vehicle’s complete repair and maintenance history. Minor repairs should be fine as long as the seller is honest and upfront about them.

If you’re not an expert DIY-er, it’s a good idea to take along a mechanic or someone who’s worked on convertibles for a long time. They should be able to help you determine whether a vehicle is a money pit or a good purchase.

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