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6 Things You Should Know Before Buying a Convertible

Factor in additional expenses, limitations for these cars

  • Peathegee Inc/Getty Images

    Top-Down Design

    Convertibles long have been the cars that make kids smile and neighbors jealous. That being said, there are some things you should know before you buy, put the top down and drive off the sales lot.

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  • Getty Images

    Higher Sticker Prices

    For example, a base-model Ford Mustang convertible begins at $30,200. That’s $5,500 more than the similarly equipped nonconvertible Mustang coupe. In some cases, folding-top cars come with more standard features than otherwise-comparable fixed-top models in order to offset the higher price. But they also might be priced higher simply to compensate for the additional parts and engineering that go into making the top retract while retaining structural integrity in the body.

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  • Steve Skjold / Alamy

    Less Storage Space

    Today’s convertibles are sporty and pleasant to drive, but they're typically small cars and have limited storage space. Some of the already limited space is needed for the motors, levers and bars that move the top up or down, as well as for the retracted top itself. Generally, these cars have smaller backseat and trunk areas. So it might be hard to transport multiple passengers or large items.

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    Convertibles Need Maintenance

    Eventually, the folding-top mechanism will require maintenance or repair. The movable tops typically have to be realigned periodically so that they fit tightly against the windshield and windows. Fabric tops may need to be patched or replaced if they wear down or are vandalized.

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    Convertibles Cost More to Drive

    Convertibles weigh more than traditional cars because of their folding-top mechanisms. Also, heavier cars use more fuel, insurance rates often are higher for convertibles because of repair costs, and thieves can slice through most cloth-top models fast enough to make off with your smartphone or GPS before anybody notices. If you leave the top down, toss your valuables into the trunk or take them inside.

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    Convertible Safety Has Improved

    While there’s no getting around the advantages of a fixed roof, today’s folding-top convertibles have rollover bars or similar protection for occupants’ heads. They also offer the same array of accident-avoidance and crash-mitigation features now common in conventional cars.

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    Are You a Fair-Weather Driver?

    Places with gentle summers, long autumns and extended springs are more hospitable than the hot spots where you picture top-down driving. When the top’s down, you will come into direct contact with the sun’s rays — so it can get hot inside an open-top car. As a precaution, fair-skinned folks should consider applying sunscreen and a hat while driving.

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