Article date: 13 June 2008
The UK is second only to Germany when it comes to a love of convertibles. Despite a record wet summer in 2007, demand for soft tops remained high and this summer more drivers than ever are expected to splash out on a convertible*. By nature, convertibles are less rigid than standard cars and RAC Inspections offers used car buyers advice on avoiding the pitfalls when shopping for one.
"People love to feel the wind in their hair and spend the summer cruising with the top down, which is why convertibles remain so popular," says Nicola Johnson, manager of RAC Inspections. "In 2006, convertibles represented 4.3% of all new registrations, compared to 1.5% 10 years ago, showing that more and more drivers prefer to go topless*. However, there are a number of things buyers need to look out for when going for a used soft or hard top, to ensure they're driving the dream and not a nightmare on wheels."
A rigid roof is what makes most cars so stable, so it's important to check the integrity of the roof on a convertible. Check the door shuts properly, as a lack of roof and the stability it provides means the vehicle may be prone to distortion. 18 years ago convertibles were popular, but much more expensive than standard cars. This led to a spate of "convert your own", turning standard cars into convertibles. Some of these were death traps, offering no structural integrity or strength, so take particular care with older soft tops advises RAC Inspections.
Nicola Johnson advises: "The key is to make sure that a convertible, especially an older one, is a genuine manufacturer model or has been done by a reputable conversion dealership or workshop. Buyers of soft tops should pay special attention to the roof, looking for cracks in the plastic screen or signs of degrading rubbers and seals. The last thing you want is a sharp summer shower turning your car into a paddling pool. People must remember to do all the usual checks too, such as bodywork, documentation and general condition of the vehicle.
"It's easy to be taken in by gleaming paintwork, but used car buyers must keep their heads. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Most mechanical problems aren't easy to spot without expert knowledge, and an MOT is not evidence of a car's condition, so it's best to get it checked professionally."
An RAC Inspection will tell you whether a vehicle has any mechanical faults or major accident repair. The results of an inspection can provide reassurance on your potential purchase or enable you to negotiate with the seller on price or to arrange repairs.
To conduct an RAC Inspection:
log on to www.rac.co.uk/web/vehiclechecks/examination/ or call the dedicated number 0800 085 2529
*Figures Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders April 2008
For further information:
Dominic Dennis, Margot Tomkinson or Justine Hoadley at HSL 0208 977 9132. firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors:
About the RAC
With around seven million members, RAC is one of the UK's most progressive motoring organisations, providing services for both private and business motorists. Whether it's roadside assistance, windscreen repair and replacement, learning to drive, vehicle inspections and checks, legal and financial services or up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information - RAC is able to meet motorists' needs. RAC incorporates BSM, RAC Auto Windscreens, RAC Direct Insurance and HPI.
RAC is committed to providing the very highest levels of service to its members and has been ranked first for customer service by J.D. Power and Associates' UK Roadside Assistance Study for the past two years.
Aviva bought RAC in May 2005. The acquisition brings together RAC's powerful brand and customer base with the expertise and leading position in motor insurance of Norwich Union Insurance (part of Aviva). Norwich Union is the UK's largest insurer, insuring one in seven motor vehicles and with a market share of around 15%.
RAC's news releases and a selection of images are available from the internet press centre at www.racnews.co.uk