Mazda MX-5: Renovo Vinyl Soft Top Care Kit

cj hubbard writes:

It feels almost as if I’ve given up my MX-5 for Lent. It’s been parked outside my parents’ house in bits for weeks now.

The thing I feel most bad about is evicting my dad’s MGB from its rightful place on the driveway. The bad weather are poor timing on my part are the major culprits.

However, Easter weekend brought with it some sunshine – finally – and I’ve got the Mazda more or less back into fully assembled form. I might even get it off the drive and back to my place this weekend. Anyway, perhaps even more importantly the good weather has meant I’ve been able to have a go at treating the roof to some TLC.

The vinyl top on my car is generally sound, but it took a hammering from all that winter snow. So the kind people at Renovo International have been nice enough to send me one of their Vinyl Soft Top Care Kits to get it looking like its old self again.

The kit comprises a three-stage treatment process – that’s 500ml of Vinyl Cleaner, 500ml of Vinyl Ultra Proofer and 50ml of Plastic Window Polish.

The first step is to dry brush the soft top to get rid of any loose dirt. I also took the precaution of covering the interior with a poly dust sheet to avoid doing any accidental damage to the seats and carpets. Just a thought.

Then it’s on with the Vinyl Cleaner. After shaking the bottle this gloopy blue gel is dispensed into a suitable container, then simply applied to the roof using a clean – I would highly recommend interpreting this to mean new – two inch paintbrush, starting from the centre and working outwards. I worked it into all the external surfaces of the roof – including getting into the MX-5’s rather grubby rain gutter as far as possible. It goes on smoothly and with little fuss.

Once this is applied you can go and have a cup of tea. The Cleaner needs 10-20 minutes to get its groove going with a moderately dirty roof; serious scruff bags will require up to 40 minutes of tough talking time.

Tea drunk and biscuits dunked, take some warm water and scrub the roof until it’s thoroughly clean. Renovo reckons the dirtiest will require elbow grease and a scrubbing brush – for everything else a sponge should be just fine. I used a microfibre cloth and a small tub of water, which I refreshed continuously to avoid transferring dirt back onto the roof again.

When the cloth and water stop changing colour the Cleaner has done its job. Rinse with clean water from a hose or similar (never use a pressure washer on a soft top) and leave the roof to dry.

The Vinyl Ultra Proofer is a slightly opaque, much more viscous liquid – much easier to spill than the Cleaner, so be careful with your bodywork. Again, dispense into a suitable container and apply with a clean (new) two-inch paintbrush, or a sponge, if you prefer. Apparently one 500ml bottle is enough for an average-sized roof; I think I could have gotten away with about a third of that amount (the MX-5 is, after all, very small), but used about half in the end.

The Ultra Proofer requires no further activity. After about 30 minutes it should be dry and your roof brilliantly waterproof again.

The result? Well, my MX-5’s roof is now sparkling. The slightly unexpected chequered pattern that’s emerged appears to be inherent in the roof material – it certainly isn’t a repercussion of my far less consistent brushwork. The Renovo kit is, as far as I can see, about as close as you can get to a new roof without fitting one. I look forward to finding out how it copes with some less clement weather.

I’ll report back on the Plastic Window Polish once I’ve had the chance to try it.

The Vinyl Soft Top Car Kit is available from direct Renovo International, for £26.99 plus the cost of postage. And for those of you with fabric soft tops, Renovo naturally also has a kit for you.

Thanks to my dad and my sister for helping with the photos. 😉


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