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Convertible top repair

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Bradley Guire, Jul 8, 2015.

  1. Bradley Guire

    Bradley Guire Well-Known Member

    The back window is separaring from my convertible top.

    2003 Ford Mustang, canvas top, glass window with defroster lines.

    I've got an appointment to take it into a Ford place and see how much it would costnto repair. It's not completely out, but it's clearly visible because the window is lopsided from left to right.

    Any idea what this would run me? I don't want to sink a ton of money into this. I bought it used a few years ago just shy of 100K miles and under $8K as a bit of a beater. Basic V6 engine, auto trans, not super fancy. Just a convertible ... and it's bright yellow. Now it's my daily driver.

    Speaking of, I also need winter tires now that I drive it daily. Best suggestions for winter driving a RWD sports car on ice/snow?

    Anyone else have a sports car? It's my first. I wouldn't mind eventually looking into a newer Mustang (the last body model; I don't buy new cars) or a Dodge Challenger or Chevy Camaro.
  2. Vombatus

    Vombatus Well-Known Member

    Bradley, can't help with the top, but as far as tires, I use tirerack.com where you can enter make, model and year, and then select what your preferences are. I went for long wear, very good traction, and high ratings (AA, I stayed away from B traction ratings) for my Subaru Forester. I have become a Michelin man as a result of tirerack.com, even though they are French.

    tirerack delivers to a local shop (Mr. Tire and others here in the DC MD area) who installs them for you.

    I absolutely refuse to buy from what a tire shop has in stock. Do your homework on tirerack and you'll be happy.

    One tire anecdote: OEM tires, which generally suck in my opinion, on my girlfriend's 2003 Altima. Front tires would spin when accelerating from a dead stop, with very little effort (wasn't trying to burnout). Was happening to both of us, on dry pavement and even worse on wet. Then one day she put her car into a 360 spin in a rural neighborhood development, no curbs, with her sister and 80 year old mother in the car. She was doing only 25 mph when she spun around. Ended up in the grass in someone's yard.

    I said enough of this, researched it on tirerack, where there were a LOT of complaints about Nissan and the OEM tires. I did some searching, and wound up putting Michelins on her car too. And the tire spinning and 360 car spins immediately stopped.

    Anyway, you should see comments on the site too, for your model. Take them with a grain of salt. Some comments are helpful, but some assholes get on there and say things like "best tires I ever had" after driving them only 1000 miles. How the hell do they know that yet? You can't say that about tires that quickly. Sure, you can say "best sex I ever had" quickly, maybe even after just one date. But you can't judge tires that fast.

    [Gratuitous Vombatus sex references had to be inserted at the end. What's a VB post without some twisted naughty thought?]

    Anyway, I hope this helps. Tires make the difference between living and dying. Good luck, choose wisely, and don't skimp on them.
  3. three_bags_full

    three_bags_full Well-Known Member

    tirerack.com and use the self-help place on post to put them on yourself. The guys at the shop will show you how to use the machines. You can rent the bay for like 2 bucks an hour.
  4. Iron_chet

    Iron_chet Well-Known Member

    Not sure of I am reading your post right but it sounds like you have not driven this car in the Winter before.

    Mustangs are turrrrrible Winter cars. Even with Snow tires you will get stick and have crappy traction, speaking from experience on this.

    I would do all I could to avoid driving a Mustang in the Winter.
  5. bigpern23

    bigpern23 Well-Known Member

    I've owned three Mustangs, including a 1994 convertible that suffered a similar problem, though mine may have been more severe. It ran me about $1,000 back in 2002 or so to completely replace the top. Also note, body shops don't typically do that kind of work. I had to find an upholstery shop to do it.

    As for winter driving with a Mustang, my first suggestion is: Don't. I live in the Northeast and there were typically five or six days every winter where leaving the house was simply not an option with that car. Even going up small inclines is challenging if the roads haven't been cleared yet. You'll fishtail like crazy and you may end up driving up the hill with the vehicle almost sideways.

    A couple things that can help, though: If you can spare the trunk space on a snowy day, a couple of cinder blocks placed over the rear tires helps add some weight. Historically, Mustangs run a front/rear weight ratio of about 55/45, so if you can even that out with some additional weight in the back, it will help. Also, throw a 25-pound sack of kitty litter back there. Again, it will help with the weight, but you can also spread it over the snow around the tires if you get stuck.
  6. Bradley Guire

    Bradley Guire Well-Known Member

    I've had the car for for two winters, but I wasn't working full time then. I got by with regular tires. Just thinking ahead to this winter. It's really flat where I live, so hills aren't an issue. Idaho doesn't get snow/ice like the northern midwest, but it's enough to put thought into winter tires. There are a fair amount if people with RWD cars here in the winter, but they're usually trucks or bigger sedans.

    Still thinking on whether I sink money into this car or trade it. I've got time.

    Thanks for all the input.
  7. qtlaw24

    qtlaw24 Active Member

    I had three Mustangs convs, a '66, a '89, then a '04. Did repairs on the first two roofs. I'd expect something in the $600-$800 but would be with an outside service, not a dealer.

    As for tires, yeah go to tirerack.com; fabulous place that i've been using for 15+ years. They will drop ship next day to your installer for free? or at most $50. Just use yelp to find an installer who will take shipment, balance and install. With the solid rear axle, driving in winter will stink.
  8. exmediahack

    exmediahack Well-Known Member

    My 1977 Fiat Spider convertible was far worse in winter than a Mustang.

    But damn I looked like Austin Powers I that thing. That is all.
  9. Neutral Corner

    Neutral Corner Well-Known Member

    Second the notion on Tire Rack. I'd take it a step farther and actually call them and talk to one of the sales reps. They know their products, tell them your conditions and what you want to spend. The question is are you willing to spring for a set of winter tires and switch out and store them, or do you want one set to go year round. If the answer is one set, it's going to be a compromise. You might also look at DiscountTiresDirect.com - although you need to be aware that Tire Rack's prices include shipping, and that DTD's don't until you get to check out. Be sure your prices are apples to apples. Sometimes you can catch a deal on close outs. If you are trying to stay cheap you can buy a set of junkyard steel wheels for winter and leave your summer tires on your nice wheels.

    In general the soft sticky performance tires that make for good summer grip are not so good for winter wear.

    Re the top, check and see if there is a convertible top shop in your town. If it is repairable they'll likely do a better job, and they are used to taking them on and off. If you have not replaced one, they can be a gigantic PITA. I've never done one on a Mustang so I have no insight into how difficult those are.
  10. Bradley Guire

    Bradley Guire Well-Known Member

    My current tires are pretty basic, all-around tires. Plenty of tread left, too. The wheels are base as well. I'm leaning toward dedicated winter tires and swapping them out when the seasons change. Haven't decided on getting wheels. I'll definitely check that site out.

    Got a couple of estimates for the top this afternoon. About $650 to put in a new window panel, checked with a couple of upholstery joints. The top itself is in good shape for its age when it comes to the gears/whatever that power it. Not too bad.

    I definitely want to keep it a while longer. I checked around for used sports cars out of curiosity, and lots of silver and gray and black ... nothing like my canary yellow. I love it.
  11. Neutral Corner

    Neutral Corner Well-Known Member

    Well, if you're looking at freshening up an older sports car, making it more fun to drive, my suggestion would be that you start with the tires, then move to suspension and braking Essentially your car's running shoes, sticky performance tires help with handling and turns. A set of good shocks/struts, upgrading the brake pads to mid-level performance pads, and putting in a new set of suspension bushings on it will also help a lot in terms of braking and handling. Get that done and then an alignment. Personally I like to have that end of things well sorted before messing with the engine and horsepower.

    Touch base in the forums at GrassrootsMotorsports.com. It's a magazine that's dedicated to buying the cool cars you lusted after in Car and Driver twenty years ago for cheap on Craigslist and then wrenching on them, taking them back up to fun and effective on the cheap. The guys over there can give you targeted suggestions on what pieces and brands to buy, what cheap upgrades will make a big difference. If it was Miatas I could tell you, but there will be plenty of Mustang guys over there. Often you can look at the for sale section of performance oriented boards and buy used performance bits that have nothing wrong with them, the car guys involved have just upgraded and are trying to get some money back out of their take off parts. I know Subaru guys who do this a lot, buying factory WRX bits that the hot rod guys have upgraded on and bolting them onto stock Imprezas.

    So yeah, I'd advise getting some fairly inexpensive winter tires for targeted use, and then upgrading to sticky rubber for the warmer months. The other stuff can be done a bit at a time as you have the cash and the time, and of course is cheaper if you can wrench it yourself. There is a lot of useful instruction on the net, you can do more than you think even if you are not mechanically inclined.
  12. bigpern23

    bigpern23 Well-Known Member

    I believe there's an oil-based canvas treatment that you can apply to your convertible top that helps prevent it from drying and cracking. It will help prolong the life of the top. I can't for the life of me remember what it's called.
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