Combating Convertible Woes

By Catherine McNulty

September 4, 2013 5 min read

Picture this: You're cruising around in a convertible with the top down, sun shining, wind in your hair and an awesome song is on the radio. Sounds like heaven, doesn't it?

There is an undeniable cool that comes with convertibles. They are a promise of warm, sunny days and a laid-back lifestyle. Who's got time to worry about storms and theft when there is an empty stretch of road to enjoy?

Unfortunately, for most of us reality has a nasty way of intruding on this peaceful reverie. Owning a convertible comes with a special set of problems: Convertibles are more expensive than hardtop cars, more likely to be stolen and/or vandalized and more prone to damage from the elements. Are they worth it?

Convertibles are generally considered a luxury vehicle. While there are more affordable versions available, like the Chrysler 200 (formerly the Chrysler Sebring), even the most modestly priced will be more expensive than the standard equivalent of the car. For example, the Chrysler 200 hardtop has an MSRP of $21,095 while the convertible version of the car is $27,525. That's almost a $6,500 difference!

If you're set on getting a convertible but you're on a budget, look into buying a used car to save money. If you insist on new, be mindful of holidays and know when new models are released to take advantage of sales. Other than that, there aren't many ways to get the sticker price down aside from negotiation.

Does it cost more to insure a convertible? Not necessarily. While sporty cars tend to cost more to insure than a sedan, whether the car is convertible or not has less to do with the price you pay. Insurance premiums tend to depend more on your driving record than on the type of vehicle you drive. Continue to be a safe driver to reap the rewards of lower insurance premiums.

Are convertibles more likely to be stolen? They are definitely easier to break into than other types of vehicles and also attract more attention. As a convertible owner, this means that you need to be vigilant about security.

A car alarm is a definite must. Gone are the days of the annoying alarms that go off while the world around them steadfastly ignores the sound. Now you can get an alarm that will not only text you if it senses something amiss in your vehicle but also remotely start your car and tell you the interior temperature. Unfortunately, most of these types of alarms are hindered by distance. They usually have the range of about a mile. And, as with most things, this type of technology does not come cheap. Expect to pay north of $200 for the system.

Beyond a car alarm, practice car owner common sense: Keep your car clean and keep any valuables hidden from view. If there doesn't look like there's anything to steal, what's the point of breaking in?

More common sense that bears repeating: Don't leave your car unlocked and running and don't leave the top down. That's right; people still do this. Why tempt would-be thieves? Even if you're just dashing into a store or using an outdoor ATM, put the top back up, turn your car completely off, and lock it. If you have the option, park in lots or garages with attendants. Having a person paid to watch the vehicles deters all but the most determined thieves.

Yes, the whole point of having a convertible is to put the top down and enjoy the world while you're on the road. Just be aware of what that means. If you're going to be driving on a sunny day, wear sunscreen. If you'll be driving fast, know that any debris in the car (receipts, napkins, tissues, etc) will fly away, possibly with your hat as well. While modern convertibles tend to have the windshield angled to deflect the wind better than previous generations, things can still get in your eyes, so wear sunglasses. Even warm days feel cool when you reach certain temperatures -- just ask a motorcyclist -- so gloves and a jacket should be readily available. And if you have long hair, think about what the wind will do it if you leave it down.

Are you ready? It's time to make a playlist and hit the road.

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