The retractable hard top convertible is back, it first showed up in the 1957 fords and went for many years then disappeared for quite some time.
They had problems with reliability and where difficult to work on. They had unreliable electrical connections and components. But as many things have happened in the automotive industry, it was ahead of it's time and had some positives and minuses just like the one that on the road today.
The benefits are many, one being they tend to be far quieter than a top covered with a soft material such as canvas or vinyl. They also do a better job of sealing to prevent water leaks, this is something that is not as common in a soft top version . You see far less of the hardtop cars broken into, you can just cut a canvas top and let your self in. The top it self doesn't need replacement every 5 to 10 years.
Now with all these moving parts timing is critical. Take one of the many parts out of sync and you will have bent metal panels and a roof that will not close or sometimes move. The newer tops are far more complicated and continue to improve the experience.
With technology, comes sophistication that does not have much in the way of forgiveness. With many switches, wires, hydraulic lines, cylinders, sensors and of course a high performance computer to make sure the system gives you what you expect.
When everything is in working order, life is good. When things go wrong the diagnosis becomes the number one priority before a proper fix is in order.
The down side to this is you just can't look at when their is a problem and determine what is wrong, you need the aid of a scan tool in most cases. When a switch or a sensor has gone bad most of the time their is no physical sign their is a problem.
If you have ever watched a top go up or down you will see their are multiple steps involved and if one is skipped, a major problem arises. I have been to several OEM classes on these tops and they incorporate knowledge of 12 volt electric, computers and hydraulic lift systems all combined together. So it is like a system you might see on a robot that you are telling when to move, but it is determining what to move.
The Convertible Hardtop | What to Do If:
When failures happen, it can cause hardware and mechanical problems as well. Their are times when a system failure can bend or break parts of the top or trim, this tends to be a little more obvious. Get the right information so you don't break even more parts when things go wrong. They have many, many plastic parts, cables and linkage arms. Some are available individually and many as an assembly of many parts put together.
Some notes on the first time you operate the top at the beginning of the year. Don't put it down when it is to cold, it may have sensors not allowing you too, but check your owners manual for recommendations. Make sure you have enough clearance in the trunk for the top to store.
Don't force it if it stops for no reason, this could save you a lot of money. Most cars will have a display of warning messages, take note of them and if you don't understand them, don't use the top until you have it looked at.