Piston Slap: Fabric Tops Vs Polar Vortex?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap fabric tops vs polar vortex
Josh writes:Sajeev –Great news! After research, waiting, and a little bit of compromise, I have finally bought my first ‘real’ car. Last month, I bought a ’05 BMW 645i convertible with very low mileage and a clean bill of health. It is wonderful and brings me a little joy every time I start it.Bad news! The country is currently gripped in a cold snap the likes of which we haven’t seen in 2 decades, and also, by the way, I live in Denver.While I am more than comfortable with RWD in the snow, and I am getting used to not having a real spare tire, I realized that I had not considered maintenance of the top in cold-weather conditions. It is currently parked outside, and while a carport is available if I want to go that direction, I am more concerned what the combination of H2O and low mercury will do, at least until I move to a place with a real garage again.Any suggestions how I can extend the joy and minimize loss when it comes time to sell? Thanks!Sajeev answers:Minimize the loss when it comes to sell? Be more concerned with the litany of possible BMW E63 gremlins to keep at bay before selling it on to the next fan of such “real” cars.And keeping the interior in tip-top shape, especially if you run everywhere with the top down.But let’s talk about snow and convertibles: it could be a problem, considering last week’s polar vortex. If wet snow and/or ice breaks tree branches and collapses roofs, they could bend your convertible’s metal frame. Perhaps you could scratch plastic rear windows (not applicable here) with your ice scraper, too.My advice is to keep the top free of snow accumulation so you’ll never worry about bent frame supports when hitting the switch.Everything else? Well, if you keep it around for years with no garage, the top’s gonna need replacement no matter what. And considering the price of a re-pop top, there are far scarier powertrain/suspension/electronic replacement items on this Bimmer that I’d be worried about.Bonus! A Piston Slap Nugget of Wisdom: Do not leave valuables inside your car in plain sight! A bad idea with any car, but even worse in a drop top. Taking a brick to your window to steal your iPod is one thing, but a knife to your fabric roof to grab spare change on your console is another. Hell, I’d consider leaving your convertible unlocked so someone can easily open it, look around for something to steal, find nothing and NEVER slap you with a $1000+ repair bill for fitting a new top! [Image: Shutterstock user Jake Hukee]Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.
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  • Cabriolet Cabriolet on Jan 13, 2014

    Snow will not harm the top but sun will dry it out. There are a few companies that sell special cleaning liquids and sealers for convertibles. I have been using them for years with good results. The least you can do is keep the top clean and free of dirt. If you have a plastic back window fold the top with the window clean and covered with a towel. Enjoy, Nothing like a top down convertible on a warm summer night.

  • BobinPgh BobinPgh on Jan 13, 2014

    Also, never have an umbrella in a convertible. That is how Peter Brady was in trouble with his dad and spoiled Greg Brady's date.

  • Tassos I knew a woman in the area, a journalist (at least she claimed to be a reporter of some kind) who owned one of these tiny pickups with a manual transmission. SHe was only 40 at the time, but she must have been hard of hearing, because she would routinely forget to shift and we would go at fairly high speeds in very low gear, which made a huge racket, which did not seem to bother her (hence my deafness hypothesis). Either that, or she was a lousy driver. Oh well, another very forgettable, silly car from the 80s (and if my first and LAST VW, a 1975 Dasher wagon, was any indication, a very unreliable one too!)
  • Tassos Now as for the Z specifically, Car and Driver had a comparison test of the new Z400, a car that looks good on paper, with plenty of HP etc, but, despite the fact that the cars that win in those tests are usually brand new models that are more up to date than their aging rivals, the Z finished DEAD LAST in the test, to my ovbious surprise.
  • Arthur Dailey Sorry but compare that spartan interior to the Marks that Corey is writing about. 'A cigarette lighter'. Every Mark had 4 cigarette lighters and ashtrays. And these came standard with 'a 3.4-liter, 182-horsepower straight-six in the engine compartment and a five-speed manual transmission'. Those do not tick off many of the luxury boxes aspired to by 'the greatest generation'.Not sure about the 7 series but one of My Old Man's associates showed up once with a brand new 5 series circa 1977 and they gave him such a bad time that he traded it for a Fleetwood within a week.
  • Tassos I clearly have no sentimental attachment to any cars from the 80s. I myself drove a Dasher (passat) wagon with horrible reliability, and then a Pontiac 2000, very fuel efficient for its time with its 1.8 lt and 5 speed, but a small econobox crudely made, with no luxuries inside. But most other cars of the era were really CRAPPY, unsafe, both in terms of passive AND active safety, had very few options modern cars have, etc etc. The best car I owned then was a 1991 Honda Civic 5-sp hatch, but that was also an 80s design that was on sale from 1987-1991. Not just the domestics were crappy then, but so were m ost of the imports. As you can see, I have ZERO "nostalgia" for any of these, especially not for the unreliable, poorly made JUNK from DATSUN-NISSAN, which is widely reviled overseas as a maker of small pickup trucks that are the favorites of Gypsies selling watermelons from their bed.
  • Tassos While Acura was the first Japanese attempt to sell 'luxury' (or "premium") vehicles in the US market, and despite its original good success in the near-luxury segment with the Legend and the far smaller and less expensive Itegra (a glorified Civic), it later lost its momentum and offered a series of underwhelming vehicles. It sure is not a LUXURY maker, and as long as it offers FWD or AWD and NOT RWD vehicles, it will never be taken seriously as a serious sports cars maker. Infiniti is much worse, and if both of them go under, few will notice. Lexus was more successful, offering pimped up TOyotas for 10,000s more, but there is NO vehicle in their lineup, esp now that they scewed up the only serious entry (the LS), that I would care to consider. AND I say all this as a very satisfied owner of 5-speed Honda coupes and hatchbacks (a 1991 Civic hatch and a 1990 Accord Coupe).
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