DEAR CAR TALK: I have a VW convertible that I leave garaged in Florida for eight months.

Is it better to leave the top up or down when I am gone? – Frances

RAY: Gee, Frances, I’m trying to figure out why you’d want to leave the top down. Maybe to keep the car aired out? So it’ll smell musty like your garage when you get back?

The top is designed to keep things out of the car – not just rain, but dust, debris and the occasional iguana falling out of a tree. So I’d be inclined to secure the top and let it do its job.

While it’s unlikely to rain in your garage, the car certainly will fill with dust. Mice, spiders, centipedes, larvae, scorpions or lost Boy Scouts aren’t out of the question, either.

Plus, we’ve seen some convertible tops get creased if they’re left down for a long time. You can always un-crease them by putting the top back up for a while, but sometimes the color changes a little bit where the roof is stretched and folded.

And given that I can’t come up with any really good arguments for leaving the top down, I’d say secure the car and leave the top up, Frances.

Stop the madness! You can stop driving like a knucklehead, and you’ll help your car in the process.

Learn how your driving habits can harm your car in Click and Clack’s pamphlet “Ten Ways You May Be Ruining Your Car Without Even Knowing It!”

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Got a question about cars? E-mail Car Talk’s Ray Magliozzi by visiting the Car Talk website, www.cartalk.com.