Tyrone Raddi, the owner of a soft-top 2021 Ford Bronco Outer Banks living in the Arctic Circle, left for a five-day trip toward the end of December. His truck was parked at home and he says its convertible roof was up the entire time, but after a blizzard swept through town, Raddi’s wife sent him photos of the Bronco’s interior full of snow. The images found their way online, where they were met with disbelief for obvious reasons; it looked like Raddi had forgotten to put his roof up, and many accused him of doing just that, often in less than civil words.
When I closely examined Raddi’s account, though, it appeared as if these photos and videos supported his claims rather than contradicted them. With a few soft top Bronco owners reaching out to me via email and others chiming in on forums like Bronco6G, it was time to ask Ford how this might’ve happened. A spokesperson responded by saying:
“We’ve only seen something like this when the roof has been left open or unlatched. The customer should flag this concern with their dealer to inspect what might have happened in these photos. If there’s an issue, he would be covered under warranty. However, until an inspection is completed, this is all speculation.”
Without having been there to see it unfold, we can only go off the photos, videos, and quotes Raddi provided. He told me that “all the snow got in while everything was secured the way I got [it] from the dealership.” The Bronco’s roof was completely coated in snow outside, and partially within, while the engine bay was thoroughly frozen up too. But even with this seemingly in Raddi’s favor, and seeing as he has no obvious motive to fib to the world, there’s no clear explanation for how this happened. After reading dozens of accounts from owners, I think I have the answer, though: A literal perfect storm.
A forum thread on Bronco6G points to this, too. There and elsewhere, Bronco owners have reported problems with getting their soft tops to properly seal, which could explain how snow got into Raddi’s Bronco.
“The issue that caused this also happened with mine and many other Bronco owners,” one reader said. “The trucks are being delivered with tops that will not latch into place at the midpoint connection and the front at the same time.”
“I luckily found mine early and was able to make adjustments so it would fit. I can easily see how someone in a cold-weather environment would not notice this on a new vehicle as they probably have not messed with the top at all.”
Whether it’s down to misuse or actual manufacturing problems, some Bronco owners have difficulty securing their roofs’ midpoint latches. Consequently, this could explain why some have found their soft tops are easily pried up behind the front row, as has been demonstrated on multiple occasions. Raddi has shown it can be done with one hand, while footage of another Bronco during last month’s hurricane-strength wind storms proved a gale can do the job too.
It doesn’t even need to be a headline-grabbing gust, according to Bronco6G posters, multiple of whom say a 50-mph crosswind is enough to warp the Bronco’s soft top and allow a draft into the cabin. Specifically, this is said to occur above the rear doors, where the soft top’s aft latch is located. That would appear to be the place where snow infiltrated Raddi’s truck, which was buffeted by approximately 50-mph winds while he was gone. Raddi isn’t the only one to report this, either, as a pair of Bronco6G posters recalled having strong crosswinds blow snow into their trucks while they were driving.
So, in a narrow set of circumstances, snow can get through a Bronco’s soft top. But what could make it disperse the way we saw with Raddi’s truck? Well, some owners who have worked in the far north say extreme cold is more than enough to do just that. As outlined by The Weather Channel, colder temperatures correlate with smaller, drier snowflakes, which don’t stick to each other as much and thus can be blown around like sand. Multiple Bronco6G posters offered anecdotes of holes smaller than an inch letting in similar quantities of snow, with one saying they saw “the interior of a pickup look exactly the same” after being left with a window cracked in Alaska.
To recap, some Broncos’ soft tops may not be properly sealed—whether that’s down to operator or manufacturing error—so with strong winds coming from a specific direction, they may be pulled up from the roll bar far enough to let snow in. It’s such a specific scenario, though, that the vast majority of Bronco owners never need fear shoveling out their interiors. Those that do experience it, as the Ford spokesperson explained, should probably get their soft tops checked out at a dealer.
Of course, there’s a simpler solution to soft-top struggles, and it can be summed up with two words: hard top.
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