Guide for Replacing Your Jeep's Soft Top With a Hardtop
Jeep Wranglers are among the most customizable vehicles on the market, which is just one of the reasons why these cars are so popular. The Wrangler's ability to shed its doors and roof offers owners aB truly unique experience.
Unlike all other types of convertibles, Jeeps are capable of turning from a soft top to a hardtop and back again, all through a simple process. Because of this, it's one of the only 4x4s that's entirely suitable for both inclement weather and sunny days. If you're an owner of a soft-top Wrangler, use this guide for replacing your Jeep's soft top with a hardtop roof.
Jeep Hardtop History
In terms of convertible types, hardtops are removable roofs that offer more visual and practical structure. For a long time, convertibles only came in soft-top models, as the technology for hardtops was still developing. The earliest cars either featured a soft covering for a roof or no roof at all. While the industry focused on creating retractable roofs that could automatically store in the car's trunk, there were companies out there producing vehicles with removable covers.
When the Wrangler YJ was released in 1986, it featured a distinct military design with a sturdy cloth covering. It was an instant success and led to many more Wranglers models that continue to sell today. However, the first Jeep to sport a removable hardtop was the CJ line, with later models of the YJ and TJ getting hardtop covers. Today, most buyers gravitate towards drop-top Jeeps.
Soft Top vs. Hardtop
Before we get into the process of switching up your Jeep's roof, it's important to understand the pros and cons of both soft tops and hardtops. Most of these aspects are subjective, so consider which roof style is best for your needs.
While most people prefer the structuredness of a hardtop roof, there is still some value in having a less solid covering over your car. They include:
- Less weight
- Typically cheaper
- Uniform appearance
- Fast removal
The cons include:
- Increased road noise
- Less car security
- Prone to damages
Most convertible enthusiasts go for hardtop cars because of the various cons for soft tops. Here are the pros of a solid, removable roof:
- Quiet cabin
- Functional in all seasons
- Fewer blind spots
- Easy to clean
- More security
The cons include:
- Longer removal process
- Typically more expensive
Which Is Better?
There's no way to definitively say whether one roof style is better than the other. Both offer different experiences that are tailored to the driver's preferences.
What's great about owning a Jeep is that you don't have to worry about the cons of either choice – with a simple process, you can enjoy both a soft top and hardtop convertible with the same car!
Enough with the history lessons on convertibles; it's time to start removing your roof! Before you begin, make sure you have all of your Jeep tools with you and a suitable hardtop nearby that's ready for installation. The tools consist of various Torx bits that come with your car. If you buy a used Jeep without this kit, you must purchase a new one for this process to be successful.
First and foremost, you’ll need to pop off all the doors in your car. This process isn’t that difficult, especially if you use a Jeep Wrangler door removal tool that reduces labor and conveniently stores the parts. With the doors off, you should be left looking at the Jeep’s roll cage.
You'll need to remove the softcover from your vehicle. First, unzip your soft windows—some soft tops have snap-on windows, so in that instance, simply snap them off. Make sure you use extra attention to detail as soft windows are slightly prone to tearing.
Next, it’s time to unlatch the cover. The latches are found throughout the interior and exterior of your Jeep. Some soft tops feature sail flaps on the body, which you can disengage by pulling upon them. Since you’re converting your ride to a hardtop, it’s important to have special tools to remove the soft top structure entirely. If you originally bought a soft top, the roof is connected to a frame. This frame is what keeps you safe in the event of an accident and prevents covers from ripping off while driving.
Once your soft top is removed, safely store it in your garage. If done correctly, you should be left with a roofless ride! Ensure that the hardcover you are installing matches the model of your Jeep. Lift the roof over your vehicle and place it on top. You might need to reconnect electrical wires and the water hose during this part.
Next, bolt your hardtop to the bones of your Jeep. Most hardtop manufacturers include detailed instructions on how to do this, but it basically involves tightening bolts with your T40 Torx bit. Ensure that every bolt is snug and that your car is completely sealed. It’s recommended that you have an extra pair of hands for this installation to save on labor and avoid any damage to the vehicle.
Once the hardtop is locked in, you’ve now successfully converted your Jeep! Since a lot of tiny parts are involved in this process, it’s important to keep these organized and stored safely. Each piece is essential if you ever decide to throw on the soft top again.
If you do choose to put the soft top back on your Jeep, simply repeat these steps but in reverse. The process is simple, provided that all the vital pieces are still around. Ensure that all of the necessary wirings are carefully disconnected and then reconnected to ensure your car remains functional.
With this guide for replacing your Jeep’s soft top for a hardtop, you can effectively switch up your car at a moment's notice. This freedom allows you to enjoy the thrills of driving a Jeep no matter the season or weather. If you need additional help with the installation process, we at TopLift Pros have the perfect products for you.
Our removal tools make taking the doors off a breeze, and our storage equipment helps protect all your car’s valuable bits and pieces. Remember to double-check the structural integrity of your new roof before hitting the road.