The jeep wrangler’s hard top is one of the most removable components found on the wrangler. It is easily removable if you have some handyman skills and some tools to help you remove the attachment accessories. In this article, we have provided a detailed process on How To Install and Remove Hard top on Jeep Wrangler.
You might also need some help either from another person or a lifting tool that will help you remove the rear panel of the wrangler. Some go to the extent of removing the trunk panels that attach to the hard top to achieve that rugged look, and it’s not bad.
But before you start removing your hard top, there are some factors you should consider. Removing it might be an easy task, but you have to pre-plan for it.
You also have to know the bolts and nuts on attaching the hard top panels to the roll bar and where the latches are located. Knowing the type of bolts and nuts on the hard top allows you to select the right tools for the job.
The nuts and bolts can differ from wrangler to wrangler, especially due to different production years. If you use the wrong tool to remove the bolts and nuts, you will end up stripping them, and they’ll be no longer of use. Thus, you’ll have to buy new ones.
Some dealers do sell their wranglers with the appropriate tools for this, but if you bought a used jeep wrangler or you misplaced the tools, check the owner’s manual for the recommended tools for this job.
Reasons why you should remove your wrangler’s hard top
- Reduces weight
The wrangler’s top weighs a couple of pounds, and by removing it, you shed some weight off your wrangler. Doing this does not shed as much weight as you might want to shed off, but by doing so, you can estimate what else to remove to achieve the weight you want.
If you are aiming at shedding some weight off your wrangler, the hard top is one of the parts you should consider uninstalling first.
The structural integrity of the wrangler is not compromised, as some may tend to think, but this is not the case. The wrangler has a roll bar all around the vehicle, which ensures the structural composition of the wrangler is not compromised regardless of whether you remove the hard top or not.
- Protecting the hard top
Jeep wrangler hard tops are expensive to replace or repair, depending on the degree of damage. If you often off-road your wrangler, there is a fear that the hard top might get damaged by falling branches or rocks. Removing it is a safety threat, but some choose to do it anyway.
Some wrangler owners prefer the jeep with no hard top as it looks better than with the hard top. This is true as it gives the wrangler a rugged mean look, and it will definitely stand out among wranglers with hard tops.
The naked rollbar gives an industrial barebone feel to the wrangler, and if an owner sees a topless wrangler, they are most likely going to try the topless look on their wrangler.
Some go to the extent of removing the doors to achieve such looks. Such wrangler owners consider themselves to be “true jeep wrangler enthusiasts.”
- Driving comfort
You have to admit driving with the windows open is one great feeling. Some drivers and passengers rarely close their windows on a drive. The feeling of driving without a top is even better, especially since the hard top is a heavy insulator.
It traps heat in the cabin of the wrangler. In good weather, it’s comfortable driving topless than with the top on. Unless the weather changes, you should be just fine.
Air circulation in the cabin is also perfect when driving in a topless wrangler compared to driving with the hard top on. The sunlight getting into the cabin is also relaxing, but if it’s intense, you will definitely have to reinstall the hard top or another top that protects the driver and passenger from excess sunlight as it can be harmful to the skin.
- To replace or fix the hard top
If the hard top is damaged, it has to be removed then fixed or replaced with another one, depending on the damage. Driving without a hard top is better than driving with a damaged one.
After removing the hard top, some owners get used to the new look and prefer to keep it that way even after the old hard top is fixed or after finding a replacement.
But it is always good to have a hard top in good working condition in case you need one. You can replace the old hard top with other tops such as soft tops and bikini tops, depending on your preference.
Some may ask if it’s against the law to drive without a top on the wrangler. No, it is not. No state has laws against driving without the top. The only laws that are there only concern driving without doors. You have to at least install half doors.
Disadvantages of not installing the hard top
- By uninstalling the hard top, you reduce safety if the wrangler rolls over or when something hits the wrangler from the top. Crash safety is not compromised due to the presence of a firm roll cage.
- Sudden weather changes can take a toll on you. You cannot carry around the hard top in your wrangler as it’s too large to fit. When the weather changes, you have to find an enclosed parking spot or have another top in your wrangler that can be installed quickly and protects the cabin and occupants from the weather.
- Some owners remove the hard top, then install the soft top but roll it way back. When you do this, you can install the
- top quickly in a sudden weather change.
- Removing the hard top is an easy process, but reinstalling it is much harder. Lifting the panels and aligning the panel bolt holes to the ones on the rollbar can be tricky. You have to do it slowly and carefully and ensure you reinstall all bolts and screws. Failure to which will result in leakages in the cabin when it rains.
Hardtop Removal Kit
- This handy tool kit is very much compatible for Jeep Wrangler JK.
- This kit has high-quality stainless steel and metal polish process for anti-corrosion protection.
- The bent handle design of this unique ratchet makes it safer than the straight one while providing much torque.
- This kit includes All of 8pcs/set of 3/8″ Ratchet, 15mm Socket, 3/8″ Universal Joint, T25-T55 Torx Bit, and a portable carrying pouch to hold all the bolts.
How to remove hard top?
Note: Ensure all windows are rolled down before you start working.
- Start with the front panels that are also referred to as the freedom panels. There are three latches on the front near the windshield and three toward the middle roll bar crossing. For the front latches, you have to remove the sun visors to access them.
- Once the latches are all unhooked, start by removing the panel on the driver’s side. Lift it slowly and carefully. You can lift it from the outside or the inside, but ensure the panel does not fall down. Repeat the same for the passenger side.
- To remove the rear panel, start by removing the bolts on the front panel where the front freedom panels meet with the rear panel. There is one bolt on each corner. Remove the bolts carefully to prevent stripping, and if it’s hard to remove, spray WD40 to ease out the bolts.
- On each side of the hard top, there are three other bolts. Remove them and remove the two bolts on the rear end of your wrangler at each corner.
- Before lifting off the rear panel of the hard top, ensure you disconnect the electrical harness, which is located in the trunk. Push on one end of the harness while pulling off the other end.
- If you have a hoist, ensure you hook it up properly on all four corners of the panel, then lift it up slowly to prevent breaking the windows on the panel. If you cannot access a hoist, ask for a hand from someone to help you lift off the panel.
- Store all panels that you have removed in a safe and secure place free from fall, and nothing heavy can fall on them.
Hard top Storage
After you remove your hardtop, you’ll need to store it. For the freedom panels, you can store them in your wrangler or store them in a safe place free from fall. Ensure you cover them also to prevent scratches and dents if something falls on them.
You can store it somewhere on the ground in your garage or keep it and ensure that nothing can fall on it for the rear panel.
However, there is a better option for storing the hardtop. Once you use a hoist to remove the top, you do not have to remove the top from the hoist. But this depends on the type of hoist you have and if the manufacturer states that you can use the hoist to hold the hardtop.
The following are some of the hoists that can hoist the hardtop off the wrangler and store it.
- It has rubber-coated hooks which clamp onto the hardtop and an electric motor that aids in lifting the hardtop off your wrangler.
- Has a well-balanced steel frame which ensures that the top does not fall due to an imbalance when removing it or when in storage.
- With this hoist, removing the top is a one-man job, and you can also store the freedom panels on top of the rear panel once you completely remove it off your wrangler.
- You do not have to remove the rear window unlike when removing it manually.
- If you are going to use the hoist to store the hardtop, you need to attach the hoist where it will not be in anyone’s way or an area free from movement, be it of people or things.
- Also, lift the hardtop high enough to allow space to bring in your wrangler whenever you want to reinstall the hardtop.
- You can use this hoist for both 2-door and 4-door wranglers.
- This is a mechanical hoist that is also attached to the ceiling to aid in removing the top.
- It has rubber-coated hooks or thumb screws, which you attach onto the hardtop, then use a rope on the opposite end to lift the hardtop off.
- This does not have an electric motor but is also a one-man hoist. You only need to have a tie-down point to tie the pulling rope on after lifting the top to the desired height.
- The ropes are made of a high-quality braided material ensuring they do not snap when removing the hardtop or when in storage
- High-quality and balanced stainless-steel frame which ensure the durability of the hoist.
- This hoist has an anti-drop system that prevents the top from dropping when you accidentally let go of the rope.
- Compatible with both 2-door and 4-door wranglers.
- This type of hoist removes the hard top of your wrangler by removing it from the inside. It has 5 knobs with foam pads that the hardtop sits on.
- These prevent any damage to the hardtop. You roll the upper part of the hoist into the trunk then lift the knobs to contact the hardtop.
- Then you turn the lift knob on the frame of the hoist, which lifts the hardtop off the wrangler.
- Fully adjustable arm thus you are able to remove and install the top regardless of your wrangler’s height.
- You can use it anywhere unlike ceiling hoists which have to be attached to the ceiling.
- Once the hardtop is off, you lock the lift knob, then pull the whole hoist off the wrangler. There are wheels with safety locks at the base of the hoist to prevent it from rolling away if you use it to store the top.
- If you use the hoist to store the hardtop, ensure you keep it at a very flat spot to prevent imbalances that will lead to falling.
- Also, ensure nothing can fall on the hardtop as this will also lead to imbalances or scratches and dents on the hardtop.
This type of hoist is attached to the ceiling of your garage. It has rubber-coated hooks which clamp onto the hardtop and an electric motor that aids in lifting the hardtop off your wrangler. With this hoist, removing the top is a one-man job, and you can also store the freedom panels on top of the rear panel once you completely remove it off your wrangler.
Suppose you are going to store away the hardtop for a while. In that case, you need to attach the hoist where it will not be in anyone’s way or an area free from movement, be it of people or things. Also, lift the hardtop high enough to allow space to bring in your wrangler whenever you want to reinstall the hardtop.
This is a mechanical hoist that is also attached to the ceiling to aid in removing the top. It has rubber-coated hooks or thumb screws, which you attach onto the hardtop, then use a rope on the opposite end to lift the hardtop off.
This does not have an electric motor but is also a one-man hoist. You only need to have a tie-down point to tie the pulling rope on after lifting the top to the desired height. Luckily this hoist has an anti-drop system that prevents the top from dropping when you accidentally let go of the rope.
This type of hoist removes the hard top of your wrangler by removing it from the inside. It has 5 knobs with foam pads that the hardtop sits on. These prevent any damage to the hardtop.
You roll the upper part of the hoist into the trunk then lift the knobs to contact the hardtop. Then you turn the lift knob on the frame of the hoist, which lifts the hardtop off the wrangler.
Once the hardtop is off, you lock the lift knob, then pull the whole hoist off the wrangler. There are wheels with safety locks at the base of the hoist to prevent it from rolling away if you use it to store the top.
If you use the hoist to store the hardtop, ensure you keep it at a very flat spot to prevent imbalances that will lead to falling. Also, ensure nothing can fall on the hardtop as this will also lead to imbalances or scratches and dents on the hardtop.
How to Re-Install the hard top?
- Start with the rear panel. Lift it with a hoist or ask a friend to help you lift it. Keep the rear doors open and ensure the bolt holes on the panel align with the bolt holes on the roll bar.
- Bolt-on all bolts should be 10 in number, three each on the sides and two on each end, front and rear. Ensure you tighten them according to torque requirements or tight enough to prevent leakages when the screws loosen.
- Start with the passenger side for the front freedom panels, then place the driver’s side panel last. The pins on the panel help you align the panels to the rollbar as the freedom panels do not have bolt holes. If the locating pins align to the roll bar holes, you are good to continue.
- Lock the latches on each side from the cabin, three near the windscreen and the other three at the middle, where the freedom panels meet the rear panel. After you lock the latches, reinstall the sun visors, and all is done.
- Don’t forget to reconnect the rear windshield electrical harness.
You do not require any special skills to remove the hard top, just ensure you get every step and use the required tools where needed. For whatever reason, you are removing the hard top.
Assess it to evaluate whether it’s really worth removing. You can just remove the freedom panels because they can be easily carried around in your wrangler. They are easy to reinstall in case of a sudden weather change.