Hardtops are one of the finest accessories for any Jeep, including the rough-tough Wrangler. First of all, they protect from natural hazards (rain, snow, dust). Secondly, they give the SUV an aggressive, eye-catching look. However, when it’s summertime, even a soft top can cause you lots of trouble. Hard tops, in turn, are crafted from metal that turns the Jeep’s cabin into an oven when the sun is up.
So, why not go ahead and remove the top? That way, you’ll get to turn the Wrangler into a convertible and enjoy the hot weather to the fullest! But wait – how hard is it to remove a Jeep Wrangler JK hard top? Is this even a one-man job? Read on, and you’ll find out! Just make sure to follow my guide and don’t rush anything!
#1: Getting Started
There isn’t much to do before removing the top. As far as the preparations go, all you gotta worry about is finding an even, smooth surface to park the Jeep. Next, set it to “idle” to make sure it doesn’t roll down the street while you’re trying to deal with the hardtop. If it’s raining or snowing, it would be wise to do this in the garage. But, overall, the outside will be a better choice, since you’ll have more room to approach the Jeep.
As for the required tools, a ratchet, a socket wrench, and a T40 Torx bit – that’s pretty much all you will need. Put on a pair of protective gloves, and let’s get to business! Now, ideally, you should ask a friend for help. While hardtops aren’t particularly heavy, they are bulky, which makes it a challenge to handle them manually. But, this can still be done manually (especially if you have a hoist).
#2: Handling the Bolts
So, once the Jeep is parked and you’ve got the tools ready, the first thing to do is to remove the so-called freedom panels. There’s a set of latches (six in total) holding the panels that need to be unlatched. On a four-door Wrangler, you’ll have to also deal with a pair of bolts hidden right below the panels; remove them using the socket wrench in combo with the T40 Torx bit. Once they’re loose enough, do the rest by hand.
Now go around back and open the trunk. There are three bolts on each side of the hard top, holding it in place. Once they’re all removed, you can store the bolts and nuts in the little storage space that 2012+ models have. Or, just put them somewhere in a box. This is it for the “hardware” part of the Jeep hard top removal guide. The next step involves unplugging the wires to free the hard top.
#3: Disconnecting the Wires
More specifically, we need to disconnect the electrical harness. It’s located in the top left corner of the hardtop – won’t be hard to find. In the Wrangler, there’s a locking connector (usually colored red). Remove it, depress the tab, and the harness should come off easily. That’s not it yet, though: right next to the harness, there’s the washer fluid hose. Pull it down as well. The best thing about most Jeeps is that there aren’t dozens of wires that you need to make sense of.
#4: Removing the Hard Top
At this point, everything is disconnected and nothing’s holding the hard top in place. So, let’s go ahead and remove it. Assuming you don’t have a hoist installed in the garage, I would recommend lifting one of the sides first and then doing the other side. Next, close the liftgate glass if you haven’t done that yet and slide the top down. Again, this is going to be somewhat tricky and frustrating without a friend helping you out.
Plus, for a person of average height and strength, the weight of the hard top might be a bit too much to handle. There are lots of mechanics that do this on their own, but it takes some experience and sleight of hands. If you’re on your own and don’t want to risk your health lifting the top, consider ordering a one-person removal/replacement system like TopLift Pro or RollNJack. These are pretty cool and super easy to use. They do cost a lot, though.
Alright, that is it for the removal part. Now let’s think about the best ways you can store the top. It is pretty big and you shouldn’t just put it in the corner and forget about it. The reason – over time, the top will get overwhelmed by dust and corrosion. In my experience, a Jeep Hardtop Storage Hoist is the best option on the market. While it won’t be particularly cheap, the steep price is compensated by reliability, durability, and safety.
Besides, as I mentioned earlier, hoists make it so much easier to remove the top on your own. Storage racks and carriers are also pretty decent, but still not that great. Another big advantage of hoists is that they don’t take any space on the ground – they literally hang from the ceiling. Keep that in mind when thinking about how and where you’re going to store the hardtop.