Are you considering a hardtop to a soft-top conversion on your Jeep? Is it a DIY job or a specialized conversion you should leave to a professional? Are there any miscellaneous parts needed and are the two tops interchangeable? These are some of the topics we’ll cover in this article, so stick around.
A Jeep Wrangler Hard-Top can be converted to a soft top by completely removing all the hardtop mounting brackets and components and replacing them with soft-top specific components. The two are not interchangeable.
There are advantages and disadvantages to converting to a soft top. We will get into some of the benefits such as weight reduction, aesthetics, and ease of use as well as which option is best suited for your needs.
Can You Change a Hard Top Jeep to a Soft Top
Yes, you definitely can do the switch. However, there is a certain amount of skill required. There are quite a few brackets, mounts, and drilling required in the installation, so you’ll need to be quite a DIY type of person. We have attached a complete DIY guide with images and step-by-step instructions.
When doing the switch you need to completely remove all the hardtop components and replace them with the soft top mounting system. The same applies when swapping back to the hardtop, all soft top components need to be removed first. It’s not recommended to fit the hardtop over your soft top.
Let’s now highlight some of the pros and cons of each top.
Is A Hard Top Or Soft Top Jeep Better?
There are a variety of frames and tops available, ranging from framed or frameless soft tops, modular soft tops, bikini tops, flip tops, and more.
Whatever your reason for converting from a hard to a soft top, may it be better visibility, versatility, or just that extra cool factor, there are some considerations to be aware of. Security definitely is not improved with a soft top and you’ll need additional lockable boxes and fixed trunks to keep any valuables safe from prying eyes.
Let’s first look at some of the disadvantages of a hard-top
- Bulky and heavy
- Requires 2 people to remove and refit
- Longer fitment times
- Can’t go topless on the fly
- Dedicated storage space is required when removed
What are some of the advantages of a hard-top?
- Better security
- Quieter road noise
- Better insulation from the elements
- No flapping noises at high speeds
What are some soft top Advantages?
- Ease of use
- Easily stored
- Not prone to leaks
- On-the-fly topless option
Disadvantages of a soft top
- Very low security
- Wind noise and flapping
- Can tear/rip
- Drive-through car washes are risky
- Weaker insulation to the elements
Now that we know the advantages and disadvantages of each top, let’s look at what is required to convert your hardtop to a soft top.
Hard Top to Soft Top Conversion
Fortunately, we have a step-by-step guide available to guide you through the entire process, including images. You don’t require any specialized tools.
The conversion process is moderately difficult and requires a bit of skill
Fortunately, there are many aftermarket kits available that come pre-packaged with all the necessary hardware and miscellaneous components. The conversion process is moderately difficult and requires a bit of skill to do properly.
When converting to a soft top, remember, the cheaper kits come with thinner fabric. Always opt for thicker sailcloth that helps keep the road noise down much better than the cheap soft versions.
The time required to do the installation is roughly 4 hours.
You will need the following tools
- #2 Phillips Bit
- #2 Phillips Screwdriver
- T30 Torx Driver
- Adjustable Wrench
- Safety Goggles
The entire process comprises of 22 steps. Below is a quick overview of the steps to install the soft top on a 2007-2017 Jeep Wrangler JK. For more detailed information with images, download this guide to installing a soft top on your Jeep JK here 07-Current
|Step 1||Install Bow Mount Brackets|
|Step 2||Install Door Rails|
|Step 3||Install Top Arch|
|Step 4||Install Tailgate Bar Mounts|
|Step 5||Attach Side Bows to Header/Fabric Assembly|
|Step 6||Place Fabric/Header/Side Bow Assembly onto Jeep|
|Step 7||Install #2 Bow Assembly|
|Step 8||Secure Header/Fabric/#2 Bow/Side Bow Assembly to Door Rails|
|Step 9||Assemble Rear Bow and Attach to Bow Mount Bracket|
|Step 10||Attach Stay Straps to Rear Bow|
|Step 11||Attach Bow Flap to #2 Bow|
|Step 12||Drape Fabric over the top of the Jeep and Attach Bow Flaps to Rear Bow|
|Step 13||Fold back Header/Fabric assembly and attach Cable Springs to #2 Bow bracket|
|Step 14||Attach Foam Seal and Foam Tape on inside of Header|
|Step 15||Secure Rear Corners of Fabric to Jeep Belt Rail|
|Step 16||Close Front Windshield Header Latches|
|Step 17||Install Rear Window|
|Step 18||Install Side Window left|
|Step 19||Install Side Window Right|
|Step 20||Install Tailgate Bar|
|Step 21||Snap Tailgate Bar Onto Tailgate Bar Mounts & Secure Bottom Corners of Rear Window|
|Step 22||Folding the Top Down|
So there you have a general overview of what the fitment process entails. For more detailed information with images, download this guide to installing a soft top on your Jeep JK here 07-Current
Are Jeep Wrangler Tops Interchangeable? Soft Top to Hardtop
It is not recommended to fit a hard top directly over your soft top cover. There are specific mounting points for each top which is designed to seamlessly secure the top to your jeep. Fitting a hardtop over your soft top cover will damage the sailcloth and all the associated mounting points.
Can you add a hard top to a soft top Jeep?
There are many aftermarket hardtop kits available that are year and model-specific. The mounting system differs from a TJ to a YJ and a JK 2-door and 4-door models. It is possible to mount a hardtop on any Jeep provided the hardtop is specifically designed for your year and model Jeep.
How much are soft tops for Jeeps? (Cost comparison)
Have you ever heard the expression, “you buy cheap, you buy twice”. That principle definitely applies in this case. There are cheaper alternatives on the market as well as higher-end products. If the product is on the upper end, there is usually a reason for it and you can expect a higher quality product. Opt for a make that offers a decent (2+Year) warranty and go with a brand that offers a good after-sales service. It’s always good to get opinions of discussion forums first and to read a few product reviews before you commit.
|Model||Make||Soft top||Price Range|
|YJ||Rugged Ridge||Vinyl Coated Black Diamond Polyester And Cotton Fabric||$329-$425|
|YJ||Bestop Supertop||Fabric Is Mildew-Resistant, Contains Uv Inhibitors And Is Offered In Factory Original Colors||$849-$949|
|TJ||Rugged Ridge||Vinyl Coated Polyester & Sailcloth Fabrics||$445-$593|
|JK 2Dr||Jeep Mopar Sunrider Design Soft Top Kit||Standard Fabric For An 07-15 Wrangler Jk.||$1466|
|JK 2Dr||Rugged Ridge Xhd Replacement top||Vinyl Coated Polyester & Sailcloth Fabrics||$765-$787|
|JK 4Dr||Bestop NX Replacement Top||Fabric Is Mildew-Resistant, Contains Uv Inhibitors And Is Offered In Factory Original Colors||$649|
|JK 4-Dr||Jeep Mopar Sunrider Design Soft Top Kit||Black Standard Fabric||$1374.99|
Jeep Wranglers are considered one of the most configurable and adaptable vehicles to own. The ability to transform your vehicle according to weather conditions and recreational activities give it a huge advantage over other brands. Modifying your Jeeps soft top with a 3rd party replacement can drastically improve the aesthetics and “coolness” factor of your jeep. There are many sort-after accessories and soft top variations to choose from with a wide variety of prices ranging from a few hundred to over 2 thousand dollars. Make sure you choose the correct style and material type that is best suited for your specific driving activities.