Before mounting any accessories on the roof of your Jeep, you first need to understand the vehicle’s weight limitations. Each manufacturer clearly specifies the maximum weight the vehicle’s roof can safely carry. The maximum weight limit figure will differ between its static weight and dynamic weight. So, what is the maximum weight a Jeep Wrangler hardtop can support?
The Jeep Wrangler hardtop will safely support a dynamic weight of up to 150 pounds (70kg).
The Jeep Hardtops are designed from SMC (Sheet Molding Compound). The Sheet Molding Compound is made up of a compressed fiberglass base. SMC is used in applications where high strength and lightweight are required. The SMC composition includes several materials such as fiberglass, polymer resin, release agents, and thickeners.
Does that mean we can safely load up the Wrangler hardtop with weighty accessories such as rooftop tents, high lift jacks, and Jerry cans?
Let’s find out some more about the Wrangler’s maximum weight capacity
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Jeep Wrangler Hardtop Maximum Weight Capacity
The official instruction from the Jeep user guide specifies that the hardtop is NOT designed to carry any additional loads.
Additional loads can include any of the following, but are not limited to:
|1||Aftermarket roof racks|
It goes on to state that the rooftop of the Jeep was not designed as a structural member of the vehicle, and thus cannot properly carry any additional loads other than environmental (rain, snow, etc.)
So according to Jeep, carrying anything on the roof is a complete no-no! So why do we still see so many Jeep Wranglers running around with rooftop tents and bulky accessories bolted to aftermarket roof racks? I mean a rooftop tent alone weighs about 150 lbs with the roof rack and mounting brackets alone. Can a standard Wrangler support all this weight without running the risk of hairline cracks and developing leaks later on?
Btw, if you want to read more about solving Wrangler leaks click here.
Surely mounting any bulky accessories and gear directly to the top without any external racks or load bars that bolt directly to the vehicle’s Support Structure is not very sturdy or safe.
There are reports of Jeep Owners putting weight on the roof that exceeds 200+ lbs. This is not safe and should be avoided since the roof design was not meant for carrying a load, but was more designed to protect you from the natural elements. It barely even does that properly without any added stresses and strains.
What about adding an aftermarket roof rack? Does that increase your load-carrying capacity? Is that a safer option? Let’s find out.
Do Roof Racks and Bars allow you to carry more weight?
So we’ve established that the Wrangler rooftop will carry approximately 150 pounds safely, which goes directly against the manufacturer’s guidelines which specifically state, no weight should be added, at all.
Roof rack manufactures have come a long way in terms of meeting the balance between light weight and a sturdy construction.
That said, we also know, many Wrangler owners have in fact installed aftermarket roof racks and safely carry many accessories without compromising safety and build integrity. The hardtop of the Jeep itself weighs about 140 lbs. The glass possibly makes up the bulk of the weight though.
Roof rack manufacturers have come a long way in terms of meeting the balance between lightweight and sturdy construction. Many racks these days advertise load-carrying capacities of well over 600 pounds while having an installed weight of fewer than 80 pounds.
What about the SME fiberglass cracking under load? Is that a concern?
Wrangler Roof Strength
Manufacturers have become extremely innovative when it comes to adapting their products to accommodate the strengths and weaknesses of vehicle manufacturers. So much so, that even though the user manual says nothing should be loaded, they still manage to find a suitable workaround to accommodate your vehicle’s design structure without compromising the occupant’s safety.
Modern Roof Rack Technology
The Frontrunner company, for example, has invented an ingenious system that uses, what they call the JL EXTREME mounting system. Instead of mounting the roof rack onto the roof, compromising safety and causing water leaks, they utilize all the existing mounting points on the chassis and support structure.
This is an extremely convenient mounting system since it allows the user to quickly remove the freedom panels, even with the rack in place. Smart!
It’s branded as an unobtrusive, high-performance, nearly indestructible mounting solution.
Even the windscreen can also be lowered without any interference. The cargo weight is evenly distributed across the roll bars by means of sturdy brackets, placing zero weight on the hardtop itself. No more worrying about fiberglass cracking under load or developing any roof leaks once the winter rain comes.
Roof Racks vs Weight
If you, like myself, have a family and a few kids running around, I’m sure you’ll agree that going on extended trips and weekend campouts are way different compared to when you’re traveling solo or with your mates.
All of a sudden there are additional items tagging along like bikes, canoes, toys, and additional luggage, and as we know space is a scarce commodity when doing multi-day trips. Any additional storage and packing space are welcomed with open arms. So why not invest in a decent lightweight roof rack?
Perhaps you simply need a roof rack to throw a couple of light bulky items up there for better organization. Whatever your requirements are, make sure you invest in a well-established brand with good aftersales service and plenty of rack accessories.
Static vs Dynamic Weight Limits
Static load bearing is the weight an object can carry without any additional forces or energy applied, i.e. the vehicle is stationary. So when your Jeep is parked, it has a higher load-carrying capacity compared to when it’s driving. This means your Jeep roof rack should be able to hold 2x adults and 2 small kids safely when parked.
When you are in motion or driving, the load-carrying capacity decreases significantly, since there are external forces and pressure applied to the roof rack, such as wind, vibration, and friction.
If you are not adding a rooftop tent, always ensure to distribute the weight evenly across the roof rack. This is very important to not upset the driving dynamics and balance of your Jeep. An unevenly packed roof rack will become very apparent once you start doing off-camber obstacles and your Jeep starts leaning heavily to one side. You want a more uniform load distribution, rather than 4 concentrated point loads.
Roof Weight and Leaks
Remember the SME fiberglass roof is not designed to hold any weight whatsoever. If you decide to drill into the SME roof without utilizing any support brackets from the frame underneath, you are seriously risking cracking the roof and developing all sorts of internal leaks later on.
Wrangler hardtop roofs are quite prone to leaks when exposed to rain, especially parking at a downward angle or declined position. This results in water puddles on the floor well and water dripping on the shoulder side of the driver and passengers. Therefore, drilling directly into the roof and adding additional weight to the panels will only aggravate this further.
How Much Does a Jeep Wrangler Hard Top Weigh
The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited hardtop is constructed from SME (Sheet Molding Compound) which is a very durable, lightweight material. The Wrangler hardtop has a weight of only 140 lbs and can easily be removed and installed by a single person.
The manufacturer specifies that the Jeep Wrangler’s hard-top roof cannot support any weight at all. We have since also learned that the correct roof-rack installation, which utilizes the support framework from inside the cabin, actually allows the Wrangler to safely carry a maximum dynamic weight of up to 150 pounds (70kg) on its roof. When loading your roof, ensure you distribute the weight evenly to avoid upsetting the driving and balance dynamic of the vehicle.