The Right Way to Put Up Your Jeep Wrangler Soft-Top

I remember the first day I put my ’97 Jeep Wrangler on the road. It was late fall, and my girlfriend and I decided to put the top down and take a drive to an out of the way restaurant. It was great. The wind was in our hair, the radio was up and we were soon going to be eating some of the finest wood-fired pizza in Upstate New York. I pulled into the restaurant’s window-lined parking lot feeling pretty good. We sat down, ordered and gazed out the window at my Jeep Wrangler. Then, I noticed a drop of rain in the air, followed by many. Up from the table, run outside and “throw up the soft-top”. In a perfect world, that’s what would have happened. However, in my world, I provided that evenings dining entertainment as I, formerly happy Jeep Wrangler guy, struggled to put my soft-top up in the pouring rain. Four cut knuckles, two pulled muscles, one delighted crowd and half a cold pizza later, I successfully got the Wrangler’s soft-top up and road-worthy. If you own a Jeep Wrangler and haven’t really attempted to raise or lower the soft-top, read this and remain “happy Jeep Wrangler guy” (or gal, of course).

First, a quick word about temperature and your Jeep Wrangler’s soft-top. Being late fall when we christened my Wrangler, with a cold and rainy front moving in, the air was below the soft-top’s happy-temperature zone. I did not realize, that below 55 degrees or so, depending on whether or not the sun is shining on it, Jeep Wrangler soft-tops become very stiff and uncooperative. This can be an issue in the Spring and Fall, which often serve up warm days, cold nights and thus, in my case, cold pizza. Though putting the top down is pretty straight forward, I will go through those steps first, followed by the much more challenging, and potentially embarrassing, task of putting the top up.

To put your Jeep Wrangler’s soft-top down:
1. Unclip the tabs beneath the rear window.
2. Unzip the window on both sides up to, but not across the top.
3. Open the tail gate, roll up the window and secure it with the snap-straps. Shut the tail gate.
4. Unzip the side windows and slide them forward (toward the doors) and out. Place them somewhere where they won’t get scratched. Some people sandwich them between towels and place them in the Wrangler.
5. Go to driver’s side and unclip the roof’s side tabs, which are directly above the door.
5. Open the door and unclip the main roof latch.
6. Stroll, skip or moonwalk over to the passenger side and repeat steps 5 and 6.
7. Raise up the soft-top, tucking the fabric in towards the interior as you go. Be careful not to pinch your fingers with the frame.
8. Go cruising with your best gal (or guy, of course) and get some pizza.

To put your Jeep Wrangler’s soft-top up:
1. Wave to the crowd of onlookers, bow and give ’em two thumbs up. You’re cool like Fonzi.
2. Raise the soft-top and secure the two main roof latches (leave the soft-top’s side tabs above the door unclipped for now). If it’s below your soft-top’s happy-temperature zone, push on the frame, from the back and then the middle, towards the front of your Wrangler. Do this on both sides and you should be able to clip the main latches.
3. Open the tail gate, unroll the back window, zip the sides, shut the gate and fasten the clips. Yes, this is one step.
4. This is the pivotal step and what is scientifically referred to as “the bitch of the bunch”. What’s Fonzi like? That’s right, cool. Take the driver’s side rear window, connect the zipper and zip it about one to two inches. Some in the crowd of onlookers will gasp, others will scratch their heads. Now, insert the window’s tab into the the catch by the door. Keep it in place by providing tension in the far upper corner with your right hand and then zip it the rest of the way. Start at the rear and insert the bottom window tab with your left hand and compress it in with your right palm, working toward the door. Secure the velcro seam and wink at your best gal (or guy, of course) who is, by now, jumping up and down, clapping. Hell, yeah! You ARE cool like Fonzi.
5. Now repeat step four on the passenger side rear window.
6. Clip the soft-top’s side tabs which are above the door.
7. Go eat that warm pizza and wait for somebody to buy you a drink!

Alright, you are now ready to go on that first outing in your new Wrangler! Put that soft-top down and fear not the rain. You printed up these directions and stuffed them in your Wrangler’s glove box, kissed your best gal (or guy, of course) and are ready to get dinner. Enjoy that warm pizza, happy Jeep Wrangler guy (or gal, of course).

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