If you’ve recently become the proud owner of a Jeep Wrangler, you’re probably itching to take it off-road and put its impressive 4×4 capabilities to the test. But before you do, it’s important to know how to properly maintain and care for your new off-roader.
One of the easiest ways to keep your Jeep in good shape is by washing it with a low-pressure washer before taking it to a carwash. This helps eliminate the risk of rust damage. However, not everyone has the time or equipment to do this themselves. So, what should you do if you’re in a pinch?
In this article, we’ll answer the burning question: can you take a soft-top Jeep Wrangler through a carwash? As someone who has owned a soft-top Wrangler and gone through the struggles of keeping it clean, I’m here to help you navigate this issue.
Can You Take a Soft Top Jeep Wrangler Through a Carwash?
It’s best to avoid taking your soft-top Wrangler through a typical carwash. The top-rollers used in automatic car washes can cause damage and wear on the soft roof of your Jeep. However, you can safely take your soft-top Wrangler through a brushless car wash, as they don’t use rollers or brushes that could harm the roof.
Before we dive deeper into this topic, let’s review some basics about soft-top Jeeps.
Not All Jeep Tops are Created Equal
While you have the option to swap out your hard top for a soft top (or vice versa) on your Jeep, it’s important to note that there are different types of soft tops available. Let’s take a look at them:
- Vinyl Tops: Found on older YJ models or the CJ Jeep Wrangler, these tops are relatively easy to clean and maintain, making them a popular choice among Jeep owners.
- Denim Tops: These tops have a vintage aesthetic and are commonly found on TJ and YJ Wranglers. They are affordable and come pre-installed on many models.
- Sailcloth Tops: Sailcloth tops are known for their high quality and durability. They have two layers for weather and noise resistance, making them a premium option for Wrangler owners.
- Twill Tops: Twill tops are a high-end material often found in luxury cars. They offer insulation for reducing road noise but come with a higher price tag.
Keep in mind that soft tops generally last between 3 to 5 years before they start to wear out. At that point, you can choose to replace your soft top or switch to a compatible hard top.
Regardless of the type of soft top your Wrangler has, Jeep recommends against taking your vehicle to an automatic carwash or using high-pressure washers. The brushes and high pressure can potentially cause water to seep into the interior, voiding warranties for certain components. Additionally, wax and harsh chemicals can cause residue buildup on the soft top’s windows.
To keep your soft top in good shape, it’s best to avoid automatic car washes. However, with a little extra care, you can still maintain the cleanliness and longevity of your soft top. Soft tops typically need cleaning every 1 to 3 months, depending on where you live. Here are some practices to follow:
Keeping It Clean
If you’re new to soft tops, you might be used to using a power washer to blast dirt off your car. However, for soft tops, high pressure can actually damage the weather-strip seals. While washing your soft top by hand may require more time and effort, it’s the recommended method. Here are a few things you can try:
Using Soft Top Cleaners
Soft top cleaners are gentle chemicals specifically designed not to damage the fabric of your top. Harsh chemicals can cause discoloration, which can be difficult to treat. Additionally, it’s important to rejuvenate the hydrophobic coating of your soft top every six months to prevent leaks and rots. Here’s a step-by-step guide for DIY soft top maintenance:
- Park your vehicle in a shaded area to prevent the cleaning materials from drying out too quickly.
- Use a vacuum cleaner to remove any dirt from the top.
- Rinse the Jeep with low-pressure clean water.
- Apply a soft top cleaner, gently scrub it with a soft nylon brush, and let it sit for an hour.
- Rinse the top thoroughly and dab it dry with a soft cloth.
Lubricate the Zippers
Off-road trails can be harsh on your Wrangler, so it’s important to use appropriate cleaners and lubricants to keep your soft top’s zipper moving smoothly. If you notice increased resistance, make sure to lubricate the zipper to prevent any damage.
Use the Right Materials
Using soft microfiber cloth is ideal for cleaning your car. It’s recommended to have separate cloths for different purposes such as cleaning the interior, the vehicle’s body, the roof, and the tires. Make sure to wash the cloth thoroughly before and after cleaning to prevent trapped dirt from scratching your vehicle. If your roof gets particularly dirty, use a soft-bristled nylon brush to clean it. Avoid using brushes with stiff bristles, as they can damage the roof and windows of your soft top.
Use the Right Window Cleaner
Maintaining the windows of a soft top can be a bit trickier compared to a hard top. Here are some tips to keep your Jeep’s windows in mint condition:
- Rinse your windows with clean water.
- Apply a window cleaning wax or polish of your choice using a microfiber cloth.
- Use gentle, circular motions to clean the windows.
- Avoid applying the chemical to the soft top, but if you accidentally do, don’t worry as it can be cleaned off easily.
- Allow the cleaner to dry before wiping it off for spotless windows.
Don’t Forget the Rest of Your Car
While your soft top requires extra care, it’s important to remember that the rest of your vehicle deserves the same level of attention. After off-roading, make sure to wash your car’s chassis and clean under the wheel arches to prevent mud from causing damage. Detailing your car’s body with polish and wax will enhance its shine. Always use a soft, clean microfiber cloth to prevent scratching. If you want to protect your vehicle’s paint, consider getting it glass, ceramic, or nano-coated. And don’t forget to maintain your tires with tire polish to keep them looking their best.
Tips for Hard Tops
If you’re considering a new top for your Jeep or wondering how much more maintenance a soft top requires compared to a hard top, this section is for you.
Generally, hard tops are easier to maintain and can be taken to a carwash like any regular car. Here are some pros and cons of hard tops to help you decide:
Pros of Hard Tops:
- More durable
- Can use automatic car washes
- Better weatherproofing
- No additional noise when driving at high speeds
- Can attach a roof rack for additional storage capacity
Cons of Hard Tops:
- Adds weight to your Jeep, potentially affecting power
- Harder to remove and reattach
- Tops take up more storage space in your garage if removed for an extended period
In contrast, here are some pros and cons of soft tops:
Pros of Soft Tops:
- Easy to attach and detach
- More fun while off-roading
- Easy to store
Cons of Soft Tops:
- Less protective than hard tops
- Poor insulation can make driving in the cold difficult
- Wind noise can be annoying
- Soft tops are more prone to damage
Enjoy Your Clean Ride
Whether you choose a soft top or a hard top, following these guidelines will help you keep your Jeep clean and in good condition. A clean car not only feels great to drive but also turns heads wherever you go. In conclusion, while you technically have the option to take your soft top Jeep through a carwash, it’s strongly advised against.
If you have any thoughts, questions, or additional tips, feel free to share them in the comments. And remember, if you’re looking for more information about maintaining your Jeep, visit Ratingperson.com for helpful resources.