Can You Take a Soft Top Jeep Wrangler Through a Carwash?

Can You Drive A Jeep Soft Top Through A Car Wash

Just got yourself a new Jeep Wrangler? If so, and you just can’t wait to go off-road and test out this beast of a 4×4, first brush up on the basics on maintaining it and keeping it in shape.

The easiest way to maintain your off-roader is to wash it with a low-pressure washer before taking it into the car wash to eliminate any risks of rust damage. But not all of us have the time or equipment to do so ourselves, so what should you do instead?

If you’re wondering whether or not you can take a soft-top Jeep Wrangler through the car wash, this article is for you!

My first car was a soft-top Wrangler and I’ve owned one ever since. I’ve been through all the struggles of keeping it clean and have put together this article to help you do the same.

Can You Take a Soft Top Jeep Wrangler Through a Carwash?

You should avoid taking your Soft Top Wrangler through a carwash at all costs. The top-rollers of an automatic car wash can damage and cause wear and tear on the soft roof of your Jeep. However, you can safely take your soft top Wrangler through a brushless car wash, since they don’t use rollers or brushes.

Before we plunge deeper into the topic, we need to brush up on a few basics about soft top jeeps.

Not All Jeep Tops are Created Equal

While you can swap out your hard top for a soft top and vice versa on your Jeep, there are differences in the soft top configurations., which are discussed below:

  • Vinyl Tops: Found on older YJ models or the CJ Jeep Wrangler as the default configuration, these tops are reasonably easy to clean and maintain, making them an excellent choice for Jeep owners. 
  • Denim: These tops boast a vintage aesthetic and are common because they are affordable and come pre-installed on many TJ and YJ Wranglers.
  • Sailcloth: Second to only twill tops, sailcloth was the high-quality soft top of choice for many Wrangler owners. With two layers for weather and noise resistance, this top delivered value for those who opted to pay the premium for it.
  • Twill: A high-end material that comes with a price tag to match. You might come across twill soft tops in luxury cars as they are insulated to reduce road noise.

Note that soft tops generally last between 3 to 5 years, after which they start wearing out. You can opt to switch over to another soft top after that or get a hard top compatible with your vehicle.

Maintenance Challenges

Regardless of the type of soft top your Wrangler comes with, the manufacturer, Jeep warns against taking your vehicle to an automatic carwash or using high pressure washers. The bristles of the brushes used and the high pressure can end up seeping water into the vehicle’s interior, voiding warranty for these components.

Furthermore, wax and harsh chemicals can cause residue formation on the soft top’s windows.

With the risks of potential damage to your Wrangler, we do not recommend taking it to an automatic car wash, unlike its more robust, hard top counterpart. However, keeping the soft top in good shape is possible, albeit more care is required. The good thing is that a soft top needs cleaning at intervals of once every 1 to 3 months, depending on the environmental conditions of where you live.  We have highlighted some practices that you can follow to keep your car clean.

owner of a clean soft top jeepKeeping It Clean

If you’re new to the world of soft tops, you might be used to blasting dirt off your car with a power washer. However, when it comes to soft tops the same pressure might actually damage the weather-strip seals. While washing it by hand takes more time and energy it is still the recommended route to take for your soft top. Here are a few things that you can try to keep your soft top clean:

Using Soft Top Cleaners

Soft top cleaners are gentle chemicals that do not damage the fabric of your top. Since the top absorbs some of the chemicals during the washing process, using harsh chemicals can lead to discoloration, which can be challenging to treat.

The soft top should also be processed to rejuvenate the hydrophobic coating every six months since this tends to degrade over time and can lead to leaks and rots in the roof. Here’s what you should do for DIY maintenance of your soft top Jeep: 

  1. Park in a shaded area so that the cleaning materials don’t dry out too fast.
  2. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove any dirt from the top.
  3. Rinse the Jeep with low-pressure clean water.
  4. Apply a soft top cleaner, gently scrub it with a soft nylon brush, and leave it on for an hour.
  5. Rinse and dab with a soft cloth.

Lubricate the Zippers

The elements and mud on off-road trails aren’t kind to your Wrangler. Make sure that you use appropriate cleaners and lubricants that keep your soft top’s zipper moving smoothly. If you feel that the zip’s resistance has increased, ensure to lubricate it to prevent any damage.

Use the Right Materials

Getting a pack of soft microfiber cloth can be great for car care. We recommend keeping four pieces of fabric for cleaning your car:

  • Interior
  • Vehicle’s body
  • Roof
  • Tires

Ensure that you thoroughly wash the cloth before and after cleaning to prevent trapped dirt from scratching your vehicle. We recommend getting a soft-bristled nylon brush to tend to your roof if it gets too dirty. Never use a brush that has stiff bristles as this not only can damage the roof but also scuff your soft top’s windows.

Use the Right Window Cleaner

It can be trickier to maintain the windows of a soft top as compared to a hard top, so we have a few tips that can make your Jeep stay in mint condition even after you have had it for a while.

Here’s what you should do:

  1. Rinse your windows with clean water.
  2. Apply the window cleaning wax or polish of your choice using a microfiber cloth.
  3. Use gentle, circular motions to get the window clean.
  4. Avoid applying the chemical to the soft top, but if you accidentally do, don’t worry, as you can clean it off pretty quickly.
  5. Allow the cleaner to dry before wiping it off to get spotless windows.

Don’t Forget the Rest of Your Car

Remember that while your soft top is a unique component that requires more care than other car components, the rest of your vehicle deserves the same love too. Make sure you wash your car’s chassis and under the wheel arches every time you get back from off-roading to prevent mud from caking up and damaging your vehicle.

Make sure to detail your car’s body using polish and wax to get the most shine out of your vehicle. Always use a soft clean microfiber cloth to prevent scratching, and if you want to keep that paint safe, we recommend having your vehicle either glass, ceramic, or nano-coated to help preserve its shine. If you want to refresh your car’s look, you can go for a car wrap.

Finally, it is essential to maintain your vehicle’s tires by using tire polish that enhances the look of your tires and protects them from additional wear.

Cleaning a Jeep - Can you take a soft top Jeep through a carwash -

Tips for Hard Tops

If you’ve made it so far and are looking for a new top for your Jeep, or are reading this before buying a new Wrangler to see how much more maintenance a soft top requires, this section will help you out.

We found that hard tops are generally easier to maintain, but it all comes down to whether you want that authentic wind in your hair off-road experience or prefer something easier to maintain. You can take your hard top to the car wash like any other regular car and detail it like any other hard top.

Here are a few pros and cons of hard and soft tops so that you can decide accordingly:

Pros of Hard Tops Cons of Hard Tops
More durable. You will lose out on some power due to the added weight.
You can use automatic carwashes. Your Jeep will be heavier at the top.
Better weatherproofing. Difficult to remove and reattach.
No additional noise when driving at high speeds. The tops take a lot of more space to store in the garage if you plan to drive without it for a while.
Attach a roof rack for additional storage capacity.  







And see below my breakdown for pros and cons for Jeep soft tops.



Pros of Soft Tops Cons of Soft Tops
Lightweight. They are less protective than hard tops.
Easy to attach and detach. Driving in the cold can be difficult because of poor insulation.
More fun while off-roading. Wind noise while driving can get annoying.
Easy to store. Being soft, they can be easily damaged.




Enjoy Your Clean Ride

Whether you opt for a soft or a hard top, this piece should help you keep your Jeep clean and in good condition. Remember, the cleaner your car is, the better it feels to drive and the more heads it turns. In conclusion, can you take your soft top Jeep through a carwash? Well, you can, but you really shouldn’t.

Do let us know what you think in the comments, and if you have any questions or additional pointers, you can reach out to me.

Mark Anders

I love my Jeep and will share my years of knowledge with you here! Stay with me and read on!

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