While the Jeep Wrangler is designed to withstand some extreme off-road conditions, including driving through water, its roof is another story. Since the roof of the Wrangler detaches, it has a tendency to leak when wet. If you have a Jeep Wrangler at home, it’s a good idea to know how to stop your Jeep Wrangler roof from leaking.
Here are steps you can take to stop your Jeep Wrangler roof from leaking.
- Assess where the leak is coming from.
- Determine what type of roof you have.
- Collect the tools you’ll need.
- Take measures to protect your car before the repair.
- Conduct a leak test to make sure the job is done.
It should be noted that, while the Wrangler is designed to get a little wet on the inside, it comes with drain plugs in the floor, a leak can be a major problem. Water can seep into absorbent surfaces like seats and create mold, or it can damage electronic systems like the radio or dashboard.
This article will provide a list of steps to not only stop your Wrangler’s roof from leaking but to detect and prevent future leaks.
- 1 Step by Step Instructions to Stop a Jeep Wrangler Roof from Leaking
- 2 Tips to Prevent Future Leaks
- 3 Tips to Detect Potential Leak Areas
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions About Leaking Jeep Wrangler Roof
- 5 Wrap Up
Step by Step Instructions to Stop a Jeep Wrangler Roof from Leaking
If you have a leaky Wrangler roof and are looking to fix it, follow these simple steps to diagnose, fix, and prevent future roof leaks.
Assess the Area of the Leak
Once you know you have a leak you need to take steps to find the source of the leak so you can treat it. This involves not only looking at the structure of your Wrangler, from the roof to the frame, to examining where water has been getting into your Wrangler. You don’t need any special items to assess where a leak in your Wrangler roof is.
- Step 1: Examine where water is coming into your Wrangler, like wet spots on the upholstery, grime from water leaking into the car, or condensation inside your Wrangle instead of outside.
- Step 2: Look for any obvious signs of damage on the roof of your Wrangler. Soft-tops might be torn or have damaged straps, hard tops might be cracked, and sky power roofs might not close completely.
- Step 3: Check the seals and latches around your roof for any signs of damage, debris, or grime. Even if the seals look intact, dirty seals or latches can be a sign that the roof is not sitting properly and letting water through, since leaks leave grime behind.
- Step 4: Check around the roof of your Wrangler and make sure the frame itself is intact. If the frame is warped, bent, or otherwise damaged that might be the source of the leak instead of the roof itself.
Determine the Roof Type
One of the key steps to solving a leaking Wrangler roof is to understand which type of roof you have since different Wrangler roofs have different weaknesses and likely leak points. Wrangler roofs can be broadly categorized into soft and hard roofs, with an automatic version of the soft-top existing as well.
Soft-top wrangler roofs. Soft-top roofs are made of vinyl fabric, attaching to the roof and back of a Wrangler with straps, Velcro, and zippers. Soft-top roofs offer a wider opening for off-roading and are easier to store, but at the same time the roofs themselves are not hard to puncture and the seals around the roof are far from waterproof.
Hard-top wrangler roofs. Hard-top roofs are made from solid plastic and cover only the top of the Wrangler by snapping into the frame. Hard-top roofs offer a smaller opening but are sturdier, more insulated, and are more resistant to leaks. If you do have a leak in a hard-top roof you should look for damage in the latches, seals, or surface.
Sky one-touch power roof. Sky power roofs provide a mixture of a soft vinyl top with an automatic opening and closing feature. This makes sky power roofs lighter and more convenient, but it also means that you can suffer a punctured vinyl roof, cracked seals, or an incomplete closing mechanism, any of which can cause leaks.
Gather Tools for the Repair
After figuring out what roof you have and where your leak is coming from, you can start gathering tools to remove your roof. If you have a standard soft-top roof, you don’t need any special equipment to remove the roof since it is attached by zippers and Velcro. If you have any other type of roof, however, you’ll need the following items:
- A drill, ratchet, or socket wrench to remove the bolts holding the roof down
- A driver socket so that your chosen tool can connect to the roof bolts
- A hex key Allen wrench for smaller, easier to remove bolts
- A large blanket or towel to place the roof on so it doesn’t get scratched or bent
- A small washcloth to wipe down the inside of your roof and the seals around it
- A step stool or small ladder to help you reach the roof without having to climb into your Jeep
In addition to these tools, it is a good idea to get someone else’s help when you are planning to remove a Wrangler roof. A hard-top roof is extremely heavy and a one-touch power roof is both heavy and difficult to handle, having hard edges and a soft vinyl interior.
Take Precautionary and Protective Measures During the Repair
The actual process of repairing a leak is as simple as finding the damage in the roof, seal, or frame that is causing water to leak through and finding a way to repair or patch the damage. While you are working to fix your leak, however, there are a few precautionary steps you’ll want to take to ensure a smooth repair.
Make sure your Jeep is dry and safe. When you do decide to take your roof off, make sure you are inside a garage or a shed, or at the very least that it won’t rain that day. You don’t want to take the roof off your Wrangler to fix a leak, only for a sudden rainstorm to flood your vehicle while the roof is off.
Have somewhere to put roof parts. You’ll need a soft, smooth surface like a blanket or towel to set the roof down on so you don’t scratch the surface or bend any extending parts. At the same time, you’ll want a separate place to set aside any bolts or nuts you remove from the car so they don’t get lost. Keep a headcount of everything you take out of the vehicle so you can put it all back together safely.
Keep a vacuum and a washcloth on hand. If you’re taking the roof of your car you will want some cleaning supplies on hand in case anything falls into your Wrangler or the edge of your roof and the Wrangler need a wipe down. This will not only keep your car clean, but it might help with your leak issue.
Perform a Leak Test
Once you believe you’ve fixed the problem with your roof you can reattach it to your Wrangler and prepare a leak test. In order to conduct a leak test you’ll need the following items:
- A large water bottle or watering can
- One or more large sheets of plastic
- A lot of dry towels
- A stepladder or stepstool
- Post-it notes or some other type of removable tag
After finding your tools you can start your leak test.
- Step 1: Set down plastic and/or towels over the inside of your Wrangler, especially the dashboard and upholstery. Also, remove the drain plugs from the bottom of your Wrangler so that any excess water will drain quickly.
- Step 2: Gently pour water over your roof, trying to focus on one side or area at a time so that you don’t overwhelm yourself.
- Step 3: Watch if any water leaks through the roof and into the cab. If you have an area that still leaks, mark it with your removable tag.
- Step 4: Repeat this process until you have located all the remaining leaks or confirmed that your roof is safe.
If, after completing these steps you find that your roof still leaks, you may need to reexamine the leaking areas or look for professional mechanical help.
As long as you follow these step-by-step instructions, work patiently, and take safety precautions, you can find and fix any leaks in your Wrangler’s roof.
Tips to Prevent Future Leaks
While stopping a leak is all well and good, if you want to protect your Jeep Wrangler long term you will need to look for ways to prevent future leaks. Some of these methods involve active maintenance on your Wrangler while others focus on making your Wrangler’s roof less susceptible to leaks.
Switch to a hard-top roof. While a soft-top Wrangler roof is easier to break down and pack up, it is also much more vulnerable to leaks, being essentially a thin sheet of vinyl attached by zippers and Velcro. Hard-top roofs lock into place and are more resistant not only to leaks but to damage that might create openings for future leaks.
Check your roof seals. If you already have a hard-top roof, or at least a sturdy soft-top roof, but are still suffering leaks then the problem may be with your roof seals. See if your roof seals are clean and intact, as a seal that is caked with grime or damaged could easily be the source of your leak. If the seal is dirty you can just wipe it clean with a damp rag, but a damaged seal will have to be replaced.
Add more weather stripping. If all else fails and your seals continue to leak, you can add additional layers of protection to your Wrangler’s roof in the form of weather stripping. This material can be found in spools at most hardware stores, easily cut into a shape that will fit your current roof seals, and glued down to ensure it stays put.
Tips to Detect Potential Leak Areas
While you might think the signs of a roof leak should be obvious, not every gap in your roof will be obvious until your car is full of water. Broken seals, damaged roofs, bent latches, and other unseen cracks in your roof’s defense can create a gap for water to leak through.
Do a leak check. The easiest way to detect a leak threat is to create a controlled leak by gently pouring water over your roof and seeing if any drips through. Before you go through with this, however, you should take steps to waterproof your car just in case you do have a leak. Put down plastic, remove absorbent mats, and open the drip seals in your Wrangler.
Examine your roof. The most obvious sign that your roof is a leak risk is surface damage to your roof, especially if that roof is a soft-top. This can be more than just a crack in a hard roof or a hole in a soft-top roof, since broken seals, zippers, and Velcro patches can create gaps in your roof for water to flow through.
Watch for signs of moisture. One subtle clue that you either have a leak or might have one in the future, is the presence of moisture inside your car. This could be a few drops on the dashboard, a wet spot on the upholstery, or even a bit of condensation on a windshield. Look for areas where some water has gotten into your Wrangler and check the roof area above it.
Frequently Asked Questions About Leaking Jeep Wrangler Roof
Can you change out the top on a Jeep Wrangler?
Yes, you can switch between roof types on a Jeep Wrangler by removing the connector points from your current roof and replacing them with new points. For example, removing the zipper, Velcro, and latch connections from a roof, then driving in new anchor points for a hard roof.
How safe are soft-top roofs in a rollover?
On its own, a soft-top roof offers almost no protection from rollover, but the roof can be supported with roll bars to make it safer. Even with roll bars, however, a hard roof is safer than a soft roof because the overall structure is more solid and there are no gaps or weak points something could puncture through.
Are Jeep Wrangler interior’s waterproof?
No, but they are water-resistant at certain points which provides some protection from water damage. While driving in the rain with your roof open is not advisable, the electronic systems are designed to be water-resistant and the floor comes with a drain plug to let excess water out.
How do I get water off the floor of my Jeep?
If you do have water pooling in your Wrangler, remove the carpets and floor plugs from the car as soon as you can. Soak up any water that is left over, wipe down any surfaces that got wet, and let the carpets and upholstery dry completely before you put anything back where it was.
Can I remove windows as well?
Yes, there are some kits, particularly for soft-top roofs, that allow you to remove back or side windows whenever you take the top off your vehicle. These windows can be connected to the roof and come off as a single piece, or that can detach separately for more customization on the back of your Wrangler.
A leaking roof on your Jeep Wrangler can cause water damage to your upholstery and electronic systems, not to mention the risk of developing mold. By keeping an eye out for leaks, fixing them quickly, and taking steps to prevent future leaks, you can keep your Wrangler safe. If you have any questions about dealing with a leaky Wrangler, leave them down below.
Hi, I am Brad. Car Independent is your source for independent views on cars and car accessories. Whether you looking to buy a new car or something cool for your car, you have many options. My aim to help you make the best-informed choices.