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Ensuring your Soft Top Jeep stays in top-notch condition goes beyond off-road adventures; it also involves confidently navigating through car wash lanes. The question remains: Are Soft Top Jeeps friendly with car washes?
It’s not recommended to take a soft-top Jeep, such as a Jeep Wrangler, through a traditional car wash with spinning roller cloth brushes. These brushes can potentially damage the soft top material and cause scratches, tears, or other issues.
In this guide, I’ll unravel the mystery behind whether Soft Top Jeeps can conquer the car wash. Buckle up as I delve into the complete details.
The soft top for Jeeps is made up of PVC material and fabric, which is coated with cotton.
This convertible is sensitive to harsh brush, chemicals, and sprays, so special care is required while using these tops for Jeep, especially during automatic car washes.
Apart from that:
The soft top is more flexible and can be easily folded or rolled down.
Ideal for a more open-air driving experience.
Suitable for those who prefer a temporary or seasonal convertible option.
Hard tops for Jeep are made up of plastic or metal material. These tops are considered the most durable ones in nature as they are robust, like the Jeep.
It also offers better insulation, noise reduction, and security than soft tops. Generally, a hard top is ideal for all-weather use and provides a more permanent roof solution.
Jeep Soft Top and Car Wash:
When it comes to cleaning your soft top, you have two main options: automatic car wash or manual hand wash. Both have their merits, but there are critical points to consider for each.
Recommended Approach- Automatic or Manual Hand Wash:
Automatic Car Wash:
Automatic car washes can be a convenient option for busy individuals. However, it’s crucial to choose touchless or brushless automatic car washes.
These types use high-pressure water jets and gentle detergents, minimizing the risk of damaging the soft top’s fabric or windows.
The automatic car washes can indeed be a bit nerve-wracking, especially considering the powerful dryers they often employ.
In my experience with my JK, I faced a similar situation where the high-velocity dryers applied so much force that they visibly bowed in the soft top from the sides and on the back hoop support.
Manual Hand Wash:
Personally, I prefer the manual hand wash method. It allows for a more detailed and careful cleaning process. Start by removing any loose debris and dirt.
Use a mild soap specifically designed for convertible tops and a soft-bristled brush. Gently scrub the top, paying extra attention to stains or stubborn spots.
Points to Note During Wash:
Avoid Harsh Brushes and Chemicals:
Whether you opt for automatic or manual wash, always avoid harsh brushes or abrasive chemicals. The soft top fabric is delicate and can be easily damaged by such materials.
Mind the Pressure:
If using a pressure washer for manual washing, maintain a safe distance and use a moderate pressure setting to prevent any tears or damage to the fabric and seals.
Inspect Seals and Zippers:
During the wash, pay close attention to the seals and zippers. Ensure that no debris is lodged in the zippers and that the seals are intact. This regular check can prevent leaks and maintain the soft top’s effectiveness.
Manual Recommendations from the Jeep Manual:
The Jeep manual emphasizes the importance of using a non-detergent soap and a soft brush during manual cleaning.
It advises against using hard brushes and power washers with a high PSI rating (above 1,200 PSI) to avoid potential damage.
On page 106 of the manual, a clear instruction is provided: "Do not run a fabric top through an automatic car wash. Window scratches and wax build-up may result."
I’ve encountered instances where Jeep owners have opted for automatic car washes with rotating brushes, only to find their soft tops scratched or even torn. These incidents highlight the necessity of choosing the right type of car wash to protect your soft top.
In my personal experience, a gentle manual hand wash using a non-abrasive soap and a soft brush has consistently yielded the best results in terms of preserving the soft top’s integrity and extending its lifespan.
Cleaning the Soft Top of Jeep Manually:
Users of Jeeps often prefer to use the DIY method for washing their soft tops, which is considered an effective approach.
You can efficiently clean your soft top Jeep, and here below, I will discuss some points for cleaning the soft top through the DIY method within just 20 minutes:
STEP 1-Using a power hose with extra speed is recommended, or you can also get a pressure washer for cleaning. The first step is to apply the soap on the soft top in a gentle way. You can use any shampoo specified for car wash, which is non-acidic in nature.
STEP 2-The next step is gently cleaning the soft top using a soft brush. You can use the harsh brush to clean the interior of your Jeep.
STEP 3-You can remove the gunk from the corners of the soft top with the brush and rinse away the shampoo after thorough cleaning.
STEP 4-Use a polyvinyl towel or soft cloth and absorb the water from the soft top. It is recommended not to use materials like paper microfiber towels as they can remove the residues on the soft top.
STEP 5-You can seal the edges or corners of the soft top using masking tape to make them waterproof during cleaning.
STEP 6-Finally, you can spray the protective solution on the soft top by spraying it away from a distance of eight inches. It will provide protection from the mold.
Cleaning the Attached Windows with The Soft Tops:
Windows and doors are often associated with the soft and hard tops of Jeep. While washing the soft top, there are chances that the whole vehicle will get wet, so it is better to clean the windows and doors side by side, too.
Here, I will discuss the steps that will help you clean the windows of your Jeep along with the soft top:
STEP 1-The first step is to coat the whole window with a cleaning solution. It is recommended not to use materials like ammonia or alcohol.
STEP 2-Wipe the solution all over the window using a microfiber cloth or towel.
STEP 3-You can apply the plastic solution using the new microfiber cloth to get a finer look on the windows.
STEP 4-Press the microfiber towel gently to dry the moisture from the window.
STEP 5-Apply the sealing solution on the Jeep windows to protect them from harsh weather conditions.
How to Clean the Soft-Top in a Car Wash Area?
It is a technical process to clean the soft tops of your Jeep, as a little carelessness can damage the entire surface.
Let me discuss the tips that will help you clean the soft-top convertibles of your Jeep without damaging its surface:
Inspection of Weather Stripping:
Check the leakage in your vehicle thoroughly after a car wash. It will help you determine whether the water has entered the vehicle through seals.
If the water has entered, then the issue must be due to the presence of damaged weather stripping in it.
Equipment for Washing:
Wash your soft top convertible at least 3-4 times within a time span of six months.
It has been observed that the soft tops can absorb debris and oil in them if they are not kept clean. You can use a microfiber cloth, a cleaning kit, and water to clean the soft top.
Cleaning the Undercarriage:
Along with the soft top, focus on cleaning the undercarriage. It is an essential component that should be kept clean and free of dust and debris.
Cleaning the Windows:
Vehicles having normal windows installed in them can be cleaned easily, just like the other vehicles.
But, the Jeeps having glass windows with the soft-top convertibles should be cleaned thoroughly using a window cleaner and a soft cloth.
Best Soft Top for the Jeeps:
Before purchasing a Jeep with a soft top, keep an eye on its material, as it is the most crucial thing. Check for the more durable material, and then select the Jeep with a soft top.
Below are my recommendations for the best soft tops for your Jeeps:
Twill material for soft top
Selecting the material for your soft top is recommended, which is thick. For this purpose, twill material is considered the best as it weighs 30 ounces.
Twill material has become one of the most demanding materials for soft tops due to its noise-cancellation properties and excellent insulation.
This flexible material prevents the vehicle from creases and cuts but is quite expensive.
Vinyl material for soft top
If you want a thin material for your soft top, then vinyl is the best option. It weighs only 18 ounces and is made of glossy plastic.
It has just a single layer of cloth beneath this plastic and offers a classic look to the vehicle. The con of this material is that it cannot control traffic noise and is barely resistant to sunlight and other harsh conditions.
Vinyl material is easy to wash and is the best option for off-roading vehicles.
Denim material for soft top
Denim is also a good option for soft tops but is coated with vinyl material. This helps the occurrence of mildew.
Denim includes cotton and polyester as fabric and is considered the durable soft top option for Jeeps. Denim offers an appealing look to the vehicle.
Sailcloth material for soft top
Sailcloth is also one of the most demanding and excellent options for the soft top of Jeeps. This soft top weighs around 28 ounces and is resistant to noise as compared to other thin materials like denim and vinyl.
There are three layers of sailcloth material, including the vinyl layers and one layer of cotton or polyester. These layers make it one of the market's most expensive soft top materials.
Touchless System of Car Wash:
The touchless system for car washing is specifically designed for washing the soft-top convertible using high-pressure water. Users can use alkaline or scented cleaning solutions for their soft tops and wash them without a brush.
There are fewer chances of chipping off soft-top convertibles with this car wash. A small amount of water can reach the vehicle's inner side during this cleaning process, but it is not a big deal.
Air Pressure in Touchless Car Wash:
Air pressure is also used during the process of touchless cleaning along with water sprays. This air pressure helps the soft top convertibles to dry quickly after the wash.
You can also apply the wax to protect the soft top from excess droplets, but it would cost an extra amount.
Effectiveness of Touchless Car Wash:
Although a touchless system for car washing is considered safe for soft-top convertibles, it is not an effective method for filthy vehicles. It requires a lot of scrubbing and harsh chemicals to clean the dry mud from the vehicle, which is impossible with the touchless car wash.
Handwashing is also a method quite similar to the touchless car wash and is safer than this one. People are offering this type of service on an automatic air dryer, which can dry your soft top convertibles quickly and save you from waiting for a longer time.
It is better to attain the services of a car wash under your supervision, in which you can inspect the proper method and ensure that your vehicle is safe from harm.
Alternatively, you can opt for washing your soft top convertibles or whole vehicle at home using microfiber cloths, towels, and a pressure washer. You can also use a gentle brush to clean the top under your supervision.
When it comes to caring for your Jeep’s soft top, the manual approach triumphs over automatic car washes, especially those with stiff brushes. The manual hand wash ensures gentle treatment, minimizing the risk of scratches and damage, as reiterated in the manufacturer’s manual.
Opting for a softer, hands-on approach ultimately prolongs the life and pristine appearance of your cherished Jeep’s fabric top.
Is it preferable to wash the Jeep with a soft top?
Yes, it is preferable to wash the Jeeps with soft tops. The Jeeps having soft tops are usually convertible and can easily go through the wash.
Does the soft top get wet during its wash?
Yes, soft tops can get wet during the wash, as most of these tops are not waterproof. These soft tops are resistant to water and are not waterproof like the hard tops of Jeeps. However, this will only affect the vehicle’s electronic components once or unless the whole Jeep is not submerged in water.
What are the significant disadvantages of having a soft top on the Jeeps?
The main con of soft tops in Jeeps is that these tops are not insulating in nature. The harsh weather conditions, like cool breeze and snow, can enter the cabin and even break the Jeep’s top.
Is it easy to remove the soft top from the Jeep?
Yes, it is easy to remove the soft top from the Jeep. This removal of the soft top makes the loading easier. However, it has been observed that extra effort is required for opening the rear window in the vehicle.
How long can soft tops last in a Jeep?
The soft top of the Jeeps can last for about 3-5 years, depending on the usage. The longevity of soft tops can be ensured by the various factors that can increase their life span.
How often is it recommended to waterproof the soft top in a Jeep?
Waterproofing the soft top in a Jeep after every 6 months is recommended. You can apply a dryer top and Ultra Proofer to dry the Jeep soft top. You can also use a vinyl soft top for your Jeep.
Which is the preferable method for washing the soft top of a Jeep?
The preferred method of washing the soft top is a pressure washer method. You can use a garden hose to clear the mud from the soft top. You can also use a powder washer to clean the exterior of the Jeep to remove dirt and gunk.
Why do people use soft tops in their vehicles?
Soft tops in the Jeep are versatile and offer extra protection. These soft tops can be removed easily and are light in weight. These soft tops can be placed back in their position easily.
This is Surya. I am an experienced off-roader. I have been off-roading for many years across several terrains. I am passionate about 4×4 driving and want to share my knowledge and experience with others.
My goal is to provide you with the most comprehensive and unbiased information about off-roading.
I curated this article through my personal experience and expertise, and I hope it helps you with what you are looking for.