Couple newbie questions

brow

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Hi there, I am looking at possibly buying a JL. What a cool vehicle! Question for the forum & looking for your expertise -
Is it better to purchase the factory softtop option or go aftermarket? Aftermarket seems to be much less $$$ than factory. If aftermarket what are some good ones to consider?
Same thing for bimini/bikini tops, what is a good one out there?
And lastly, I'd love to get a tow hitch, and I've found a beauty JL equipped with factory tow option. Again, is this option worth the cost? I don't plan on towing a lot of weight, ie maybe 1000lbs, nowhere near the tow capacity (have a truck for that). I'm assuming the tow package comes with a cooler? Is this a trans cooler? Brief look online I've been able to find hitch receivers pretty cheap too and thinking it may meet my needs. Wiring may be a bit of a pain but oh well.
Mudflaps - go with dealership offer or mopar parts? I'd love to have something that looks like what's typically mounted on rally cars.
Thanks! Hopefully I'm a new JL owner, we're not 100% decided but damn near close. Cheers!

Edited to include picture of the one we're thinking about - I can't stand the thought of a dirty vehicle but wow I think it looks great in black!

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Jrbrannan

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So best top is the manufacturer of the factory soft top. They are one of the best soft top manufacturers in the industry. Another thing to consider is that it will take probably one season before you see the soft top aftermarket companies make some good options. Again no facts here just my opinion. So I would say it would not be a deal breaker if it did not come with a dual top but would be a nice to have.
As far as the tow package goes I would do it from the factory if you can. You get the upgraded battery and alternator as well as the switches on the inside for easy upgrades later.
 

dave.j.fisher

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I'm sure you will a variety of answers, but for me...I prefer factory softop(even though Besttop makes the factory)...No idea on the cooler...
 

$uicide$hift

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No aftermarket soft tops will be available for a while. If you want a soft top for this summer I would order with it personally. If you want a hard top you are going to spend a lot less going with dual top group from the factory.

I think the OEM soft top is all you need for bimini / bikini top right now. Removing the windows gives you a solid cover over the top only but if looking for mesh etc they have not been created yet in the aftermarket space.

Tow hitch does not provide any additional cooling for transmission etc. You get the hitch, 4 / 7 pin connector, 240 amp alternator, 700 amp battery, and wired up auxiliary switches. If you ever plan on any accessories winch, off road lights, etc then this is well worth it.
 

Redwrangler

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Hi there, I am looking at possibly buying a JL. What a cool vehicle! Question for the forum & looking for your expertise -
Is it better to purchase the factory softtop option or go aftermarket? Aftermarket seems to be much less $$$ than factory. If aftermarket what are some good ones to consider?
Same thing for bimini/bikini tops, what is a good one out there?
And lastly, I'd love to get a tow hitch, and I've found a beauty JL equipped with factory tow option. Again, is this option worth the cost? I don't plan on towing a lot of weight, ie maybe 1000lbs, nowhere near the tow capacity (have a truck for that). I'm assuming the tow package comes with a cooler? Is this a trans cooler? Brief look online I've been able to find hitch receivers pretty cheap too and thinking it may meet my needs. Wiring may be a bit of a pain but oh well.
Mudflaps - go with dealership offer or mopar parts? I'd love to have something that looks like what's typically mounted on rally cars.
Thanks! Hopefully I'm a new JL owner, we're not 100% decided but damn near close. Cheers!

Edited to include picture of the one we're thinking about - I can't stand the thought of a dirty vehicle but wow I think it looks great in black!
Never fails, a few times in your Jeep’s life the truck won’t be available when you need to move a trailer right now. Get the tow package now!
 

RussJeep1

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Is it better to purchase the factory softtop option or go aftermarket?
I am getting and think the FCA Softtop is great, especially considering that with the Dual Top Option it is the premium, not basic soft top that you are getting. Dual Top = Hard Top + Premium Soft Top - Basic Soft Top. I bring this equation to light because many people don't understand the pricing on the Dual Top---its so called cheaper price (ha ha, that's a Wrangler funny---cheaper price) is because you are giving the basic soft top back to FCA, which comes standard.

But the factors to consider are your need for the money elsewhere and your willingness to wait, either until this top is in your budget, or the aftermarket produces product likely at slightly less cost.

Also, keep in mind that if you go with the soft top in lieu of the hard one, what affect interior noise and snow, and plastic windows that scratch easily, and no back wiper, and no back wiper attachment for the hardtop are involved.

Aftermarket seems to be much less $$$ than factory.
Historically, that's true. Right now, there is no aftermarket to much speak of on tops for the JL--much as there will be.

And lastly, I'd love to get a tow hitch, and I've found a beauty JL equipped with factory tow option. Again, is this option worth the cost?
Not to be pedantic, but to make a point, what you've found is a Wrangler with the factory tow package...the Trailer Tow and HD Electrical Group, which is considerably more than just the hitch. For those who tend to tug frequently with the Wrangler, I think this is a good option. But for me--and if you're in my boat (or towing one if I actually owned one) no way is IMHO this package worth it. Here's why I think so.

The (rear) hitch and front hitches for the JK in the aftermarket are one of the few things that actually also work on the JL. You can pick up a rear hitch for $100 in the aftermarket

I don't know--and I'm not that mechanical, and have done hitches on my other vehicles that involved snaking bolts, and all sorts of complex "breakoff nuts on a stick"--if there is an easier (rear) hitch install to be had than the Wrangler's simple 4 bolt one.

You'll also need to buy the 4 pin harness so your trailer's lights work and you remain street legal.

But I tow the occasional flat bed with some rented tool on it, like a lawn aerator. If you see yourself towing stuff with brake controllers, and could use the more extensive hitch--if you're the kind of person that will buy gear (lights/winches, etc.) to attach to the 4 Aux switches that come with the package, then I would say it is worth getting.

My $0.02
 
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brow

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Thanks very much for the feedback everyone, much appreciated.

One question I forgot to ask as well: roof racks. If and when they become available again is it best to go with Mopar or aftermarket? And what kind of payload can they take? I usually have paddleboards on the roof and am also wondering would a Thule style box be OK? Think I ready somewhere on here that you some sort of reinforcement on the roof? Thanks again!
 

RussJeep1

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roof racks. If and when they become available again is it best to go with Mopar or aftermarket? And what kind of payload can they take?
The accessory is available now from Mopar for the JL. For example: https://www.quadratec.com/p/mopar/removable-roof-rack-kit-jeep-wrangler-jl

It will require you to have the hardtop and in its attachment to the rain drip rail its ability to carry loads will be limited--how much, I can't find data on. Perhaps someone else knows.

If history (the JK) is any indication, the aftermarket will eventually come out with roof systems for all roof types, some capable of literally picking up the Wrangler with.

While I suspect they will be okay for a Thule style box, if you only want to buy once and buy right, you might want to wait for the aftermarket.
 

wranglerguyman

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Kind of regret not taking the dual top. Is the only option for getting the premium soft top from a private party?
 

$uicide$hift

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Kind of regret not taking the dual top. Is the only option for getting the premium soft top from a private party?
Right now yes since they are all being used on the new Jeeps pretty much. Bestop makes them for FCA but they won't have any out for a while. If you want a soft top for when the weather turns this spring then yes keep an eye out for anyone selling one from a JL. You just need to make sure it is for a JL and not a JK.
 

RussJeep1

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Kind of regret not taking the dual top. Is the only option for getting the premium soft top from a private party?
...have a feeling that your dealer is going to be too glad to take your money for a premium black or tan soft top....I hear tan/both/neither are backordered. (It seems to change here daily.)

I'm not sure the apparatus is set up to do this with FCA yet, but imagine it will be.

The premium black one, code STB is $530 invoice, $595 MSRP.******

The tan one is only available when you buy the Dual Top Group code AEN, $1,954 invoice, $2,195 MSRP.

******Your price will be more because these prices factor in the fact at vehicle order that you effectively return the basic soft top to FCA before the Wrangler leaves the factory.

At certain times during your order (I'm not sure when, but others do know) things may be able to be changed or the order cancelled. Check with your dealer.

There will be plenty of soft top options in the aftermarket in months.
 

wranglerguyman

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Darnit lol. I already took possession of my Jeep. Well if anyone is selling their premium hardtop, I’ll take it lol.
 

RussJeep1

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They'll be plenty on craigslist. People buying dual tops, like something they eventually see in the aftermarket in soft tops, and pay for it in part with "sale of the sail..." codespeak for their premium FCA soft top.....
 

FatBoy01

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Not to be pedantic, but to make a point, what you've found is a Wrangler with the factory tow package...the Trailer Tow and HD Electrical Group, which is considerably more than just the hitch. For those who tend to tug frequently with the Wrangler, I think this is a good option. But for me--and if you're in my boat (or towing one if I actually owned one) no way is IMHO this package worth it. Here's why I think so.

The (rear) hitch and front hitches for the JK in the aftermarket are one of the few things that actually also work on the JL. You can pick up a rear hitch for $100 in the aftermarket

I don't know--and I'm not that mechanical, and have done hitches on my other vehicles that involved snaking bolts, and all sorts of complex "breakoff nuts on a stick"--if there is an easier (rear) hitch install to be had than the Wrangler's simple 4 bolt one.

You'll also need to buy the 4 pin harness so your trailer's lights work and you remain street legal.

But I tow the occasional flat bed with some rented tool on it, like a lawn aerator. If you see yourself towing stuff with brake controllers, and could use the more extensive hitch--if you're the kind of person that will buy gear (lights/winches, etc.) to attach to the 4 Aux switches that come with the package, then I would say it is worth getting.

My $0.02

@RussJeep1 .. I have to say I disagree with you on whether to or not to get the optional "Trailer Tow and HD Electrical Group" which will cost you $795.00 to add to a new JL/JLU purchase.

-Sure, if all you want, is a trailer hitch to mount your bicycle rack or similar with and you have no need of trailer wiring, then and only then do I believe it is wise for someone ... a novice to not purchase the Trailer Tow and HD Electrical Group.

Indeed, the basic "trailer hitch" alone costs about $100 and the install is straight forward and sure it can be done easily by most people. Or, yes, you can pay a guy/gal to do the install of the hitch and that costs you $75 lets say. Ok, you got the trailer hitch alone and you need no trailer wiring package so yes, $175+- and you're good to go and for cheap.. Way less expensive then paying for the $795 Trailer Tow and HD Electrical Group.

Where the problem lies is if you need a hitch and the wiring that would be required to tow a legal trailer.... even a little utility trailer.

With the JL, you need the trailer hitch that will run you $100+- and the trailer wiring kit that will run you say $200+-. Now you are up to $300+ for parts alone.

Now, you can have the dealer and or small shop do the hitch and wiring kit install but, I can tell you they are going to get you for around $200 in labor +-. So, now you are up to $500+-. For $500+- you got the trailer hitch and wiring and the install.

You may have a so so install, broken panel clips in the JL and whatever. Hopefully, the guy was in fact a good installer and did it correctly. Trailer wiring that goes sour over time can be a major hassle to square away.

Anyway, in this scenario, yes you save $295 versus the $795 but get less, gain more hassles, get no $ credit for factory installed Trailer Tow and HD Electrical Group at resale time, etc.. You also don't have the HD Electrical Group that in itself is a terrific addition to a JL.

In closing I say do go with the Trailer Tow and HD Electrical Group package if you plan on towing a street legal trailer! Sure for the guy that needs a trailer hitch for his bike rack and no wiring, get the $100 hitch.

Now, I know someone will chime in and say geeeez, I can easily easily do the hitch install and wiring myself and save hundreds. I'll save the $295.00.. I will chuckle at this, as whether you are mechanically inclined or not or even a dealer tech, the wiring install is going to be a major pain in the arse.

Sure if your time is worth little, you love a challenge, you don't mind broken clips, you don't mind cussing out loud and you don't mind not having the HD Electrical Group on your JL then go for it.... do save the $295.00.

Reality is, for the average Joe that wants to trailer.. to tow a legal trailer with his JL, his best bet is to just spend the $795 an get the optional Trailer Tow and HD Electrical Group.

With this he gets 0 headaches, a properly installed Trailer Tow and HD Electrical Group, with all the goodies that it entails. Oh, and yes, will cost him $295 more then the guy that went through all the hassles, has all the shortcomings of having not gotten the Trailer Tow and HD Electrical Group at purchase time of their JL.

Disclaimer: Indeed, somewhere down the line, maybe in a few months, there will be an inexpensive, easy easy to install, trailer wiring alternative for the JL/JLU. For now though there is no such animal.
 
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$uicide$hift

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Don't forget the Trailer Tow and Electrical Group comes with the 4 auxiliary switches, wiring, and UConnect configuration controls for them, too. Adding this equipment after purchase would be a major hassle. The trailer tow group has so much more equipment than simply a hitch, it's worth every penny.
Just to make sure everyone is clear the Uconnect configuration controls are for the Uconnect 4C version only available on the 7" and 8.4" infotainment pakcages. The base 5" does not allow for any configuration of the auxiliary switches.
 
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