Soft Top only in Northern Climate?

BDJeep1

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I am in northern IL and I have always ordered the dual tops. Any opinions on how comfortable it is to just go with a soft top all year round? We get some brutal winters with the 'polar vortex' hitting in some years. I will probably order the remote start (if I go with an auto) and I do keep it in a garage. Just curious about those in Canada and Northern USA who have experience with soft top only?





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whatroads

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I live in Kansas. I've owned a CJ7, YJ and a TJ with soft tops only. The YJ soft top was 100% improvement over the CJ. Same said for the TJ vs the YJ. I currently have a 2012 JK with a hard/soft top. In Kansas, we too get the same polar winds. Straight down from the Dakota's and Minnesota.

If you are not considering any real off roading then I would say get the hardtop. The HT T-tops are so easy to remove and re-install compared to dropping a soft top. Tree branches are hard on either top. I've fixed many a soft top with combinations of duct tape and RTV sealant, (used together overlapping). Now days, they even have the water proof tapes used in plumbing.

I'm waiting on more information for the JL soft top. As of now, I'm likely to get both hard and soft tops
 

Covfefe

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Been through many NY blizzards with Mustang convertibles with no problem.
Will be doing the same with the Wrangler.
Remote start is a must.
 

TroyBoy

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My first jeep was a soft top and it was fine in the winter. In fact it was more waterproof than my current hard top. I do like having a rear defroster and windshield washer though so I prefer the hardtop.
I live outside of Vancouver and the winters aren't that bad here. The cab heated up just fine in the winter imo.

My preferred combo is the factory hardtop and then a Trektop NX for the summer. It's cheaper and a better soft top imo.
 

DanW

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I am in northern IL and I have always ordered the dual tops. Any opinions on how comfortable it is to just go with a soft top all year round? We get some brutal winters with the 'polar vortex' hitting in some years. I will probably order the remote start (if I go with an auto) and I do keep it in a garage. Just curious about those in Canada and Northern USA who have experience with soft top only?
I've done it, both in my YJ and JK. It is no problem. Why? The Jeep's heaters are like blast furnaces. The coldest winter in my memory, with many days below zero, was one where I neglected to install the hard top. My Jeep did fine. If it didn't, I would have put it on. I am right now considering dropping the dual top option on my order and just going with the premium soft top. I do like having a glass rear window in the winter, though. On the other hand, the plastic windows defrost VERY quickly when the heater gets warmed up, which is again, very quickly. The plastic windows defrost and de-ice quicker than the glass because they conduct the heat better. I'd have no problem living with just the soft top, especially the premium version. My JK soft top, btw, isn't nearly as thick as the cloth on the premium. It doesn't flap on the highway, either, except up close behind semi trucks.
 

DanW

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...A good way to save a few bucks is to go with the soft top only, if the price of the JL is an issue. You can always add a hard top later, if you regret the decision.
 

Sschmittou

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About to do my first Detroit winter with my premium soft top on my 17 jku.

Im planning on ordering the 18 with the prem soft aswell
 

DanW

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About to do my first Detroit winter with my premium soft top on my 17 jku. Im planning on ordering the 18 with the prem soft aswell
I think it will do just fine. The heater can more than compensate.
 
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The Great Grape Ape

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I am in northern IL and I have always ordered the dual tops. Any opinions on how comfortable it is to just go with a soft top all year round? We get some brutal winters with the 'polar vortex' hitting in some years. I will probably order the remote start (if I go with an auto) and I do keep it in a garage. Just curious about those in Canada and Northern USA who have experience with soft top only?
I have the dual tops, but have run just the soft top into December through -20C a few time and ran a whole winter the 2nd year with the old JKU Sahara because I didn’t want to go grab the HT from the cottage where it was stored. As for comfort it’s fine once it gets warmed up, because the heater PUKES out heat, unlike my old JK whose soft top was snappy, flappy and windy, and the heater was not quite as effective, but was OK for a teenager who was already in a winter coat and Sorels.

A few issues;

Ice, snow and especially frost build up on the plastic rear and side windows, and you lose the rear defroster & wiper with the soft top, plus using a scrapper on it can damage the windows very easily. I use Rain-X but it’s still just a bit better than without.

Vinyl windows are also more fragile to damage in cold, existing deep creases can become cracks easily.

If you stop for lunch or something, the stored heat is gone very quickly not that the HT is great for that either, like 15-20 mins vs 1hr with the hard top (a bit longer with a liner).

For heavy snow, be sure to clear it off, as leaving a big pile on top can damage the soft top, which is a bit more fragile when cold too.

Other than that though, it’s fine really. If they made the Spsoft top like the BesTop Pro Hybrid with a glass rear, I’d go Soft-Top all year-round.
 

COBill

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The two issues I had when I had dual tops and left the soft top on a little too long:

1) If ice forms on the soft top windows you literally can't do anything but wait for them to melt. No scraping.

2) Splashback. The greyish snow/deicer mix covers all surfaces and doesn't like to come off soft top windows without physical pressure which means its almost impossible to do so without scratching them.

3) If it gets cold enough (sub zero) any kind of impact - rock, snow, etc. - can crack a soft top window.

Of the three, the splashback issue was the biggest impediment to just leaving the soft top on.
 

chuck h

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The two issues I had when I had dual tops and left the soft top on a little too long:

1) If ice forms on the soft top windows you literally can't do anything but wait for them to melt. No scraping.

2) Splashback. The greyish snow/deicer mix covers all surfaces and doesn't like to come off soft top windows without physical pressure which means its almost impossible to do so without scratching them.

3) If it gets cold enough (sub zero) any kind of impact - rock, snow, etc. - can crack a soft top window.

Of the three, the splashback issue was the biggest impediment to just leaving the soft top on.
For #1, I get in the car and punch the windows and roof from inside, breaks up the ice immediately.

I live in philly where it can get pretty cold. I bought a 2010 dual tops, haven’t put the hard top on in 4 years. Don’t need it for the heat, between the heater and the engine, gets plenty warm. Only downside really is the noise if U don’t like that too much, if the winds get howling can be pretty loud whipping the windows around in my experience.
 

Rygy12

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For #1, I get in the car and punch the windows and roof from inside, breaks up the ice immediately.

I live in philly where it can get pretty cold. I bought a 2010 dual tops, haven’t put the hard top on in 4 years. Don’t need it for the heat, between the heater and the engine, gets plenty warm. Only downside really is the noise if U don’t like that too much, if the winds get howling can be pretty loud whipping the windows around in my experience.
Yeah, punch the cold vinyl windows. Did you eat freaking paint chips as a kid?
 

DanW

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I found soft top windows to last about 5 years if on year round in Indiana. They are still doing fine in my 11 year old JK, which only sees the soft top in the summer. The rear window isn't doing as well. When rolled up, the straps ultimately scratch it up pretty good. It is serviceable, though. I replaced the soft top and windows on my YJ I think at 5 or 6 years. It had it on year-round. I think these JL premium soft tops are made of much better material and the window plastic is thicker. I'd bet you could get 8 years out of them, then just replace the windows. The top itself will probably go a decade or more, I would bet.

As far as ice/frost, the plastic windows melt off VERY quickly. I never touched them. Even the sun melts them quickly.
 

old8tora

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As far as ice/frost, the plastic windows melt off VERY quickly. I never touched them. Even the sun melts them quickly.
Yeah , but you get sun .

How about a battery-powered blow-dryer ?
 
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Luvmejeeps

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Dont go thru a hot car wash that isnt touchless when temps are WELL below freezing(and the soft top is at the same as the outdoor temps)...they "can" be prone to crack. Even then be careful with touchless as well.

Just speaking from past experience when my wife took one thru,and a side window cracked.
 

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