When the winter season arrives, everyone tries to prepare for it differently. Will you need to swap out your soft top for a hard top? Are Jeep soft tops good in winter? If you’re a Jeep owner with a soft top, you might have been wondering how your soft top will do in the winter.
The simple answer is this: you’ll do okay with a soft top in the winter. Many Jeep owners use soft tops during the winter with no issues at all. Your Jeep will be well insulated and durable enough to hold some snow. This is because the heater in the Wrangler runs like an inferno.
You could even take the top off and still be warm. However, soft tops are more likely to sustain damage in winter due to extremely low temperatures. 
Soft top windows, most especially, can get cracked easily in freezing temperatures. This is because they’re made of vinyl plastics and can be easily marked with an ice scraper.
As noted earlier, warmth isn’t an issue, but keeping the windows clean can be stressful and would be much easier with the hard top. With the amount of salt on our roads during the winter, I wouldn’t advise running the soft top because it will not last as long.
Also, if you constantly expose your soft top to salt, the windows may be scratched up far more than normal from trying to keep the salt off them.
How To Remove Snow/Ice From A Soft Top Safely?
You have to do a simple thing, which may take a similar amount of time as scraping.
So, when you see snow on your soft top windows, don’t just grab your ice scraper and attack the ice. Scraping may get the stuff off, but in the best-case scenario, you will only leave scratches on the window, or, worst case, you will crack the plastic. Plus, the soft top’s warranty will not cover the damage if the top is new.
You will need to turn on the vehicle and switch on the heaters. The heaters will do the job from inside while the engine is warming up for a few minutes outside.
All the heat produced by heaters will heat windows and tops. This way, ice that sticks to the windows and top will melt. Give them time to melt down snow on their own.
Of course, the amount of ice accumulated will decide the time the whole process will take. But it won’t take more than 15 – 20 minutes. Some people swear by using a battery-powered hair dryer on the windows to melt away snow and ice, but let’s be realistic; who would want to stand in the freezing snow for up to 15 minutes trying to melt ice?
Are Soft Tops Waterproof?
The Soft top is vinyl held together with overlapping zippers and velcro. While it is relatively waterproof when it leaves the factory, it will wear out and begin leaking over time.
Waterproofing is a method of maintaining your soft top hood and ensuring it is ready to face unpredictable weather patterns. In addition, it is very simple to perform and inexpensive to implement compared to the hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars you’ll save in the long run. Here are some simple tips:
- Mask the edges of your soft top with tape
- Carefully secure all hood edges to keep mold and moisture out using masking tape. Ensure the seams between the hood and body are secured.
- Spray on a canvas or vinyl hydroponic solution (depending on the specific material of your soft top)
How Long do Jeep Soft Tops Last?
Just a little preventive maintenance can go a long way in prolonging a soft top’s life, but after five to 10 years, depending on the material quality and use, it may be time to replace your top.
As with most vinyl or plastic products, the material of your soft-top can be damaged by exposure to the sun’s rays, causing many issues. The first sign of weakening tops is a discoloration of the top material. With vinyl, a black top fading to gray, and the lighter the shade, the worse the damage.
Another sign to watch out for is streaking, which can be caused by acidic rain and UV damage throughout the top’s life. This same damage can cause the top material to shrink and grow brittle. When such a brittle material is stretched, the tearing can occur, particularly in colder weather when the material is less pliable.
How to Maintain Jeep Soft Tops
Over time, environmental elements, road grime, and the sun’s UV rays can harm the material on the soft top. However, the right type of care can help you get many years of service out of your soft top.
Cleaning your Jeep’s soft top is only the beginning of its care. Even if you wash and clean the top regularly, you’ll need to do some more maintenance to extend the life of the soft top. 
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Soft Top Protection Process
First, apply a protectant to the material often. This will depend on the brand of protectant you use. Some manufacturers recommend applying the product every 30 days, while others allow you to go as long as 90 days between applications. You may also need to vary this time frame based on your local weather, season, and driving habits.
Apply the protectant product in a cool and dry place (when possible) to reduce the chances of the product drying out before you spread the protectant over the entire top area. Most manufacturers recommend applying their products using a circular motion to distribute the product evenly over the surface of the soft-top material.
Second, while you focus most of your efforts on the outer surfaces of the soft top, don’t forget to also clean and protect the inside. While the inside does not receive as much exposure to outdoor elements, you should clean and protect the windows on both sides of the plastic to maximize their lifespan.
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Your Jeep’s soft top has several zippers for installing and removing the cover. To keep these zippers running smoothly, keep a few special care tips in mind. First, you can buy a special zipper cleaner and oil product for this job.
Normally, this product should have a small brush attached to the bottle that you can use to scrub the zipper and apply the lubricant to the zipper, significantly prolonging its life.
You don’t need much effort to protect your Jeep’s soft top. But all the same, you need to dedicate a fraction of your time to maintenance if you want your soft top to give you many years of leak-free performance.
You can definitely run with a soft top during the winter, but you’ll have to take certain precautions. Once you’ve done all that is required, you have nothing to be afraid of.
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