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Thread: HOW TO: Keep your top seals healthy and LEAK FREE!

  1. #1
    Knows a Thing or Two NFRs2000NYC's Avatar
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    HOW TO : Keep your top seals healthy and LEAK FREE!

    So for those of us with hard top equipped wranglers, JL and JK alike, having leaks coming in is a pretty annoying headache. The reasons why wrangler tops leak are numerous, but more often than not, it is usually caused by seals that are misaligned, pinched, or dried out. When seals dry out, they contract, which can allow water to slowly get past it, and eventually pool up into a puddle of water under your footwell carpets. Over the last 14 years, I have gotten quite good at maintaining the integrity of top seals, and between my now 15 year old S2000, and 2 leak free JKs, I can comfortably say that my method has kept the inside of my vehicles nice and dry, and the seals in excellent health. My 2012 JKU I had for 2 years, without any leaking issues, and my current JKU is 4 years old now, and is also leak free. Below is my method, and it has worked very well for me.

    This method is easiest on a brand new top/vehicle, but of course, it can be done to a used one as well, the only extra step would be cleaning the seals from debris.

    First, the product I recommend for this job is Honda ShinEtsu grease. Now, I am not sure what this stuff is made of, some say it's just white lithium grease, but I have been using it forever, it is specifically made for this job, and it works perfectly.
    https://www.amazon.com/Genuine-Honda...in+etsu+grease
    08798-9013.jpg
    One tube will probably last you quite a while.

    1) The first you want to do is remove your freedom panels. and put them in a safe place so they dont fall or get damaged. (brand new vehicles skip to step 3)

    2) You now want to clean up all the OEM seals on the windshield frame, the back half of the OEM top, and the freedom panels. All contact surfaces should be wiped as well (like the driver's side panel) Use warm water (no soap) and a microfiber to wipe the seals down and get rid of all debris. Use an old toothbrush to brush out any debris that's stuck inside the channels of the seals, and wipe them clean as well. When the rag is not picking up any more dirt and the seals look clean, park the rig in the sun so they can thoroughly dry out.

    3) This process is more effective with the seals warmed up, as they suck the grease in a bit better, so if you can park out in the sun for a few minutes, it would help. Throw on a rubber glove, and proceed to liberally grease all the seal surfaces, dont be shy with the grease, any excess can be cleaned up later.

    (photo is of a JK hardtop, Im assuming the JL has a very similar seal setup)




    When you clean your seals (for older rigs) make sure the corners are super clean, they are the most prone to leaking....


    Passenger Panel


    Now that you greased everything liberally, leave it for a few minutes so the rubber can absorb some of the grease and plump up, 5 minutes is good enough.

    4) Put the passenger side panel in place. When it's in place, sit in the passenger seat, and with your arms extended upward, lift the panel straight up towards the sky and gently lower it back down as steady as you can...this will make sure your seals dont have any lateral movement from a "sliding" motion.

    5) Put in the driver's side panel, and again, same thing, raise it straight up, and lower it back down.

    6) Before you tighten latches/hand screws, take a look at the seals from the top of the Jeep....and make sure they did not pinch or misalign....

    CORRECT SEAL POSITION


    INCORRECT SEAL POSITION


    If your seal is incorrect, take out the driver's panel and lower it back down again, try and minimize any side to side movement. A pinched seal is guaranteed to let water in.

    7) At this point, you can go ahead and close the latches, front corners, back corners, then center. If you have a JK, the screws should go last, and passenger side first. Dont kill them, just hand tight. Check from above, the panel should not be sunken in much further (may 1 or 2mm) past the rest of the top. If you sank it down too much, you collapsed the seal, so back them off a bit

    8)Do a final inspection on all the seals and double check they are all lined up and making good even contact, and wipe off any excess with a paper towel.

    Thats all she wrote, this method will keep your top seals healthy for years and will prevent them from drying out and rotting. If you never remove your top, you wont have any dirt issues for quite some time, but if you regularly put your hard top on/off, you may need to reapply once every 6 months to a year, depending on weather and rainfall. However, installing the freedom panels is key, make sure they are straight and the seals are not pinched! I hope this thread helps some of you guys stay dry! Happy motoring!
    Last edited by NFRs2000NYC; 07-10-2018 at 03:17 PM.

  2. #2
    Caught the Bug
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    Thank you.

  3. #3
    Been Around the Block JeepFan's Avatar
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    Awesome write up! Thanks
    Last edited by JeepFan; 05-23-2018 at 03:42 AM.
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  4. #4
    Fresh Catch
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    Okay but who wants to get grease all over yourself and clothes when you take the top off?

  5. #5
    Knows a Thing or Two NFRs2000NYC's Avatar
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    Not sure why you would be getting grease all over your clothes, if you know where the grease is, dont grab the freedom panels by the seals and you'll be fine. Furthermore, some people, myself included, never take the hard top off.

  6. #6
    Thank you for the info ! Itís definitely a solution a specially for those who park the Jeep on the sun .


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  8. #8
    Guy with a Red 2-Door Cozdude's Avatar
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    Great idea! Thanks for this

  9. #9
    Knows a Thing or Two GrayBeard's Avatar
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    Thanks for the idea/suggestion. May give it a try.

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    2018 Jeep JLUR, Granite Crystal Metallic, Automatic, 2" Mopar Suspension Lift, 37x12x17 Toyo Open Country R/T Tires.

  10. #10
    Fresh Catch Wale79's Avatar
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    Thanks, great write up.

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