How To Open The Sunrider Top On Your Jeep’s Soft Top … Like A Sun Roof

riding-with-the-sundrider-open.jpg Victoria and others have asked how to open the Sunrider portion of the Jeep soft top — so you’re riding around as if you have the sunroof open (rather than lowering the entire soft top on your Jeep).

This is actually something that can be done by one person alone. It only takes me about 4 minutes to do it myself. It’s even quicker with 2 people!

Here are the step-by-step instructions for turning your Jeep Wrangler’s soft top into a sun roof…


Sunrider Top Instructions:

Step #1  Un-hook the thick plastic rain guards (officially they’re the "drip rail retainers") that are built into your Jeep’s soft top.

They are shaped such that they grip right over and around the black metal channel above your passenger and driver side windows.


There are 2 on each side that need to be unhooked. It’s not easy, because they serve their purpose quite well and act to "seal" your soft top onto the Jeep body. Just cram your finger in, underneath and pull up, while at the same time you’re pressing down hard on the top edge — this helps the bottom to pop out. The first time, you think you’ll break it — you won’t! (But I wouldn’t use anything sharp to un-hook the drip rail retainers.)


Step #2  Pull out the visors on both the driver and passenger side of the windshield. That way, you can get at the 2 thick metal latches that secure your soft top onto the Jeep. (The header latches clamp into the metal loops above your Jeep’s windshield.)




Step #3  There is one black metal latch above each visor — unclamp each one. To prevent those header latches from re-attaching on your Jeep’s frame as you’re trying to lift the Sunrider top (especially if you’re doing this as a 1-person project), close each latch into itself. (That will make more sense when you’re actually looking at the latch, rather than reading about it here.)  In effect, clamping it into itself makes it smaller, and less likely to "catch" on your Jeep’s frame as you’re raising the Sunrider top up.


Step #4  As you pull the Sunrider portion of your soft top back toward the middle of your Jeep, do this one thing: only take it halfway at first! Why? Because that enables you to properly "fold" and flatten the Sunrider material — such that when you take it the rest of the way, it will be "folded" into halves neatly — with the outer side facing the sky.

If you attempt to take the Sunrider top back in one motion, rather than 2 (without folding it in half), then you’ll end up with too much soft top material flopping in the wind atop your Jeep.

It’s actually a very natural motion… as you’re lifting the Sunrider top halfway up, you’ll notice that the side bars start to bend at that middle joint. THAT’s where you pause to flatten out the first half of your Sunrider top. Then, go the rest of the way, and the bottom half of the Sunrider top will rest nicely on top.


The thicker parts of those black bars serve as braces when the Jeep’s Sunrider top is "down" and serving as a solid roof. They serve no meaningful purpose when the Sunrider top is "open". I say that, because we wondered for the longest time if we were supposed to pull ’em or push ’em or position them in any particular way. The answer is: No. Don’t worry about them, they just fall into place.


A point of clarification: Those plastic braces kind of "lock" the Sunrider top’s bars into place when the soft top is "down" over the top of the Jeep — especially at that bendable joint in the middle. When opening the Sunrider top, you’ll just want to make sure the thickest plastic brace is pushed as far to the top of the Sunrider top as possible. Doing so, gets it past the bendable joint in the middle of the bars, and makes it easier to lift the Sunrider top open. (This always happens automatically in our case… the brace just "falls" that way. But, this probably qualifies as an important step.)


Step #5  I’m not sure how important this next step is, but it makes things neat & tidy, so we do it every time. When your Sunrider top is open, those thick black latches for your soft top are now facing the sky, and they’re probably just dangling there. Take the extra second to make that clamp actually latch onto the opened top-side of your Sunrider top. There is an oval-shaped cut-out right there where they clamp can rest… just open the clamp, then position it over that oval cut-out, and close the clamp so it stays in place while you’re riding around.


Jim and I actually stop right there. But technically, there is one more step.



Step #6:  You’re supposed to use the black straps that came with the Jeep to "tie down" the Sunrider top — so it won’t flop around too much at excessive speeds or when you’re faced with cro
sswinds from a passing truck, etc. Just wrap those straps around the frame of your Jeep (above the drivers window and above the passenger window) and around those black metal bars that you used to lift the Sunrider top up and back. There is no single "right" way to do this, you’re simply trying to avoid too much "floppage".

Now, put your visors back into place, and you’re ready to roll!


BONUS TIP:  When you’re riding around in your Jeep with the Sunrider top open, you should make a point to also open the rear window of your Jeep, or one (or more) of the driver/passenger side windows. Otherwise, you create too much of a vacuum inside the Jeep. That’s not good.


UPDATE:  I just found this video from Jeep showing how to open the Jeep Sunrider top. Now you can "see" how to do each step — and watch how simple it really is, even for just one person! (Here’s the video for the 4-door Jeep Wrangler. The steps are just a tad different than for the 2-door Wrangler Unlimited.)

Lynnette Walczak

Lynnette Walczak

I like to help people find unique ways to do things in order to save time & money -- so I frequently write about "outside the box" ideas that most wouldn't think of. As a lifelong dog owner, I often share my best tips for living with and training dogs. I worked in Higher Ed several years until switching gears to pursue things I was more passionate about. I've worked at a vet, in a photo lab, and at a zoo -- to name a few. I enjoy the outdoors via bicycle, motorcycle, Jeep, or RV. You can always find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun websites).

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Fun From Around the Web

  • Jwdelta1

    How do i get the latches to fasten back? It is giving me fits! It is 85 degrees, so fabric is not cool.

  • Mungada2011

    @Jwdelta1 I have the exact same problem, it’s like my roof shrinks when i put the surfrider part back, when i bring it back into norma position, the roof doesn’t meet the latches. I end up loosening the rear panels and pushing the midbar forward while someone else pulls forward really hard. Please help!

  • I<3myjeep

    Getting the top open was very easy. The directions are great! I can’t get the latches latched. I went to a dealership for help and they had a hard time as well. I sure would like to be able to do this on my own. Any advice?

  • Buddy

    Bestop told me that you do not have to remove or roll up rear window when using sunrider feature

    • FunTimesGuide

      Hi Buddy. That’s cool. But unless you like feeling that extra pressure in your ears as you’re driving at highway speeds with just the sunrider open, then you may also want to slightly open a window (either the driver, passenger, or rear window). Just speaking from experience with our ’04 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited.