Jeep Wrangler Water Leak When It Rains

A leak in your Jeep can be frustrating, inconvenient and over time it can cause real damage to your vehicle interior.

When people come to me with a leaky Jeep roof I always advise that they check out every possibility before they make any decisions.

Stopping a Hardtop from Leaking

Car Mechanic with Wrench to tighten the bolts

Tighten The Bolts

One of the most frequent causes of leaks in a hardtop on a Jeep is the two bolts in the front not being tight enough. These bolts can work loose as time passes. As they get looser water gets beneath them and leaks inside your cabin.

These bolts are easy to tighten up. You will need a hex wrench to do this.

If the bolts are not leaking you might need to check and see if the top is sitting properly on the seals. Sometimes when you remove and reinstall these tops you can let the seals get slightly bent or folded.

If the seals are not lying perfectly straight and even then the top of the vehicle cannot seal adequately.

1) Remove the top and visually check the seals to see if they have been bent or protruding.

2) Run your hand over the seals to make sure they are lying flat and have no dirt or debris on them that could prevent a proper seal from happening. If the seal feels rough or sandy take the time to clean the seal before you proceed.

3) Replace the top and visually check to make sure you did not bend any seals.

4) Fasten the latches in a crisscross pattern. Fasten the front latch on the driver’s side and then the back latch on the passenger side. Fasten one front latch and the opposite back latch.

5) Then fasten the back latch on the driver’s side and the front latch on the passenger side. Then fasten the last back latch and the last front latch.

6) Unseal the front latches and then you can make sure the two bolts are tightened properly.

If this does not correct your leak you will need to check and see if you have a small hole in the hardtop.

Clean the Rubber Seals

The rubber seals that prevent water and air from infiltrating the cabin of your Jeep can get dirty and need cleaning from time to time. This is especially true for rubber seals on vehicles that are driven with the tops off or the doors off of them.

As you are driving minute particles of dirt and debris are lifted from the roadway and deposited onto your seals. You may not even see this dirt when you put the top back on the vehicle, but believe me, the dirt and debris are there.

To avoid a seal leak caused by dirt and debris simply clean the seals. You are going to need to take a wet towel and wipe the seals down. You want to make sure you are using a lint-free towel because lint can stop the seals from functioning properly.

You can use cotton swabs that have been dampened to get deep into the fine grooves on the seals. The cotton swab is soft and will not damage the rubber or chapel of the seal you are cleaning.

Be sure that you also clean the door seals because they can get dirty and start allowing leaks too. 

Inspect all rubber seals regularly. You are looking for any cracks or signs of damage or deterioration. If the seals start to dry-rot or crack and become hard you can replace them easily.

Check the Cowl

The cowl or drain plug on the Jeep can become clogged with leaf matter and other debris. When this happens you may experience interior leaks or a back windshield that fogs up. You may even experience electrical problems due to the moisture.

Add More Weather Stripping

Another option that will help you to reduce possible leaks is to install additional weatherstripping in the areas around door edges, window edges, and where the hardtop meets the vehicle frame. The extra weather stripping can be purchased at most hardware supply stores and will help you have more protection from the outside elements.

When shopping for weather stripping you need about 1/8” thick foam. If you get something that is thicker than 1/8” you may find that it is too thick for your purposes. If the weather stripping is too thick it may increase a leak possibility instead of saving you from one.

Check the Roof rack attachment

A lot of Jeep owners install roof racks to help them carry more cargo without using all of their interior room. The connectors that hold these roof racks in position can be loose or corroded and that could be the cause of your leaks.

If you have a roof rack or luggage rack on top of the vehicle inspect it and check all of the screws or bolts holding it in place.

Stopping a Soft top from Leaking

Stopping a Soft top from Leaking

Fix any Holes, Cuts, or Slashes

A soft top is a canvas-style or vinyl material that gives the Jeep an authentic safari look while protecting the interior from rain and other outside elements. The main problem with a soft top is they are pretty easy to cut or rip.

You should make a habit of regularly checking the soft top for rips and tears. If you find a rip or tear you can repair it quickly and save your interior from water damage.

Inspect The Alignment

The top may not be aligned perfectly with everything so when it is up it is not completely sealed around all of the edges. Walk around the vehicle and carefully inspect the edges. You are looking for places that appear wrinkled or that do not seem to be lying at a proper angle.

Preventing Leaks from Forming or Worsening

An ounce of prevention is said to be worth a pound of cure, which means you will be rewarded if you take the time to find potential problems before they become real-life leaks.

  • Pull the carpeting up and see if you find water pooling beneath them.
  • Flush your cowl drain regularly using a garden hose to dislodge any foreign matter.
  • Dry the top of the Jeep with a towel and feel for imperfections with your hands.
  • Always put the top of the Jeep on by installing the passenger side first.
  • Trace any water rivets with your finger to find their source
  • Place a filler or caulk-like substance at the contact points of gaskets to ensure a tight closure.
  • Clean any window or top zippers regularly so they seal completely.
  • Always unlock latches and then fasten them back when you are hunting leaks. A latch that is not properly closed can allow leakage to happen.
  • Always treat your soft top with approved cleaner and treatment at least twice each year. This will stop the vinyl from deteriorating and will keep your Jeep looking nicer.

If you have trouble finding the leak sit inside the vehicle while someone sprays it with a water hose to simulate rain. This will allow you to see the leak when it starts to happen.

People Also Ask

Do Jeep Soft Tops Usually Leak?

The soft top of your Jeep should not leak unless it is damaged or not secured properly.

Can Jeep Hardtops Be Repaired to Stop Leaks?

Yes, they can be fixed. The problem of a leak in a hardtop on a Jeep may be caused by the bolts on the top needing to be tightened.

Why Is My Jeep Leaking When It Rains?

The most common reason why you have a leak inside your Jeep when it rains is that your weather stripping has been damaged or has come loose.

Final Thoughts

Proper maintenance and care will prevent most leaks from ever happening. If you do get a leak in your Jeep, make sure and address it quickly so the water entering your cabin does not have time to create problems like mold and mildew.

Related Article
How to Clean Jeep Wrangler Soft Top & Windows
Complete Guide on Jeep Wrangler Hard Top Leaking Fix

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