Jeep owners have known that the YJ and TJ series have some interchangeable parts. For many YJ and TJ owners, this has been a blessing in disguise because you don’t have to spend much money buying new parts.
One of the parts that have brought about a lot of confusion as to whether it’s interchangeable is the hardtop. If you have access to a YJ hardtop and would like to fit it onto your TJ, here is everything you need to know.
Table of Contents
- Does the Hardtop of a YJ Fit a TJ?
- What are Some of the Modifications that Need to Be Done?
- Why Use a YJ Hardtop on a TJ?
- Is It Worth Modifying a YJ Hardtop to Fit a TJ?
- Isn’t It Better to Look for a TJ Hardtop Instead?
- What are the Risks of Modifying a YJ Hardtop to Fit a TJ?
- Can an Expert Mechanic Help Fit a YJ Hardtop onto a TJ?
- Can I Sell a YJ Hardtop?
- Does YOM Affect the Compatibility of YJ and TJ Hardtops?
- Are There Other Parts of a YJ and TJ Which are Interchangeable?
- Can I Interchange the Soft Top with a Hardtop?
Does the Hardtop of a YJ Fit a TJ?
Unfortunately, a YJ hardtop will not fit a TJ. Several subtle differences make the YJ hardtop not a perfect fit for a TJ.
For instance, the windshield in a TJ is angled way back, making it a bit challenging to install a YJ hardtop on top of it.
But before you give up your plans of installing a YJ hardtop on a TJ, you need to know this. YJ and TJ hardtops are not interchangeable. However, with some modifications, they can fit.
For obvious reasons, not many people love modifying the hardtop. That’s because it takes a lot of work, knowledge, and skill. However, if you are a DIY enthusiast, it’s something that you can easily pull off.
What are Some of the Modifications that Need to Be Done?
As mentioned above, specific differences between the build of the YJ and TJ make the hardtops not interchangeable.
But through certain modifications, you can make the hardtop fit. If this sounds like a project you would try, then here are some modifications you may have to perform.
• First, you will need to drill new holes on the YJ hardtop since the current ones don’t align with that of the TJ. You should be able to take note of that when you place the YJ hardtop on your TJ.
• Secondly, since the windshield of a TJ is angled differently, you will have to remove the windshield seal on the TJ. That will give the YJ hardtop more room to fit.
Due to this difference in build, there will be some space between the front doors and the hardtop. The gap is often tiny if you have removed the windshield seal, and it’s something you can live with unless you reside in an area that has terrible weather.
• To get the YJ hardtop to fit, you may have to grind the fiberglass on top of it. This won’t be very fun to do. Also, fiberglass shouldn’t be inhaled. Ensure that you wear a mask, goggles, gloves, and protective clothing.
Since these parts are not interchangeable in the first place, do not expect a flawless finish. There will be some gaps here and there.
Your main priority should be to ensure the hardtop is anchored firmly to the frame. Otherwise, it may get blown off by the wind.
Why Use a YJ Hardtop on a TJ?
The main reason why Jeep owners plan to use YJ hardtops on a TJ is to save money. If you want a perfectly-fitting hardtop, you should buy one specifically made for your car series.
If it’s a TJ, go with a hardtop made for TJ’s. The same should be done for YJ’s. However, it’s been a rough couple of years, and everyone is feeling the wrath of the economy.
Therefore, if you can find a YJ hardtop on eBay for a few bucks. Or even better, if a friend can give you one for free, engaging in some slight modification wouldn’t be such a terrible idea.
Is It Worth Modifying a YJ Hardtop to Fit a TJ?
First, you have to understand that it’s possible to modify a YJ hardtop to fit a TJ. Many jeep owners have achieved this, and if you are keen, you can spot YJs with TJ hardtops.
Before embarking on such a project, it’s essential to determine whether it’s worth spending your time, money, and resources.
This modification can be worth it, depending on a couple of factors. The YJ hardtop needs to be in excellent condition. Most second-hand hardtops are usually worn out, and they may be incomplete.
Modifying such a hardtop will be very difficult, and you may use a lot of money. Modifying it will be much easier if you can get your hands on a decent YJ hardtop.
Secondly, you need to be a bit technical to pull off such a modification job. There will be a lot of drilling, so you must have the tools.
Isn’t It Better to Look for a TJ Hardtop Instead?
Understandably, you may want to save up some money for this project. However, TJ hardtops are equally as available as YJ hardtops. It’s possible to modify a YJ hardtop to make it fit a TJ.
But you won’t need modification when you get a TJ hardtop. It will be a quick and easy fit. The only thing you may have to do is paint it. If possible, we advise you to buy a TJ hardtop instead of a YJ.
The former option won’t require any changes. It should be a snuggle fit, and you can avoid all the challenges associated with modification. Alternatively, a factory top is an excellent option if you have a higher budget.
What are the Risks of Modifying a YJ Hardtop to Fit a TJ?
Considering that this project needs modification to fit, there are risks involved. Remember when we said the seal must be removed for the YJ hardtop to fit?
Without a seal, air, moisture, and water will leak through the hardtop. That means that during the rainy season, you will be in for it.
Secondly, there will be a gap left on the doors since they won’t touch the roof of the hardtop. That’s also an entry point for moisture.
Even though you may try to seal these areas, it won’t be easy since that part doesn’t fit. Through modifications, you may get it to look great, but you need to be mindful of leaks.
Also, the hardtop needs to be anchored firmly onto the TJ body. Otherwise, it can be plucked off by the wind when you are on the highway, which is quite risky.
Can an Expert Mechanic Help Fit a YJ Hardtop onto a TJ?
A mechanic experienced with modifying jeeps can fit a YJ hardtop onto a TJ. However, they will only make the modifications we have described above.
You can do this by yourself if you have the tools and guidance. However, if you want something a little bit more professional, you can hire an expert mechanic for this job.
It’s important to remember that this will cost you more money. If you aim to save more cash, you better do it yourself.
Can I Sell a YJ Hardtop?
Another way you can go around the incompatibility of the YJ/TJ hardtop is by selling the one you already have and getting the one designed for your Jeep. Yes, you can modify a YJ hardtop to fit a TJ. But it won’t be a perfect fit at the end of the day.
A pro tip that you can use in this scenario is to sell the YJ hardtop and get a TJ hardtop that will fit flawlessly. Nowadays, selling parts has been made effortless thanks to social media platforms.
Also, if you are part of a local Jeep forum or group, you can post an ad for your hardtop, and you will get several buyers.
You may have to touch up the hardtop and make crucial repairs so that you can attract more buyers. After selling the YJ hardtop, look for a TJ’s and install it.
Does YOM Affect the Compatibility of YJ and TJ Hardtops?
There isn’t even a need to dig much deeper into this. The bottom line is that YJ and TJ hardtops are not interchangeable. It doesn’t matter what year of manufacture the model is.
Getting a YJ hardtop to fit a TJ will need some modification. Therefore, do not look for specific models hoping they are interchangeable.
Are There Other Parts of a YJ and TJ Which are Interchangeable?
We recommend using parts made specifically for your jeep to avoid complications. Very few parts in the TJ and YJ can be interchanged. Most of them will require some fabrication to fit, and we all know the risks that come with that.
Please understand that even though both series come from the same company, they are different cars with varying parts. The hardtop is an excellent example that the YJ and TJ aren’t built similarly.
Can I Interchange the Soft Top with a Hardtop?
You can interchange the soft top with the hardtop and vice versa as long as the top in question is built explicitly for your jeep. Both types of tops have their pros and cons. Replacing one with another is easy as long as it’s the right type.