1997-2006 Jeep Wrangler (TJ) Frequently Asked Questions

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3. Creature comforts, accessories, and audio

3.1. Where can I buy accessories?

(copied from old FAQ section 3.5)
Mopar, the parts arm of DaimlerChrysler, publishes a catalog of accessories available for the Wrangler. You can view their catalog online here -- click on the "Wrangler Accessories" link at the bottom of the page. (This link will probably be broken in about six months; you can probably get to it by navigating from Jeep's home page in any case.) Mopar's pitch is that their accessories are guaranteed to work with the Wrangler and won't cause any warranty problems in the future. You may be paying a somewhat higher price, though, so shop around.

There are a number of aftermarket manufacturers and retailers that sell accessories for the Wrangler. Some manufacturers/retailers include:

(Disclaimer: Presence or absence in this list doesn't imply a commercial endorsement on my part.) You can also check out one of the four wheeling magazines, like Four Wheeler or Petersen's 4 Wheel & Off Road, which usually have plenty of ads from companies selling accessories.

3.2. Where can I mount a radio or CD player?

(copied from old FAQ section 3.1)
A regular radio or CD player can mount in the space in the dash using the appropriate mounting kit. (I believe this is a standard Chrysler mounting kit.) You might consider mounting it yourself, rather than having a car stereo dealership install it, so you can put more padding underneath it to avoid skips. The front speakers are standard 4x6 inch speakers, and they fit into the corners of the dash. As far as rear speakers go, you can get the sound bar (a good investment, in my opinion), or you can build speaker cabinets and mount them to the wheel wells.

There are several options for mounting a multi-disc CD changer. If you don't plan to haul cargo frequently, you can mount it under or behind the back seat. (The "Add-a-Trunk" feature provides good security for doing the latter.) You can also mount it underneath the driver's or passenger's seats, although that leaves more of a risk of water or mud getting to it if you drive off-road or leave the top down in a rainstorm. Some people also mount them in aftermarket center consoles. All things considered, though, I'd prefer the single disc CD player, since it doesn't have the mounting problems I've mentioned above and since it's less of a target for thieves.

I've assembled a separate stereo installation FAQ with a few ideas on mounting a stereo in a '97 Wrangler.

3.3. What about getting big speakers, a big amp, and a subwoofer?

(copied from old FAQ section 3.2)
This is really only useful if you plan to set off seismometers and wake the neighbors at 1:00 A.M., as well as making yourself a target for thieves. On the other hand, it's kind of hard to hear the stereo with the top down and freeway traffic all around you. You can probably mount the amp in one of the locations mentioned above for a CD changer. Bigger speakers can also be mounted either in the sound bar (with some cutting required) or in custom speaker boxes. Subwoofers exist only to annoy people, but if you really think you need a subwoofer, do the following:

Actually, this advice is tongue-in-cheek; I bought a home theater system and found that the CD Jurassic Shift by Ozric Tentacles sounds a lot better with a subwoofer. Just do people a favor, and don't crank up the subwoofer to the point where it's blasting everyone else off the road.

3.4. Center consoles

(copied from old FAQ section 3.3)
On the first couple years of the Wrangler, the center console was optional. More recently, it's been standard equipment. The center console is nice and roomy, with plenty of space for CDs and such. Note that the lock isn't completely secure, since it's mounted in plastic. Some kids armed with a screwdriver can break it open. (In fact, this happened to me: see the next question.)

There are also plenty of aftermarket consoles sold by mail-order retailers. Tuffy consoles, in particular, are said to have a good reputation for being theft-resistant, so this may be an option if you don't want to relive my experience. Some of them also have a mounting location for the radio or CD player.

3.5. Do I need an alarm? Can you tell me something about security?

(copied from old FAQ section 3.4)
I've always hated alarms because they're obnoxious and prone to false alarms. Then, the very first night I parked in my apartment garage with the top down, someone broke open the locked center console looking for the detachable faceplate for my CD player. Fortunately, they decided not to steal the radio after they popped open the console, but I still had about $125 in damage to contend with. I wrote a separate treatise on this subject - see http://www.visi.com/~tam/tjsecurity.html . Here's some more information about security as collected from a Usenet thread called "Jeeps and Thieves".

An alarm isn't a required purchase, and many people are safe without one. If you park on the street in an urban neighborhood, or if you park in an apartment garage where many people can get to your vehicle, you should consider an alarm. Also remember that the money spent on repairing vandalism or replacing lost equipment is less money you'll have available for big tires, a winch, and other off-road accessories.

If you do decide to get an alarm, get one with an interior motion sensor so if anyone gets into your Jeep with the top down, it will go off. You might also want a model that beeps a few times to warn people away, instead of going into its full-blown 3 minute alarm cycle right away.

3.6. Can I switch from a soft top to a hard top, or a hard top to a soft top? Can I replace the soft top?

There are several companies that sell aftermarket soft tops for the Wrangler. Typical prices range from $300 for the budget-range tops to $500 or $600 for the fancier, more expensive soft tops. If you need the soft upper door pieces, they are also available, but the price goes up by about $150 or so, roughly. The aftermarket catalogs contain pages and pages of soft tops.

Aftermarket hard tops come in several different configurations. Again, the aftermarket catalogs have plenty of pages of hard tops, with prices ranging from $1300 to $1800, roughly. They also offer hard upper doors for somewhere around $550 to $600 for a set.

Mopar (the parts arm of DaimlerChrysler) also sells brand-name Wrangler soft tops and hard tops. Prices for hard tops seem to be similar to those of the aftermarket retailers, but soft tops seem to be more expensive. You'll want to compare features as well as price when deciding who to buy a top from.

3.7. How do I get the hard top off if I don't have four friends to help out?

Again, the aftermarket retailers have come to the rescue. You can buy a hard top hoist for around $150, which will allow you to lift the top right off the Jeep and suspend it somewhere in your garage. (Or a conveniently placed tree, if you don't have a garage.)

3.8. How do I wire up a tail light for towing?

The Wrangler owner's manual says that you need an approved wiring harness that connects to the appropriate point in the Jeep. Attaching the wiring directly to the vehicle's lighting system could cause problems. Mopar sells this wiring harness for about $38, and aftermarket retailers sell these harnesses for about $20. According to a thread on jeepforum.com, the plugs for the wiring harness are located in the right rear corner of the body tub, between the rear bumper and fender well. The wiring harness kit should have instructions and diagrams as well.