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Unread 12-10-2010, 10:55 AM   #1
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Hardtop wiring: converting plugs to match different years

I see a lot of questions about using different year TJ hardtops on TJ's and how to deal with the wiring differences, so here's some information on how to swap the plugs from one year style to another for maybe $1 a plug with no cutting of wires, splicing or soldering.

Electrically, there are several versions of the hardtop and factory tub wiring. For 97-00, the wiring uses a 10-position plug, and the circuits in the plug include interior lighting. For 01-02, the same 10-position plug was used, but officially the lighting circuit was dropped, so depending on when your Jeep and hardtop went down the assembly line you may or may not have the lighting circuit in the factory plugs. For 03 and later, the factory switched to a 6-position plug, again with no lighting circuit.

Both the later 6-position and early 10-position plugs are from the same manufacturer's plug "family", so if you have a top from a different year than your Jeep you can easily make them compatible by swapping the pins from one style plug housing to the other. No soldering or splicing of wires is required.

Depending on what year you're trying to convert from/to and whether you want to convert the hardtop side or the tub side, you'll need to get the correct plug housings to swap the pins into.

Photo 1: Compatible plugs pulled from other vehicles at the Pick-n-Pull junkyard. At the top is an 03-06 plug, it came from the power seat motor of a Dodge Durango. You'll find it under the seat.

Next, the lime green one, is a 97-02 compatible plug, it came from under the passenger side of the dash of an XJ Cherokee.

The two at the bottom are also 97-02 compatible, they came from under the hood of a Dodge Neon.

My local yard charges about $1 per plug.

Photo 2: Shows the "business ends" of the 10-position plug. On the left is the female side (the tub side) and on the right is the male side (hardtop side). The inside views of the later model 6-position plugs are similar.

Photo 3: Now we'll get down to the business of removing the pins. The first step is to remove the weatherseal retainer. There are two versions of these plugs, with and without the weatherseal. If the plug you've got doesn't have the weatherseal, skip this step and the next one. Pry off the cover with a small screwdriver and slide it along the wires out of the way.

Photo 4: Next, remove the weatherseal with a small screwdriver. Slide it along the wire out of the way as well..

Photo 5: Here's a closeup of the inside of the male plug. Notice this one isn't "fully populated", it only has 9 pins, some of the ones you'll find in other vehicles are like that. No problem, we're only going to use the new housings from the junkyard plugs anway, we're going to insert the factory pins from the hardtop or tub wiring into the new housings).

Photo 6: The pin cap needs to be removed, that's the red plastic part. Using needle-nose pliers, grab the "handle" that sticks out on the cap and pull it out of the housing.

Photo 7: Now the pins can be removed. Before you remove any, you should probably label the wires so you can put them into the new housing in the right locations. You may need three hands, so it's easiest to put the plug in a vise. If you closely inside the plug housing, you'll see a retaining clip that holds the pin in place. In this photo, I've moved the retaining clip so that the pin is no longer held in by the clip.

Photo 8: With the retaining clip held back, just pull the pin out. Should come out very easily.

Photo 9: The steps for the female side are the same - first pull out the blue pin cap with needle-nose pliers.

Photo 10: Similar pin retaining clips will be found inside the female plug, so using a tiny screwdriver push them back and pull out the pins. In this photo I've got a clip pushed back so the pin is ready to be pulled out.

So once you've go the pins out of the factory plug you wish to change, and you've got junkyard housings with pins removed to change to, all you've got to do is insert the pins on the factory wiring into the new housings. This drawing shows the pin locations:

Reassembly is the reverse of disassembly, don't forget to reinstall the pin caps and if your plugs had them, the weather seals.

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Unread 12-10-2010, 11:56 AM   #2
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Excellent write-up!
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Unread 12-10-2010, 12:21 PM   #3
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You are an asset. Thank you!
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Unread 12-10-2010, 12:42 PM   #4
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This is a fantastic write up. Wish I had it about a month ago. I was splicing away!!
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Unread 12-10-2010, 01:45 PM   #5
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Great write-up!

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Unread 12-10-2010, 01:56 PM   #6
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Very nice.

Added to the FAQ in multiple places.
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Unread 12-14-2010, 06:11 PM   #7
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wonder if someone can do me a favor. where i live there are no pull your own part places. if you need a connector you are expected to buy the whole harness and pay tons of money for it. If someone is going to get connectors could they possibly grab me the appropriate ones for the 03-06 wiring? I need to the side that would be on the vehicle, but would prefer to have both pieces in case the top has issues. The previous owner of my jeep obviously didnt understand how the latching mechanism works and broke it. this causes the plug to come just loose enough that my rear wiper stops working.

I would gladly cover the cost of the parts, plus shipping, and throw in some money for a six pack for your troubles.

thanks in advance to anyone that can help
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Unread 01-28-2011, 09:44 PM   #8
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thank you so much to whoever wrote this!!! you have just saved my mental sanity.
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Unread 01-28-2011, 09:59 PM   #9
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Thank God I procrastinate at times....I actually need to do some more harness mods and had put it off. This is an excellent thread!
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Unread 02-06-2011, 04:08 PM   #10
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I've been putting this off on my '03 with a '02 hardtop. The price I got online was wayyyy out of budget and common sense. Thanks for a great write up!
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Unread 03-03-2012, 07:08 PM   #11
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I just grabbed a hard top from an 05 Rubicon and currently own a 98 TJ Sahara.... and this is awesome! I will be heading to junk yard on monday with some dikes in my pocket to get these connectors!

Thanks to the OP for this one!

PS... this would be a very simple "adapter" product for an aftermarket manufacturer... surprised an affordable one hasn't been made. I also have the "loop" adapter for mine which I don't understand the function. I am also going to be installing a trailer wire harness for my tow package that will provide me with a four flat connector for my Boston Whaler dive boat.

Last edited by 97TJ2.5; 03-03-2012 at 07:13 PM.. Reason: adding info
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Unread 03-03-2012, 07:38 PM   #12
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For those with deeper pockets, here is a part for $90 to plug and play for the retrofit.

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Unread 03-03-2012, 09:57 PM   #13
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Resurrected just in time. I just picked up a hardtop off of a '99 for my '04. Thank you Jeff!
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Unread 03-05-2012, 02:54 PM   #14
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I just bought the proper pigtail from my local Northern California junkyard. They were going to hit me for $25 PER PIGTAIL, but I worked them on some lowballing and got out the door for $20 for 3 pigtails... I will report my success when finished with the job...
Thanks again for the write up.
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Unread 03-05-2012, 07:33 PM   #15
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more pictures

Hello again

I wanted to share my "photo journal" of my process which is slightly different than the one above, but the wire numbers match perfectly just like the one above!

My jeep (tub) is a '98 Sahara, and the top if from an '05 rubicon. Essentially this means my top has a 6 wire male plug coming out of the top and my jeep (tub) has the 10 wire female plug. So... I made a 10 wire male to a 6 wire female from a local wrecking yard.

As stated above, the yard was going to charge $25 per end on the pigtails until I protested by saying I would find roached out harnesses that were not connected to intact harnesses...

Both pigtails came from Cherokees of varying ages. Bring your tools as you may need to remove seats to get to these things. They are very tight quarters. Also check near the engine electrical and headlamps... there are some up there too.

One more thing is I did not have to "dissect" the existing plugs, because I made my own "adapter" as not to mess with factory wiring. I simply connected the wires coming out of the pigtail to the corresponding number of the other pigtail. Try to get as long of wire leads as possible to give yourself room to work.

Here you see the nice crimping work of a hamburger

Picture of the finished product

Here is the ends... no need to mess with the plug... the non used ends are dead and go nowhere..

This was a cool little project, and thanks to the OP, I was able to pull it off.

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