Install: Bestop Core Doors On A JK Wrangler

For many people, one of the big draws to owning a Jeep Wrangler is the option to remove the top and doors for an open-air adventure. Looking back at the history of the iconic Jeep, enclosing the cab was a blatant afterthought for the vast majority of the models. Bestop began making convertible soft tops in 1954 for the aftermarket.

As necessity deemed it, soft doors, soft tops and hard tops slowly emerged from the Jeep factory. As time wore on and more enthusiasts made the vehicle’s road driving more frequent, closing the cab and protecting occupants from the weather became more prevalent. Metal half doors became standard when the YJ Wrangler hit the dealer lots. Hardtops and full steel doors were around but not common.

Somewhere near the middle of the 1997 to 2006 model year TJ Wrangler production run, full steel doors became the dominant door option, even on soft-top models. Extending into the JK Wrangler, half doors switched to an option that had to be checked when ordering. Along that same time, hardtops also took a grip on the majority of production vehicles. To this day, nearly two years after launch, the JL Wrangler still does not have a factory half door option.

Full steel doors are great. Easy to roll the windows down for tolls and drive-thrus but they lack the open-air feel. They are bulky and cumbersome to remove frequently. Panels must be opened, plugs have to be disconnected, and then you have to find a place to store them.

Aftermarket half doors have been available for decades. Most were fabric for many years. The aftermarket started selling steel doors, though they never had the full fit and finish of OEM doors. Enter Bestop and the Core Doors.

A Revolution

Bestop’s Core Doors are everything we love about the modern Jeep. More than just clean and stylish, they are extremely versatile. Bestop has dominated the Jeep soft top aftermarket for so long, as well as being the primary supplier of soft tops to Jeep since 1986, that they are the standard by which everything else is judged. It is no different when it comes to their hard parts.

“The Bestop Product Development team was challenged to reimagine and revolutionize what an ideal product could be in the aftermarket door space.” Explain Eric Getzschman, Director of Product Development at Bestop. “As Jeep enthusiasts ourselves, we were thrilled to accept this challenge!”

“We looked at the industry as a whole only to find a lot of similar products, so we turned our attention to adjacent markets to offer inspiration for a unique design execution,” Getzschman continued. “A tremendous amount of work and several design iterations went into this project to deliver the key attributes we were looking for. We are extremely happy with the design, function, and quality of the Core Doors and Twill Uppers. All of the positive feedback and the demand for more model fitments, tells us that our challenge of re-imagining and revolutionizing a product was a success!”

Core Doors are the first one-piece cast aluminum door in the Jeep Wrangler aftermarket. Through ingenious design, Core Doors act as a fully sealed half door, that quickly converts to a free airflow trail door. The doors follow the exact contours of the JK Wrangler OEM door openings and have a full weather seal. Core Doors are a true all-season upgrade to your Jeep.

The real kicker that makes the Core Doors ready for any weather and situation is that they are fully compatible with OEM upper half doors and Bestop’s Twill Upper Doors. “Twill fabric is a thicker, more premium fabric with thicker windows.” Explained Cassie Hughes, Marketing Specialist for Bestop. Twill is made up of a triple layer combination with impeccable UV resistance and overall durability.

Prepping for the Install

We got our hands on a set of Core Doors with Twill uppers to give you a peek into them. The first step is to disconnect the wiring of the OEM doors from the Jeep. Each door has a single plug near the door strap. Non-powered window vehicles also have a wired bundle that is part of the door notification system built into the Jeep.

The front connector is under against the kick panel, under the dash. There is a small red safety clip on the connector that needs to be pushed to the side, then the plug can be disconnected. The rear connector goes behind the plastic of the B-pillar. Move the front seat forward and remove the access panel. The rear connector has the same style red safety clip. This area is also where the check strap for the rear door is removed and reinstalled.

If you intend to run mirrors on the Core Doors, make sure to get the Mirror Cups from Bestop prior to installing. OEM and aftermarket mirrors can be bolted directly to the doors. Non-power OEM mirrors are a direct removal by unbolting the two Torx bolts.

Power mirrors, including defrost, require the door panel to be removed so the wiring can be unplugged. Alternatively, Bestop offers replacement power and non-power mirrors, allowing the OEM doors to remain intact. Bestop recommends the mirrors are installed after the door is hanging on the hinges of the vehicle as well as to make sure to remove the door check strap as well.

If reusing the OEM mirrors, carefully remove the door panel to gain access to the power mirror wiring. Disconnect the wiring and unbolt the mirror from the door.

OEM Door Removal

Before pulling the doors, determine where they will be stored. The painted edge of the door is the lowest point and can be damaged if not careful. Many aftermarket companies have door storage solutions.

Pulling each door is relatively simple. There are two cap nuts on the hinges that are removed with a Torx bit. Save the nuts to reuse on the Core Doors and then on the OEM doors if you plan to reinstall them. If the doors have never been removed before and/or you have never removed any doors, have patience.

Once fully disconnected, remove the doors by carefully lifting them up and out of the OEM hinges. Have a safe place to put them set before removing the doors.

With the nuts removed and the door open, firmly pull the door up while slightly pivoting the door back and forth. Do not pull too hard, it is a tight fit but when the hinge releases, you do not want to throw it into the air accidentally.

Repeat steps on all doors being swapped for Core Doors.

Installing the Core Doors

Bestop Core Door come preassembled with hinges and latch mechanism. Slide the hinge pins of the Core Door into the OEM hinges, starting with the top. Firmly press the door down until the door is seated. Close and latch the door to make sure everything is aligned.

The Core Doors are designed as a perfect replacement for the OEM doors. They fit directly to the OEM hinges and feature a seal between the door and body when closed.

Reinstall the check straps to make sure the new doors do not contact and damage the vehicle body. Installing mirrors on to Core Doors is simple. A panel on the interior side of the Core Door is removed, the Mirror Cup is installed and the panel is reinstalled. The mirror then feeds through the exterior side and is bolted on from the interior side. Repeat steps on all doors.

Bestop Core Doors are compatible with both OEM and aftermarket mirrors, giving installers the option to reuse the mirrors their vehicle came with or the option to purchase an additional set just for the Core Doors.

Twill Upper Half Doors And Lower Door Panels

Having removable upper half doors is a quick and easy way to get that classic Jeep open-air feel. Bestop’s Twill Upper Doors come with stabilizer grommets that are slid into the tops of the Core Doors. The upper then slides down into the grommets. Press firmly to make sure it is fully seated. Close the door to check fitment. Repeat all steps and stand back to admire the new upgrade!

Grommets are installed into the door, then the Twill Upper Half Door is slid down into the door for a snug and sealed fit.

One of the huge benefits of the Core Doors is the ability to go from a fully sealed door to a trail door in seconds. The sealed lower panel is held on with eight toggles that require no tools. From the interior side of the door, twist the toggles and lift out the panel.

A big feature of the Core Doors is the removable panel. The sealed panel is easily removed to allow even more airflow and visibility on the trail and road.

Overview

Bestop Core Doors are a revolutionary way to get more functionality and fun out of your Jeep. The cast-aluminum doors and/or the lower panel can be colored to match any design you wish or left alone with the provided durable finish. Each Core Door comes with a lockable latch for extra security and a smoothly integrated interior latch. To find out more about Bestop’s Core Doors, visit their website.

About the author

Jake Headlee

Jake's passion started at a young age wrenching on cars with his Dad. Obtaining that glorious driver's license sparked his obsession with grease and horsepower, and the rest is history. Soon, he was a general mechanic and suspension specialist, and currently designs and modifies products for the off-road industry. Jake enjoys rock crawling, desert racing and trail running, and writing in his spare time.
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