Problems With Car Sunroofs: 7 Common Issues (Explained)

A sunroof is one interesting feature of cars today. It makes your ride airy by adding an extra boost of sunlight through the open top.

However, this add-on feature also has its weaknesses. 

This article has compiled major weaknesses that come with sunroofs and how to maintain vehicles that have the feature. For other options, explore some affordable cars without roofs.

What Is a Sunroof In a Car?

A sunroof is a panel on the top of a car that can be slid back or removed to allow light or air into the vehicle. Most times, the panel matches the color of the car.

You’ve also probably heard of the word “Moonroof”. They are almost similar as they both allow for air and sunlight, but there’s a major difference between them.

A moonroof is a type of sunroof, but usually comes in a tinted glass panel. It looks like an extra window on the rooftop.

A moonroof can not be removed totally from the vehicle as it tilts open slightly rather than slid into a hidden compartment like a sunroof. It allows just light without other elements entering it.

With that in mind, explore some popular electric cars with moonroofs.

There are three major types of sunroofs, including:

  1. Panoramic sunroof: This comes in a large glass that runs from the front to the back of the roof.
  2. Sliding sunroof: As the name implies, it is designed to slide backward and forward.
  3. Tilting sunroof: The panel is lifted up and down to open or close the sunroof.

Common Problems You May Likely Experience If Your Car Has a Sunroof

Here are some problems you might experience with your car’s sunroof:

1. Causes Water Leakage

Water leakage is a very common problem that comes with having a sunroof. Some common causes are clogged drain tubes, worn-out seal rubbers, or a broken pan assembly.

Ordinarily, the drain tubes lead water out of the car. If it becomes clogged with dirt or debris, the water in the tray leaks into the cabin. These drain tubes exist because sunroofs are not tightly sealed.

The drain tubes catch the remnant water and divert it out of the vehicle. Leakage into vehicles can cause tremendous damage to the electrical system of the car and mess up the entire cabin.

2. Makes Car Interior Hotter

As we enjoy the light and air that comes from the sunroof, it could also turn the interior into a literal oven.

The windshield and the seats get heated when direct sunlight irradiates the cabin through the sunroof, which makes it very uncomfortable when driving.

Luckily, some sunroofs have a cover that slides over them. You can avoid this situation by pulling this cover to stop the direct sunlight from getting into your cabin.

3. Increases Vehicle’s Center of Gravity 

The sunroof feature in a car makes it heavier because it has so many parts, like the glass panel, the reinforced framework and electrical motors to make it function.

These extra components make the top much heavier, and it raises the car’s center of gravity. 

The lower your car’s center of gravity, the better the balance of the vehicle. Adding a sunroof to a car gives it a higher center of gravity, which reduces stability when driving under less-than-ideal road conditions.

4. Degrades Car Interior

 Asides from sunlight heating up your interior from point two, it also causes a significant fade in the cabin. For cars with sleek leather or plastic seating, leaving your sunroof open can pose a threat to their health and appearance.

UV rays from the sun will fade the interior quicky. It is best to cover the roof in the summer. 

5. Increases Cost of Cars

A car with a sunroof has a higher upfront price than other vehicles. If you plan to buy a car with a sunroof feature, be prepared to spend extra.

If you live in extremely cold or hot regions, buying a car with a sunroof may be of no advantage to you because you rarely use it in frigid environments.

Also, it is important to consider the cost of repairing a sunroof if it gets damaged. Repairing a totally broken sunroof can be very expensive because it is difficult to fix.

You will need a skillful professional to handle it. If not, there will be water leakage and increased car noises. 

Related: 9 Popular Cars Without Sunroofs (With Pictures)

6. High Fuel Consumption 

The increased weight of the vehicle takes a toll on its fuel efficiency.

A standard sunroof installed on a sedan can weigh up to 70 pounds, which can increase fuel usage. Also, if you drive with the sunroof open, it pulls more energy to roll against the air pressure.

This can put a strain on your engine and consume your fuel faster than you think.

7. Easy to Broken Into

There have been several cases where people have been robbed through their sunroof, as it provides easier access to the vehicle.

It could also be that the owners forgot to close their sunroofs before leaving the car. Not only can they be robbed, anything else can enter the interior like insects, critters and even moisture.

Related: 8 Common Problems With High Mileage Cars (Explained)

General Maintenance of Sunroofs

As you enjoy the benefits a sunroof provides to your car, it is crucial to understand the maintenance tips to ensure you get these benefits:

Have a Cleaning Routine

Accumulated dirt or debris can scatter the working process of your sunroof. Cleaning your sunroof regularly should be on your monthly to-do list.

However, before you jump into the process, consult your vehicle’s manual to see the specified maintenance tips for the car. Asides from the laid down instructions, there are some other general tips that can keep the health of your sunroof. They include:

  1. Use a natural cleaning agent to wash the glass and avoid cleaning agents that contain ammonia or vinegar.
  2. Wipe on the glass and the sides with a soft washcloth. A microfiber works best.
  3. Use a vacuum to remove accumulated or stubborn dirt.
  4. If the moving parts are sticky, find a heat-resistant lubricant and apply it to such areas.

Watch Out for the Sunroof Drain 

This is one important component that most car owners forget to maintain or are totally ignorant of its existence. The drain keeps water out of your vehicle.

They run inside the sunroof to drain the water out. To avoid a clogged sunroof drain, take the following steps below:

  1. Locate the drain holes. The front drain is usually at the exit area of the door jamb under the vehicle.
  2. Remove any dirt around this drain line.
  3. Open the sunroof and pour a small quantity of water along the drain hole to push any dirt stuck in there.
  4. You can also blow air into the drains to flush out dirt.

Perform a Detailed Annual Care

Automakers recommend taking your sunroof to experts yearly to perform a thorough cleaning process. It is even more crucial for people living in dusty areas who might want to schedule it quarterly.

Replace the Seals

Your sunroof is most likely equipped with rubber seals to keep them firm and tight. Over time, wear and tear can weaken these seals.

The common sign of this problem is water leakage and when this happens, you know it’s time to replace these seals.

Luckily, this process is easy. For minor damage, you can simply apply liquid electrical tape over the seal. This seal acts as a waterproof barrier. Test your work by pouring water over the seal. If there is still leakage, consult your professional.

Listen for Any Weird Sound

Strange noises like squeaking, scrapping or grinding are big signs there’s a problem with your vehicle, and fortunately, sunroofs are not excluded from this major warning.

A weird noise with your sunroof might mean some parts need to be lubricated or replaced. Urgently lubricate the moving parts of the sunroof. If the noise doesn’t die away, consult your professional to sort it out.

Related: 3 Popular Electric Cars With Opening Sunroof (With Prices)

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