Installing a Sunroof

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What most of us generally think of as a “sunroof” is more accurately called a “moon-roof.” Is the distinction important or just a selling pitch? It depends. The difference is actually the level of tint in the glass. So the short cut to thinking about it is that a moon-roof tends to have a sliding transparent glass panel, rather than something opaque, or with built-in SPF. What used to be called a sunroof isn’t all that popular at the moment, though it is not clear why.

It comes down to whether you need more natural light inside your vehicle or if doing so has brought in too much heat. So one possible explanation for the latest craze of moon-roofs is this. Minivans and SUV’s have a lot of windows and easily over heat the passenger space, but also have and area for the moon-roof to be where it won’t shine a ton of direct light onto any of the people in the vehicle. So with modern air conditioning no one really notices the extra work the engine does to keep it cool.

Another reason is that its possible to add tint to a moon-roof aftermarket without impacting any warranties you might have on your vehicle. So manufacturers, who don’t know how hot or cold your climate is can send them all out with clear glass and count on your dealer to offer tinting services if that’s a hot add-on in your climate.

Adding a Sunroof

Speaking of manufacturer warranties, if your car feels too hot and/or stuffy it might seem tempting to install the sunroof, especially if you have some experience with auto repairs. Be warned though that a hobby mechanic shouldn’t attempt to create a sunroof to a “normal” car (this would just create leaks and even cause damage to the interior) and would also void any warranties you might have.

Assuming you are not a hobby mechanic there are several types of sunroofs you might look at:

A pop-up sunroof is the least expensive type of sunroof. In a similar way that a house window can be kept open using a latch, the pop-up sunroof is kept in place using a hinge.

A Sliding sunroof is the more general type of sunroof, again they have a latch system but the window doesn’t rise up.

An electronic sunroof tends to be a more expensive of type of sliding roof which can be operated by the driver of the vehicle.

The first thing that needs to be done is the measure the square space on your roof. It has to be the flat part of the roof. Using the curved spaces would make for a much more expensive sunroof and most commercial sunroofs tend only to use the flat part.

Next you need to purchase a sunroof kit. For best results, chose a sunroof which is an inch smaller (that’s what the instructions say but a square inch smaller would make more sense?) than your maximum dimensions. A complete kit includes a full template, weather proofing and even wiring (if you are creating an electric sunroof).

Don’t even think about doing it from scratch—just buy a kit. Besides if you are serious about it, you probably should study pictures and look at all the steps in greater detail, which comes with the kit.

Time to Complete Installation

With proper tools, this task surprisingly takes only 60 to 90 minutes, which you might think it is a comparatively short time, but if you think about it, it doesn’t involve the engine or making “major” changes to the bodywork (such as might be needed in the case of an accident). It’s just complicated.

As placing a sunroof in a car cost about $1,000 it might seem like a cheaper option to do it yourself but consider these three benefits to hiring a professional.

  • They already have the tools and training to do it.
  • They will get it done more quickly and if they don’t, they have to keep it out of the weather.
  • You can’t KNOW that you did it wrong until months later when your interior is ruined overnight.

Perhaps the best option is buying a car with a sunroof? It’s an excuse to get a new car, in any case.

 

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