How to Troubleshoot a Power Moon Roof That Won't Open

A moon roof is an opening on top of a vehicle’s roof which allows light or fresh air to enter the cabin compartment of the vehicle. The moon roof may be manually or automatically operated according to the type of vehicle and the design.

A moon roof can be enjoyed if the vehicle is moving at a slow speed, but when the vehicle begins to have excessive speed, air blowing into the cab will become intense and uncomfortable.

Power moon roofs tend to fail with either the switch breaking down or the electric motor stop working.

If the power moon roof is not opening, it could be damaged by one of the following:

  • Tracks are clogged
  • Cable broke
  • Electric motor quits working
  • Failed moon roof switch

Part 1 of 4: Diagnosing the tracks that are clogged on the moon roof

Preparing the vehicle to check tracks that are clogged on the moon roof

Materials Needed

  • Flashlight
  • Wheel chocks

Step 1: Park your vehicle on a flat, hard surface. Make sure that the transmission is in park (for automatics) or in first gear (for manuals).

Step 2: Place wheel chocks around the rear tires that will be remaining on the ground. Engage the parking brake to the lock the rear tires from moving.

Checking the condition of the tracks that are clogged on the moon roof

Step 1: Locate the damaged moon roof. Try to open the moon roof. Use a flashlight and look in the tracks of the moon roof to see if there is any debris, dirt, or harden grease.

**Step 2: Use a screwdriver and a degreaser cleaner to remove the the debris, dirt, or hardened grease from the tracks.

Step 3: Try to operate the moon roof again. The moon roof should move - if it doesn't there may be a further cleaning or diagnosis needed.

Cleaning up after performing the diagnosis

Step 1: Collect all tools and place them out of the way. Remove the wheel chocks from the rear wheels and put the aside.

Part 2 of 4: Diagnosing the moon roof for a broken cable

Preparing the vehicle to check the moon roof for a broken cable

Materials Needed

  • Flashlight
  • SAE/metric wrench set
  • Wheel chocks

Step 1: Park your vehicle on a flat, hard surface. Make sure that the transmission is in park (for automatics) or in first gear (for manuals).

Step 2: Place wheel chocks around the rear tires that will be remaining on the ground. Engage the parking brake to the lock the rear tires from moving.

Checking the condition of the moon roof for a broken cable

Step 1: Try to open the moon roof.

Step 1: Locate the damaged moon roof. Take a Phillips screwdriver and remove the two screws that are at the front edge of the sliding headlining panel on the inside of the headlining.

Step 2: Look at the cable. Use a flashlight and look in the sides of the moon roof to see if the cable is broken.

  • Note: If the moon roof cable is broken but you cannot fix it right now, then you will need to put the headlining panel back on.

Part 3 of 4: Diagnose the electric motor if it quits working

Preparing the vehicle to check for the electric motor if it quits working

Materials Needed

  • Flashlight
  • Nine volt battery saver
  • SAE/metric wrench set
  • Wheel chocks

Step 1: Park your vehicle on a flat, hard surface. Make sure that the transmission is in park (for automatics) or in first gear (for manuals).

Step 2: Place wheel chocks. Put wheel chocks around the rear tires that will be remaining on the ground. Engage the parking brake to the lock the rear tires from moving.

Checking the condition of the electric motor if it quits working

Step 1: First check to see if the fuse to the moon roof motor switch is okay by locating the fuse panel and pulling out the fuse with needle nose pliers. If the fuse is okay, then you will need to disconnect the power to the vehicle to check the motor.

Step 1: Install a nine volt battery saver into your cigarette lighter. This will keep your computer live and keep your setting current in the vehicle. If you do not have a nine volt battery saver, that okay.

Step 2: Open the vehicle’s hood to disconnect your battery. Take the ground cable off of the battery’s negative post disabling the power to the moon roof motor.

Step 3: Unzip the headliner access. Remove the three wire plug from the motor. remove the long cable joining the motor to the driver. Then remove the two nuts that hold the motor in place.

Step 4: Remove the motor and check the connections. Look at the contacts where the wires connected to the motor. Check to see if there is any debris or corrosion. Try turning the shaft on the motor to see if it turns. If it does not turn, then the motor is probably jammed inside. If the motor turns, the contacts may be burned inside the motor.

  • Note: If the moon roof cable is broken but you cannot fix it right now, then you will need to put the motor back on, hook up the cable to it, hook up the three wire plug back onto the motor, and hook up the battery cable.

Part 4 of 4: Diagnose the a moon roof failed switch

Preparing the vehicle to check for the moon roof failed switch

Materials needed to perform the job

  • Flashlight
  • Flat tip screwdriver
  • Nine volt battery saver
  • SAE/metric socket set
  • Torx bit set
  • Wheel chocks

Step 1: Park your vehicle on a flat, hard surface. Make sure that the transmission is in park (for automatics) or in 1st gear (for manuals).

Step 2: Place wheel chocks around the rear tires that will be remaining on the ground. Engage the parking brake to the lock the rear tires from moving.

Checking the condition of the moon roof failed switch

Step 1: First check to see if the fuse to the moon roof motor switch is okay by locating the fuse panel and pulling out the fuse with needle nose pliers. If the fuse is okay, then you will need to disconnect the power to the vehicle to check the motor.

Step 1: Install a nine volt battery saver into your cigarette lighter. This will keep your computer live and keep your setting current in the vehicle. If you do not have a nine volt battery saver, that ok.

Step 2: Open the vehicle’s hood to disconnect your battery. Take the ground cable off of the battery’s negative post disabling the power to the moon roof switch.

Step 3: Locate the moon roof switch on the dashboard. Remove the switch from the dashboard and disconnect the harness from the switch.

  • Note: You may have to remove the dashboard panel to get to the switch screws or tabs.

Step 4: Look at the contacts on the switch. See if there is any debris or corrosion on the contacts. Also, look at the harness and see if there is any debris or corrosion on the contacts. If there is no debris or corrosion on the two items, then it is possible that the switch has failed electronically. Feel the switch to see if the lever on the switch is not binding or sticking.

  • Note: If the moon roof cable is broken but you cannot fix it right now, then you will need to put the motor back on, hook up the cable to it, and hook up the three wires back onto the motor.

If you need additional help in diagnosing the issue, seek help from a certified mechanic who can inspect the moon roof for you and help diagnose the problem.


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Phillip

19 years of experience
310 reviews
Phillip
19 years of experience
Saab 900 L4-2.0L Turbo - Window is not working - Roseville, California
Even though it was really hot out he was very patient and thorough in his assessments. He explained everything in detail and was very knowledgeable.
Mazda MPV - Window is not working - Davis, California
Great guy who really made sure everything the car needed got done the right way. Wouldn't hesitate to follow up with him if or when future work is needed. Highly recommended!

Jamie

22 years of experience
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Jamie
22 years of experience
Hyundai Sonata L4-2.4L - Window is not working - Alta Loma, California
Jamie was professional, reliable and polite. He was on time ans easy to work with. Quality work, would recommend.

Claud

8 years of experience
475 reviews
Claud
8 years of experience
Ford Thunderbird V6-3.8L - Window is not working - Macomb, Michigan
the diagnostic Claud made when he took the cover off my door, he could have made that same diagnostic without taking the cover off the door! It should have only taken him 15 t0 20 minutes to take the cover off and put it back on.$90 to tell me the motor and regulator need to be replace is not worst the price. I recommend you advise your customers with this problem, replace the motor and regulator, $443.00 and if it is less than that, that would be better than charging me $90.00 plus 443.00!

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8 years of experience
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Dodge Journey V6-3.6L - Window is not working - Lithonia, Georgia
Brent arrived ahead of time and did a great job on the inspection. He gave me all the information I needed to know to get my truck fixed. I enjoyed his service. I will book him again.

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