When you purchase a new car, adding luxury accessories can significantly improve comfort, the driving experience, and add to resale value. One of the most popular add-on accessories is the sunroof or moonroof. Most sunroofs operate mechanically, via a system of motors, cables, and gears that will slide a piece of tempered glass open and provide exposure to the outer elements. While many of them are designed exceptionally well and built to last a long time, there are times when damage can occur.
If you’re in the market for a new car and are considering adding a new sunroof, or have one and are experiencing some issues, it’s important to understand the common repairs and possible expenses for fixing them. Make an informed choice about whether adding that cool sunroof is a smart financial decision. In the content below, we’ll outline the top 4 car sunroof repairs completed in the United States, and some of the average costs of completing them.
1. Broken Sunroof Motor
There was a time when a sunroof add-on was a manually operated system. The driver would unlock the sunroof latch and physically slide it open. When they were done driving, drivers would have to physically close the sunroof to protect the interior from exposure to elements and for security reasons. As with most technology, today’s sunroof is built for convenience. To open one, a driver simply needs to press a button and the glass panel will open. This is completed through a series of electrical components working together to power a motor — which completes the action of opening and closing the sunroof. The most common type of sunroof issue is a motor that is either damaged, has lost electrical power, or is malfunctioning due to unknown reasons.
There are a few common sources of a broken sunroof motor including:
- The internal gears inside the motor have seized-up.
- The motor operating gears have broken.
- Electrical power to the motor is cut off due to a damaged electrical relay or fuse.
- There are exposed electrical wires restricting flow to the motor.
Regardless of the source, the first step in repairing this issue is correctly diagnosing the root problems. Since there are so many variables involved, it’s hard to estimate a repair based on a sunroof motor problem. However, generally speaking, the motor itself can range from $100 to $500 with labor costs added on top. If the issue is electrical such as a blown fuse or relay, the cost of those components is minimal.
2. Leaking Sunroof
While the sunroof is intended to open on those bright sunny days, sometimes the wet weather can leak into your car from the sunroof. This introduces the second most popular sunroof repair: the leaking sunroof. Most sunroof leaks are caused by debris that can clog up the sunroof’s drainage system. A sunroof typically has four to eight independent drain tubes — usually located on the corners that must be physically removed and cleaned to resolve the problem. When those tubes become clogged by leaves, dirt and other debris, it can cause water to leak between the seals and on top of your head as you drive.
If the leak is simply caused by the clogged drainage tubes, the repairs can be rather inexpensive — typically no more than a few hundred dollars. However, if the seal is broken, it will require removal of the sunroof and replacement of the seal — which usually costs more than $500.
3. Broken Sunroof Cable or Track
The sunroof is physically manipulated via a system of cables and tracks from a motor. The track and cable work together to pull the sunroof open and closed. When one or both of these components break, it will render the sunroof useless. A broken cable or track will require the sunroof to be removed and total replacement of the sunroof assembly. This can cost more than $800 to complete.
4. Broken Glass
You’d think that broken sunroof glass would be among the top three repairs — but that’s not accurate. Sunroof glass is tempered and ‘shatter resistant’ but not shatterproof. There are times when a sunroof can be broken — such as being struck by debris while driving or objects falling on top (like tree branches). Replacing the glass itself is a rather simple process. The problem comes with removing all those tiny shards of glass. If the glass itself needs to be replaced, the cost can range from $200 to $500 for high-quality auto glass. The clean-up of the broken glass can increase that estimate significantly.
A sunroof is a complex operating system and should only be repaired by a professional technician who understands how these systems work. While it might be attractive to fix these problems yourself, doing so can cause additional damage to the sunroof and eventually a trip to a dealership or sunroof repair expert for a complete replacement. If you have a problem with your sunroof, it’s best to have a professional diagnose and repair it.