Everything You Need to Know About Sunroof and Moonroof Repairs

A sunroof or moonroof is the glass window located on the roof of your car, usually loaded in the center of the vehicle. It can let fresh air in as you drive or are just sitting in the car. You can choose a sunroof that retracts the roof or goes beneath the interior headliner. Sunroofs/moonroofs have risen in popularity over the years and have become somewhat of a novelty item.

Everything You Need to Know About Sunroof and Moonroof Repairs

Sunroofs & Moonroofs – an Overview

Sunroofs and moonroofs are great additions to a car because they allow you to get in more fresh air while you drive. Having the sunroof open is also less distracting than having the windows down and having the wind blow directly into your face. Sunroofs are never really needed in a car, but they can be a great addition both cosmetically and functionally. They can be found in many different vehicles, including new and old models. Unfortunately, sunroofs usually cannot be put into a car, so you will need to buy one with it if you want one in your vehicle.

There are many different sunroofs, but there is only one kind of fixed sunroof, which is called a pop-up. This is when the panel of glass tilts upward on a hinge. It’s usually manual or they have electric motors and can be removed from the car if you choose.

Black Tinted Pop-up Sunroof

Different Types of Sunroofs/Moonroofs:

  • Sliding sunroofs are more common, and there are many different types of them that you might find in the car.
  • Spoiler sunroofs are a combination of a pop-up and sliding sunroof. It will tilt up to open the sunroof glass and then slide back along the roof when you close it.
  • Panoramic sunroofs are also popular, and they tilt and slide open further than a spoiler sunroof.
  • Solar sunroofs have an opaque glass panel, differentiating them from the other types listed above. In addition, the photovoltaic solar panel cells are unique with inner ventilation from stored solar electricity. This saves you from using the energy and battery in your car.
  • Top mounts are the last kind of sunroof glass, and they slide. It provides much more headroom inside the car, so it may be a popular choice if you are tall and need more space in the car.

Moonroofs are considered a type of sunroof, but they differ in many ways. Moonroofs are not meant to be removed from the car like many sunroofs. They still slide or tilt open, though, so you have plenty of air and sun coming in, just like with a sunroof. They are known as a “pop-up sunroof.”

Moonroofs are usually also much more tinted than sunroofs. They operate more like an extra window on top of the car and are covered with a tint to keep too much sun from coming in. It also prevents your car from becoming too hot. Most vehicles with sunroofs, though, have a covering that goes over them, so you can always close them if you don’t want the sun coming in all the time.

Most Common Problems with Sunroofs & Moonroofs

Unfortunately, sunroofs and moonroofs can have many different problems. Most of them are easy to fix, but some require you to see a professional. If you notice any issues with your sunroof, it’s better to fix it right away as you don’t want more issues in the future. You also don’t want it to get stuck open and then deal with rain or other weather conditions coming inside the car.

Leaking Sunroof

Black Sunroof on Red Car with Water Droplets

If a sunroof is closed, there should not be any water or snow coming in, furthermore, your sunroof is bound to fog up some, but it shouldn’t be an overwhelming amount. If the roof is completely closed and you feel water coming in, there is a chance of the sunroof leaking. The older your car, the more likely it is to begin leaking.

Leaking sunroofs can happen from leaves, debris, or dust that can block the draining system of the sunroof. It can also mean the rubber of the sunroof panel is damaged. You can usually look at the sunroof and see what the problem is yourself.

Broken Glass

Sunroofs are usually made with tempered glass that is tough and shatterproof. However, just like with any car window, they can break. If you have a rock or hail from a storm hitting the roof, it can break the window. High impact and high exposure can both crack the window. If your sunroof happens to get hit by a rock or something else, take it to get repaired immediately before the problem becomes worse.

Damaged Cable or Track

A sunroof should slide back and forth without making noises or stopping in the middle. If you notice the sunroof making weird noises or it won’t open or close all the way, it might be because the track or cable is damaged.

This is a common problem in older cars because the cable and tracks will wear down over time. In newer cars, though, it is a rare problem. It is also more likely to happen if you use the sunroof more often.

Motor Failure

If the sunroof will not retract or isn’t functioning correctly, it might be because the motor is failing. This is a rare problem in new and old cars, but it can happen. You usually have to get this professionally fixed, which can be expensive.

How Much Does it Cost to Repair a Sunroof / Moonroof?

The cost of repairing your sunroof or moonroof will depend on the damage you are experiencing. It will also depend on where you take the sunroof to be repaired or if you repair yourself. DIY approaches are often cheaper but might not be the best solution if you are experiencing specific problems.

Here are some rough ideas of how much a repair will cost for some of the problems we discussed above. Remember that exact pricing will depend on the parts used, the amount of labor involved, the types of repairs needed, and the repair center you go to.

  • Motor replacement: $200 to $500
  • Damaged cable/track replacement: $500 to $800
  • Moonroof glass replacement: $1,000 to $2,000
  • Sunroof glass replacement: $300 to $400
  • Drainage cleaning: $80 to $150

The type of sunroof you have will also affect the cost. The make and model of your car and the size of the sunroof can also make the price more or less. The repair person will also charge you based on the size of the sunroof, the parts and materials, the labor, and the sunroof outfitter.

  • Pop-up sunroofs are the cheapest sunroof and the most affordable to repair. The panels are usually replaced as well as the window and glass. The replacement cost is usually $250 to $750. Top mount sunroofs are much more expensive to replace and will put a dent in your wallet of about $700 to $1200.
  • Spoiler sunroofs are the same cost to fix but could be a little more depending on if all the panels need to be replaced or not.
  • Moonroofs are more expensive to fix because they have extra tinting and also have a retractable sunshade that will probably have to be fixed with the moonroof. Replacement cost usually varies from about $1,000 to $2,000.

If you choose to replace the whole window rather than just doing some repair work you can expect to be charged more. Keep in mind that reputable places may always charge more, but they are usually the better choice to ensure your vehicle is taken care of and adequately fixed.

How to Repair a Sunroof / Moonroof?

Car Service Mechanic Fixing Vehicle Sunroof

How you repair your sunroof will depend on if you have an external or internal sunroof. The repair will also depend on the problem you are experiencing. Here are the most common problems and how to fix them:

Repairing a Leaking Sunroof

If the seal is the problem:

  • You will need to patch it up with a room temperature vulcanizing (RTV). It’s a common solution to fix things in the bathroom and around the house, so you might already have some lying around. You might want to choose clear so that it blends in and people don’t notice the repair work.
  • If the seal isn’t the problem, you will need to check the drains. If the drains are clogged, there are several tips you can do DIY style to get the drains unclogged and keep your sunroof from dripping and leaking. The most popular method is the shop-vac method. Go to your local hardware store and get some plastic tubing that’s flexible and small enough to fit into the drain of the sunroof.
  • Get a clamp to hold the pipe, but don’t use glue. Instead, use the shop-vac to clean the drain by sucking up all the dirt and debris. Make sure to vacuum up all the debris on the tray as well so that it doesn’t move down into the drain and get clogged again.

The Fish-tape method also works well:

  • Get a universal speedometer cable from your local auto parts store. It’s usually not more than $10. You can use the coiled cable to bend it into the sunroof drain and push out all the debris. You might have to twist and poke the drain a few times to help you get everything pushed out.

Repairing Tracks and Cables

Preventing tracks and cables from becoming damaged can save you a bunch of money in the long run. For example, you can lubricate the sunroof slides and the cables to keep them sliding back and forth easily. However, if you see that the track or cable needs to be replaced and some lubricant will not do the trick, you might need to take the car into a repair shop and see their advice.

If you want to save money, you can watch DIY videos on YouTube to help you know how to replace the parts quickly and efficiently. You also need to ensure you buy the right tracks and cable. Contact your dealership or car repair company to see what parts you need. Buying the wrong ones can cost you money and damage the car if you install the wrong ones.

Replacement of Sunroofs and Moonroofs

Replacing the sunroof or moonroof on your own is possible with the right tools and guidance. However, it will be challenging. However, if there are superficial cracks that you need to ensure have some sort of fixing for the time being until you get to the car repairs, then it should be too hard to fix. So most people choose to get a professional to help them with the replacement. It will be more expensive, but you can ensure it’s done correctly and there won’t be any problems in the future.

Doing a botched replacement job can also affect your car warranty if you have it.

Repair or Replace?

Open Sunroof viewed from within vehicle

Choosing whether to opt for sunroof repair or replacement of the sunroof is a personal choice. If you want to save money and you feel confident in doing the procedure yourself, you can buy the repair materials and get started. Most people choose to use YouTube videos as there are often some uploaded by professional sunroof repair services agents and mechanics.

If the problem is just the deal or drains, you can easily do it yourself. If the problem is cracks or scratches, you might want to consider it getting professionally repaired. Depending on the depth and size of the crack, it will need a completely new sunroof.

Small mechanical problems can be repaired with a DIY approach without needing to get a whole new glass and panels.


Having a sunroof or moonroof in your car can leave you with many pleasurable experiences. Though repairs should take place at some other time, many of the repairs can be done at home, but replacements and serious repairs often need to be done by a professional so that you don’t have more serious problems in the future.

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