By Jim Cipolla & Neil Rosenberg
Proper care and maintenance of your sunroof is important in preserving its appearance and operational longevity. Upkeep couldn't be simpler, given today's modern manufacturing processes, materials, and technology! By following the manufacturers instructions (usually found in your warranty card), your sunroof will provide many years of service… and probably outlast your car or truck!
Pop-Up • Tilt-&-Slide • Internal Sliding • Folding • Topslider • Removable Panel • Conclusion
Pop-up sunroofs vent in the rear, and have a removable glass panel. They require little maintenance, except for regular cleaning.
Start with the gasket, which is the seal between the glass and the main body of the sunroof. The days of tired, worn, rubber gaskets are a thing of the past. Sunroofs today use long lasting high tech materials like silicone and EDPM rubber which resist UV and other damaging effects that Mother Nature dishes out! Clean the gasket at least twice a year with a clean, damp, lint free cloth. Occasionally, use a mild detergent solution, depending on conditions in your area (i.e. dust, leaves, salt etc.), followed by a rinse using a new cloth and fresh clean water. NEVER apply mineral oil, petroleum jelly or vinyl dressing to your gasket. Occasional application of light silicone lubricating spray may be fine if recommended by the manufacturer.
The glass panel should be cleaned with a non-ammonia glass cleaner and lint free cloth. Occasionally, hard water spots can build up on the glass which are easily removed with household white vinegar and a soft cloth. Handle the glass panel with care when removing or reinstalling. Tempered glass can easily shatter if scratched or chipped. Always inspect your glass when cleaning. When removed, the glass panel should be carefully protected in a padded sunroof storage bag or wrapped in a blanket.
The sunroof main frame, (the frame around the glass, on the vehicle roof) may have one of several types of finish. A smooth surface is usually electro-static powdercoat paint, and needs little more than normal car-wash cleaning and an occasional application of car wax to maintain its luster. A textured frame surface is likely a composite polyamide frame which should be cleaned regularly with mild detergent. Do not wax a textured frame! A white chalky buildup on a textured frame is likely car wax which can be removed with a soft brush and mild detergent.
Your local sunroof professional can clean your sunroof, inspect the adjust the hardware and gasket and send you on your way in no time at all.
TILT-&-SLIDE SUNROOFS (Spoilers)
Tilt-&-slide or spoiler sunroofs vent like a pop-up, then slide open over the roof of the vehicle. Most are electrically operated. They are as easy to maintain as a pop-up. First, follow the same simple steps as a pop-up to maintain the main gasket, glass and mainframe, then maintain the drive mechanism.
Tilt-&-slide sunroofs have cable drive system to operate the panel. Dirt, grit, salt and debris can cause your sunroof to open or close sluggishly and may cause wear or even failure over time. A simple solution is to make sure your tracks are clean and clear of debris, dirt, etc... Inspect the tracks and remove any debris or dirt by hand, followed by gently wiping with a clean cloth until the surface is clean. Follow your manufacturers instruction for lubricating the tracks and drive. Most recommend annual application of white lithium grease to maintain smooth operation of the drive system. Consider a visit to your local sunroof professional to inspect the motor, clean, re-lubricate and adjust the cables and track according to manufacturers specifications!
INTERNAL SLIDING SUNROOFS (moonroof or inbuilt)
This type of sunroof is usually found in luxury vehicles, although is also common among imports. The sunroof panel lowers and glides between the outside roof and headliner of the vehicle with the push of a button! Most have glass panels with a sliding panel shade, and many also include a tilt up vent mode. Follow the same glass frame and cable drive care instructions for a tilt-&-slide sunroof, then open the sunroof and maintain the inside.
Internal sunroofs lack the thick, smooth mainframe gasket found in pop-ups and tilt-&-slide sunroofs. Instead you'll usually find a soft thin fuzzy seal surrounding the glass and/or mainframe. This seal is designed to eliminate wind noise, not stop water. Inspect this seal and have it replaced by your local sunroof professional if it shows excessive wear.
A trough around the inside perimeter of the sunroof catches the water and channels it away to the ground through concealed drain tubes! This is called a water management system. Most leaks occur because debris builds up in the trough, clogging the drain holes (found in the corners), thus preventing drainage through the tubes. Sound confusing? It's really not! With the sunroof completely retracted, look inside to see the trough. Clean any dirt and remove debris with a damp cloth. Next, examine the drain holes to verify they are clear of any obstruction which may prevent water from draining through.
In some cases the drain tubes may be clogged and require a clean-out. Though the process is rather simple, usually a blast of compressed air and a long “pipe cleaner,” we highly recommend visiting your local sunroof professional! Improper cleaning or too much force may cause the drain tubes to detach, which would allow water to run directly into your vehicle. While you're there, your local sunroof professional can to re-lubricate and adjust the cables and track according to manufacturers specifications!
Folding sunroofs, often called rag-top sliders, are characterized by their fabric or vinyl top cover which slides open like an accordion to reveal an enormous aperture. This top cover usually comes in contact with the vehicle roof to form a watertight seal, rather than using a gasket like other sunroof types.
Like all sunroofs, cleanliness is the most important factor in maintaining the sunroof. Keep the vehicle roof clean and waxed. Do not use harsh chemicals to clean or dress the topcover material - most manufacturers recommend mild detergent and occasional application of good quality all weather vinyl dressing.
The track and slides are more exposed than other sunroofs, and should be kept clean and greased regularly. Open the top to reveal the track. Clean track with cotton swabs or a soft cloth, then lubricate according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
Some models are cable driven and may require more care, as well as an occasional adjustment. Your local sunroof professional may be better suited to the task.
Topslider sunroofs slide open in rails over the roof of the vehicle. Most include an integral wind deflector. They may be manual or electrically operated. Follow the same simple maintenance steps as a pop-up for cleaning of the main gasket, glass and mainframe. Clean the acrylic wind deflector with mild detergent solution and soft, lintfree cloth. The main gasket may also require regular application of light silicone spray lubricant (check manufacturer's specifications).
The track and drive mechanism should be kept clean and clear of debris, dirt, etc... Inspect the tracks and remove any debris or dirt by hand, followed by gently wiping with a clean cloth until the surface is clean. For manual units, keep the track channel clean - do not lubricate. Electric or manual cable drive systems may require annual application of white lithium grease in the maintain smooth operation of the drive system. Consider a visit to your local sunroof professional to inspect the motor, clean, re-lubricate and adjust the cables and track according to manufacturers specifications!
Removable panel sunroofs offer only two positions, on or off, and have no complicated drive mechanisms. The panel(s) may be transparent (glass or plastic) or opaque (metal or fiberglass). Clean the outside as you would the rest of your vehicle, then remove the panel(s) to clean the edges. The latches and locks may need occasional lubrication or adjustment, which is best left to a sunroof professional.
Most important on removable panel sunroofs is care and maintenance of the gasket around the perimeter of the opening. Clean the gasket at least twice a year with a clean, damp, lint free cloth. Occasionally, use a mild detergent solution, depending on conditions in your area (i.e. dust, leaves, salt etc.), followed by a rinse using a new cloth and fresh clean water. NEVER apply mineral oil, petroleum jelly or vinyl dressing to your gasket. Occasional application of light silicone lubricating spray may be fine if recommended by the manufacturer.
When removed, the panel(s) should be carefully protected a padded sunroof storage bag or wrapped in a blanket.
Today’s sunroofs are designed with modern technology and materials to provide years of trouble-free enjoyment. All too often, sunroofs become a problem due to neglect! The single most important factor in keeping your sunroof operating like new is keeping it clean inside and out.
Visit your local sunroof professional for an annual tune-up to clean and adjust your sunroof. Whether it’s factory installed or aftermarket, regular care and preventive maintenance will keep you enjoying that refreshing open-air feeling that only a sunroof can provide!
Pop-Up • Tilt-&-Slide • Internal Sliding • Folding • Topslider • Removable Panel • Top of Page
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