Sunroof Repair & Replacement Cost Guide

Research indicates that 37 percent of vehicles sold in the United States have a sunroof. An increasingly popular feature, a sunroof is a nice amenity that admits ventilation and light on a warm, sunny day.

When your vehicle’s sunroof is damaged or suddenly malfunctions, the overhead opening can allow precipitation to enter the passenger compartment if it is stuck in the open position. Vandalism, collisions, falling objects and other mishaps can easily damage these glass panels. When a problem occurs with a sunroof, it can be very expensive to correct.

In This Guide

Average Sunroof Repair Cost

Repair TypesCost of Parts & Labor
Cleaning Drainage Area$80 to $150
Replacing the Glass$300 to $400
Replace Broken Track or Cable$500 to 800
Replacing the Motor$200 to $500
Moonroof Replacement$1,000 to $2,000
Do it Yourself (parts only)$100 to $250

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The average cost to replace a manual pop-up sunroof ranges from approximately $250 to as high as $750. This includes parts and labor. The exact fee depends on local rates, the exact size of sunroof to be installed and the materials used. The make and model of the vehicle will also affect the cost because of any special requirements or modifications needed to make the sunroof fit and operate correctly.

A top-mount spoiler sunroof features a glass panel that tilts and slides along the outside of the vehicle’s roof. Depending on the vehicle, size and materials, this type of sunroof typically costs between $700 and $1,200 to replace, including parts and installation.

Another popular version is a moonroof, which includes a power-operated sliding glass panel that slides on rail installed between the vehicle’s metal roof and interior headliner. The most popular type of sunroof installed on new may cars is also the most expensive to replace. Replacement costs start at a $1,000 and can run as high as $2,000.

Depending upon the cause of the problem and the work needed, repairs can cost from $100 to $250 for do-it-yourself parts. Auto repair shop or a car dealership fees can range from $250 to $1,000 or more.

  • Cleaning a sunroof’s drainage area costs approximately $125.
  • Replacing the track or cable, which pulls the sunroof back and forth, may require the expertise of a mechanic to remove the complete sunroof assembly and replace or rebuild it. This work can cost up to around $800.
  • The average cost to replace sunroof glass is between $300 and $400, including parts and labor. The process takes a few hours to complete.
  • Although rare, sunroof motor failures are expensive to fix. The average cost to replace a motor runs between $200 and $500.

Not including installation fees, Detroit, Michigan’s Ameristar Auto Outfitters charges from $750 to $800 for an electric spoiler sunroof equipped with a pop-up wind deflector, a sliding sunshade and dark-tinted glass. A 20″x32″ Newport Pop-Up style Sunroof featuring a dark, removable panel is available from Sunroofs Etc. in Plymouth, MN for $500, without labor charges.

Materials Will Affect the Cost

The materials used to repair or replace a sunroof have a significant impact on cost. Inexpensive sunroofs are equipped with a dot matrix, screened panel that is designed to reflect back approximately 50 percent the sun’s heat. Models that are more expensive use a reflective glass that is comparable to a one-way mirror.

Aluminum or plastic handles and other hardware are less expensive than steel or carbon fiber. They are also less durable. Gaskets and seals manufactured from neoprene may cost less, but they may also deteriorate more rapidly when exposed to extreme weather conditions. Parts made from silicone are more expensive, but they generally last longer.

Insurance Coverage

Auto insurance policies typically do not cover a sunroof as an individual item. The glass on a vehicle is normally insured by the auto policy’s comprehensive coverage. This coverage includes the windshield, side windows and sunroof. Although they are made from glass, this part of the policy does not include damage to mirrors or headlights.

Regardless of the cause, claims for glass damage are always filed under comprehensive coverage, which only applies to glass. The collision portion of the policy covers body damage. If the car and the sunroof were damaged in a collision, the vehicle would be covered under collision portion while the comprehensive coverage would pay to replace the glass.

If the mechanical parts of the sunroof are also damaged in the accident, they would be repaired under the collision coverage unless the terms of the policy’s comprehensive coverage specifically states that it includes sunroof damage other than glass as well.

Different circumstances may require single or separate claims based on your policy.

If the sunroof’s mechanical features and glass were broken during a storm, the entire claim may be filed under comprehensive coverage. When it is damaged during a rollover accident, it may require a claim under the collision coverage to fix the sunroof support structure and a second claim under comprehensive coverage to replace the glass. Read your policy, or ask your insurance agent to explain the terms of your coverage.

How to Save Money on Sunroof Repair and Replacement

Many consumers believe that sunroof repairs cost too much. Here are some techniques that can fix the problems in the short term and save money.

  1. Use duct tape to keep the existing roof shut.
  2. Check out local junkyards for the glass panel, sun- or moon-roof for your specific year, make and model.
  3. Spend $200 on a basic replacement unit.
  4. Replace a broken motor with a used one.
  5. Replace warped or broken tracks with pre-owned ones.
  6. If mechanical parts are worn-out, buy a repair kit. The kit may be available online, at the dealer or auto supply store.
  7. Save a lot of money and aggravation by installing the parts yourself.
    Leaky sunroofs are often not difficult to fix. It just takes time, the right parts and the correct tools. After waiting a few days for the parts to arrive, I fixed mine for $150. The repair shop that services my car estimated that would cost approximately $500 to fix the problem.

Types of Sunroofs

Fixed

Pop-up sunroofs feature a hinged glass panel that tilts upward. The tilting motion provides interior ventilation. The sunroof may be opened manually or electrically. It is usually removable.

Sliding

  • Spoiler sunroofs combine the pop-up and sliding mechanisms. The tilting mechanism opens the sunroof, which then slides back on a track along the roof. Depending on the particular model, the glass panel may self-store above the roof or between the roof and the interior headliner.
  • Panoramic sunroofs utilize a multi-pane system that tilts and slides open further than a standard spoiler sunroof. The multiple panes form a single unit when closed. They retract on a slider track and stack against one another when opened. The sunroof is designed to open above the front and rear cabin simultaneously.
  • Solar sunroof use opaque glass that is inlaid with photovoltaic solar cells that can power interior inner ventilation systems from stored solar electricity. This protects the vehicle’s standard battery from discharging.
  • Top-mount sunroof panels are stored along tracks above the roof on the outside of the vehicle. It provides extra headroom inside the car.

Common Sunroof Problems

Through normal wear and tear, a sunroof can begin to leak or stop working for several reasons, including broken motors, malfunctioning tracks and shattered or chipped glass.

Leaks

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Whether it is dripping or spilling water, a leaky sunroof can make a mess and damage the interior of your car. If your sunroof retracts properly, inspect the condition of the rubber seal that works in conjunction with the sunroof panel to prevent the entry of moisture.

Check the small holes situated at the corners of the sunroof seal for clogs. These small holes, or drains, are part of the drainage system, which funnel water through the car and onto the road. Leaves, dirt and other debris can clog the drain system allowing water to enter your car. The drainage area can be wiped cleaned and drain tubes can be removed and unclogged. If the rubber seal is irreparably damaged, it must be replaced.

Broken Track or Cable

Preventing the sunroof from sliding back and forth, this malfunction may require the expertise of a mechanic who can remove the entire sunroof assembly and replace or rebuild it.

Broken Glass

Flying road debris or another falling object can break the glass. Similar to a broken windshield, a broken sunroof can detract from the appearance of your vehicle. Depending on the extent of the damage, the opening can allow dust and precipitation to enter and ruin the interior of the vehicle. Operating a vehicle with a damaged sunroof can cause distractions that create hazardous driving conditions.

Although replacing the actual glass is a simple fix, cleaning up the broken glass can be time consuming. Tempered glass is engineered to break into numerous small pieces. These shards of glass can fly anywhere, including inside the sunroof’s tracks and on the lubricant that help it slide on the tracks. This can increase labor costs because service personnel must locate and remove all of the shards before installing the new glass panel.

Motor Failure

A rare cause of sunroof issues, motor failure can prevent the panel from retracting properly. Replacing the component can be expensive.

How to Repair a Leaky Sunroof Yourself


Cleaning Drains with Metal Wire

  1. Insert a thin flexible metal rod or wire into the drain tube. A bicycle brake cable has the right diameter for this task. It also has the right amount of flex to make its way through the tubes. Clean all the drain holes that you find along the base of the sunroof.
  2. Twist the wire clockwise and counterclockwise while gently pushing it deeper into the tube. The wire should move through the tube with little resistance. This should push any small amounts of dirt, debris and other particles out of the tube as the line moves through the tube.
  3. Be careful not to damage the drain tubes. If you feel a lot of resistance even after twisting the metal wire back and forth, do not push it any further. You will need to hire a professional to clean the drain tubes.
  4. Close your sunroof and pour water over the glass. Check for leaks inside your car. If leaks are still present, proceed to the next step.

Fixing the Seal

  1. Check the sunroof seal for cracks or jagged edges. The seal may have dried out and cracked over time because of exposure to extreme temperatures.
  2. Look around the area close to the seal for any indications of pooling water or mold. Some seals can sag or lose their shape. This causes water to build up in the trough. The pooled water may eventually create holes in the seal.
  3. Apply a thick layer of black liquid electrical tape to the seal. Ensure that it covers any visible wear. The tape will dry and form a waterproof, protective barrier. Push the new tape down around the seal. Allow the tape dry according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Close your sunroof, and pour water over the top. Inspect the inside of the car again for indications of any leaks.
  5. If you still have leaks, take the vehicle to a professional service provider. If seals or drainage tubes are not responsible for the leak, a factory flaw is probably the reason for the problem. The only way to correct this issue is to install a new sunroof.

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Over to You

Had a repair or replacement done in the past? Have a quote on a job and not sure if it’s a good deal? Have a question about a particular situation? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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