Over time, sunroofs can stop working for several reasons, including broken motors, tracks that aren’t functioning properly and shattered glass.
Kerry Brass, manager of Auto Toyz in Charlotte, North Carolina, says sunroof leaks are the most common repair he makes.
“[Leaks are] caused by leaves or other debris in the sunroof that clog up the drain system,” he says. “We can clean the drainage area and unclog the drain tubes by physically taking them out and cleaning them.”
A sunroof drain system consists of four holes — or drains — on each corner of the sunroof. Their job is to funnel water through the car and onto the road.
Brass says cleaning the sunroof’s drainage area costs about $125.
A broken track or cable — which pulls the sunroof back and forth — may require a mechanic to take out the entire sunroof assembly and replace or rebuild it, which can cost as much as $800, Brass says.
Meanwhile, Brent Heaton, president of Integrity Auto Glass in Nampa, Idaho, says the two most frequent repairs he performs are for broken glass or a busted motor.
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“Usually, something breaks the glass such as a rock flipping up off the highway,” Heaton says. “Maybe some debris blew into it during a windstorm. When you need to replace just the glass, that’s usually a pretty simple fix.”
However tempered glass is made to break into several small pieces that can fly everywhere, including inside a sunroof’s tracks and on the lubricating grease that helps the sunroof glide on the tracks.
Heaton says this can add to labor costs because technicians must remove all of the glass shards. This also means the car’s headliner needs to be partially removed to access the sunroof’s components.
“Little pieces of glass stick to the grease,” he says. “It can damage the gears. There’s lots of labor involved. You can’t have glass in the gears.”