Car Care

How To Fix A Sunroof That Won’t Close All The Way

Perhaps one of the coolest accessories you can add to your car is a sunroof. Although a sunroof may come as part of a luxury car for no extra cost, some carmakers offer it as an accessory for some middle-level models.

Moreover, if your car isn’t equipped with a sunroof when you first buy it, there are a number of car accessory shops that can add an aftermarket sunroof if you want one later.

Occasionally, a sunroof won’t properly close completely. One might think that this would be a difficult fix and would depend on a professional mechanic at a dealership to handle it. Actually, if you have some do-it-yourself skills, you can do the repair and save a little cash.

A sunroof won’t properly close completely due to mechanical or electrical issues. Mechanical issues include a defective motor or a part that breaks off and blocks the track.

To fix the issue you need to have a general understanding how a sunroof works and know how to troubleshoot to determine what the exact problem is. Your knowledge of how the sunroof works will then give you an idea as to how to fix it.

Reasons Why Your Sunroof Isn’t Closing Properly

If you encounter a problem in the operation of your sunroof, then it could be a mechanical problem, an electrical issue, a misaligned panel, or problems that can cause the sunroof to twist, pop, or stick.

Mechanical problems that can occur include a bad motor, a loose cable or a broken part that is preventing the sunroof from closing correctly.

Parts of a sunroof that can break include gears, hinges or rails. A broken piece can get into the track and actually obstruct the mechanism from moving properly.

Electrical problems involve something wrong with the electric motor or the wires. Fixing this issue may be beyond your skills and will have to be done by a professional mechanic or electrician.

The problem will have to be troubleshooted to be identified and the fix could involve electrical meters, test lights, and other tools.

A panel that is not properly fitted into the track of the sunroof is misaligned and causing the roof to jam. The panel will have to be realigned to properly fit in the track.

Problems that cause the sunroof to twist, pop, or stick can be the most complicated to repair. In some cases, all you need to do is lubricate the track with heavy silicon grease. This helps prevent it from sticking and will also guard against wear.

Another reason why the track could stick are worn out or broken cables. The cables can engage with the gear of the motor. This repair is very difficult to perform. It may be best that a professional mechanic handle it.

Troubleshooting A Sunroof That Won’t Close

You will have to take the sunroof apart to properly troubleshoot it to identify why it doesn’t close properly. In most cases, the problem involves a lack of power or debris on the track.

Tools you’ll need to troubleshoot a sunroof are a screwdriver and a multimeter. You should also have a cloth to clean dirt and debris from the sunroof’s track.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Gain access to the lift arms by removing the glass from the sunroof. The lift arms follow the guides of the sunroof. Inspect the guides to see if they are stuck in the open position. If they are, use a screwdriver to push the guides forward so the lift arms can close. Once you have the lift arms moving properly, re-place the glass on to the sunroof.
  2. Check the sunroof cable to see if it has slid into the guides or lift arm. If the cable is blocking the guides or lift arm, then remove the J plate on the sunroof to reach the cable. Realign the cable so that no part of it is in the guides or lift arms. Re-place the J plate and test the apparatus to ensure the lift arms are moving properly.
  3. Check the sunroof motor to ensure that it is running correctly. If the motor is not getting power, the sunroof will remain open. Take a screwdriver and insert it into the center of the motor at the nylon brushing. Turn and push the screwdriver to manually operate the motor. If you can open and close the sunroof manually, then replace the motor with a new one.
  4. Use a multimeter on the sunroof switch and wires to determine that power is getting to the switch and wires. If there is no resistance, then the wiring is okay. If there is high resistance, then there is a short and the wires should be replaced.
  5. Clean the sunroof track of any dirt and debris that could cause it to get stuck.

Note: Be sure to regularly clean the sunroof track to ensure that debris doesn’t build up on it. Too much debris on the track can ultimately damage the sunroof cables and they are very tough to repair.

There are a couple more things to consider. If you have an electric sunroof, then it includes a fuse, which protects the sunroof from a spike of voltage. It is possible that the fuse could blow at sometime or another. A blown fuse will cause the sunroof to stop and it will remain so until the fuse is replaced with a new one.

Finally, sunroofs that are exclusive to certain makes of cars may have to be reset if the battery is disconnected or replaced. Generally, you can reset the sunroof yourself. However, the process may change depending on the model of the car.

If you own a car that has a sunroof that needs to be reset if power to it is disconnected and then reconnected, then try this.

  1. Turn on the car’s ignition switch.
  2. Push the button that controls the sunroof forward to close it if it is open, and then release the button.
  3. Push the button forward again and hold it until the sunroof tilts and moves slightly, then release the button. This could take about 10 seconds.
  4. Within 3 seconds after releasing the button push it forward again and hold it. The sunroof should tilt closed, open, and then close. Release the button. The sunroof should be reset.

What Is A Sunroof?

Generally speaking, we all probably know what a sunroof is. It goes into the roof of the car and features a moveable transparent panel that opens and closes. In the open position, it lets fresh air into the passenger cabin of the car, which helps to freshen the smell and provide a pleasant breeze.

When closed, the transparent panel acts like a window and allows sunlight into the car and offers a cool and unusual view for passengers who are sitting in the back seat.

Sunroofs are available that feature electric power so that a press of a button opens and closes them. There are also mechanical sunroofs that are manually opened and closed.

Sunroofs are constructed on to the car in three different ways –- internally, externally, or fixed.

Sunroofs that are connected internally are fitted between the headliner of the car and the metal skin of the roof. They are designed to retract into a pocket. 

Sunroofs connected to the car externally are on top of the roof. Most are made of glass, but some are constructed of textiles. The sunroof panel retracts into tracks that are mounted on top of the roof.

Sunroofs that are fixed commonly feature fixed glass and are designed to provide light into the interior of the car.

Styles Of Sunroofs

Invented in the 19th Century, Sunroofs are available in a number of styles that include:

  • Tilt
  • Built-in
  • Spoiler
  • Panoramic

The tilt style of sunroof features a pop-up panel. It works manually and you decide how much to open it. It’s an ideal car accessory for people who live in dry regions because it allows hot air out of the car and cool, fresh air into the car.

The built-in sunroof features a sliding panel and is commonly seen on large cars.

A spoiler sunroof includes a retractable panel. When it’s open, its form lends a kind of aerodynamic shape. When it’s closed, the car has a sleeker appearance.

A panoramic sunroof, also referred to as a moon roof, features a number of glass panels that cover the roof, one panel of which opens.

Final Thought 

If you feel uncertain about your do-it-yourself skills, then ask a professional mechanic at an automobile repair shop to troubleshoot and fix the sunroof.

If you’re not confident about doing the fix yourself, then you could do something that could damage the sunroof even more.

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