A sunroof is a moveable glass cover panel located at the roof of a car. With the press of a button inside the car’s cabin, the sunroof automatically opens to allow fresh air into the car or for passengers to enjoy the sun.
There are three types of sunroofs depending on the car model;
- Internal sunroof– it’s fixed between the car’s headliner and the roof sheet. When the opening switch is pressed, the glass panel draws back into a specifically made pocket between the two to allow space for air and sunlight penetration.
Internal sunroofs are commonly used in most modern car models.
- External sunroof– It’s made of some textiles and a glass panel, located on top of the car roof metallic sheet. External sunroofs automatically draw back into tracks on top of the car roof when the opening switch is pressed.
- Fixed sunroof– it’s mostly made of transparent glass panel that is permanently fixed. Generally, these sunroofs allow light into the cabin.
This article will discuss various ways how to close a sunroof that is stuck open. However, it’s important first to learn the components of these sunroofs and how they work.
How to Close a Sunroof that is Stuck Open
Components that May Cause a Sunroof to be Stuck Open
- The gear motor– it generates the movement of the drive cable by use of a gear system which delivers power to drive rail pivot.
- Drive cable– it is connected to the motor gear. The motor rotates to deliver power to the drive rail connected to the sliding panel through the drive cable.
- Drive rail pivot– it receives power from the drive cable to make movements along the guide rail to either pull back or push forward the sliding roof panel.
- Deflector– prevents excessive wind from blowing inside the cabin or causing unnecessary noise.
- Sunroof sunshade cover– is the movable panel drawn back or pushed forward by the drive rail pivots. It opens or covers the sunroof area.
The sliding glass panel is mounted to a frame. This frame is pushed or pulled by the system of gears on the drive rail pivot, which causes the whole panel to open or close the roof.
It’s important to note; the sunroof system is made of both electrical and mechanical components.
Reasons Why a Sunroof Fails and Remains Stuck Open
The two main components of a sunroof cause its failure. As such, there are only two causes that make it stuck open;
- Mechanical causes
- Electrical causes
1. Mechanical Causes
They occur due to a loose drive cable, a broken drive rail pivot, the hinges, or the panel may misalign from its frame.
If any part breaks, a broken piece may get into the guide rail and obstruct the movement of the rail pivot or the sunshade panel cover.
In another case, the lack of lubrication on the guide rails may hinder the panel frame from moving smoothly.
2. Electrical Causes
Electrical causes may include a bad motor, shortened circuit, loose wires, a blown fuse, or a damaged switch.
Troubleshooting a Stuck Open Sunroof
It may start raining or become extremely cold at some point on your road trip. If this happens, you immediately press the window buttons to roll them up. Afterward, you close the sunroof before turning on the car AC.
Unfortunately, you face a bad day; the sunroof remains open on the highway. To help you, I have some simple troubleshooting tips you may carry out and get back on the road in a few minutes.
First, find a safe area to shield your car and check these key areas that may have malfunctioned;
1. Inspect the Lift Arms
Use a screwdriver and remove the whole glass to access the lift arms easily.
If the lift arms are stuck in the guide rails, push the guides forward to allow the lift arms to close. Afterward, clean the rails and apply silicone grease to reduce friction.
2. Inspect the Drive Cable
For two reasons, a cable may fail; first, it may have slid into the rail blocking the guides and the lift arms. Second, it’s connected to the motor gears that transfer power to it. For this reason, it may be wearing out.
To reach the drive cable, remove the sunroof’s J plate and realign it using the screwdriver if it slid to the rails.
However, if it needs replacement, you’ll need a specialist to install it if you’re not knowledgeable about the sunroof system.
3. Inspect the Motor
If nothing is blocking the lift arms and the drive cable is good, check if the motor is in good condition.
First, you can inspect the motor gears if they are broken. If not broken, insert the screwdriver between the motor gear and the nylon brushing.
Turn the screwdriver to rotate the motor manually. If it operates manually to open and close the sunroof panel cover, it’s broken.
You’ll need a specialist to help you install a new motor if you have less knowledge about the system.
4. Check the Wiring
Loose wiring, shortened circuit, a blown fuse, or a bad switch may cause the sunroof failure.
First, inspect a case of loose connections or a blown fuse on the wiring circuit. If not, have a digital multimeter (DMM) and follow the following procedure;
Step 1: Set your digital multimeter to direct current (DC)
Step 2: Touch the red probe to the positive wire and the black probe to the negative wire.
Step 3: The wires are shortened if the meter shows high resistance. You’ll need to fix them.
Note, any debris blocking the guide rails may cause the motor to strain and break down. Regularly clean and lubricate the necessary parts of your sunroof system.
FAQs on Fixing a Sunroof
Can I Install Sunroof in My Car?
If you want to add a sunroof to your car, you’ll have to find a specialist to create a sunroof space on your car’s roof. Remember there are different types of sunroofs. It’s upon you to decide the type you need.
In the automotive world, adding an aftermarket item to the car may be dangerous. In some cases, it may affect the rigidity and value of your car.
What is the Difference between a Sunroof and a Moonroof?
A sunroof is a glass panel that you can slide or remove to allow sunlight and air into the cabin. Its glass is not tinted. On the other hand, a moon roof is tinted glass that can allow light to enter the cabin. It can tilt a bit to allow air in, but it doesn’t fully open like a sunroof.
With a little knowledge about car parts and how various systems work, you can carry out simple practices like closing a sunroof without calling a specialist.