A Guide to Sunroof Glass

  • This auto glass, also known as the moonroof, is located on the roof of the vehicle and is designed to let fresh air and light into the passenger cabin. The mechanism used to open the sunroof is either fixed so that when opened, the sun roof vents, or operable so that the sunroof slides and retracts either onto the roof or beneath the interior headliner. Sunroofs can be either opaque or transparent, or feature a visor to block light from the passenger cabin. Auto makers have made variations of the sunroof and moonroof the norm, and can be either manual or electric operated, though not all are moveable. The operation and mechanism that moves the sunroof is the differentiator between the variations of sunroofs.

STANDARD: Manual (pop-up), Spoiler (tilt and slide), Inbuilt (tilt-vent-slide)

Pop-up sunroofs are simply a manually operated tilting panel. These panels are usually removable and must be stored when removed. The tilting action provides a vent in the roof, or a full opening when the panel is removed. Very few manual sunroofs were used by the original vehicle manufactures, most were installed after the vehicle was manufactured. Pop-ups can be installed in most vehicles, and are relatively inexpensive.

Spoiler sunroofs (tilt and slide) combine the features of a pop-up with those of a sliding roof system. They tilt to vent and slide open above the roof, requiring little headroom or roof length. This design is often used by aftermarket manufactures because of it’s relative ease of vehicle post-production installation.

Top-mount sliding sunroofs (rail mount topslider) feature a sliding glass panel that stores along tracks above the roof outside of the vehicle, with no loss of headroom. Most feature an integral wind deflector to eliminate wind noise.

Inbuilt (tilt-vent-slide) sunroof systems have a panel which slides between the metal roof and interior headliner, requiring some loss of headroom but providing a full opening in the roof. All inbuilts slide inside the roof, while some also include a rear venting feature (see pop-up). Historically, inbuilts were a metal sunroof panel painted to match the vehicle roof, but now most are glass-panel systems with sliding sunshades (typically referred to as moonroofs).

ADVANCED: Multi-Panel (panoramic) and Solar

Panoramic roof systems are a multi-panel roof system which offer openings above both the front and rear seats and may be operable or fixed glass panels. Large operable openings are often accomplished with top-slider (tracks in the top of the roof) or spoiler type mechanisms.

Solar sunroofs are made of glass, with an inlaid photovoltaic solar panel that makes the glass totally opaque. They operate the same as conventional factory-fitted glass moonroofs (tilting and retracting), but when closed the solar panel provides electricity to power the interior ventilation fans, for cooling the car interior on hot days when the car is standing outside in the sunlight.