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How to Shop for a Sunroof

I love it when a vehicle I’m riding in has a sunroof.  I don’t know why, but I prefer a car that has one over a car that doesn’t and given the choice, I’d take the car that has a sunroof over one that doesn’t any day.  I think riding or driving in a car that has a sunroof makes the car seem more roomy and open. 

My current car is a Nissan Altima, and while I absolutely love my car and everything about it, the only thing I’m left wanting is a sunroof so I’ve been looking to have one installed professionally and I thought I’d share a little about what I’ve learned so far:

• Pop-Up Sunroof: These little gems are great and much less expensive than the electric sliding sunroof.  Basically, it’s a pop-up tinted and tilted window, which is manually operated by a lever that pops the sunroof open. These come in a variety of sizes, can be installed in almost any car or truck and can be completely removed. 

• Power Sunroof 1 (Spoiler Sunroof): This sunroof tilts to vent like a pop-up sunroof and also slides all the way open. These have a power switch, are moderately priced and come in a variety of sizes. These can also come with a sliding sunshade. 

• Power Sunroof 2 (Built-in): This power sunroof is built into the car.  It slides open completely while the window unit moves out of site, sliding between the headliner and the roof.  These are generally the kind which are factory installed when you purchase a car that comes equipped with a sunroof.  Size of the car and roof is a factor with these since they don’t come in all sizes. Options with these power sunroofs include auto-close, a sliding shade and custom settings. 

• Panoramic Sunroof: These are large and relatively new, offering multi panels in both front and rear cabins.

Now that you have an idea of the different types of sunroofs available, you can start thinking about getting a sunroof for your own car, truck or SUV: 

Compare prices, shop around and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Locate a few professional body shops or installation services in your area and stop in for a visit.  Let the pros have a look at your vehicle to determine what size is the best fit, what options are available for your make and model year and get estimates for cost and installation.  Ask if the shop offers a warranty or guarantee for their work and if they don’t, I would suggest finding a shop which does; the last thing you want to discover is your brand new sunroof has sprung a leak during a sudden thunderstorm with no recourse for repair.

If you’re buying a vehicle which already has a sunroof installed, here are some helpful tips:


• Make certain the sunroof operates smoothly and closes completely.
• Check for cracks around the sunroof, run your fingers around the base and make sure it’s a snug fit.
• Note any water marks on the ceiling or discoloration on the fabric where the sunroof is located and if the headliner is sagging, this could also be an indication of leakage.
• Note any water stains on the seats since a leaking sunroof can drip water onto seats.
• Mildew or a damp smell can also be a sign of water damage or sunroof leaks.


• Note any rust or corrosion on and around the edges of the roof where the sunroof is located, examining all areas with the sunroof both open and closed.  If you see rust, this is a good sign that the sunroof leaks or has leaked in the past.


• Always speak to the salesman or seller about your findings before making any decisions.

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One Response to “How to Shop for a Sunroof”

  1. My mom drives a Buick Enclave and it has the panaromic sunroofs. Its nice but they don’t have a cover on it that completely blocks out the sun if you don’t want it open – just the little light diffuser cover. In the hot and super-bright Arizona summertime, it would be nice if they had a solid cover!

    Good luck with your sunroof installation. We recently traded in our G35 (it was a coupe, not the most kid-friendly) for a Murano and when I got it home I realized it didn’t have a sunroof. Like you, I am partial to having one. Let me know how it goes if you get an after market sunroof installation.

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