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Common Sunroof Problems - Aspen Auto Glass

The 2 Most Common Sunroof Problems and What Causes Them

A luxury that was once only afforded to the most wealthy, sunroofs have become increasingly popular. Today, nearly 90% of new vehicles on the market offer a sunroof as part of their standard package.

Early versions of the sunroof we’ve now come to know began popping up in vehicles in the 1920s. Originally derived from the horse carriages of the 20th century, where only the passengers rode in an enclosed cabin, the first sunroofs were more sun and less roof, being used as a way to create a division between chauffeur and passenger.

Modern sunroofs consist of a multi-layer panel connected to motorized slides, allowing it to move back and forth, mounted in an opening in the roof. This assembly is connected to a switch inside the vehicle, allowing the sunroof to be controlled by the driver. When the switch is flipped to open, vent, or close, a signal is sent to the motor, and the roof opens or closes, as per the driver’s instruction. With a laundry list of components, it should be no surprise that sunroofs come with their own set of problems.

Here’s a quick look at the two most common sunroof problems that might require a sunroof replacement and what causes them.


If you notice your seats are damp when you get in your vehicle, water dripping on your head while you’re driving, water in the foot well or water in your dome light, you may have a leaky sunroof.

During installation, gravity-fed drainage channels are created and connected to rubber tubes which direct the water down through your vehicle’s body and out to the ground below, preventing the water from pooling in the sunroof opening. When these channels become clogged with debris or the tubing becomes old, cracked and worn, the draining of water becomes more difficult; your sunroof will begin to leak. Preventing this from happening is relatively simple and can be done by regularly opening your sunroof and clearing out the debris from the trough around the opening and drain points.

Electrical Issues

Electrical issues can get complicated very quickly, so we’re only going to touch on the three most common electric issues that cause sunroofs to malfunction:

  • Broken Fuse – Fuses are electrical safety devices that prevent circuits from overloading. When a fuse gets overloaded, it pops, breaking the circuit and preventing the signal from moving any further ahead.
  • Dead Motor – In order for your sunroof to move back and forth along its tracks, it requires some help from a small electric motor. As with most other electrically-driven devices, your sunroof’s motor has a lifespan – meaning one day, it will die. Due to Murphy’s Law, this will typically occur at the most inconvenient time and while your sunroof is open with a big storm on its way.
  • Faulty Switch – Like the motor, the switch that sends the signal to your sunroof to open or close, this switch also has a lifespan. When the switch calls it a day, it will likely also apply Murphy’s Law and leave you in the middle of a rainstorm with an open roof.

No matter what’s causing your sunroof to malfunction, Aspen Auto Glass located in Canmore, Alberta, can get it fixed and get you back on the road. Call us at 403-678-6621 to take advantage of our competitive pricing, high-quality workmanship, and exceptional customer service.

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