Sunroofs are growing in
popularity. The number of new vehicles sporting this bright feature has
increased dramatically over the past few years, and market researchers estimate
that demand will jump even more in the next five years. Sunroofs are also
growing in size, with panoramic versions becoming more common. And while a
sunroof can make driving more pleasurable, it does require regular maintenance,
says Pat Goss, a Maryland-based mechanic and co-host of television’s
longest-running automotive program. Without attention, your sunroof can be more
likely to leak or break down. Here are
Goss’s expert-approved tips on how to help keep that roof over your head
Regular cleaning of your sunroof
is the most effective way to keep it functional. Every time you clean your car,
give your sunroof some TLC with these steps:
- Open the sunroof and clean the entire visible area,
using a vacuum if necessary.
- Wipe down all moving parts and the gasket around the
roof with a soft cloth, automotive cleaner and toothbrush. Clean the
slides and tracks.
- Use a small amount of lightweight, heat-resistant
grease (such as white lithium) to lubricate all moving parts.
- For the glass, consider a cleaner that does not
contain ammonia or vinegar. (These chemicals can vaporize in warm weather
and cause irritation if inhaled.)
Once a year, it’s a good idea to
do a deeper detail on your sunroof. (If you live in a dusty climate or drive on
dirt roads, you may want to make this a monthly practice.)
First, clean the sunroof as you
normally would. Then clear the sunroof trough (just inside the rubber seal) by
blowing low-pressure air (no more than 10 psi!) through the drain tubes (at the
base of the sunroof seal). Finish the process by inserting a skinny, flexible,
non-puncturing wire into a drain tube, twisting the wire clockwise and then
counter clockwise while gently pushing it deeper into the tube. Make sure to
check the length of your drain tubes; the far ends, usually located under the
car near the wheels, can be tempting places for insects to build nests that can
block the drains and cause leaks.
Then close the sunroof and pour
water over the glass. If it leaks into the passenger compartment, look for
cracks or jagged edges along the sunroof seal, and scan the area around the
seal for any excessive water pooling or mold. Still leaking? Consider taking
your car to a pro for a repair.
If your roof is sticking or seems
to be slow, inspect the moving parts (if they are visible) for cracked or
stripped gears, or a build-up of dirt and debris. Turn on your car engine and
cycle the roof through the open, closed and vent positions to identify the area
where the problem occurs. If it runs more smoothly after a couple of cycles,
clean everything and then lightly and carefully apply a lightweight,
heat-resistant grease to any visible moving parts. If it’s still stuck, says
Goss, it could be a malfunction of the circuitry that powers most new sunroofs.
Take your car to a qualified sunroof repair shop.
- 4.Listen for Common Issues
Popping and scraping noises are
generally not good sounds for cars to make; in a sunroof they may indicate
parts that need lubricating, slipping gears, or some other mechanical issue. If
you notice any of these noises, clean your sunroof and lubricate any visible
components. If you’re still hearing them, close the sunroof and take it to a
pro for repair. Some drivers have reported hearing popping noises right before
their sunroofs shatter; if you hear those sounds, take your car to a qualified