Blog Car Buying Moonroof vs. Sunroof: What is Best and Should I Get One?
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Moonroof vs. Sunroof: What is Best and Should I Get One?

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Many vehicles today are designed with moonroofs or sunroofs. The best option to choose when considering a moonroof vs. sunroof is to select a roof you can see through that slides all the way open at the push of a button. Many of the better sunroofs and moonroofs will also tilt using an electric motor to bring in fresh air and a nice view of the outdoors. 

If you enjoy the feeling of driving or riding with the top down or like lots of fresh air and sunlight in the cabin, you should consider getting a sunroof or a moonroof on your next car. And if you want to know more about some other attributes popular in cars today we’ve got more comparisons for you elsewhere.

What is the difference between a sunroof and moonroof? What qualities should you look for when searching for “sunroof installation near me”? Here’s what you need to know:

What is the difference between a moonroof vs. a sunroof?

The terms “sunroof” and “moonroof” may sound similar, but they refer to two different features.

A sunroof was a term originally used to describe a metal panel that you could pop-up and remove or slide back. A moonroof is a term used to describe a see-through glass panel that could be opened by pushing a button. The two terms are now used interchangeably.  

The big difference between the words sunroof and moonroof for most people now is the question of whether they slide open electrically. Technically the terms refer to the same thing.

Another difference between a sunroof and a moonroof today is that a moonroof is typically designed with a tinted glass panel, whereas a sunroof is not. Because a moonroof is tinted glass, it is similar to having another window on the roof of your vehicle.

Many people aren’t familiar with the difference between a sunroof and a moonroof. It’s important to be aware of the differences when shopping for a vehicle designed with either one of these features. People may incorrectly use the term sunroof to describe a moonroof and vice versa. Make sure you know which type of feature a vehicle actually has before purchasing it. Don’t assume that the term used in the vehicle’s description is accurate.

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A brief history of the sunroof and moonroof in car designs

The sunroof may seem like a new, modern feature, but it has been around for decades. 

The first sunroof was offered on a 1937 model Nash, a car company that was based in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The metal panel could be opened and slid back to let the sun and fresh air in. Nash built cars from 1916 till 1954.

Besides pioneering sunroofs, Nash also was the first automaker to offer heating and ventilation systems, seat belts, unibody construction, compact cars, and muscle cars. The 1957 Nash Rambler Rebel featured a fuel-injected V-8 engine. 

Ford offered sunroofs on some of their vehicles in the 1960’s as an alternative to a full convertible but the buying public wasn’t that interested. The 1973 Lincoln Continental Mark IV featured a moonroof, a motorized glass panel that slid in between the roof and the headliner. To minimize heat and glare from the sun, the glass was tinted. There was also a sliding sunshade that could be opened and closed to control the amount of light.

Can a moonroof or a sunroof be added after the car is built?

A moonroof or a sunroof can be added to some models of cars after the car is built. In the automotive world, this is known as an aftermarket item. It is an add-on that doesn’t come from the auto dealer. 

Taking a look online at the website of any local auto glass repair shop is a good place to start. After you check things online by visiting the website, follow up your visit to the site with a phone call.

How much does it cost to put a sunroof in a car?

The price of an aftermarket sunroof can vary depending on a number of factors, including the type of vehicle, type of sunroof, and the installer. 

In general, here’s how much you should expect to pay:

Keep in mind that prices and levels of quality vary in the aftermarket. Less-expensive sunroofs use a dot matrix, screened glass that reflects back about 50% of the sun’s heat. Higher quality and hence more expensive models use reflective glass. 

Plastic or aluminum handles and hardware cost less and don’t last as long as steel or carbon fiber. The seals and gaskets that keep the rain out last longer when they are made from silicone as compared to neoprene. 

Sunroof installation near me: how to find the right service provider 

Take the time to find a reliable sunroof install technician.

When considering an aftermarket sunroof vs. moonroof keep in mind that a professional installation requires the installer to be familiar with how car roofs are built. Any post used to support the roof cannot be damaged. This is why it’s so important to find a technician with extensive experience.

Car dealerships, auto glass repair shops, or general repair shops with experience in installing moonroofs and sunroofs are your best bet for a good installation. 

Find a dealership or repair shop that offers a warranty for all services they provide. This ensures that you won’t be stuck with a malfunctioning sunroof or moonroof if the technician installs it incorrectly.

How long does it take to get a sunroof installed?

It typically takes between 60 to 90 minutes to complete a sunroof or moonroof installation.

Keep in mind that this is how long it takes from the time the technician starts on the project until the time the project is complete. You may end up spending more than 60 to 90 minutes at the dealership or repair shop depending on how many other customers are being serviced at the time.

Can I install a sunroof in my car?

Adding a sunroof to a car is an extensive, complicated project. To complete this project, you must cut a hole into the top of your vehicle, safely remove part of the metal frame, and carefully install a glass sunroof or moonroof. Making a mistake—no matter how minor—could seriously damage your vehicle and lead to costly repairs

Not only is this project difficult, but it also requires the use of specialized tools and equipment. It’s highly unlikely that you will have these tools at home, which makes completing this DIY project even more challenging.

For these reasons, it’s ideal to hire a professional to handle the installation of an aftermarket sunroof. This is not a project that you should attempt to complete on your own.

Between a moonroof vs. a sunroof, which one opens completely?

A moonroof typically opens all the way by sliding into a slot in between the roof and the headliner of the car. A sunroof typically tilts open to provide ventilation and is tinted to restrict the amount of light, air, and glare coming into the car. The difference between the words sunroof, moonroof in terms of opening means the moonroof opens completely.

Does a moonroof or sunroof add to the value of a vehicle?

Having a moonroof versus a sunroof does add value to a car and makes them easier to sell–especially if they are a power moonroof. As more and more cars in the lower price ranges come standard with sunroofs they are becoming an option that is more expected.

Buying a new car equipped with a sunroof typically adds $500-$2000 to the price of the car depending on the make and model. A certain amount of the extra value stays with the car and will come in handy when it’s time to sell.

Even if the installation does not add significant value to your vehicle, you should still get a sunroof or moonroof installed if doing so would make your driving experience more enjoyable. After all, you can’t put a price on an enjoyable driving experience.

Can a moonroof or a sunroof be repaired or replaced?

Over time, a sunroof or moonroof may stop working properly. Fortunately, sunroofs and moonroofs can be repaired and replaced

How much will it cost to repair a sunroof or moonroof car?

Here’s a general overview of what you should expect to pay for common sunroof repairs:

What is best, a moonroof or a sunroof?

Using the old definitions of these words, the moonroof is the better choice of the two as it was designed to open and close by pushing a button. A sunroof is typically made from metal and is opened manually by hand or by using a hand-operated crank. 

The term moonroof was actually a term thought up by a Ford marketing manager John Atkinson. Ford got their first moonroofs through a partnership with a company called the American Sunroof Corporation, which was based in Detroit. The German company Golde was also producing moonroof kits during the same time period. 

As the popularity of the moonroof versus sunroof option increased, Ford began offering them on Mercury Cougars, and Thunderbirds. General Motors countered by putting them on Cadillac Coupe deVilles, Sedan deVilles, Fleetwood Broughams, and Fleetwood Eldorados. Eventually, the trend spread downstream to Ford’s LTD and the Buick Riviera.

What model cars are available with sunroof or moonroofs?

Virtually every car manufacturer building autos in the 2018-2019 time period features models that have moonroofs or sunroofs, as they have become more popular. Sometimes they are considered an option and cost more. Other times they may be part of an upgrade package which may include other sought-after specials like better sound systems, power door locks, and leather interiors. 

As sunroofs and moonroofs have gained more acceptance, power moonroofs that slide and tilt have become the norm. A sun visor is typically included that closes them off by sliding it when less light is desired. The automakers are now competing for buyers attracted to moonroofs and sunroofs by making them larger, which has led to panoramic roofs–some of which open.

What is a panoramic moonroof?

A panoramic moonroof or a sunroof generally refers to a factory-installed roof system made up of fixed and sliding glass panels. Panoramic moonroofs and sunroofs are similar to traditional moonroofs and sunroofs. The difference is that a panoramic moonroof or sunroof covers the majority of the vehicle’s roof, whereas a traditional moonroof or sunroof does not.

A panoramic moonroof may be available as a standard feature or may be presented as an option. If your vehicle does not come with this option, it is possible to install an aftermarket panoramic sunroof with the help of a professional.

What are the pros and cons of aftermarket panoramic sunroof installation?

If you are considering getting an aftermarket panoramic sunroof installed, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of this decision.

A panoramic sunroof will allow more natural light to enter your vehicle.  

Having a panoramic sunroof also helps drivers who are claustrophobic. A panoramic sunroof will make the car feel more open, so claustrophobic drivers won’t feel trapped on long car trips.

There are some downsides to panoramic sunroof installation. Keep in mind that a panoramic roof may reduce the headroom in the car. If you or your passengers are tall, this feature could affect your comfort level.

Since a panoramic sunroof allows more natural light into your vehicle, it could make things hotter during a sunny day. You may need to crank up the air conditioner to stay cool, which will require your vehicle to use more gas.

A panoramic sunroof can also make your vehicle heavier. Lighter vehicles tend to get better gas mileage, so adding this feature could negatively impact your vehicle’s fuel efficiency.

Paying extra for a solid glass roof that doesn’t open might not be as good as money saved. 

There are certainly both benefits and drawbacks to installing a panoramic sunroof in a car. Keep these pros and cons when deciding whether or not you should invest in panoramic moonroof installation.

What are panoramic moonroof and sunroof car options?

Cars that offer panoramic moonroofs span a wide range from luxury models to compacts, including the Ford Escape, Cadillac CTS, Honda CRV, Toyota Camry, and the Mini Cooper.  Tesla models include panoramic options as well as entire roofs made from glass from the front to the back.

Some of the most popular cars with panoramic sunroofs include the Audi A3 Saloon, Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe, Range Rover, and 2016 BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon.

Should I get a moonroof or a sunroof?

If you enjoy the feeling of riding in a convertible but want to be able to control the amount of wind, you should get a moonroof or a sunroof. If you enjoy looking at the sky as you drive, you will enjoy a glass-paneled or panoramic roof. 

Many models of new cars from compacts to full-size SUV’s offer a moonroof or sunroof as an option. If you already own a car with a standard roof, a sunroof or a moonroof can be added as an aftermarket item. 

Some drivers have no desire for extra wind or wind noise in the cabin. While convertibles account for less than 2% of the cars sold, cars with moonroofs or sunroofs account for nearly 40% of the cars sold. Safety is another concern as being thrown out of sunroofs kills about 200 people a year. 

Keep in mind that deciding between sunroof or moonroof inclusions depends on many factors. It’s nice when you can pop open the roof. On the other hand, it is good to save money. A moveable glass roof can add value to your car when you sell or trade, but it can also be a source of extra service, and maintenance may be required. So, when considering the moonroof versus sunroof option, be sure to weigh these pros and cons.