Does your car have a window in the ceiling? It’s probably a moonroof or a sunroof, but either way it’s a nice feature that can enable lots more light to enter your car, thus providing a warmer more pleasant driving experience. What’s the difference between the two, though, and if you want one but your car didn’t come with one, can you have it installed?
The difference is very simple—a sunroof is a window that pops up on a hinge and allows minimal air flow into the cabin or is removable. You typically see these on older cars. For instance, the Nissan 240sx SE came with a sunroof that popped up after manually releasing a latch. These can come tinted, so the amount of sunlight isn’t overwhelming but the sunroof still provides a neutral yet warm environment.
A moonroof is a kind of sunroof and is still a glass window, however instead of popping up (or being removable), the moonroof slides back into the car, between the interior ceiling and the roof. Modern cars, like BMWs, are equipped or can be equipped with this feature. Some newer (2008 and up) cars offer both a moonroof and sunroof, like modern Mini Coopers. In these cars, the sunroof has two stages, where it first pops up, and if the switch is pressed again, the window will slide back revealing a completely open window.
Now let’s say you don’t have either but would like to. It’s totally possible, and in fact, shops may charge about $1500 to install a sunroof. A moonroof, which is more complex, can cost more than $2000. You can get them installed by a shop that specializes in auto glass, or even if you’re lucky enough to be near one, a shop that specializes in sunroof installation.
Whichever direction you wish to go, be sure to realize that since this didn’t come from the factory the problems that normally come with sunroofs may become more prominent. After many years the weather stripping that helps seal the sunroof might become cracked or come apart, and to fix it can cost a lot of money. On a 1989 BMW 5 Series, the cost to repair a broken or damaged sunroof can be more than $1500. No matter what though, having a sunroof or a moonroof is a great feature and comes in handy on days (and nights) with long drives and clear skies.
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