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Sunroofs are one of the most popular available features found on vehicles in recent decades. Not just allowing for a cool breeze or wind in your hair, sunroofs give passengers a great view and enhanced driving experience. But the “cool factor” really just might not be worth the hassle.

Sunroof leaks can cause big problems

According to GoMechanic, leakage is “probably the most common problem” owners have with sunroofs. Leaks can happen for a variety of reasons, but it is very easy for those problems to arise when the majority of sunroofs are simply placed into the roof of the car and sealed with rubber.

Common reasons for leaks include a clog within the drain of the sunroof, displacement of the seal, or even just general wear and tear of the rubber seal. While a leaky sunroof is generally cheap to repair, it can be a major pain to any car owner.

A leak can occur at any time, and unfortunately for most owners, it won’t be apparent until it is too late and potentially causing serious water damage to the interior car.

Sunroofs can cause unnecessary and costly repairs

A boy sticks his head out of the sunroof of a car
A boy stands through the sunroof of a car | LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Images

Getting a car with a sunroof will automatically mean you’re paying more. As a sunroof is considered an additional feature, you’ll pay more for a car with a sunroof than one without — even if that car comes standard with a sunroof.

According to The Drive, you’ll pay an average of around $1,200 just to have a sunroof. What you’re paying for is just “a hole in your roof, filled with a heavy glass panel, that makes the car worse when it’s open, and screws up the aerodynamics.” And it’s just one more thing to fix when it goes wrong.

Adding another large piece of glass to your vehicle can only add another fragile piece of equipment to it. While sunroof glass is designed to be heavy-duty, scratches, cracks, and even breaks are just as likely with the sunroof as they are with front and rear windshields. And since most warranties don’t cover sunroof glass, this can result in costly repairs.

The possible repair costs don’t stop there either. Sunroofs need power in order to work and therefore, are things to go wrong. The window can stop working due to a dead motor, broken fuses, faulty switches, and more. Some of these repairs can cost more than others and can happen at any time.

What are the safety risks?

As the experts at Top Gearbox point out, a sunroof “is essentially a giant hole in the roof of your vehicle” and even under the best circumstances, “it’ll never be as good or as strong as a vehicle with a conventional roof.” And even though sunroofs seem simple enough, they could actually be ticking time bombs.

According to Consumer Reports, at least 859 complaints were filed with the federal government from owners about exploding sunroofs between the years 1995 and 2017. The majority of these reports were made on cars that were within the first two years of its life.

It’s not just one or two automakers that seem to have a problem with making good sunroofs. Consumer Reports’ analysis lists 35 car brands and includes at least 208 different models of cars. 

The owners that file these complaints claim that their sunroof, regardless of make or model, suddenly shatters or explodes for seemingly no reason at all.

This has led to many frustrated owners, who are often left to deal with it themselves. Shattering or exploding have become more common with the popularity of panoramic sunroofs and moonroofs, and have even resulted in class-action lawsuits.


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