The average price for a sunroof motor replacement cost is between $623 and $673, with the total cost of the parts coming to around $435. The price of the labor is between $188 and $237, since the total time for this procedure takes between 2.5 and 3 hours at most mechanic shops or dealerships.
Most Common Sunroof Problems
- The sunroof is designed to prevent water from getting in the cabin of the vehicle, while allowing warm air and sunlight to enter. If you notice a leak, there is a serious problem.
- This can happen due to debris and corrosion built-up within the drainage system, or due to the rubber seal on the sunroof panel succumbing to excess wear and tear over time.
- A sunroof can be vulnerable to outside objects, falling debris, and vandalism.
- Although the sunroof is composed of tempered glass, it can still crack or shatter due to extreme temperatures and prolonged exposure.
- The sunroof is meant to slide back and forth smoothly to allow users to quickly and easily open and close the mechanism.
- If you find the window makes strange noises or stops sliding, this can be due to a broken-down cable.
Sunroof Motor Failure
- The final cause of sunroof concern deals with motor failure, which can be clearly seen when the sunroof no longer retracts or closes fully.
- If this is the case, you have to pay a high sunroof motor replacement cost.
What is the sunroof?
A sunroof in a vehicle is typically any kind of panel on the roof of your car that lets in light, air, or both to come into the vehicle at the same time. Used to allow wind into the car or let the sunshine come in during warm summer days, the sunroof is a common feature on family cars in modern times.
In comparison, a moonroof is a different kind of glass panel in the roof of your car that typically has a tinted glass panel. Unlike a sunroof, sunroofs are made of glass and can’t be removed from a vehicle, and only can sometimes slide or open. If you find the sunroof or moonroof is not working properly, you will have to obtain a quote for a sunroof motor replacement cost.
What is the sunroof motor?
Electric sunroofs allow the occupants and driver to easily operate the window in the ceiling of their vehicle, bringing in light, warmth, and sunshine into the cabin of the car. This mechanism adds luxury and comfort to summer car rides and is often a big selling point with modern cars on the market today.
Typically, the electrical sunroof is held under the headliner, attached to the sunroof regulator assembly. It lets the sunroof open and close when the switch is used inside the cabin to direct power to the motor. The sunroof motor works directly with the sunroof regulator assembly, keeping the sunroof glass moving through the correct frame and track.
Electric Sunroof Concerns
However, despite the many positives, the high sunroof motor replacement cost and other reliability concerns can deter some car owners from purchasing vehicles that contain sunroofs or moonroofs.
Stuck in the Open Position
Electric sunroofs can become a nightmare if something goes wrong with the wiring or the electrical system that controls the windows and power-related apparatuses in the vehicle. If the sunroof motor fails while the sunroof is stuck in the open position, there is very little that can be done if the weather takes a turn for the worse.
In addition, if the sunroof is in the open position, this can lead to vulnerability while your car is parked or stuck in traffic. You won't be able to keep out the weather elements, unclean air, and potential vandalism that sees the open window in your car. If the manufacturer did not include a method to close the sunroof manually, then the sunroof is stuck in the open position.
How does the sunroof motor function?
To get an idea of why you need to spend over $600 for your sunroof motor replacement cost, we’ll give you an idea of the mechanisms involved in operating this sunroof and sunroof motor. The ability to move the sunroof in both directions is carried out by the sunroof motor and the motor switch, the apparatus used by the driver or the passenger to operate the sunroof.
The sunroof motor has various electronic configurations that depend on the specific circuit and electrical current provided. The sunroof uses these patterns to reverse directions and open or close the mirror.
- Typically, the sunroof motor receives power and round in either electrical wire, depending on which way the switch is pressed.
- However, drivers and mechanics need to keep in mind many variables when dealing with electrical and power-related systems that can affect the sunroof motor replacement cost.
Sunroof Position Sensor
- The sensor that acknowledges resistance while closing the sunroof can alert the body control module to reverse the sunroof, causing the window to slide backward.
- If the sunroof position sensor notices a fault with the operation of the sunroof, it can immediately cancel the request, preventing the sunroof motor from moving at all.
Body Control Module
- The BCM works together with the sunroof position sensor to prevent the window from getting stuck in motion, ensuring the window stays on track and responds to the stimuli from the driver or passenger.
As you can see, the body control module, sunroof position sensor, and sunroof motor all work together to operate the mechanism smoothly and efficiently. If you notice any issues with your car’s BCM or the sunroof position sensor, chances are you'll have a higher sunroof motor replacement cost.
Can you drive with a faulty sunroof motor?
In short, yes – if your sunroof is stuck in the closed position. If it is stuck in the open position, we strongly advise against it.
If your sunroof is stuck in the open or closed position, this can lead to an annoying nuisance that will hinder your driving experience. However, if you are tight on cash and don’t want to pay for the sunroof motor replacement cost, the luxury of opening your sunroof could not be as important to your wallet.
Since the sunroof and sunroof have no impact on the safety and driveability of your car, the only reason you absolutely would have to fix this part is if the sunroof was stuck in the open position. In this case, if the weather was constantly freezing, snowing, or raining, leaving the sunroof open could lead to distracting and unsafe driving conditions.
In addition, sunroofs that are tilted open or stuck in the completely open position leave your car vulnerable to vandalism or damage by animals. With the window constantly open, animals can get into your car and harm your seats and internal wiring, vandals can steal any items you have in the car, and rain can damage the internal electrical components in your vehicle.
In this condition, if there is no manual choice to close the sunroof, it is best to pay the sunroof motor replacement cost as soon as possible to avoid any further damage.
How often should I replace my sunroof motor?
When looking at the prevalence of sunroof failures in vehicles, the average mileage of replacement for a sunroof motor came at just 150,000 miles.
Unfortunately for car owners, sunroof motors are known to fail in modern cars due to the complicated electrical and power-related components used to drive the mechanism. These vehicles show signs of failure within just a few thousand miles, showing the lack of durability in the sunroof mechanisms and the sunroof motor.
Most vehicles with a sunroof will usually have an issue with the sunroof assembly, sunroof motor, or electrical circuit at some point within the driving life of the vehicle. However, the sunroof fallibility is not only inclusive of just the sunroof motor, but other associated parts as well.
Since sunroofs are often forgotten about in terms of scheduled maintenance, the regulator assembly and drains tend to cause issues for the car and the car owner. The regulator assembly will have to be replaced during the sunroof’s lifespan, including the sunroof motor.
The source of the failure usually traces back to the sunroof regulator assembly and the sunroof motor, causing the high sunroof motor replacement cost.
How do you diagnose sunroof motor issues?
If the sunroof is not working properly, drivers should not automatically assume the sunroof motor is the root cause of the issue in the vehicle. Other parts must be checked first to determine the catalyst of the electric and power-related concerns regarding the sunroof.
- First, the mechanic will inspect the fuse and test the apparatus for power output.
- The relay and terminals are then analyzed for any corrosion, dirt, or debris build-up, and then tested for relay and power continuity.
- Finally, if the sunroof circuit is receiving power from the electrical circuit provided by the mechanical switch, the sunroof motor is bench tested.
- If the mechanic finds that no power is present during this test in any locations, or in the body control module, the sunroof motor is not immediately considered the suspect.
- Instead, the sunroof position sensor is considered the point of contention, since the lack of power hints at a sensor issue.
Even though the sunroof motor might not be the root cause of the sunroof problems in this scenario, the sunroof position sensor faults can still lead to a high sunroof motor replacement cost.
How do you replace sunroof motors?
Since the sunroof motor is located under the car’s headliner, it can be quite difficult to reach normal car owners. Unless you have extensive car DIY knowledge and the proper tools, we recommend leaving this replacement process to professionals.
- At a minimum, the mechanic will have to lower the headliner from the ceiling – however, most times, the headliner will have to be completely removed to allow access to the sunroof. For the mechanic to remove the headliner, the interior trim from all panels needs to be removed, along with all overhead assemblies.
- Then, the mechanic will remove the fasteners connected to the headliner to lower the entire assembly.
- Once this is done, a seat or windshield may have to also be removed to allow for extra space to remove the headliner.
- At this point, the mechanic can remove the sunroof assembly by removing some electrode connections.
- Replacing the sunroof motor is the same as the disassembly steps, just in reverse to ensure the correct location of the parts.
The mechanic must take special care while removing and replacing the headliner to avoid any creasing or cracking. This can lead to a high sunroof motor replacement cost due to further structural damage.
What should I look out for with sunroof motor damage?
If the sunroof is open while the car is having trouble operating the sunroof, it is important you close the sunroof immediately. If you or the mechanic is working on the battery or electrical components in the car, having the sunroof open can lead to potential leaks and precipitation in the car, causing electrical shocks or fires.
If a vehicle with a bad sunroof moor or sunroof position sensor needs to be left outside for a few hours or days, the roof area should be covered with a tarp or non-permeable membrane to ensure no outside objects enter the vehicle. By doing this, you can prevent an even higher sunroof motor replacement cost.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, paying over $600 to fix this problem is well worth the benefits. If you let the sunroof motor go untreated, it can put you and your car in a vulnerable position, whether driving in rainy and cold weather, or leaving your car parked on the street overnight!