Power Sunroof Problems

Power sunroof problems reviewed. Many malfunctions in the sunroof system fall into 2 categories that can often be related to each-other. Water leak issues and electrical problems. Sometimes wiring or switch corrosion can be caused by the water leaks.

Picture of power sunroof

power sunroof


A power sunroof can slide the roof panel open or closed. You can also tilt the roof panel up in the back to allow fresh air into the passenger compartment. When driving down the road this can also pull a vacuum and remove stale air from the interior cabin.

In most cases power sunroofs are not that much different than electrically operated power window systems found in most automobiles. Many common parts are shared such as system relays, a master control switch and the motor assembly to perform the movement.

Note that most power sunroof systems are protected by a circuit breaker instead of a fuse. This is in case the sunroof begins to bind. It protects the motor by opening the circuit breaker. Often when people have power sunroof problems they will begin to look for the fuse when there is actually none. A circuit breaker will reset automatically when it cools down.


Power sunroof operation

Picture of power sunroof switches

power sunroof switches

Most power roof master switches have a two or three position operation. This allows the motor to run in different directions to accomplish different tasks. Some of these switches will have an open and vent position. When you select the open position the motor runs the glass back into a stored position. When you select the vent position on the master switch it will just tilt the back of the glass up providing a venting operation.

When you select the close sunroof position often the polarity is reversed to the power sunroof motor to run it in the opposite direction to perform the opposite tasks mentioned above. Some of the newest sunroof options include a solar sunroof that is available on many luxury models.

This feature uses elements mounted either in the glass or under the glass to produce electricity to power a ventilation fan inside the interior cabin. This solar powered venting system will operate even with the ignition switch off. The benefits are that it will provide a continuous flow of fresh air to the interior cabin.


Power sunroof common problems

Often power sunroofs are a popular option that does not get used very often. When this system sits for months or years without being used often components can develop corrosion that may hinder operation when it is finally desired.

Since a sunroof is part of the exterior surface of the vehicle a complete watertight seal is necessary. If this seal fails or the automatic drain becomes clogged with debris and water sits around the components the corrosion mentioned above will be accelerated. For this reason a very common sunroof problem is water sealing and drainage.

Diagnosing power sunroof problems is pretty straightforward. The first thing to check would be the circuit breaker. Next you would want to verify power at the motor connector. In that case you would be working from the load back towards the battery. If there is no power at the motor you can break out a wiring diagram and do some pinpoint checks at the relay and switch.

This next link will take you to a good place if you are looking for more information about wiring diagrams or online auto repair service manuals. Or you could head back to this blog’s main page from this page about power sunroof problems.

7 comments

  1. The sunroof on my 1998 audi a4 controls it self I’ll goo to open it and then it will open half way stop then close then open all the way and agina 5 minutes later close half way then repeat how do i stop this ?

  2. My sunroof on my Honda Accord 2001 is stuck in the open position. The motor works fine it’s just hung up on one side. Been quoted 481.00 to repair roof.??? They thought the cable might be broken?

  3. my sunroof doesn’t open it’s a 2002 envoy. I heard that sunroofs share a power source from something else. My radio was stolen out of my car I don’t know if that has anything to do with it. I can’t answer if the roof worked before the radio was stolen because I just received my car back after lending it to a friend for 2 years. It was returned to me with countless problems that have to be addressed. Thanks in advance

  4. Sal: As far as I know the sunroof power is seperate (on its own) and not tied to the radio. The circuit is protected by a circuit breaker and fuse. There is also relay’s involved. Looks like Old fashioned diagnosis will be required with a good repair manual auto wiring diagram.

  5. Water leaks into the vehicle when I go through the carwash. The interior has water marks around the sunroof.
    Is this fixable and is it expensive?

    1. Nina: Sunroof leaks are usually repairable. As far as price many factors are involved. Year make and model power or manual and factory installed or aftermarket are some of the big ones.
      In any case a new weatherstrip installed at a dealer would go for about an average of $200 as an educated guess. Not cheap but a water leak can drastically lower the value of even the nicest car.

  6. 2010 Camaro SS sunroof switch works and sometimes doesn’t work. It will work after I let the car sit for an hour or so. What could be causing this issue?

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