Adding a Sunroof To Your New Car
You’re at the car lot and you’ve found a car that’s almost perfect. It’s just missing one option – the sunroof. The salesman, ever so helpful, explains that he actually add a sunroof to the car you’re looking at. At this point, you may begin to wonder if this is some BS sales tactic and start reaching for your car keys. But don’t move so fast – a sunroof can be added to your car or truck even if it wasn’t installed at the factory.
First of all, it’s important to understand exactly what happens when an after-market sunroof is installed:
- The vehicle you want a sunroof added to is taken to the local accessory shop
- The headliner is removed and the sheet metal on the roof is cut to a specific dimension
- Power wires are then ran from the fuse box to the location of your new sunroof.
- The sunroof itself is just a pre-manufactured unit that comes in a kit. The installer simply cuts the right-sized hole in the roof, drops the complete kit in the hole, bolts it in, and plugs in the appropriate wiring.
The hardest part of the installer’s job is cutting the headliner to accommodate the new glass roof. That’s it! In some cases installation is so simple it can take as little as one hour.
Despite the simplicity described, a lot of people are against installing an after-market sunroof. Maybe they’ve heard rumors about leaking, maybe they’re concerned about letting someone cut a hole in their car’s roof, or maybe they think the roof contains vital structural components that shouldn’t be tampered with. While those are some valid points, here are some things to consider:
- Most sunroof leaks are a result of poorly installed or poorly calibrated sunroofs. If the installer doesn’t seal the roof properly, or if the sunroof kit is damaged or of cheap construction, there’s a chance of leakage. In our experience, while this is possible it is extremely rare – most installers use quality components that are nearly idiot-proof.
- The biggest problems we’re aware of with after-market sunroofs are always electrical. Usually, a fuse blows and the roof won’t open or close. Not convenient, but certainly much better than leaking.
- With any after-market options, make sure your installer offers a warranty. Most sunroof manufacturers (such as Webasto), offer 3 yr/36k mile warranties that complements a new vehicle warranty. Make sure your installer warranties their work too. This way, you’re sure that the product is quality.
- Very few vehicles have structural members that occupy the same space as an after-market sunroof. If there are any structural members, very few (if any) installers will take on the liability of cutting the actual structure to install a sunroof kit. Besides, if the manufacturer offers a sunroof on the vehicle you’re interested in, then you don’t have any safety issues to worry about.
Most of the after-market roofs we’ve seen are as nice as or nicer than the factory unit. In fact, many after-market kits are made by the same company that makes the OEM unit. After-market units also offer more features like automatically closing when the ignition switch is turned off, multiple memory positions, and incorporated wind/rain deflectors.
The biggest downside to after-market sunroofs is cost — while there are some cheap hand-cranked units that can be installed for as little as $500 dollars, most quality roofs cost $1,000 to $1,500. Often times, this is more than the cost of the factory option. If you are purchasing a new car or truck from a dealer, consider asking them to include it in the purchase. If not, ask them to sell it to you for cost.
Bottom Line: If you have to have a sunroof and you can’t find one that’s factory installed, an after-market unit should be a consideration. Make sure to get a good warranty on both the parts and the installation and find out the specifics of the unit before buying. Get the dimensions and compare them to the factory unit, find out who manufacturers the after-market sunroof kit, and find out who the installer is. Finally, try not to spend more than $1,000-$1,500 for a sunroof.
Filed Under: Toyota Tundra Accessories