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Old 26th November 2010, 23:28   #1
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Default ARTICLE: Sunroofs! India-specific Usage and Maintenance Tips

Most people in India seem to find this feature pointless; I for one enjoy having a sunroof. However, a sunroof has its pros and cons. The Team-BHP guide to sunroofs will help you understand whether this feature is for you (or not). The sunroof is a contradiction in itself, some people even call it a moon-roof. Surprisingly, one of the biggest markets for these is in the UK where they have not much sun. Sunnier climes prefer the air conditioning.

Coming to the Indian context, the cars having sunroofs are mainly:

High end VW Passats
High end Skodas (not on the Laura and Fabia anymore)
High end Chevrolets
All German cars except for the cheap corporate editions
“I” end Hyundais - i10 and i20
Honda have belatedly joined the band wagon, but it still does not make any difference to the overpricing of the Accord and CRV.

What about us Maruti and aam jantha cars who want to fit a sunroof ?

In no uncertain terms: DON'T! A sunroof should be integrated into the structure of the car's roof panel, ideally at the factory level. Also, the seals of an after-market unit will never be that good. Cutting a roof in your car is a hit and miss job – one sneeze leads to many drops. Besides, an open after-market sliding roof is a drag aerodynamically as it slides over the roof. Remember, fitment is not reversible, unless you remove the roof panel and weld a new one on.

I need a hole in my roof like I need a hole in my head!!!

It may seem so, yet the sunroof has its uses:
  • Extinguishing stubborn father-in-law cigarettes at speed when he insists on lighting up despite your expressing displeasure
  • Quick dissipation of flatulent smells
  • Getting excess heat out of the car, open roof for a few minutes and the hot air rises out.
  • Fresh air without buffeting and during small showers (more on this later)
  • It looks cool!!! Yeah, am a bit of a poser!

Where and when is the sunroof most suitable?
  • Early morning and late evening
  • Temperatures between 20-25 deg C
  • Overcast
  • Bangalore after October
  • Driving through the tea gardens

Where should you not use a sunroof?
  • Next to a bus
  • In Cherrapunji or closer to home - Agumbe
  • Summer
  • Passing road works
  • Rush hour
  • When stationary in traffic

Modes of Operation

A sunroof has various modes of operation

Tilt
– I use this a lot. It enables air to be circulated without using the A/c. Also helps fresh air get into the car when parked. During the summer, tilt reduces heat build up. I can also drive during small showers and have fresh air circulating without getting wet.

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Open – Partially open or fully open, you choose. I like to keep the side windows only about 4-5 cm open so I get fresh air without the mess / dust. A deflector should pop up and direct airflow over the roof, so very little dust comes in. Tip : Keep your rear windows at least half open to allow airflow and reduce buffeting at speed.

The wind deflector


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Some cars like the Audi Q7 comes with a netting so that passengers are relatively safe. Believe me, keeping it open brightens up the car and my day, but you need a good turn of speed and good weather. That is rare in itself.

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In the case of a moon roof:

Closed but shutter open – You get more light in your car, but realize how incompetent your car wash guy is in cleaning the roof.

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Closed and shutter closed – best advised in summer and also when driving with short skirted company amongst buses.

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My car has a sunroof, what should I know ?

Drainage
- Above all, how it drains water and the drainage points. Dust gets everywhere and with water becomes muck, this can clog your channels. First thing is to open your roof, take a bottle of water and pour it around the channel. Get out of the car and see where it flows. Note the drainage points and how they can be cleaned.
Schematic diagram for VW & Skoda cars
ARTICLE: Sunroofs. India-specific Use and Maintenance Tips-sunroof-schematic.png

Here you see the front drainage hole for the sunroof (car came back from a respray so the area is a bit dirty - expect a lot of muck to flow through!)

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The rear holes cannot be seen as it is deep in the recesses. In the case of VWs, the front drains through the windscreen pillars to a nipple in the front door hinge area.

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These nipples can get blocked. It's best to clean the nipple by squeezing them and pouring water down the sunroof channel occasionally.

Water flows through the front door.

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As for the rear: The pipe will be hidden in the boot behind the trim / lining. Merely pull the lining, and pinch pipe at bottom to clear muck. This drips through the rear wheel arch.

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Should I use Drainex?

No - I cannot vouch whether it will hasten corrosion or react with plastic or rubber.

Prevent rubbers from perishing – Open the sunroof once a week. Don’t add any grease etc. Leave that to the service folks.


Electric motors
– these can fail. Make sure you know where the fuse is and also the back up operation. Find out location of motor. There will normally be a nut or a bolt head to turn, in order to manually wind roof to the closed position. Details will be in your owner's manual. The system is similar to a big sliding car window.

Last edited by GTO : 3rd December 2010 at 21:53. Reason: Proof-reading
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Old 27th November 2010, 16:20   #2
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Issues that Crop Up

Damp roof patches after rains – Check drainage channels and clean

Water falling on me during the rain – Sunroof seals worn / distorted

Had an accident? – Check sunroof drainage channels. Pipes should not be dislodged or cut; pour water to check

Hazards

Coconuts / mobs / overturning. You might need to buy a whole new unit and dealers do not have a clue on how to install. Hit the roof panel and the sunroof movement gets distorted

Do NOT

- Allow anyone to traffic surf: i.e stand while car in is motion – you can damage your eyes, crack a rib or even get thrown out under high speed braking
- Allow people to sit on roof, or out of roof as distortion can jam up roof panel
- Sticking limbs out except when car is stationary


Odd uses


Carrying odd sized items like ladders, tall plants etc. Ensure the item is held securely

How do I check a pre-worshipped sunroof-equipped car for the ideal surya namaskar experience

1: Check open / close operation
2: Pour water in the channel and check drainage
2: Subject car to a pressure wash and check for leakage / dampness

Summarizing

Sunroofs are nice to have, provided you have the weather and the speeds to enjoy it in. If you keep an eye on the drainage, leaks and ensure regular operation, you have a bright future. The main con is that no one has ever repaired a sunroof or knows how to address leaky seals.

Last edited by GTO : 3rd December 2010 at 22:04. Reason: Proof-reading
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Old 27th November 2010, 19:46   #3
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Thank you Ajmat. A very well written, detailed and very useful information on Sun-roofs. How is the availability of spares for the sun-roof with the A.S.S centers?
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Old 28th November 2010, 10:25   #4
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thanks ajmat for this info you just helped me take a decision of not fitting a sunroof in
my skoda the cons seem to outweigh the pros with our climate and the road conditions.
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Old 28th November 2010, 11:16   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajmat View Post

What about us Maruti and aam jantha cars who want to fit a suroof ?


In no uncertain terms: DON’T! a sunroof should be integrated into the structure of the cars roof panel. Also, the seals of an aftermarket one will never be that good. Cutting a roof in your car is a hit and miss job – one sneeze leads to many drops. Besides, an open aftermarket sliding roof is a drag aerodynamically as it slides over the roof. Remember, fitment is not reversible unless you remove roof panel and weld a new one in
Not sure I agree with this. At least abroad, there are a lot of aftermarket guys who do a good job. I have also read that some of the big manufacturers themselves used to get it done outside at the beginning.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ajmat View Post
It may seem so but the sunroof has its uses
  • Extinguishing stubborn father-in-laws cigarettes at speed when he insists on lighting up despite your expressing displeasure
  • Quick dissipation of flatulent smells
  • Getting excess heat out of the car, open roof for a few minutes and the hot air rises out.
Won't opening the windows slightly serve the same purpose?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajmat View Post
  • Fresh air without buffeting and during small showers (more on this later)
What's buffetting?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajmat View Post
It looks cool!!! Yeah, am a bit of a poser!
In India, I think this is the main purpose mostly. I have even seen people make their kid ride standing up so that the kids head is up the sunroof - this is sort of a status symbol, I think.

There are a lot of places in the world where the sun is very precious thing. I have spent some time in these places. On a sunny day, you feel bad if you need to drive, because you are closeted in the car - you would rather be standing/sitting/walking under the sun - the direct feel of the sun's rays on your skin feels heavenly on such days - that's the purpose of the sun roof, I assume.

Last edited by carboy : 28th November 2010 at 11:20.
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Old 28th November 2010, 13:50   #6
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Thank you ! As usual, a very useful thread.

However, I must admit that I have an aftermarket sunroof on one of my cars too. And the dreaded rattle has crept in. Any advice on that? Its the one that tilts open above the roof.
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Old 28th November 2010, 16:47   #7
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Hey nice article. Totally agree with your points on having sunroof. I like it a lot and use it a lot. Definitely useful for Bangalore conditions. The tilt during drizzle is a nice tip, did not know before :-) driving in tea/coffee estates with sunroof open is really pleasant.

i clean the muck in the sliding rails using a wet tissue and spray wd-40 once in awhile.

also sunroof gives nice access to wax/polish the roof panel.

xenons in the night and sunroofs in the mornings are a quick way to find if the car is a loaded or budget variant.
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Old 30th November 2010, 10:17   #8
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thank you Ajmat Sir. You just clarified all my doubts about sunroofs. I was thinking getting fitted one on my i10(aftermarket). So now you cleared my doubts about the safety (aftermarket ones) of it.
Why do manufacturers offer sunroofs only in high end versions. why not be an optional in all models ?
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Old 30th November 2010, 11:32   #9
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Ajmat Sir,

Good article and nice write up, thanks for bringing to everbody's attention the pros & the cons.

IMHO I always felt the sunroof to be bane rather than a boon and your write up justified it. The sunroof thing is more relevant to European countries where the sunshine is not so hard and occasionaly someone would want to enjoy a bit of sun. But in indian conditions where the sun is so severe, people would prefer to roll down the windows to get that fresh breath.

I would definitely live up without a sunroof in my car howver high end it would be.
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Old 30th November 2010, 12:15   #10
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Quite an eye opener for juntaas like us aspiring to have a sun roof..rather a moon roof. Should plan to buy a car with one.
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Old 30th November 2010, 12:44   #11
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nice write-up man!
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Old 30th November 2010, 13:48   #12
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A roof scoop would be rather handy to dispel the excess heat in a car parked under the sun for too long.I usually crack the side windows a bit while parking out but am worried about theft and long for a roof scoop. Wonder why no manufacturer comes up with one as standard?
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Old 30th November 2010, 14:59   #13
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That's a good one mate. How about explaining the various types of sunroofs available today? That would complete the subject.
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Old 30th November 2010, 15:32   #14
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First of all nice and detailed review about the sunroof ajmat.

I have only one question in mind that do these luxury SUV's like Audi Q7, BMW X6, X5, X1 and Merc. etc. have proper metal penalling beneath the glass? Like the normal car roof. For example in peak summers if anybody don't want to sunrays and heat enter in the care that can be closed and be used as a normal car, because if not provided don't you think the AC will be having additional load of heat coming from the roof of the car.
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Old 30th November 2010, 19:39   #15
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Great Write up Ajit. Not many use their Sun/moon roofs as not many cars sport them.
I know of many owners of the cars with them who arent fully aware of its usage & this article will surely help a lot of us understand the benefits of a Sun/Moon roof.

Thanks for sharing
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