How to Maintain a Sunroof

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A sunroof can add a ton of fun to a vehicle, but if you fail to properly maintain the sunroof it can easily become a nightmare. This is especially true with an after-market sunroof, since the seals and glass are not mounted with the factory machinery, so they are more susceptible to leaks and cracks. Whether you have a factory-mounted sunroof or one you have installed yourself, you'll find it a simple but necessary task to maintain your sunroof properly.

Things You'll Need

  • Lint-free cloths
  • Mild detergent
  • Cool water
  • Silicone-based lubricant
  • Old toothbrush
  • Cotton swabs
  • Lithium grease
  • Keyboard vacuum (optional)
  • Use a glass cleaner that does not contain ammonia or vinegar. Not only will both of these ingredients cause streaking on glass that is exposed to the weather, but ammonia is a toxic ingredient, especially in closed, warm environments.

  • Wipe the rubber gasket that seals your sunroof with a mild detergent on a lint-free cloth. Clean the entire gasket with the detergent, including in between any ridges or folds in the rubber.

  • Rinse the gasket completely with a lint-free rag soaked in cool water. Any detergent left behind on the gasket can either directly cause damage to the rubber, or it can attract dirt to any sticky residue, which will cause wear and eventually leaks.

  • Lubricate the gasket with a silicone-based lubricant. It is imperative that you only use silicone-based lubricant and steer clear of any petroleum-based lubricants. Petroleum-based lubricants will react poorly with the rubber material and may cause the glass to stick, which will cause the gasket to tear the next time you attempt to open the sunroof.

  • Remove any wax buildup from the metal frame that is around the top of the sunroof with an old toothbrush and mild detergent. This area is prone to catching the edge of the rag or buffer that is used to wax the car, so there will often be a waxy buildup that can discolor the metal frame. Removing this buildup will keep your car looking great and help keep the metal frame from losing its protective paint that resists rust.

  • Check the mounting hardware on your manually operated sunroof if it is exposed. Tighten the screws on the hinges, and check for any rust or other damage around the hinges or clips.

  • Clean the tracks of your power-operated, sliding sunroof. Remove any debris and built-up lubricants that may have made its way into the track area. An old toothbrush is perfect to loosen the debris, and you can use a cotton swab to wipe the area clean. Another excellent tool for this are the tiny vacuums what are designed to clean computer keyboards. Pay special attention to the drain hole areas, since dirt and grime tend to gather in these holes.

  • Lubricate the inner lip of the sliding rails to maintain a smoothly gliding sunroof. Lithium grease is usually suggested by most manufacturers.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you remove the glass from your sunroof to clean it more thoroughly, be sure to wrap the glass in a blanket or case. Tempered glass can shatter if cracked or warped, so handle your sunroof glass very carefully.
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