How to Install a Removable Sunroof


A factory-installed sunroof can be quite an expensive addition to a new car, and a sunroof isn't even an option on most used cars. The good news is that you can install a removable after market sunroof on your new, old or newly acquired used car to satisfy your need for a pleasant view from your car. Though it is not a difficult process for someone with experience working with vehicles and heavy power tools, the beginner may want to consider having a professional either do the work or check yours when you have finished the job.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Removable sunroof installation kit
  • Gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Masking tape
  • Hammer
  • Awl
  • Grease pencil
  • Blankets or towels
  • Drill
  • Jig saw or reciprocating saw
  • Tin snips
  • Utility knife
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Allen wrench
  • Screwdrivers
  • Measure the roof of your car to find a sunroof installation kit in the correct size. You'll want to make sure that you have at least 12 inches of room all the way around your removable sunroof to allow for maximum stability.

  • Purchase a removable sunroof kit from a reliable dealer. You can find sunroof kits at your local auto parts stores, but to ensure that you will be able to find the perfect removable sunroof in the correct size, you may want to consider using an online retailer.

  • Place the template that comes in the installation kit on the outside of the roof temporarily to double check that your removable sunroof will be the proper size. It is much easier to visualize your installed sunroof from the outside than from the inside.

  • Move the template into the car and fasten it with masking tape to the headliner. Position the template so that the sunroof clears all your visors by at least 1 inch and so that your dome light is not in the way. If the dome light is where you would like to install your removable sunroof, then you can easily remove the dome light and reposition it after you have completed the installation.

  • Puncture the template with a hammer and sharp awl at the positioning point marked on your template. The force should go through the template and headliner and put a clearly visible dimple in the car roof. You can mark over this dimple with a grease pencil to make it more obvious.

  • Reposition the template on the top of the car using the positioning dimple mark as your guide.

  • Drape the seats and console with a blanket or towels to catch any metal filings or other debris that may fall into the car as remove the metal from your car roof.

  • Drill into the roof of the car at the reference point. This will create a pilot hole for you to begin sawing the hole for your removable sunroof.

  • Remove the headliner from the interior of the car. These are rather fragile pieces of fabric, especially in older cars, so take care when pulling these down. Depending on the make and model of your car, you may need to remove all of the inside trim, visors, handles and dome light to remove the headliner completely, taking it out of the vehicle and stored somewhere safe.

  • Trace around the template on the roof with a grease pencil and remove the paper template.

  • Place masking tape around your guidelines to help protect the paint finish on the roof that will be remaining after you cut the hole to house your sunroof.

  • Insert the blade of the jig saw or reciprocating saw into the pilot hole and begin cutting around the traced template lines.

  • Insert your sunroof into the hole temporarily to check for any rough edges that may damage your sunroof or prevent it from opening. If you find that the sunroof snags on any rough edges, trim these edges with a pair of tin snips.

  • Replace the headliner.

  • Mark the headliner with the grease pencil to indicate where it should be cut to allow the sunroof to come through.

  • Pull the headliner out of the car once more, and use a utility knife to cut around the traced lines.

  • Prepare the car roof and the sunroof for installation by removing the masking tape and cleaning all the surfaces of the sunroof frame with rubbing alcohol.

  • Coat the exposed metal edge with the protective primer that should be included in your installation kit. This is to prevent any corrosion of the metal, which can quickly spread to other areas of your car.

  • Apply the adhesive to the sunroof frame and fit the frame carefully into the hole from the roof side.

  • Fit the inner ring into the frame. Secure the ring by tightening the cam bolts provided in the ring with an Allen wrench.

  • Reinstall the headliner and trim off any rough edges to create a finished look.

  • Place the pinch molding over the headliner to secure it in place.

  • Run the vinyl trim over the cam bolts.

  • Insert the hinges into the front of the frame brackets.

  • Lower the glass into the hinges and secure by gently pushing the glass forward until it mates with the frame bracket.

  • Attach the rear latch to the glass and frame.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be sure to double check the positioning of your removable sunroof multiple times before finally cutting. If you install the sunroof crooked, it will make the sunroof quite difficult to open and close properly.
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