How to Install a Sunroof

June 30, 2008 by  
Filed under Automotive & Mechanical

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how to install a sunroof

Believe it or not, installing a sun roof on your car is not all that hard. In fact, most do it yourself-ers should be able to handle the installation with little problem. The biggest issue people run into is cutting through their cars’ roof. It’s not hard to do but, often people find the cutting up of their roof psychologically difficult. Overcome this complication and you will soon find yourself the owner of a new sunroof laden car.

For the purpose of this how to guide, we have chosen to install an electric sunroof with a sliding shader panel kit. There are plenty of different “kits” available online. Hopefully by demonstrating how to install one of the more difficult versions of sunroofs, we will be able to cover most generic installs. As always, if you need help with your installation, please seek out a professional.

Prepare Your Vehicle for a New Sun Roof

Before you begin your sunroof kit installation, set up the area you will be using with your tools. Most installations will require a marking pencil, tape measure, razor blade, scratch awl, fiber stick, a rivet tool, sheet metal sheers, drill and bits and a #2 screwdriver. Of course different installation may require specific tools but, this list should cover the basics.

Also, be sure to run a “bench test” of your sunroof. A bench test (a complete test of the sunroof before it is installed) will help ensure that you have all the pieces in the kit and that there are no mechanical problems. You will also want to lay a sheet or tarp down on the interior of your car so that your upholstery is protected.

Position and Test Your New Sunroof

Take the shade tray and hold it to the interior top of your car. You will want to make sure that there is at least 4 inches on each side of the shade tray. Once you find the location that you want to install you your sunroof at, mark the location by using an awl or screwdriver. Poke a hole through the headliner and push on hard enough to make a small dent through the metal. This will help you find the location from the outside.

The next step is to remove the headliner and headliner board from the inside of your car. If you have an older car, this might be a good time to consider replacing the headliner anyhow. You can remove any anti-flutter bows you find but be sure to leave and not cut any of the structural braces.

Measure and mark a line on the outside of your car, from the front to the rear of your chosen location for your sunroof. The line will need to cross through the middle of your sunroof. Next, align your template to the centerline and tape it to the top of your car.


Poke a hole though the metal, preferably where you dented it earlier, to allow your metal sheers the cut out the sunroof template. Once the roof section is removed, use a file to smooth the surface of the edges. Having a smooth surface will be important in order to prevent leaking.

Install the Sunroof Kit

Test the fit of the sunroof. There should be a 4mm clearance on each side of the opening. If the sunroof fits properly, apply a metal primer to the cut edges to prevent rusting. Clean the underside of the sunroof and apply a sealant to the inner lip of the main frame, then insert the sunroof into the opening on your car.

From the inside, hook the clamping ring and screw in the attachment screws. Make the screws tight but do not over tighten or strip them. Clean any excess sealant that has squeezed out.

Install the sunshade rack assembly using the short screws at the front mounting points and attach the wiring harness. Each sunroof will be wired differently so please refer to your installation manual or your manufacturer for electrical wiring installation.

Finally, reattach your headliner and board. You can use double-sided sticky tape for any problem areas.

Easy Step By Step Instructions
  • Prepare for the install by gathering supplies and materials
  • Position the sunroof and cut the roof of the vehicle
  • Use the instructions to install your sunroof
Warnings, Advice, and Suggestions

Installing a sunroof is not difficult however, if you have any misgivings or hesitation seek professional help.


6 Responses to “How to Install a Sunroof”
  1. tahnee says:

    hehe i just got a sunroof that my dad is going to install and im sooooo excited does any one no how my insurance company is going to like this do they take kindly to it or will they maybe void my policey

  2. LISSA says:

    Thanks for posting such kind of usefull information.Keep Posted in future as well.Thank you!

  3. DONAL-B says:

    I used to fit auto sunroofs for a living, I agree with some of the others though, it,s the psychological thing of taking a saw or shears, and cutting a hole in a perfectly good roof. Once you have all your tools preped and follow the step by step instructions then you are unlikely to encounter any problems, certainly none taht you can’t overcome.

    Slow & Sure, and it will be a job well done.

  4. Not Chicken Little says:

    Yeah, once you start to make the cut there’s no turning back. But if you can handle an electric saw and are even just reasonably handy you won’t have any problems. Sunroof kits are professionally produced and not “home-made” although I suppose an enterprising do-it-yourselfer could fabricate one. I’ve installed several sunroof kits in my vehicles and it’s really quite easy. You’ll be glad you did it.

    On the other hand if your attitude is “It’s definitely not something I would want to attempt personally” even when you’ve never seen anyone’s vehicle who has installed their own sunroof, you definitely should not do it LOL!

  5. GoldenRest says:

    Heh, i dunno…There’s not really much room for error when you’re cutting up the roof of your car. And I somehow doubt it would be as nice as if you just bought the car with the sunroof installed professionally by the dealership or manufacturer. I’ve never seen a “home-made” sunroof done so I can’t really say how it really is. It’s definitely not something I would want to attempt personally.


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    Believe it or not, installing a sun roof on your car is not all that hard. In fact, most do it yourself-ers should be able to handle the installation with little problem. The biggest issue people run into is cutting through their cars’ roof. It’s not…

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