reprinted from sunroof.org
An automotive SUNROOF is a fixed or operable
opening in a vehicle roof (car or truck) which allows light
and/or fresh air to enter the passenger compartment. Sunroofs
may include a transparent or opaque panel, may be manually
operated or motor driven, and are available in many shapes,
sizes and styles.
Various types of
sunroofs are commonly called many different names. The generally
accepted sunroof industry terms are as follows:
POP-UP Sunroofs (pop-out,
hatch) are simply a manually operated tilting panel. These panels
are typically glass and usually removable. The panel must be stored
when removed. The operating mechanism is typically a lever latch,
however some use a rotary crank jacking mechanism. The tilting
action provides a vent in the roof, or a full opening when the panel
is removed. Pop-ups can be installed in most vehicles, and are
(tilt-&-slide) combine the features of a pop-up with those of a
sliding sunroof. They tilt to vent, and also slide open above the
roof, requiring little headroom or roof length. Spoilers don't
provide as large a clear opening as other sunroofs (typically only
60-75%), but offer the convenience of a self-storing panel. Most are
power operated, with optional features like integrated sun shades
and electronic controls. Spoilers are ideal for short roof vehicles
where other types of sliders are too long to fit within the roof
INBUILT Sunroofs (internal
sliding; moonroofs) are usually electric and often factory options
in luxury vehicles. Some imports use a painted steel panel, while
domestic makers prefer glass [moonroof]. The panel slides open
between the metal roof and interior headliner, requiring some loss
of headroom, and providing a full opening in the roof. Many include
a tilting feature for venting and electronic control. Inbuilts don't
fit every vehicle as the panel must slide and store completely
within the vehicle roof.
FOLDING Sunroofs [often
called rag-tops] are a European tradition. They offer the
convenience of a sunroof, with an opening more like a convertible.
The panel is made of fabric (vinyl), which folds back as it slides
open. Folding sunroofs have been spotted on many recent concept
cars. Original designs were manually operated, however most modern
ones are now powered.
TOP-MOUNT SLIDING Sunroofs
(rail mount topslider) have been a popular factory option in Europe
for many years. A large glass panel slides open in tracks on top of
the roof, with no loss of headroom. Most feature an integral wind
deflector to eliminate wind noise. The new BMW Mini offers a
top-mount slider, as did early Toyota Previa minivans. Another
example is DONMAR's original SKYROOF® Sliding Sunroof.
PANORAMIC ROOF SYSTEMS are
a new type of large or multi panel sunroofs which offer openings
above both the front and rear seats and may be operable or fixed
glass panels. Large operable openings are often accomplished with
top-mount slider or spoiler type mechanisms. Familiar factory
options include the BMW Mini, Caddilac SRX and Pontiac G6.
REMOVABLE ROOF PANELS
(T-tops & Targa roofs) open a vehicle roof to the side windows,
providing a wider opening than other sunroofs. T-roofs have two
removable glass panels, and leave a T-shaped structural brace in the
roof center. T-Tops were made famous on the Camaro/Firebird in the
late 1970's. Targa roofs, like on today's Corvette, include only one
[often opaque or acrylic] panel and leave no cross brace.
Aftermarket kits are no longer made, however, several companies sell
replacement and remanufactured panels, parts and accessories.
Electronic: Motorized power sunroofs may be operated by a
simple push-and-hold switch, or may include an electronic control
module (ECM) to provide single touch express open, express close
and/or auto-close on ignition off.
Sunroofs may be factory installed or
aftermarket. Just because the vehicle included a sunroof when
the dealer sold it doesn't mean it was installed at the factory. To
tell the difference, open the sunroof and look at the edge of
opening in the vehicle roof [the hole]. If the painted metal rolls
down over the edge of the hole, it is factory installed. If it has a
black or silver frame overlapping the roof skin, it is most likely
If your vehicle does not
presently include a sunroof, see your local sunroof professional for
a custom installation.
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