How to fix a sunroof, totally DIY (Pt. 2)

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Sunroofs of Nissan Elgrand E51.

Fixing a leaky sunroof isn't as hard as you think, if you are proactive. (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/Tennen-Gas/Wikipedia)

Think that you should resort to a professional at the first signs of trouble with your sunroof? Not exactly. Try to fix it yourself by following these guidelines. CLICK HERE if you missed the beginning of this article.

How reliable is your sunroof?

Unfortunately, the average power sunroof is less reliable than the average power window. This is because flipping the mechanics of an electronic window mechanism on its side makes the job harder. A sunroof must be able to tilt up and down to accommodate sliding and venting, not just slide back and forth to open or close. That means more than just electric motors, switches and slides. It means additional parts that can break.

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When you hear popping and scraping noises up there, odds are it means there is surface binding, gear slippage and other mechanical problems at work. You’ll want to get it fixed before the entire mechanism breaks, creating an even more expensive problem.

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What can you do when your sunroof becomes a problem?

Popular Mechanics suggests that there are two ways to approach repairing a sunroof. The first way is to fix it up, DIY-style. The second is to replace everything, which is the more expensive route that most would rather avoid if they can. The first thing you’ll want to do is try to remove the glass panel. Try to tilt the panel to vent position, which should expose the screws so that the panel can be removed. Once the sunroof glass has been removed, you should have clearance to access the moving parts on the inside of the mechanism. You’re looking for cracked or stripped gears, debris to clear away, or literally anything else that look problematic. With the window still out, start the car and cycle the roof control through open, close and vent positions and see if any areas of difficulty are crying out for a fix.

If you’re lucky, all you’ll have to do it replace the gear on the motor in the front part of the sunroof housing mechanism. Regardless of the issue, be sure to clean everything while you’re in there, and swab it down with lithium or marine grease. This will help promote smooth operation of the mechanism. Unfortunately, if you know something is wrong in there but don’t find anything obvious, you might as well leave the thing taken apart and seek professional help. At least you’ll save yourself a bit on labor if the glass is already out. Allowing a pro to remove the interior trim around the door pillars, as well as any overhead handles, dome lights and headliner can be money well spent. Disconnecting the sunroof wiring harness and unbolting it all can get a bit heavy for the novice DIY auto repair warrior.

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