How to install an aftermarket sunroof

A sunroof provides additional cooling for your car when the temperature is high and a brighter driving experience when the sun is shining down. Some cars have sunroofs when they roll off of the assembly line, while many others are made without them. For those who would like to have one, aftermarket installation of a non-motorised sunroof can be done at home.

Observe your vehicle's roof from the exterior and interior to determine the viability of the surface for sustaining a sunroof. Observe the wiring within the roof, paying particular care to the interior light(s), especially the dome light. Review the owner's manual of the car, looking for diagrams of the wiring that may provide available spacing measurements for the sunroof, and information on moving the wiring safely, if possible.

Buy an aftermarket sunroof kit after measuring the available space for your vehicle. Some sunroof kits are specially made to specific vehicles, while others are made for specific spacing.

Prepare the vehicle by mapping out the area for the sunroof on your vehicle using the kit's template. Outline the installation area with the non-permanent marker and kill the car's power source by removing the battery terminals in case a wire in the roof is cut during the installation process.

Drill holes around the cutting line you drew with the marker. Use the drill holes to start the saw, and cut around the outline to create the opening. Use the saw to remove any jagged edges around the cut line. Go inside of the vehicle and cut a hole in the headliner with the razor blade. Cut small portions of the headliner so that it won't rip. Do not "saw" with the blade.

Install the frames from the sunroof installation kit into the opening of the roof. The inner and outer frames should form a snug fit without buckling or bowing. Install the moulding inside of the frames, followed by the styrofoam inserts and the flat ring. Install the glass from the sunroof installation kit inside of the flat ring and check the fit and operation of the sunroof.

Undo the assembly of the sunroof, specifically the glass, the styrofoam inserts and the flat ring. Install the weather stripping underneath the upper and lower frames and fill gaps with caulking. Redo the remainder of the sunroof assembly and tighten the screws.

Things You'll Need

  • Non-permanent fine point marker
  • Measuring tape
  • Eye protection
  • Drill
  • Drill bits
  • Sabre saw
  • Box cutter or other razor blade tool
  • Screwdrivers
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About the Author

Darryl James, a syndicated columnist and freelance writer in the Los Angeles area has written for more than 15 years for "New York Newsday," "Pittsburgh Courier," "The Los Angeles Sentinel," "Women's Wear Daily," "Apparel News," "Rap Sheet" and more. James has written books and has just finished his first screenplay.