An automotive sunroof is a fixed or operable (venting or sliding) opening in an automobile roof which allows light and/or fresh air to enter the passenger compartment. Sunroofs may be manually operated or motor driven, and are available in many shapes, sizes and styles. (see sunroof definitions below)
Sunroofs, by historical definition are opaque and slide open to allow fresh air into the passenger compartment. Today, most factory sliding sunroof options feature a glass panel and are sometimes marketed as moonroofs, a term introduced in 1973 by John Atkinson, a marketing manager at Ford for the Lincoln Continental Mark IV. For the first year, Ford sent out its Mark IVs to American Sunroof Company for offline installation. The first car company to offer a sunroof as a standard option was the Nash Motor Company as an option on some of its 1937 models. 
Variations of both the sunroof and moonroof have become the norm in both factory installed and aftermarket offerings, creating a wide range of features and choices.
Sunroof systems may be manual or electric, while most moonroof systems are electric/electronic. Manual sunroofs may be lever actuated, as in venting type pop-ups, manual lever or crank operated for sliding systems. Electric roof systems are usually cable driven by a motor and feature some form of sliding opening. Most moonroof systems today are electric and have either a combination pop-up/inbuilt or a pop-up/spoiler configuration (see Sunroof Types below).
Roof systems may be original equipment, factory options (provided by the car company), or installed aftermarket by a roof installation professional for the car dealer or retail customer. Once the vehicle leaves the assembly line, the factory option can no longer be integrated into the roof, making aftermarket the only option.
Roof systems are available in many shapes, sizes and styles, and are known by many names. The generally accepted sunroof/moonroof industry terms are as follows:
- Pop-up sunroofs are simply a manually-operated tilting panel. These panels are usually removable, and like T-roofs, must be stored when removed. 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 relatively inexpensive. Familiar examples include metal panels in Porsche 944, early Mazda RX-7 and many glass panel factory and aftermarket installations.
- Spoiler sunroofs (tilt-&-slides) combine the features of a pop-up with those of a sliding roof system. They tilt to vent and slide open above the roof, requiring little headroom or roof length. Spoilers typically do not provide as large an opening as other roof systems, but offer the convenience of a self-storing panel. Most spoiler roofs are electric, with optional features like integrated sun shades and express open/close. Spoilers are ideal for short-roof vehicles where other types of sliders can't be installed. Familiar examples include Honda CRX, Saturn SC and Mazda RX-8.
- Inbuilt sunroof systems have a panel which slides between the metal roof and interior headliner, requiring some loss of headroom but providing a full opening in the roof. All inbuilts slide inside the roof, while some also include a rear venting feature (see pop-up), and/or express open/close functions. Inbuilts don't fit every vehicle, as the panel must slide and store completely within the vehicle roof. Historically, inbuilts were a metal sunroof panel painted to match the vehicle roof, but now most are glass-panel systems with sliding sunshades (typically referred to as moonroofs).
- Folding sunroofs (often called rag-tops or cabrio coach) are a European tradition. They offer the convenience of a sunroof, with an opening more like a convertible. The panel is made of fabric (often vinyl), which folds back as it slides open. After a long absence in European and North American Markets, folding sunroofs have experienced a resurgence with several new factory-installed options. Aftermarket versions were once only manual, but now are also available in powered versions. Familiar examples include the original VW Beetle, Renault Twingo and Jeep Liberty.
- 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. Examples include Donmar's original Skyroof topslider (aftermarket system), the London Taxi and Renault 5 cars.
- Panoramic roof systems are a new type of large or multi-panel moonroof 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-slider (tracks in the top of the roof) or spoiler type mechanisms. Familiar examples include the Acura ZDX, Lexus ES, BMW Mini, Scion tC, Pontiac G6, Ford Flex, Jaguar XJ, and Cadillac SRX.
- Removable roof panels ( t-tops or targa roofs) open a vehicle roof to the side windows, providing a wider opening than other roof systems. T-roofs have two removable panels and leave a T-shaped structural brace in the roof center. Targa roofs include only one (opaque or transparent) panel and leave no cross brace. Aftermarket kits are no longer made, but several companies sell replacement and remanufactured panels, parts and accessories. Familiar examples include Pontiac Firebird, Chevrolet Corvette and Porsche 914.
Folding Sunroof in a VW Beetle
Inbuilt (Moonroof) in Chevy Blazer
Panoramic roof in a BMW Mini
Targa Top in Porsche 914
The panoramic roof of a Pontiac G6
- Electric vs. Electronic Motorized power roof systems may be operated by a simple push-and-hold switch, or may include an electronic control module (ECM) to provide single-touch express opening, express closing and/or auto-closing on ignition off.
- Solar sunroof Solar sunroofs actually are made of glass, which unlike the proper moonroof terminology standards have an inlaid photovoltaic solar insert, or solar panel, making the glass totally opaque (thus allowing the proper term 'sunroof'). While they operate identically to conventional factory-fitted glass moonroofs (tilting and retracting), the solar panel provides electricity to power the interior ventilation fans, for cooling the car interior on hot days when the car is standing outside in the sunlight. These are available as a factory option on the 2010 Prius, recent Audi cars, Renault Zoé, and also were available on some versions of the Mazda Millennia.
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Look at other dictionaries:
Sunroof — Sun roof , n. a panel in the roof of an automobile, usually above the driver s seat, that can be opened. [PJC] … The Collaborative International Dictionary of English
sunroof — of a car, 1966, from SUN (Cf. sun) + ROOF (Cf. roof) … Etymology dictionary
sunroof — ► NOUN ▪ a panel in the roof of a car that can be opened for extra ventilation … English terms dictionary
sunroof — [sun′ro͞of΄, sun′roof΄] n. an often transparent panel, movable or removable, built into the roof of an automotive vehicle to provide light, fresh air, etc.: also sun roof … English World dictionary
sunroof — UK [ˈsʌnˌruːf] / US [ˈsʌnˌruf] noun [countable] Word forms sunroof : singular sunroof plural sunroofs 1) a part of a roof of a car that can be opened 2) a flat roof on a building where you can sit to enjoy the sun … English dictionary
Sunroof! — Matthew Bower Matthew Bower en concert avec Hototogisu Matthew Bower est un musicien de rock britannique, actif depuis le début des années 1980. Son oeuvre très vaste, aussi bien en tant qu artiste solo qu en travail collaboratif, peut être… … Wikipédia en Français
sunroof — noun /ˈsʌnˌɹuːf/ A fixed or operable opening in a vehicle roof (car or truck) which allows fresh air and/or light to enter the passenger compartment. A sunroof may include a transparent or opaque panel and may be manually operated or power driven … Wiktionary
sunroof — [[t]sʌ̱nruːf[/t]] sunroofs N COUNT A sunroof is a panel in the roof of a car that opens to let sunshine and air enter the car … English dictionary
sunroof — (sr) A panel (often translucent) in the roof of a car which may be tilted or slid open, either manually or electrically to provide extra light and/or ventilation. Also see tilt/slide sunroof … Dictionary of automotive terms
sunroof — noun an automobile roof having a sliding or raisable panel sunshine roof is a British term for sunroof • Syn: ↑sunshine roof • Hypernyms: ↑roof • Part Holonyms: ↑car, ↑auto, ↑ … Useful english dictionary