Home Diagnosis and TroubleshootingWindows and Glass Difference Between Sunroof And Moonroof – Is There Any Difference?

Difference Between Sunroof And Moonroof – Is There Any Difference?

by Jordan Harris
Difference Between Sunroof And Moonroof

Are you planning to get a car with a glass roof but you are getting confused by the terms sunroof and moonroof? If that is the case, you are at the right place because we are going to tell you everything you need to know when it comes to the difference between sunroof and moonroof.

Getting a car that has these options these days is somewhat mandatory because, with these features, you will be able to enjoy the natural sunlight entering your cabin and will not be all dark and gloomy inside. That’s why optioning a car that either has a sunroof or a moonroof is key these days.

Either way, when you option your car, it is worth noting that these options do not come cheap and they will cost you a few pennies. But you shouldn’t worry because later in the article we are going to discuss the average cost of this option. The important thing is that with a sunroof or a moonroof, you will feel a lot more comfortable inside of your cabin on those long trips.

The natural light simply does wonders and makes us feel at home. Even though we are hundreds of miles away. That is one of the pros of owning a car with a sunroof or a moonroof. But what is the difference between sunroof and moonroof?

In this article, we are going to learn what is a sunroof and what is a moonroof. Then we will learn the difference between sunroof and moonroof. After we are going to discuss the types of sunroof and moon roof that are out there and the cost to spec one for your future car. So, let’s dive into it.

What Is A Sunroof? – Difference Between Sunroof And Moonroof

Before we dive into the differences between the two. It is important that we should know what each of these words means. Because there is a big difference between sunroof and moonroof. First, we will cover the sunroof and then in the following chapter, we will discuss moonroofs.

When it comes to sunroofs it is important to note that these types of roofs actually open the car from the top. So, when you have your sunroof opened, you are exposed to the elements that are outside.

So, if you open your sunroof, and it suddenly starts raining outside, you will get wet. This means that sunroofs are letting the elements get in the car.

This also means that if you drive outside with a sunroof. It is quite logical that you will get all the UV light from the sun and burn your skin off.

The early ideas of sunroof even predate the cars with internal combustion engines. The sunroof on the older cars like for example the Fiat 500 or the Citroen 2CV, both had sunroofs.

Which meant that you could just roll down the roof of your car and you can hit the sun. This type of sunroof is called a foldable roof. There are also mechanical sunroofs that on the press of the button react and your roof is removed so, the breeze of air can enter your cabin and refresh you.

Sunroofs were quite popular among buyers that wanted something new and different on their car. They were booming in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s until something new and more modern was invented that allowed them to have the best of both worlds. And that was the moonroof that we are going to cover next.

What Is A Moonroof?

The sunroofs were good. But there was something new that had to be invented in order to protect the passengers from the elements.

As we noted, sunroofs are letting you be exposed to the elements. So, there was a high chance that you would get your skin burnt by the UV light that protrudes into the cabin. Or rained upon if you forget to roll back your sunroof.

Not to forget the leaks that these sunroofs were making. Basically, every time it rained a big mess of water was created into these cars. So, something new and more modern has to be invented. Something that required a lot of ingenuity and engineering knowledge to make all this possible. And that was the moonroof.

Difference Between Sunroof And Moonroof

It was introduced in 1973 when the Lincoln Mark IV debuted. As we all know the Mark series was Lincoln’s top-of-the-line model that was all about luxury. So, the new Mark IV with its new moonroof design has hit the showroom floor and it became an instant hit.

This new design has implemented a tinted glass top which replaced the metal plate that was used until then. Which meant that the sun could protrude all the time. And then was the tinted glass that absorbed the UV light and made sure that all of the passengers in the cabin feel comfortable. And if you didn’t want the sun at all, you could just roll the sunroof vizor and the sun will be completely blocked.

On some cars, this moon roof can be turned into a sunroof if the driver wants. This is made possible by an electric motor that rolls the glass and then you have a sunroof like in the good old days. Pretty convenient option.

What Is The Difference Between Sunroof And Moon Roof?

In the past, there was a considerable difference between the two terms. But now in the modern days. These words are used interchangeably. In 2021, sunroof, moonroof, it doesn’t matter at all. Everyone calls the moonroof a sunroof. But there is a big difference between the two.

We explained in the previous chapters separately. But now in this chapter, we will sum up and make a comparison between the two for you to not have any other doubts of whether you have a sunroof or a moon roof. So, what is the difference between sunroof and moonroof?

The moonroof is a window and the sunroof is a door. This is the simplest answer to this question. Even though moon roofs can also become doors as well. Since on modern cars, they tend to open as well.

But this doesn’t mean that you should drive with the moonroof open all the way all the time. They have a special UV protection design that allows them to block the harmful radiation from the sun and keep you completely safe.

As we said, with the regular sunroofs, you don’t have this protection at all. So, the sun protrudes all the time. That’s why moonroofs are quite more convenient and more modern. Some car manufacturers have even gone that far that they implemented a moonroof that covers the whole roofline. Which is pretty insane.

In the following chapters, we are going to cover precisely that. Since we covered everything you need to know when it comes to the difference between sunroof and moonroof. We can move to other topics and that is the types of moonroofs and sunroofs that are out there.

Types Of Sunroof And Moonroof

We have covered the difference between sunroof and moonroof and as we mentioned above, now it’s time to move on to something else and discuss the types of sunroofs and moonroofs. This would be quite handy if you are on the market for a vehicle with this type of roof. Knowing the types will help you to spec out your future car in the best way possible and help you out to be fully satisfied with your choice.

This discussion also is going to help you with the pros and cons of each type of roof that we are going to list. Knowing the pros and cons is the key to making the right decision and making sure that you made the right choice. So, let’s begin discussing the types of sunroofs and moonroofs.

Sunroof Types – Difference Between Sunroof And Moonroof

First, in the next chapters, we are going to cover the sunroof types and then we will cover the moonroof variants.

1. Foldable Sunroof

The foldable sunroof was one of the early designs that implemented a rail mechanism on both sides. So the driver could be able to roll the roof manually. This design was very basic and didn’t implement a lot of expensive components. And because of this, it was quite popular among the buyers on the market. This design was firstly used on the VW Beetle and the Citroen 2CV. Two of the most popular cars of the 50’s and 60’s.


The pros of this design were the simplicity and ease of use. In only a few seconds you can roll back your roof and enjoy the sun.

Another pro is that it gets the looks. Everywhere you go, this top will be quite noticeable and people will not be able to resist looking at it.


No soundproof makes this top quite noisy. You will get annoyed by the road noise pretty quickly.

Another con of these types of sunroofs is that the material ages and as the fabric age. There could be holes that develop and moisture can get inside of the car.

Not to mention that someone could easily get into your car by simply putting his hand under the cloth material.

2. Built-In Mechanical Sunroof

The built-in sunroof was the most popular before inventing the in-built moon roof. But what is the difference between sunroof and moon roof? The difference with the sunroof is that you don’t have that tinted glass that you have on a moonroof.

When you are running an in-built mechanical sunroof, you are only running that metal plate that is mechanically removable and on a press of a button slides between the headliner and the roof.


The main pro of this type of sunroof is that it is mechanically powered. You press a single button and the top slides off and gets tucked between the headliner and the roof.


It’s not a moon roof. Since it doesn’t have a glass, it allows the elements to get inside of your car. So, if it starts raining you will get all wet inside if you forget to press the button to close down the top.

Also, the seals over time are starting to rot and develop cracks. This means that there will be moisture that will find its way to enter the cabin and make everything wet. This means that this type of top is not ideal. Especially in old cars that have these types of systems.

3. T-Top Sunroof

T-tops were highly popular back in the 70’s. But what is the T-Top? The T-Top is a sunroof that implements a T design. This means that there are two glass panels and in the middle, the body is reinforced with a bar.

The T-Top panels are easily removable with only one push from the outside. Also, they are tinted which means that the sun will not burn your skin. Some of the most popular cars that were running these T-Tops were the Chevy Camaro and the Pontiac Trans Am.

You are probably quite familiar with the legendary movie called “Smokey And The Bandit” where the T-Top Trans Am was the star.


The pros of this type of sunroof are that the panels are easily removable and also protected with UV protection which guarantees that you will not bake in the sun. Even though driving under the sun can also be stressful after a while.


The cons are quite a few when it comes to the T-Tops. That’s why they weren’t used by a lot of automakers. The biggest concern was the structural rigidity of the vehicle.

As the car moves on the road, the body flexes and when the glass is on. It starts to squeak and develop noises that can be extremely unpleasant to hear.

Not to mention that they also tend to leak like crazy and make a whole mess inside of your cabin.

4. Targa Top

Targa tops are also one of the most popular sunroof options. The Targa tops got the name because of the Porsche 911 Targa on which this type of sunroof was first implemented back in 1966 and throughout the years the Targa became a trademark for Porsche. But it was also used on other cars as well. Namely the Chevy Corvette and also the Toyota Supra Mark 4. We all know the orange Supra from the Fast and Furious saga.

Difference Between Sunroof And Moonroof

But what the Targa is unique for is that it implements a full roll bar design behind the driver and a full rear window. Only the top is removed whenever the driver wants to. And he can store the top in the trunk area.


The Targa top has many pros. But the most notable pro of the Targa is the ease of use and also the protection that it offers for the driver in case of a rollover. It is much safer than a classical cabriolet.

And the biggest reason is probably the looks. The Targa top is simply an eye-catcher because it is so unique and there are hardly any other vehicles out there that use these Targa tops.


The cons of the Targa top are similar to the T-Top. The body flexes and squeaks are quite notable in the cabin. Also, the road noise is much bigger than a regular car.

Also, leaks are present if the Targa top gets damaged from exposure to the elements. The seals simply fade away and moisture can easily get inside of the car. We have covered the difference between sunroof and moonroof and we covered the sunroof types. The next types that we will cover are the moonroofs.

Moonroof Types – Difference Between Sunroof And Moonroof

We explained the difference between sunroof and moonroof and we also explained the types of sunroofs that are out there. Now let’s focus on the moonroof options that you could buy. Similarly, as with the sunroof, we will go through them all and list the pros and cons of each one of them.

1. Built-In Moonroof

Built-in moonroofs are one of the most common moonroofs out there. Similar to a sunroof but with tinted glass. This means that there is no metal hatch but the hatch is made out of glass which greatly improves the visibility inside of the car. Or if you want to completely block the sun you can put on the sunroof visor.


It is highly versatile and with a press of a button, you can see the stars and the moon.


It uses rubber seals that know to leak when they get old. Also, the mechanism tends to fail at a certain point and your moonroof stays open. Not a good situation and expensive repair as well.

2. Spoiler Moonroof

Spoiler moon roofs are also popular. They are called like this because they have a spoiler-like feature that pops on the front and then the glass retracts.

This feature looks like a spoiler and deflects the air which prevents the air from messing up your hair. This means that you will enjoy your moonroof but without the wind.


Easy to use and very reliable type of moon roof that offers great ventilation.


Increased wind noise is present and it is not clean looking like the regular built-in moonroof since the glass goes over the top of the car and the spoiler pops on the front of the roof.

3. Pop Up Moonroof

Similar in size and shape to the built-in moonroof. This type of moonroof doesn’t use any mechanism and is dead easy to use. There are basically two hatches that when pulled the moonroof opens either from the front, from the back, or both ways.


It is dead easy to use and doesn’t implement any complex mechanisms that will put in danger the usability of the moonroof. Provides simple but perfect ventilation inside of your cabin.


With the age, the drain holes and tubes become clogged up. This will allow the water to enter inside of the cabin and also build up rust on the roof as well. These pop-up moonroofs can be a reason for rust problems.

4. Panoramic Moonroof

The panoramic moonroof is probably one of the most popular roof options nowadays. The panoramic moon roof basically covers all of the roof or half of the roof. It is one of the biggest out there when it comes to size and allows a lot of light to enter the cabin.

Difference Between Sunroof And Moonroof

These roofs are only included on higher-end models and know to cost crazy money to opt-out.


The pros of this panoramic moonroof are a few and some of them include the increased sunlight that enters the cabin.

This type of moonroof also increases the resale value of the vehicle and makes your car value more on the second-hand market.


When it comes to cons, the biggest con is that this type of roof costs quite a lot of money to opt-in when you purchase a vehicle. Another con is that it allows too much light to enter the cabin which is not comfortable for some people.

When it breaks is quite expensive to repair since the electric motors that are driving the panoramic moonroof can be quite more expensive to replace.

Cost To Option One – Difference Between Sunroof And Moonroof

We have covered the difference between sunroof and moonroof and also the types of moonroofs and sunroofs. Now let’s see how much money it is going to cost you to option one for your future car.

The average cost for a moonroof is around $1,000 to several thousand dollars. Which is not quite a lot if you are passionate about having one on your car.

Facts about Sunroofs, Moonroofs, and Panoramic Roofs:

  • Sunroofs and moonroofs are different. Sunroofs slide back or can be taken out, while moonroofs usually have a tinted glass panel that cannot be removed but can slide or tilt open.
  • Moonroofs often come with an interior sliding panel that matches the car’s interior and can block out light.
  • Panoramic roofs are becoming more popular and consist of large glass panels on the entire length of the vehicle roof. They can either be fixed in place or have glass panes that slide open and closed.
  • Canvas convertible tops are less secure than sunroofs or moonroofs, as they can be easily slashed.
  • One of the most common complaints about sunroofs and moonroofs is leaks, which can be caused by debris clogging the drainage system.
  • Sunroofs and moonroofs add noticeable mass at the top of the vehicle, which raises the center of gravity and can affect handling.
  • Sunroofs are not very common in cars anymore, and traditional opaque, movable sunroofs are rarely sold on vehicles.
  • Moonroofs are often referred to as sunroofs when people are shopping for a car.
  • Maintaining sunroofs and moonroofs can be expensive, so it is recommended to vacuum and wash them regularly, lubricate all moving parts, and schedule yearly maintenance.
  • Allstate auto insurance can provide quality auto coverage for drivers seeking peace of mind on the road.

Conclusion – Difference Between Sunroof And Moonroof

In this article, we have covered a lot when it comes to moonroofs and sunroofs. First, we learned what these types of roofs are and what are their main characteristics.

Then we have covered the difference between sunroof and moonroof. As we noted, in the past there were differentiations between these two terms but now they basically overlap and many people call the sunroof a moonroof and the opposite. Even though it is not quite correct.

Since the moonroof has replaced the sunroof design a long time ago and all the cars that you can purchase now come equipped with a moonroof.

A sunroof is simply a metallic panel or cloth material that comes off or retracts. While the moonroof is a similar panel but with tinted and UV protective glass that most of the cars are using now. That’s the difference between sunroof and moonroof.

Then, we have covered the types of sunroofs and moonroofs and lastly, we made learned how much this option for the moonroof is going to cost you. It ain’t cheap, but it’s worth it if you have a big desire for a moonroof on your car.

You may also like

Leave a Comment