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What Is The Difference Between a Sunroof and Moonroof?

Interior view of a vehicle sunroof

A traditional sunroof is a solid, vehicle-body-colored panel that can be removed, retracted or tilted up to let in sun and air. Moonroofs are technically types of sunroofs, but they are transparent and not removable or retractable. They tilt open on a track automatically in newer vehicles.

Dive in deeper with Glass Doctor to find out more differences between these two. Learn how the terms sunroof and moonroof developed over time and which style would be best in your vehicle.

In need of sunroof installation or sunroof repair services? Find your local Glass Doctor.

Moonroof vs. Sunroof

While sunroofs and moonroofs are very similar, there are a few additional distinct differences between them.

What Is A Sunroof?

The term sunroof came first. Sunroofs appeared on cars as early as the 1930s. At the time, most sunroofs were simply a solid panel in the roof that could be tilted for ventilation. Today, there are usually two panels involved. One panel retracts to reveal a window above, which can either be tilted open or retracted completely to create an open window in the roof. They come in many sizes and styles, and nearly all new versions are motor-driven.

What Is a Moonroof?

A moonroof is a subcategory of a sunroof. This term, introduced in the 1970s, describes a tinted glass panel that serves as an extra window in the roof of the car. Like a sunroof, it also usually features a sliding panel to shut out the light. The difference is how a moonroof operates; it either doesn’t open at all or is restricted to the tilt function, rather than retracting fully the way a sunroof can.

In the past few years, panoramic moonroofs have been increasing in popularity. In these types of moonroofs, most of the vehicle roof is made of glass and does not open. A panel over the front seats may be able to open in some versions. A manual or electric shade can be pulled over the panoramic moonroof to block sunlight.

Should I Get a Moonroof or Sunroof?

There are benefits to having either in your vehicle, but what should you choose: moonroof or sunroof? If you prefer the full, open-air experience, you may want to select a sunroof. However, if you are more interested in the tilt function and staying protected from the sun, a moonroof would be a good choice for you.

Auto Glass Services from Glass Doctor

If you decide to buy a car with a sunroof or moonroof, Glass Doctor is here to help with any of your glass installation or servicing needs, from repairing cracks to applying darker tinting. Call our experts today at (833) 365-2927 or schedule an appointment online to get started.