How to Install a Sunroof on Vehicles

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

Sunroofs are manufactured in two basic types. A retractable sunroof operates with an auxiliary electric motor that retracts the roof into a recessed pocket and closes it into a weatherproof seal. A spoiler sunroof resides atop the roof of the Vehicles and operates by releasing a catch and raising the back of roof by hand. Installing a retractable sunroof is complex and should be left in the skilled hands of an auto body shop. You can install a spoiler sunroof in your Vehicles using the parts from a kit and typical workshop tools.

Under The Hood:

 How to Install a Sunroof on the Jeep Liberty

Enter the driver seat of your Jeep Liberty. Use a sharp blade to make a 3-inch incision in the headliner between the driver and passenger seats.

Cut away the headliner until you expose the support beam that goes across the roof. Measure and cut the beam using a metal saw. Use a file to smooth down the rough edges left by the removed beam.

Use a measuring tape to find the dead center of the area where the support beam was in place. Use a drill to make a hole straight through the roof at this center point.

Remove the sunroof template from the installation kit and place it on the roof of the Jeep. Line up the template so that the hole in the roof is at the very center of the template. Transfer the template outline to the roof using a piece of chalk or grease pencil.

Use metal shears to enlarge the hole in the roof. Cut from the hole to the inside edge of the chalk outline. Cut around the outline and lift the piece of roof away from the Jeep. Use a file to smooth the cut edges.

Lift the sunroof frame onto the roof of the Jeep. Use a socket wrench to secure the mounting bolts that attach the frame to the roof. Apply a layer of adhesive sealer around the edge of the frame to further secure it in place. Allow 30 minutes for the adhesive to set.

Enter the interior of the vehicle and use a Phillips-head screwdriver to secure the headliner and wind deflector onto the sunroof. Fit the glass panel into the sunroof frame and place the clamps provided with the installation kit around the glass and tighten with a socket wrench.

Open and close the sunroof a number of times using the crank to make sure that it is installed and works correctly.

Items you will need

  • Sharp blade

  • Metal saw

  • Metal file

  • Drill and bit

  • Sunroof installation kit

  • Chalk or grease pencil

  • Metal shears

  • Socket wrench

  • Sunroof adhesive

  • Phillips-head screwdriver

 How to Install a Sunroof on a VW Bug

Loosen the clamps around the sunroof glass using a socket wrench to loosen the clamp bolts. Slide the glass off the sunroof and place to one side.

Remove the screws which hold the headliner and the wind deflector in place using a Phillips-head screwdriver. Place the headliner and deflector with the earlier removed glass panel.

Use a socket wrench to remove the mounting bolts which attach the sunroof frame to the roof. Use a rubber mallet to gently loosen the sunroof frame and remove it.

Place the frame of the new sunroof in to the opening in the roof. Secure it in place by attaching the mounting bolts using a socket wrench. Apply sunroof adhesive around the frame of the sunroof to secure it to the roof of the Volkswagen.

Attach the headliner and wind deflector on to the frame by securing it in place with a Phillips-head screwdriver. Place the window glass on to the top of the sunroof. Replace the clamps around the glass and secure in place by tightening the clamp bolts with a wrench.

Items you will need

  • Rubber mallet

  • Sunroof kit

  • Socket wrench

  • Phillips-head screwdriver

  • Sunroof adhesive

 How to Install a Sunroof in a Mini Cooper

Assess the Mini Cooper's roof and its ability to sustain the installation of a sunroof by inspecting the inside and outside of the roof. Pay special attention to any light fixtures or wires that may be located in the area that you plan to install the sunroof. Your Mini Cooper owner's manual may have a diagram of the roof, which may be helpful, but a sunroof installation kit may also be custom-designed for the Mini Cooper. Measure the available area with the measuring tape.

Choose and purchase a sunroof installation kit for the Mini Cooper, giving priority to a kit that is specifically designed for the Mini Cooper and alternatively, a general use sunroof, selected according to the size of the roof of your Mini Cooper and the area available for sunroof installation.

Prepare the roof of the Mini Cooper by mapping out the installation area using the sunroof template in the installation kit. Trace the outline of the sunroof template with a non-permanent marker. Prepare for installation by disconnecting the battery terminals, preventing shock in case you inadvertently cut through a wire during the installation process.

Drill holes around the outline you traced on the Cooper's roof. Use the drilled holes to start the saw and then saw along the traced outline. Run the saw around the edge of the hole you cut to make certain that any jagged edges are trimmed away.

Razor cut the headliner of the Mini Cooper with small strokes of the razor blade, as opposed to sawing actions, which may tear the headliner away from the hole. Razor cut over the hole several times to make certain that the hole is neatly trimmed. Remove and discard the light fixture.

Install the frames of the sunroof in the hole you cut in the roof of the Mini Cooper. Check for a snug and secure fit and then install the molding, the Styrofoam inserts and the ring that will hold the sunroof's glass.

Install the glass inside the frame of the sunroof, making certain the glass will latch properly and that it fits well inside of the frame.

Uninstall the sunroof down to the cut hole and place weather stripping inside of the sunroof hole. Use caulking to fill any gaps between the weather stripping and the frames. Place all of the sunroof installation kit parts back into the hole and tighten the finished sunroof with the screwdriver.

Items you will need

  • Non-permanent fine point marker

  • Measuring tape

  • Razor blade

  • Saber saw

  • Drill

  • Drill bits

  • Screwdrivers

 How to Install a Sunroof in a Pickup Truck

Cutting the Opening

Position the provided template against the underside of the truck's headliner at the location you want the sunroof. Mark the outline of the template with a felt tip marker.

Put on your safety glasses. Chuck a 1/4-inch diameter drill bit in an electric drill. Drill a vertical hole at each corner of the template outline through the headliner and up through the roof of the truck. Move to the outside where you can access the roof.

Place the template in position on the roof, using the four holes as a reference. Mark the outline of the template with the felt tip marker. Drive a long, self-tapping screw a 1/2-inch into the roof at the center of the marked opening. The screw is needed to retrieve the cutout portion of the truck roof and headliner.

Place a towel or soft drop cloth on the seat of the truck. Cut the outline of the template using an electric jigsaw with a fine-tooth metal cutting blade. Leave a 1/4-inch uncut section at each side of the sunroof opening.

Hold the self-tapping screw with one hand or ask an assistant to hold the screw. Cut the remaining 1/4-inch sections with the jigsaw. Lift the cutout section of the roof and headliner out of the sunroof opening.

Installing the Sunroof

Cut four pieces of the provided filler strips to length for the front, back and sides of the opening. Use a utility knife to cut the strips. Push the strips into place between the headliner and the roof, making sure the edges of the pieces are flush with the inside edge of the opening.

Apply a bead of clear silicone sealer around the top edge of the opening at the roof. Place the provided aluminum sunroof frame in place on the roof with the hinges toward the front of the truck. If your kit includes the frame and sunroof as one piece, place the entire unit on the roof, making sure the hinges are toward the front of the truck.

Move inside the truck. Open the glove compartment and use the opened door as a holding tray for the provided trim screws. Have a cordless screw gun with a magnetic tip nearby.

Put a screw on the magnetic tip. Position the provided aluminum trim ring in place at the underside of the sunroof, making sure the holes for the release clip are toward the back of the truck. Drive the first screw through a pre-drilled hole in the ring and into the lower edge of the aluminum sunroof frame.

Drive the remaining screws into the pre-drilled holes to secure the inside trim and sunroof frame in place. Attach the release catch at the back of the sunroof using the provided screws. Attach the hinged roof at the top of the frame using the provided aluminum hinges.

Items you will need

  • Sunroof kit

  • Felt tip marker

  • Safety glasses

  • Electric drill

  • 1/4-inch drill bit

  • Cordless screw gun with magnetic tip

  • Long self-tapping screw

  • Electric jigsaw with fine-tooth metal cutting blade

  • Utility knife

  • Clear silicone sealer

About the Author

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