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How to Service a Sunroof in Vehicles

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

Mechanics recommend you inspect your sunroof twice a year to correct small problems and catch the big ones before you experience jams and leaks. When maintaining the sunroof of your Vehicles pay particular attention to the switch mechanism, as some customers experience problems with it.

Under The Hood:

 How to Service a Sunroof in a Chevy Cobalt

Replace the Rubber Gasket

Take down the interior molding and the headliner that cover the top of your Chevy Cobalt so you can access the sunroof. Take a photograph beforehand so you can return each piece to its proper location after repairs are complete.

Remove all the screws, clips and bolts that hold your sunroof to the body of your vehicle. Make sure you put them in a safe spot until you're ready to reinstall your sunroof.

Unplug your sunroof's power source. It's located behind the body of the sunroof, near the rear of the car.

Ask someone to help you lift the sunroof up and away from the vehicle so you don't damage the car or the sunroof.

Pull the rubber gasket out of its channel. Use a plastic scraper to remove any remaining rubber or adhesive. If the channel is rusting, clean it out and paint it with Rustoleum to prevent further corrosion.

Install the new rubber gasket into the channel, pushing the outer lip in first, followed by the inner lip. Check for wrinkles and gaps. Lift the gasket and reinstall it at those locations until the liner lays smoothly and evenly in the channel.

Return the sunroof to its original position, checking frequently to make sure it's level. Once the sun roof is back in place, you can replace the headliner and interior trim pieces as well.

Maintain Your Sun Roof

Park your Chevy Cobalt on a level surface and look at the sunroof. Make sure it's seated properly, not lifted or raised at one side or corner. If you see such warping, it's an indication the tracks need cleaning, or that the rubber seal needs to be replaced.

Clean the rubber seal around the exterior of your sunroof with damp, lint-free cloth. Look for cracks, gaps or excessive wear in the seal. Replace it if you find such defects, to prevent leaking in the interior of your Chevy Cobalt.

Remove the interior trim and allow the cloth that covers the ceiling of your Chevy Cobalt to drop down so you can access the tracks to your sunroof. Use compressed air to blow out debris and lubricate the tracks with 3-in-One Lubricant.

Locate the four drain tubes that remove excess water from your sunroof. Use compressed air to blow any debris or clogs from the drains. Note that two of these tubes drain to the front of your vehicle. Two drain to the rear, usually behind the tail lights.

Items you will need

  • Screwdrivers

  • Pliers

  • Plastic scraper

  • Rubber gasket

  • Rustoleum

  • Compressed air

  • 3-In-One Lubricant

  • Lint-free cloth

 How to Service a Sunroof in a Cadillac Escalade

Replace the Sunroof Seal

Remove the interior trim and headliner that cover the roof of your Cadillac Escalade. Take photographs to refer to later, so you can easily replace the sections when your repairs are complete.

Find and remove the screws, bolts and clips that secure the sunroof to the Cadillac Escalade. Set them aside until your repairs are complete.

Unplug the power source from the sunroof; it's usually located at the back of the roof itself.

Ask a friend to help you lift the sunroof up and away from the Escalade so you don't damage either the sunroof or the SUV. Set the sunroof aside on a padded surface where it won't be damaged.

Pull off the rubber seal from the its track, being careful not to scratch or damage the car. Use a plastic scraper to remove stubborn sections of adhesive and rubber.

Purchase a rubber seal for your Cadillac Escalade model year. Push the outer lip into the track first, and then the outer lip. You may need to use your plastic tool to help this process along. Check thoroughly for any wrinkles or gaps, and reinstall the seal in those spots.

Set your sunroof back in place and secure it using the screws, bolts and clips you removed in Step 2. Check frequently to make sure the sunroof is level.

Maintain the Sunroof

Take down the interior trim molding and headliner to access the inner workings of your Cadillac Escalade's sunroof. Take a digital photo so you can easily return the pieces to their proper location after your maintenance is complete.

Locate the four drain tubes that funnel water away from the sunroof. Gently remove them from the spout, then spray compressed air through the tubes to remove any debris or clogs. Reseat the tubes.

Spray your sunroof's tracks with compressed air to remove dust and buildup. Lubricate the tracks with 3-In-One to keep the mechanics moving freely, and to prevent squeaking.

Clean the sunroof's rubber seal with a clean, damp, lint-free cloth. Pay attention to the condition of this seal and replace it if it shows excessive wear.

Return the interior headliner and trim to its original position. Refer to the picture you took earlier to ensure each is properly repositioned.

Items you will need

  • Screwdrivers

  • Pliers

  • Plastic trowel

  • Rubber gasket

  • Level

  • Shims

  • Rustoleom

  • Screwdriver

  • 3-In-One Lubricant

  • Lint-free cloth

 How to Service a Sunroof in a Ford Explorer

Install a New Rubber Seal

Unfasten the screws that secure the interior trim and headliner. You should have full access to the sunroof on both the interior and exterior of your Ford Explorer.

Loosen and remove the screws and bolts that fasten the sunroof to the top of the truck. Set them aside so you can reinstall the sunroof later. Disconnect the power from the rear of your sunroof.

Pull the sunroof up and away from the truck. You may need the help of another person for this task, to avoid damaging the sunroof or the truck.

Use the plastic scraping tool to lift off the old rubber seal. Clean any excess rubber or adhesive from the channel, then and check the channel for rusting. If you see rust, paint the channel with Rustoleum to prevent further decay.

Install the new rubber seal into the channel, beginning with the outer lip and then moving to the inner lip. Inspect the seal for bumps or wrinkles. If you find any, lift the seal out of the channel and reinstall it. Keep doing this until the entire seal sits evenly inside the channel.

Place the sunroof back on top of the truck and reconnect it using the screws and bolts you removed earlier. Keep checking to make sure it's level. Remember to plug the power source back in so your sun roof will fully function.

Return the headliner and the interior trim back into position.

Maintain Your Sunroof

Inspect the exterior of your sunroof of your Ford Explorer on a monthly basis. Look to make sure it's evenly seated, not lifting at one corner. Lifting indicates it's time to clean and lubricate the tracks.

Check the draining tubes for your Ford Explorer. Two drain to the front of your vehicle, typically beneath the fenders. The other two drain to the rear of your vehicle, usually behind your tail lights. Use compressed air to blow out any debris, dust or clogs.

Access the tracks and seals of your Ford Explorer's sunroof by removing the interior trim and letting the roof cover drop. You don't need to completely remove it, just let it hang. Use compressed air to remove debris, then lubricate the tracks with 3-In-One lubricant.

Lubricate and clean your rubber gasket. Wipe them off with a lint-free cloth, then use the lubricant outlined in your owner's manual. If your seal is stiff or show signs of excessive wear, replace it so your sunroof doesn't leak.

Items you will need

  • Screwdrivers

  • Pliers

  • Plastic scraper

  • Rustoleum

  • New rubber seal

  • Level

  • Compressed air

  • 3-In-One Lubricant

  • Lint-free cloth

 How to Service a Sunroof in a Chevy Avalanche

Replace the Sunroof Gasket

Use a screwdriver to remove the trim and the headliner from the interior of your Chevy Avalanche. Take photographs before you do this, so you can easily return each section to its proper place later on.

Look for the screws and bolts that secure your sunroof to the body of your Chevy Avalanche and remove them. Unplug the sunroof from its power source, located at the back of the sunroof.

Lift the sunroof up and away from the truck and store it in a safe spot. You may want to ask a friend for help, to avoid damaging the sunroof or the truck. Collect any shimming materials you knock loose during this process.

Remove the damaged rubber gasket by peeling it off. You can use a plastic scraper to remove any remaining rubber or adhesive. Clean the channel that holds the gasket thoroughly, removing all adhesive, as well as any remaining rubber.

Use only the appropriate seal for your model year for the best fit. Put the outer lip in first, followed by the inner lip. Use your plastic scraper if needed. Go back and look for gaps or wrinkles. Pull up the seal in those areas and reinstall it until it's smooth and even.

Return your sunroof to its original position using the screws and bolts you removed earlier. Check frequently to make sure your sunroof remains level.

Maintain Your Sun Roof

Use a screwdriver to take down the trim on the interior roof of your Chevy Avalanche and access the headliner. Let the headliner to drop down so you can see and easily access the inside of your sunroof for basic maintenance and repairs.

Find the four drain tubes that allow excess water to flow away from your Chevy Avalanche. There is one drain tube on each corner. Remove each tube from its spout and use compressed air to remove any buildup or debris that may block the flow of water. Then, return the tube to its original position.

Lubricate the tracks that allow your sunroof to slide open. On older models, if your sunroof lifts, lubricate the metal pieces that raise the roof as well. Spray with 3-In-One Lubricant to prevent jams or squeaks.

Clean the sunroof's rubber seal with a clean, damp, lint-free cloth. Pay attention to the condition of this seal. If it shows excessive wear, replace it with a new one to prevent water damage.

Return the headliner to its original position and reinstall the trim to secure the headliner in place.

Items you will need

  • Screwdriver

  • Pliers

  • Plastic scraper

  • New gasket

  • Shims

  • Level

About the Author

This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us.

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