Q: What is a Sun Roof?

December 17, 2013 12:53 PM

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Some vehicles contain a sunroof -- an opaque panel in the roof of the car that can be opened to let in outside air and sunlight. Sunroofs are often featured on luxury cars, although they can be readily installed on less expensive vehicles as well.

Originally, sunroofs were all opaque. If a vehicle contained a transparent glass panel that could slide back, the vehicle was said to feature a moon roof. Nowadays, however, both sunroofs and moon roofs can be made of transparent glass. Although most sunroofs slide back and forth, European cars may feature sunroofs that fold back similar to the way convertible roofs fold back.

Sunroofs can be either manual or electrically powered. Cars that feature manual sunroofs usually have a lever the vehicle operator can move to open the sunroof. Manual sunroofs may include vents rather than a sliding panel. When the driver of the vehicle pulls a lever, the vents open to let in extra sun and air. Vent-style sunroofs work similarly to window blinds: They can let a variable amount of light into a vehicle depending on how far they are opened.

Sliding sunroofs may also feature electric operation: when the operator flips a switch, a motor comes on and slides the roof panel. Electric sunroofs have become common, especially in new vehicles.

People enjoy having sunroofs in their vehicle for various reasons. Sunroofs can help you feel like you're in a luxury car. Years ago they were exclusive items, and that notion still persists with car owners. Many luxury vehicles contain sunroofs, and having one in a less luxurious vehicle can help you feel like you have the car you couldn't afford.

Sunroofs can be either standard or optional equipment on new vehicles. When purchasing a car, you need to determine if the feature adds to the sticker price of the vehicle. If having a sunroof is optional, you need to consider whether it fits your lifestyle. It can provide an alternative to air conditioning on hot days. Although it doesn't offer the full openness of a convertible, it can provide some of that feel. However, you should remember that sunroofs can add to driver glare and discomfort from the sun's direct rays. In addition, they can let in additional dust and surrounding noise. Buyers with children also need to consider safety: Sunroofs can be enticements for youngsters who can poke their heads through them.

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