Sunroof Maintenance and Care

There are several aspects to caring for and maintaining your vehicle’s sunroof. As easy as you might like it to be, sunroof care is a bit more than just washing off the dirt when the entire car is washed.

Cleaning Products

It is very important to use the right products when cleaning your sunroof and its components. Some materials can be very harmful to the rubber gasket that helps keep water out of your car, while other products may be toxic when the car heats in the summer.

As a rule, never use ammonia-based products to clean the sunroof class or other components. For one, ammonia will cause streaking on the glass which is annoying. However, as most sunroofs have solid shades that create a small space between the glass and the shade, ammonia can become superheated in the summertime.

When this occurs, it vaporizes back in the air becoming quite toxic to your health. Will you die? Probably not, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry and it’s always nice to not have a splitting headache on your afternoon commute.

In addition to ammonia, never use mineral oil, petroleum jelly, or vinyl dressing on the sunroof seal; these products can severely damage and interfere with the sunroof seal. Vinegar is great to clean with, but it tends to streak when you use it to clean glass, but that’s just preference.

How to Clean

Now that you know what products to use and not to use, we should cover how to use them. Cleaning the sunroof is fairly straightforward. For the most part, just use your favorite ammonia-free glass cleaner and wipe it off like any other window.

For the rubber gasket and seal, just wipe it off with a mild detergent and water mixture, then dry using a lint-free cloth. If at any point you notice any grease or oil in your sunroof, leave it. Most likely there as a lubricant for the window to slide and to keep the rubber components from drying out.

You can even purchase more rubber or sunroof lubricant to help maintain the rubber’s effectiveness.

Drainage Tubes

The next thing to watch for are drainage tubes. Although you may not see these in your car, at least you shouldn’t see them, they are very important in saving your vehicle from water damage.

These tubes open on the ledge of the sunroof, travel down your car and typically drain onto the ground. Unfortunately, these tubes can become clogged. When this occurs, water doesn’t drain properly and can potentially leak inside your car.

It can be fairly easy to unclog these tubes but you should watch an instructional video just to be sure. However, the basics of it are that compressed air or a special wire can be used to unclog these tubes. If the leak is caused by something else though, or the clog is too severe, we recommend visiting a professional to either replace or fix the problem.


The main thing to remember when maintaining your sunroof is to keep debris, such as pine needles, leaves, rocks, and dirt, out of the sunroof area. These often cause a lot of trouble with sunroofs in terms of leaking and jamming. The simplest solution is to take a shop vac and clear it out. Hand pick out anything that may be wedged in.

Overall, just make sure the track of the sunroof is clear. The last thing you want is a rock jamming and breaking your sunroof. If anything is too jammed in the sunroof, then you should see a professional to fix it.

Those are just the basics to care and maintenance and there are tons of other great articles and videos that go into greater depth on the details to more specific problems. And remember, if you don’t think you can fix it yourself, go see a professional. The last thing you want is to have to replace a sunroof that only needed cleaning.


Author: B. Delamater