Moonroof vs Sunroof

You have heard both of the terms before in relation to vehicle customization, but have you really ever fully understood the difference between a moonroof vs sunroof? They are not the same thing like most people think.  Sure, they both are installed in the roof a vehicle, they both can be used to increase airflow, and they both let the outside light shine in. In all reality, these two extras are very different kinds of parts.

Here you will find out, the pros and cons of having them in your car, and what you can expect to pay or an installation from the factory.  The moonroof vs sunroof questions will be answered.

What is a Moonroof?

moonroof vs sunroof understanding the difference

A moonroof is the newer model of the glass panel that can be found cut into the top of an automobile. This window-like panel is generally only capable of tilting slightly open. Sometimes they come slightly tinted and others are completely transparent like a windshield. More recent cars and luxury models are frequently outfitted with the style defined as a moonroof. In the event light needs to be completely shut out, there is often a solid sliding panel that can be closed over the top of the glass.

What is a Sunroof?

moonroof vs sunroof understand the difference

Sunroofs usually include two separate panels. One of the panels is made from metal or a material that matches the interior of the car. When it gets pushed away, another panel made from glass is exposed. The glass can be opened either in a tilted fashion only letting a small amount of air in, or it can be pushed completely ajar leaving the entire section of the roof of the car exposed. There are several different kinds of sunroofs available on the market.

  • The tilt and slide model can either tilt partially open or slides all the way open as described previously. They are usually power operated.
  • A top-mount slider sits on tracks found on the top of the vehicle so that maximum headroom can be achieved.
  • Pop-out versions work in a manual fashion and can be tilted or completely taken out.
  • Finally, the rag-tops are made of fabric and fold open like what a convertible top does.


  • Both moonroofs and sunroofs, regardless of the type, are recognized as a sign of luxury, youth, and freedom making them a lot of fun to have.
  • They allow for drivers to enjoy the sound of the road in a quieter fashion than what having all the windows open does. If you look forward to a nice cruise down the highway, this puts you that much closer.
  • Perhaps the biggest benefit associated with these added features is the view that you get. When the day sun is shining brightly, you don’t have to miss it because you are trapped in the car. Likewise, at night, you can enjoy the view of the starry sky. However, just make sure that you aren’t looking out the roof when your eyes are supposed to be on the road.
  •  If you have a car with a moonroof or sunroof in it for sale, you are going to be able to get more for it. These are considered a bonus option and people are willing to pay good money to have them.


  •  They make the overall noise inside of the vehicle much louder, even if the roof in the glass is completely closed.• There are more seals required, which means more seals that must be replaced from normal wear and tear.
  • Buying a vehicle with a moonroof or sunroof in it is going to cost you.  Customers out there that will pay whatever the price is to have this feature in their car, keeping the cost of it higher than what it could be.
  •  Added charges to have the moonroof or sunroof even after the initial payment for the feature. There are extra parts that should be replaced that can cause a completely different set of problems that you would not otherwise have to deal with.
  • Your engine has to work harder due to the additional 40 pounds of glass panels. As a result, your gas mileage is going to go up and you’re going to increase the wear on everything under the hood.

How does Moonroof vs Sunroof Differ?

When purchasing a vehicle, you may hear the term moonroof, sunroof, or both. Many times, because of their similarities, people will use the title interchangeably. There are technical differences that should be considered before choosing which one you want to add on. Remember that moonroofs typically only tilt slightly open for just a small flow of air to be let it. Sunroofs have the capability of opening all the way or they can be taken completely out altogether.

What is the Cost?

Costs will vary depending on what kind you get. In general, expect to pay anywhere between $500 and $2000 more for your vehicle off the lot. A pop-up sunroof runs between $300 and $800. The top-mount sliders cost around $600 to $1100. A power-operated moonroof is going to add $1000 to $2000 to your purchase price. A multi-panel sunroof will tack on $1000 to $2500 to the final bill.  Companies like Safelite AutoGlass can install aftermarket sunroofs.

Wrapping it Up

CustoIn the end, there isn’t much of a difference between a moonroof vs sunroof.   Know the main differences including the fact that moonroofs generally cost more than sunroofs.   A moonroof is what you will find in a luxury car and usually comes with a bigger price tag.   So, before you head out to the car lot, determine what exactly you are expecting from your glass roof panel as far as operation and look along with how much you are willing to pay.

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