Is It a Sunroof or a Moonroof?

by Christina Pronger on July 30, 2014

Claymation standing on orange question marks (457 x 600)When car shopping and you find a model that you like, you may notice that it comes with a sunroof or moonroof. Since these words are often used interchangeably, you may wonder if there is a difference between the two.

The two features are very similar in nature. Both of them fit into the roof of a vehicle. However, the design and function has some important differences based on whether it is a sunroof or moonroof, according to Kelley Blue Book.

A moonroof features a glass panel that is tinted. It is a secondary window that is placed in the roof. It allows more light to come into the vehicle than what you will experience with a sunroof. You also can enjoy the light without having the panel open, which is a benefit on cooler days.

A sunroof works through the existence of a metal panel that can either be retracted into the roof or moved aside above the roof. It can also be opened at a tilt to allow air into the car. One of the major differences between a sunroof and moonroof is that the sunroof only allows light in when the panel is in the open position.

Sunroofs may be either manual or electric while most moonroofs operate electrically. Sunroofs are the older of the two and have been seen in vehicles since the late 1930s while the term moonroof was not in existence until 1973. There are several types of sunroofs, including folder, pop-up, spoiler and inbuilt.

Toyota Highlander

Moonroof, Toyota Highlander

Kia Optima

Sunroof, Kia Optima

While the term sunroof is often used to describe any type of panel in the roof, there is a distinction between it and a moonroof. Now you know the difference for the next time you go car shopping.

Christina Pronger
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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

James Bergman March 22, 2016 at 2:13 pm

Yep, I had no idea that there was a real difference between a sunroof and a moonroof. I honestly just thought that the moonroof was smaller and let in less light. I feel kind of silly for thinking it now. Anyway, I think I would rather have a moonroof than a sunroof in my car.

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Derek Kubik July 31, 2014 at 11:31 pm

Good to know. Thanks!

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Keith Rollans July 30, 2014 at 11:34 pm

I have wondered this a couple times, but I never remembered to look into it. Thank you for the info!

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Kandace July 30, 2014 at 11:18 pm

It’s actually crazy how interchangeable the two terms are, but I love my sunroof though!

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Arthur July 30, 2014 at 7:41 pm

I did not know there is a difference between them. Thank you for sharing this info! Now I learn more about them.

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