Moonroof vs. Sunroof: What are the Differences?

Both can be found in a vehicle, but there is difference between a moonroof and sunroof that makes them each distinctive. Understanding how they differ can help you decide which option is right for your car, whether you’re buying used or upgrading to a new model.

The differences might be minimal, but knowing what they are is a good idea if you plan to purchase a car with either one.


Difference Between Moonroof and Sunroof

Here are how a moonroof differs from a sunroof.


moonroof vs sunroof

The purpose of both a sunroof and a moonroof are the same. That is to let light and fresh air into the car, either while it’s parked or while you’re driving. Both of them are located in the roof of your vehicle, usually within easy reaching distance for the driver so that it can be operated at any time.

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The way they look and how they are constructed is the main difference between moonroofs and sunroofs.  A sunroof is usually a solid colored panel that is completely removable or that pops up to let in light and air.

On the other hand, a moonroof, while very similar, is a glass panel that slides between the roof of the vehicle and the headliner. This window is usually tinted and is like an extra window for the car. Moonroofs generally tilt open similarly to a sunroof and allow in the fresh air and additional light.


Types of Sunroofs

moonroof vs sunroof

Sunroofs, in contrast to moonroofs, come in several styles. The spoiler sunroof tilts and can slide up onto the roof of the car. Many of them are power operated with the push of a button. The top mount slider is a glass panel that sits on tracks and slides open above the roof of the car.

A pop-out one needs to be pushed up by hand and rag-tops are made of fabric and have to be folded back to let in air and light.


Types of Moonroofs

differences between sunroof and moonroof

Unlike sunroofs, moonroofs generally come in only one style. As mentioned above, that’s usually a tinted pane of glass that operates as an extra window. Most of those tilts to open, but unlike sunroofs, also have a panel that allows you to block out light and air if you want to.

The glass and sliding panel fit right into the roof of the car. Moonroofs are more common in luxury vehicles but are increasingly being found in more affordable cars as well.

Many cars have a moonroof that is called a sunroof so consider which features are most important to you when you’re buying a new car.


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Moonroof vs. Sunroof – The Comparison Table

Let’s summarize how moonroof and sunroof differs from each other.



Type of operation Sliding panel covering a pane of glass Spoiler, top mount slider, pop-out and rag-top
Fitted panel Yes Sometimes
Type of vehicle Usually luxury All types
Purpose Let in light and fresh air Let in light and fresh air


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