How can I fix my broken sunroof?

Your motoring problems solved


Q. The sunroof on my 59-reg Mini Cooper sometimes fails to open during hot weather. When it does open, it will not close again without many attempts. My local garage lubricated it but without success. How can I get it in shape for next summer?
AF, Weston-super-Mare

A. This is not uncommon with this Mini variant. The gap between the housing for the glass sunroof and the roof itself is tight. So, when the metal in the roof and the runners expands slightly in warm weather, the extra friction this creates can cause the sunroof to stick. When this happens, a switch in the motor cuts the power to the sunroof to prevent damage.

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The car comes with a cranking handle that you can use to close the roof manually by inserting it into a hole near the rear-view mirror (see your handbook for the exact position). Be extremely careful when doing this, as it’s easy to strip teeth from the gears, which will be expensive to replace.

Often the runners are packed with grime and even tree sap, which add friction as the roof moves. Cleaning out this gunk will help a great deal — use a soft paintbrush to loosen dirt and then a portable vacuum cleaner to get rid of it.

We also spoke to Cayman Autos (, which will investigate the problem for £72. If the sunroof requires only a simple adjustment, this would be included in the price. Failing that, it will give a fixed-price estimate for the work.

The cost of removing and repairing or renovating the roof housing, head lining and motor would be about £900, though of course a much cheaper repair might be possible.

Sunday Times Driving Car Clinic: Dave Pollard, car accessory advice

Dave Pollard has written several Haynes manuals and has tested just about every car-related accessory – read more from Dave here.

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