Guest Column Mar/Apr 2019

Expansion Opportunity for Sunroof Glass

By Brandon Davis

Before you decide to stop reading because you think sunroof installations are too difficult, think again. With the significant up-tick in both volume and size of sun-roofs on the road today, there is a correlation in the number of occurrences of sunroof glass breakage. The need for capable auto glass shops and technicians to provide sunroof glass repair services is in-creasing as a result.

A Little History on Sunroof Glass

The introduction of sunroofs in the United States dates back to the early 1960s, when Heinz Prechter, an immigrant from Germany, first peddled them. While enrolled at San Francisco State College, Prechter worked part-time in an automotive shop and began importing and in-stalling sunroofs for local car dealers. Prechter realized the sunroof was a feature with great commercial potential and, in 1965, he founded American Sunroof Company (ASC). The company manufactured the first sunroofs offered as a factory option in a U.S. car and developed the first glass panel moonroof.

Over the next few decades, car manufacturers began offering sun-roofs as a factory option in a wider range of vehicles. A factory sunroof is a sunroof installed in the vehicle during its manufacturing (before it is delivered to the new car dealership). Once the vehicle leaves the assembly line, the factory option can no longer be integrated. If a consumer or dealer wanted a sunroof added after the vehicle was manufactured, they may com-mission an automotive restyler to install a generic unit designed to function in that vehicle. These generic units are commonly referred to as “aftermarket sunroofs.”

Sunroof Identification and Replacement

The installation style for after-market sunroofs require a technician to cut a hole in the vehicle roof. To seal and obscure the cut in the roof, a trim ring is installed leaving a raised edge on the roof’s surface. Factory-installed sunroofs are designed to be perfectly flush to the roof of the vehicle. Any vehicle with a trim ring has an after-market sunroof. When replacing a sunroof glass, a factory sunroof must be replaced using the same OEM part number; an aftermarket sunroof glass is required to be re-placed with the identical aftermarket sunroof part model.

Standard electric sunroofs typically are held in by four bolts, and most of the time invested in the repair is with cleaning up broken glass pieces (if tempered) to ensure all fragments in the track assembly have been cleared. With fixed roof-glass panels, they may bolt-in or be secured to the frame with urethane and may require the headliner to be dropped.

Today the popularity and consumer demand is at an all-time high. If you’ve recently viewed a car commercial, chances are a sunroof was a prominent feature in the advertisement. Panoramic sunroof systems are in high demand as car shoppers are attracted to the bright and spacious feel. These multi-panel sun-roofs typically consist of both operable and fixed panels and cover the better portion of the roof.

As an auto glass shop or repair facility looking for growth opportunities, offering sunroof replacement services in your area can generate new customers, create a competitive advantage, and potentially lead you to become the “go to” for sun-roof replacement in your market.

Look for part two on adding sun-roofs to your business in the up-coming May-June issue.

Brandon Davis is the sales manager for Sunroof Express Inc.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

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