Moon Roof Problems? Any Experience

springdayspringday Member Posts: 1
edited October 2014 in Subaru
I am considering purchase of Subaru Forester. I've never had an automobile with a sunroof/moonroof, because it's a feature I won't use. Added features might cause problems in the future. However, moonroof is standard on the model I want.

Do sunroofs/moonroofs have problems? Do they leak? Are there other things I should be aware of?


  • paisanpaisan Member Posts: 21,181
    Modern moon rooves rarely leak, if anything over the years the drains may become clogged which will lead to them leaking, but if this happens you can clear the drains pretty easily with some compressed air.

  • caliberchiccaliberchic Member Posts: 402
    I've had several vehicles with moonroofs/sunroofs and never had any problems with leaks.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Subaru sells many, many of them, so while we do hear an occasional complaint, they're not common by any means.

    Just get it and don't open it - that will keep the drains pretty much clear. Enjoy the bright cabin and warming greenhouse effect in winter, too. Free heat.

    In summer, just draw the shade and pretend it's not there.

  • roadwarrior2roadwarrior2 Member Posts: 4
    Answer to your first question: I have had three leaks over the last 5 years. Both occurred when there were quick changes in temperature and usually after days of snowing has occurred. It does not happen every time. The first two times nothing was located by the service person who looked into it (the first two times it happened and I had it looked at, unfortunately, I was using a service shop that I later had other problems with their service). It has just happened again. I will let you know what I find out this time since I have started using another service shop. I am not sure if they are connected, but my CHECK ENGINE light came about the same time.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Member Posts: 5,751
    Most modern moonroofs are bullet-proof. I've had moonroofs in cars for the last 10 years and never a problem. Yet I have heard about leaks in almost every manufacturer, and model. They do happen, but the pros in my opinion outweigh the cons.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Thought of something - do you park in a garage or car port? What about at work, is it out in the open or covered?

    If you have covered parking and never open it, the odds of a leak are probably smaller than winning the lottery.

  • roadwarrior2roadwarrior2 Member Posts: 4
    I part outside for at home and at work. Which is why when the leaking occurred it struck me odd. Especially since it does not happen al the time. I'm also not sure what you mean by never opening it, do you mean never opening the moonroof. I purchased the car with a moonroof because I wanted to open it.
  • growler5growler5 Member Posts: 67
    I've had a Forester with moonroof since 11/2004, and have not had any problems with it. It has yet to leak during severe rainstorms.

    I'd exercise the moonroof (open all the way, then close it) once or twice a year, just to make sure it is still functional. You'll never know when you feel the urge to let in fresh air on a nice spring or fall day !
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    springday implied he/she didn't want one. That's why I suggested that.

  • samroguesamrogue Member Posts: 1
    My wife has 2002 Outback on which the moonrrof has faile recently. The dealer wants $600 to Diagnose the problem. The a further $1200 if the Moonroof needs to be replaced. So far Subaru Corporate has been Unrespnsive.

    I would advise caution purchasing a Subaru with a Moonroof.
  • johnvjohnv Member Posts: 40
    I wonder if you're getting some ice freezing in the drain holes? How much liquid comes in?
  • roadwarrior2roadwarrior2 Member Posts: 4
    Ice freezing in the drain holes is a possibility. At first I thought maybe the seals were bad, but this makes more sense because it doesn't happen all the time. Where are the drain holes on the Subaru; I have never looked for them to check. I saw an earlier post that also mentioned the drain holes which noted pictures were attached, but the pictures are no longer accessible.

    As for the amount of water; the driver's seat gets decently wet. Nothing a towel can't handle; but it is so inconvenient.

    Also, some of the responses to my entry seems to have evoked some defensiveness. This was not the purpose of my response. If I had asked this question prior to purchasing the car it would not necessarily mean I would not have purchased the vehicle given the other cars I was looking at; it simply would have alerted me to add this to my maintenance schedule. As I mentioned previously I purchased the car with the moonroof to use it. I thought someone wanted to know about the possibility before learning of it like I did. If I am wrong about the defensiveness, my apologies.
  • nhnissaninvanhnissaninva Member Posts: 13
    Are you sure you don't want a moonroof? I was kinda indifferent to getting one on my Forester, part of my too cheap, too practical side maybe :-)

    BUT now, I wouldn't consider a Forester without one. It's big, this is close to being in a convertible. A convertible that handles a ski rack and kayak racks too. Great car, the moonroof is so much fun I could deal with a leak or two if it ever happens.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    It does feel like a convertible. That roof opening is probably 60% of the roof area, at least the part that's over the passengers.

  • roadwarrior2roadwarrior2 Member Posts: 4
    I agree the size of moonroof is absolutely delicious
  • occkingoccking Member Posts: 346
    Although I presently own a Tribeca with moonroof (they all do) I thought I would respond. For probably the last 20 years from a 1986 Mercury Sable through the gamut of vehicles MDX, RX300, Infinity I30, Malibu Maxx, a few Buick Park Aves, and, most recently 05 Outback (the best of them all!) and now my Tribeca have never had a problem with a roof leaking. Now that I am thinking about this, first roof was in 61 VW. It was made out of heavy canvas, and, now that I think of it, was "manual" First "automatic"
    moor roof was in a Renault R16 (boy, I loved that vehicle) I think it was around a 1979.

    Worst thing about the Tribeca roof is that it is so small in comparison to the one I had on my Outback. I think the ones on Forester's is almost as large.

    I could not live without a sunroof, with one so bright & more cheerful during the day.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Actually the Forester has the largest of all, by far. It's enormous.

    I wouldn't be surprised if the Forester's is 3 times bigger than the Tribeca's in terms of the area of the opening.

  • cparrishcparrish Member Posts: 1
    My huge Forester sunroof ran great for four years, and then got stuck one day. The dealer said that they couldn't repair it, so I had to buy a new one. $650 plus installation. Ouch! And then the bonehead tech didn't know how to adjust the stops, so it takes two button pushes to open and close it. They work great though, and it really is like a convertible.

    The only problem is that above certain speeds, the wind creates a harmonic in the large opening and will hum loudly. So, I have to close the roof some at highway speed.

    Chris Parrish
    Atlanta, GA
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Didn't it always take 2 pushes of the button?

    Also, for the noise, crack both rear windows just slightly, and it stops the noise, so you can keep the roof open.

  • twobigdogztwobigdogz Member Posts: 14
    The moonroof on my 2001 Forester stopped opening recently. The motor works, but it gets stuck after about an inch of movement. The local dealer's diagnosis was that some plastic parts (guides I think) broke and that allowed some metal parts to become damaged beyond repair. Estimate to fix, $800 parts and labor.

    I understand that its a lot of labor because the headliner needs to be removed, I'm just real unhappy about needing this repair. The service manager claimed he had only seen one of two others with this problem. Don't know if he is telling the truth or not, but if he is, that also means they don't have much experience fixing them. Haven't decided yet what to do, but will probably do without fresh air from the roof for a while.

    BTW - I love the car overall. This is the first major problem.
  • p0926p0926 Member Posts: 4,423
    Ooh that's not good news. I wonder if you could get an independent shop to do the work for less. You certainly don't need a certified (and well compensated) Subaru mechanic to fix simple mechanical problem.

  • subewannabesubewannabe Member Posts: 403
    I have the moonroof of my 2004 XT open almost all the time. Some hints from experience:

    Opening the rear windows a crack will eliminate harmonic noise as the air flows over the opening.

    For those who dont like the wind noise at high speeds from the pop-up air dam: I bought a 3" diameter aluminum electrical conduit connection collar . Its about 6 inches long. I sawed a lengthwise cut with a hacksaw, pried it apart at that cut to create a gap about 3/4 inch, filed the cut smooth and rounded off the corners, and banged on it with a hammer to give it a somewhat oblong "G" profile. I keep this in the glove box, and when I'm cruising with the roof open, slide that contraption over the pop up lip, pulling the lip inward against its spring, until I can also slide the lip of the interior head liner into the gap, and then slide it forward until the pop up lip and the headliner are well inside the opening of the "G". Graphically, G<= , with = representing the parallel surfaces of the headliner and air dam seen in cutaway view from the side after the air dam has been pulled downward against the spring tension. . The spring force of the pop-up lip holds it all in place and it eliminates 90% of the wind noise from the pop up air dam, all for less than $2. I can put it in place now without looking in a matter of seconds and remove it in less than a second if I get a sudden rain shower and need to close the moonroof.

    Be aware that this artificial lowering of the profile of the pop up air dam will allow more bugs to hit the rear edge of the moonroof opening and enter the car and will also amplify the previously mentioned harmonic, so make sure the REAR windows are cracked.

    If you are driving with the moonroof wide open but the rear window closed and then, in your effort to reduce than harmonic vibration at any speed above 35 mph, accidentally hit the wrong button and open a FRONT window , this creates a momentary tornado inside the cabin and the negative pressure will lift anything lightweight, such as mail or papers, off your back seat and out the moonroof!

    Happy motoring with your Forester "convertible"!
  • caliberchiccaliberchic Member Posts: 402
    Your instructions would make a great guide if you had time to post one! Go here to check it out Guides
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Good idea. I put up one for wiper blade inserts and got a lot of hits for that. :shades:
  • mrsomesmrsomes Member Posts: 2
    I have a 2007 Forester which I love; love the moon roof. It started leaking in the back by the extra seat belt in the roof. Took it to the dealer; factory defect in the seals around the roof! Took the whole thing out and replaced it. Thank goodness it was still under warranty. Haven't seen this on other Foresters so hopefully this was an isolated incident.
  • doginkodiakdoginkodiak Member Posts: 1
    During an unusually sunny day, I implusively pressed the "open" button BEFORE unlatching the latches. The good news is, the motor still works, I was able to CLOSE the roof, (very important when one lives in a rainforest). Unfortunately, now the clips hang down and won't fasten. My question is, do I take this to an auto shop or a body shop? Or, better yet, what are the odds an mere mortal could replace/repair them? Outback 2002
  • therealanntherealann Member Posts: 1
    The Forester moonroof is great -- but there are problems.

    I have an '03 and the moonroof just died. Many people are experiencing the same thing -- but SOA has not received enough complaints/comments to realize the problem and fix it. The repair is $1300. There are many posted messages on Forester owner's forum.

    Posted on, under "Moonroof is dead"

    The dealer and SOA spoke to each other, and SOA is picking up some of the cost. I need to speak with them again on my own.

    I know several people with moonroof issues, and they've just stopped using them. (FYI, a hand crank/wrench comes with the car, so you can close the roof if your motor fails)

    Everyone with an issue needs to ...
    contact SOA
    officially log the problem
    get a case number
    go to a dealer for a diagnosis
    report back to SOA
    This is the ONLY way SOA will realize there is a problem, and take some action -- if there are lots of officially "logged" problems.

    Here's the contact info; a phone call is fast and easy. They'll be nice, but tell you it's just your car. Get the problem on the books with a case number.

    Customer Service: 1-800-SUBARU3 (1-800-782-2783)
    Hours: 8:30 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. (EST) Monday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (EST) Friday

    Written correspondence can be sent to:
    Subaru of America, Inc.
    Subaru Plaza
    P.O. Box 6000
    Cherry Hill, NJ 08034-6000
    Attn: Customer/Dealer Services

    To answer the other question, I was/am at about 50K miles when the problem happened.

    Keep in mind I'm in New England, where roof use is seasonal. That means maximum 24-months of use, and it died. This is NOT typical Subaru quality or longevity, and they should know it.

    This is my 3rd Subaru, and second with a sun/moon roof; I did not have this problem with my other Subaru models.
  • caliberchiccaliberchic Member Posts: 402
    Great info Thanks!
  • cybersaintcybersaint Member Posts: 1
    I bought a 2002 Forester brand new and am still running it at 135,000 miles later. I've never had a single problem with my moon roof.

  • brett2007brett2007 Member Posts: 39
    I'm looking at the 2008 Forester 2.5x (w/ Premium) as a replacement for my Liberty, does anyone have any experience with the Moonroof Air Deflector? Does it really help with wind noise and/or sun glare or is it a waste of money?
  • kavoomkavoom Member Posts: 181
    Yes, the deflector does make a difference. I find that when the roof is open, I have to find just the right mix of openings (windows roof) in the Forester to minimize noise, air flow etc. All you got to do is test drive one and reach up and pull the deflector down (it's just spring loaded) to see the difference.
  • caliberchiccaliberchic Member Posts: 402
    I have one on my vehicle and I find it does help with wind noise.
  • aathertonaatherton Member Posts: 617
    Don't all the Forester moonroofs come with the spring-loaded deflector? They provide marginal relief from noise and buffeting. The question is probably about the plastic bubble deflector accessory. Those eliminate all the noise and buffeting.
  • mrsomesmrsomes Member Posts: 2
    Have a 2006 Forester. The moon roof started leaking in July 2007. Had it "fixed". Started leaking again 2 months later. Had it "fixed". Started leaking again 4 months later, this time on top of a new, wood coffee table that I had just bought. Needless to say the coffee table is ruined. Now it's not under warranty and it's back to the dealer tomorrow. I love the car but will not buy again until they fix this problem.
  • paisanpaisan Member Posts: 21,181
    What was their fix?

    Motorsports and Modifications Host
  • aathertonaatherton Member Posts: 617
    No doubt the dealer reconnected a loose drain tube. Moonroofs and sunroofs are designed to leak in that they cannot be perfectly sealed and still move. However,a perimeter gutter takes any water into drain tubes that go down the pillars and discharge under the car. If a tube should become loose or disconnected at the gutter, water will get onto and through the headliner.
  • xwesxxwesx Member Posts: 16,564
    Seems like the concept of a hose clamp escaped them.... :sick:
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250
  • p0926p0926 Member Posts: 4,423
    Drain tube could have become plugged up also.
  • nicole4213nicole4213 Member Posts: 1
    I have an 06 Forester. 3rd car I've owned with a moonroof - first Subaru with one (2nd Forester I've owned) Have loved my first Forester and initially loved the 06. Then the sunroof started leaking - took it to the dealer twice - both times they said they'd fixed it - hadn't. By the time I took it the third time - moonroof also no longer closed correctly - they thought it might be a bad motor due to the leak. Short version - after 3 tries - fixed the leak. Have had it there about 7 additional times due to it no longer closing correctly. Where we are now - they aren't sure how to fix it - and have no solutions for me. Beyond frustrated
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Sorry to hear that, nicole.

    Have you called 800-SUBARU3?

    Have then open up a case number. Ask if your dealer can get help from a regional specialist, perhaps.

    Good luck.
  • packrfanpackrfan Member Posts: 50
    Not sure how previous year's Forester's moonroofs were set up, but i noticed 09's have a the flip-up wind deflector that forces airflow up and away, in theory. The Forester opening might be so enormous that wind gets pulled in further back. I was impressed with this feature as an older Mazda i owned had this but my current Acura doesn't - and it's very noisy & breezy with roof open.

    FWIW, I've never had a leak or problem with any roof going back >20 years but none on a Subie, tho. Harmonic (buffetting?) has occured with all and only alleviated with opening a window, usually rear, a crack.
  • aathertonaatherton Member Posts: 617
    The earlier Foresters also have the pop-up deflector. It does not begin to adequately reduce the noise and buffeting even at partial openings. Subaru's big plastic bubble deflector does a much better job. jpg
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Wow, that's huge!

    I think I would just crack open the rear windows.
  • aathertonaatherton Member Posts: 617
    Cracking open the rear windows does not help much. That is why to really use the moonroof while driving, you must install the bubble deflector.
  • packrfanpackrfan Member Posts: 50
    What's involved in the install? Is it clamped in place or are tap holes drilled into roof?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    I had a bubble deflector on my 1998 (I installed an aftermarket pop-up moonroof) and it just used two-side tape. Stayed on nicely for 8 whole years.
  • irollitirollit Member Posts: 20
    I just purchased a 2009 Forester 2.5X Limited with a moon roof. It will be here by the end of June. I ordered the air deflector, thinking it would make less noise with it. Now I wonder if the mileage will be affected.

    I have read of people getting more than the 20-26 mph listed on the sticker. I do not want to jeopardize the great mileage that the Forester is capable of giving us.

    Does anyone have experience with the air deflector and decreased mileage?
  • packrfanpackrfan Member Posts: 50
    I'll also be interested in actual experience but if they work as designed, it should increase mileage as overall aerodynamics should improve with less turbulence as air is deflected over vs. in the moonroof.
  • klusmireklusmire Member Posts: 2
    I think mine just died today. I have an '03 and the motor just seemed to go slower and slower and now I just hear a click when I push the button to open it. Did you get yours fixed? I guess I would have to have the dealer look at it first before I do the SOA contact thing. Please let me know since your post was almost a year ago.


    Steve Klusmire [email protected]
  • bigfrank3bigfrank3 Member Posts: 426
    My wife had a problem with her 05 Bean last month. The dealer first replaced the motor but that didn't help. When I opened the inside shade and watched what was happening I noticed that the passenger side of the glass was dropping as it was supposed to, but the driver side wasn't.

    Interesting enough, about half way back there is a jiggly thing that appears to be what grabs the shade to close it with the moonroof. When I help that up the roof worked fine, and continued to do so for a few uses.

    So on a return trip to the dealer I demonstrated my finding. They ordered a new track assembly and that seems to have fixed it. She was in the last month of her warranty so it cost her nothing... good timing.

    Her previous 01 Premium is still in the family and has never had a problem, and neither has my 06 Premium. Someone told me Subaru changed the track design for 06 but I don't know that for sure.

    Your track may be binding, and started by making the motor drag.
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