Are panoramic sunroofs safe?

This blog post will answer the question, ‘ Are panoramic sunroofs safe?’, and cover topics like reasons to avoid a panoramic sunroof, how safe is a panoramic sunroof in a rollover crash, maintenance tips for cars with sunroofs, are panoramic sunroofs a good investment.

Are panoramic sunroofs safe?

Yes, a panoramic sunroof is just as safe as a conventional sunroof in a car as it does not affect the structural integrity of the car? Hence, it is safe even during accidents.

 It comprises 5 different layers in the order of

  • Glass
  • Liquid polymer
  • Polycarbonate foil
  • Liquid polymer
  • Glass

A schematic representation of a regular panoramic sunroof cross-section looks like this:

Glass
Liquid polymer
Polycarbonate foil
Liquid polymer
Glass

The two outer layers are made up of normal glass, similar to car windows. The two layers of liquid polymer prevent the sunroof from crumbling into tiny pieces, a mechanism similar to a windshield. The most important layer of a panoramic sunroof is that of the polycarbonate foil. This layer is highly impacted resistant and therefore very hard to break. The entire composition of the panoramic sunroof is created under high temperatures, thus making the finished product very consistent and sturdy.

Reasons to avoid a panoramic sunroof

Various reasons can be taken into consideration when it comes to reasons to avoid buying a car with a panoramic sunroof installed. They are as follows:

  • Overheating
  • Reduced headroom
  • Unnecessary weight
  • Complex design and noise
  • Reduced structural integrity
  • How often will we use it?

Overheating

A panoramic sunroof creates a large open area on the top of the car, exposing the car to be in contact with the direct rays of the sun. As to how hot the car can get, that depends on which part of the globe the car is being driven.

For example in tropical regions like India and Africa, temperatures can skyrocket upto 50 degrees Celsius or higher in summer. If the vehicle is exposed to such heat for extensive periods of time, the cabin will become extremely hot and uncomfortable to be in.

The reason behind this occurrence is the direct rays of sunlight penetrating the vehicle without any kind of barrier whatsoever. Tinted glass can come to mind as a potential barrier but it fails to prevent the UV rays of the sun from entering the vehicle. This results in the vehicle getting very hot even while driving for a significant amount of time.

The rectification falls on the air conditioners of the vehicle that have to work very hard to bring the temperature down to a comfortable level and also maintain it.

Reduced headroom

An additional amount of space is required for the sunroof motor mechanisms and the sunroof roller shades. This means that the car would be better off not having a sunroof at all. 

This issue is not solved by retracting the sunroof or opening the sunshade as the opening does not move farther inside. This might cause an issue for tall drivers who would have to tilt their heads towards the center of the car. They could also recline their seat but that might cause ergonomic issues related to the steering and the foot pedal.

Unnecessary weight

A glass sunroof can weigh up to 100 kgs and placing it on the top of the car is not ideal, as a heavy component should always be placed as low as possible, or else it affects vehicle stability and handling.

The sole reason behind this is because glass is made of a thicker material compared to steel or aluminum roofs. Another point of consideration is the additional reinforcing bars and electric motors for operating the sunroof.

Complex design and noise

Conventional sunroofs included only a sheet of metal with a headliner. Nowadays, it comprises up to two or more glass panels, an electric motor, control switches, drainage channels, and sunshade rollers.

As a result of all these different parts coexisting together, the amount of squeaking and flexing noises on the top of your head increases and develops an annoyance among passengers over time while driving.

Reduced structural integrity

Panoramic sunroofs have reduced structural integrity in comparison to conventional sunroofs. Conventional sunroofs have a rubber coating that can keep the majority of the water out even though they are not 100% waterproof.

The case is different with panoramic sunroofs as they are dependent on certain channels that help drain the water to the sides of the roof. An unfortunate clogging of these channels can cause the collected water to seep into the cabin.

How often will we use it?

The usage depends on the weather conditions and sometimes that can act as a disadvantage. For example, some vehicles cannot completely open the sunroofs without completely retracting the sun shades, leaving the entire vehicle open to the sun.

It is also pointless to leave the sunroof open while parked, in an attempt to vent out hot air from the cabin which can backfire as it will let in more heat than expel.

How safe is a panoramic sunroof in a rollover crash?

According to government-controlled crash test data, the existence of a sunroof does not affect the overall strength of the roof. The basic anatomy of a car comprises a strong steel frame enveloped by thin metal panels. This very steel frame helps in keeping the vehicle occupants safe.

A car is made of four types of pillars that support the roof, namely, A, B, C, and D pillars. These pillars are called crash zones and are responsible for absorbing the maximum amount of energy during a crash. 

The greater concern is the possible ejection of the vehicle occupants rather than the crash itself. The best and safest factor to be kept in mind to avoid ejection from a vehicle is to always have a seatbelt strapped around while the vehicle is moving. With that out of the way, the airbags and energy-absorbing zones can do their job.

Maintenance tips for cars with sunroofs

So far, we have discussed in detail the various drawbacks of the panoramic sunroof and the various factors to be considered before buying a vehicle equipped with one. However, we must also keep in mind the maintenance procedures required for a panoramic sunroof. 

Research  points out the various ways we can bring out the best potential of a panoramic sunroof if we follow practices like testing for leakage, proper lubrication, checking for any weird sounds, or inspecting all moving parts regularly. 

Are panoramic sunroofs a good investment?

People consider it to be a good investment due to the following reasons:

  • Extra cabin light
  • Natural illumination
  • Additional ventilation
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Extended visibility above the windshield
  • Feels more spacious from the rear seat

Conclusion

This blog post addressed the question, ‘Are panoramic sunroofs safe?’

We understood that a panoramic sunroof is just as safe as a conventional sunroof even though it has a few downsides that need to be considered before buying a car equipped with it. The reasons to avoid it have been discussed in detail, also underlining the scenario in case of a rollover crash. A panoramic sunroof might still be a good investment has also been discussed in this article. Please feel free to comment on the content or ask any questions in the comments section below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Are panoramic sunroofs safe?

Can panoramic sunroof shatter?

They are rare but not impossible. Panoramic sunroofs are often curved to match the shape of the roof so any debris like rocks, dirt, or gravel however small can potentially cause the sunroof to shatter. Other reasons might be a flawed assembly process or manufacturing defects.

What is the purpose of a panoramic sunroof?

A panoramic sunroof is typically made of laminated glass spanning both the front and rear seat, thus providing natural lighting and creating an overall airy cabin atmosphere.

What is the difference between a sunroof and a moon roof?

A sunroof is usually made of a glass or metal panel installed on the roof of a car, truck, or SUV that can slide open to let light and air into the cabin. A moonroof on the other hand is typically made of a clear or tinted glass panel that can slide between the roof and the headliner and is often tilted open to either expel heat or let in some fresh air.

References

https://yourgreatcar.com/is-panoramic-sunroof-safe/#:~:text=A%20panoramic%20sunroof%20is%20as,is%20safe%20even%20during%20accidents.
https://www.consumerreports.org/car-safety/is-a-panoramic-sunroof-safe-in-a-rollover-crash-a6132612300/
https://www.badellscollision.com/blog/advantages-disadvantages-car-ppanoramic-roofs/
https://driving.ca/auto-news/industry/breaking-glass-its-rare-but-windows-and-sunroofs-are-shattering
https://www.morries.com/finance/car-buying-tips/moonroof-vs-sunroof/
https://www.autobest.co.in/blog-detail/how-to-look-after-your-cars-sunroof-a-complete-guide

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