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996 Sliding sunroof won't shut, stuck wide open


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1999 C4, which I've owned and enjoyed for 7 years, since 38K miles (now 159K miles).

This evening the sliding sunroof was sliding open nicely. It only slides open if I hold down the button. But then a slight bit of rough road, at 35 mph caused it to hick-up a bit (clicking noises). And I probably briefly pushed the wrong button(s). Now it's wide open (slid all the way back, i.e. roof open to the sky). It will only shut about one inch, then stops. And repeated attempts make it close back up only result in opening back up that one inch. The tracks look clean, and were last lubricated 2 years ago. I don't use the sunroof much, other than the slight tilt up to vent.

Suggestions on how to get it to close, and how to fix it?

Manual close doesn't work -- can't get the supplied wrench to close it, because it's too hard to turn, and I don't want to force it, and goof something up further.

I don't see any thread here that addresses this stuck open issue, and re-teaching in this circumstance doesn't seem to work (I tried it).

I appreciate your suggestions and wisdom.

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I believe one of the cables has snapped (unless it's gone off the track, which is unlikely). Don't try to force it shut, and get someone to look at it. The part is not expensive, but you're talking about several hours of labor. Use someone good, because you don't want the headliner and trim scuffed up. I had something similar happen but managed to get the sunroof closed (with scoring marks on the track). I left it as is, and would almost prefer a car without a sunroof as a result. The older cars had a point of entry for sunroof repair via a zipper in the headliner - wish they'd done this in the later cars. Best of luck.

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Mghorayeb, thanks for your reply.

I took the car to my Porsche mechanic, a shop dedicated to Porsches and European cars. Apparently the sliding roof has come off its rail on one side, and he thinks a cable is broken. He's quoting me $1400 in parts (including a "cassette" and two other less expensive parts, but not including a motor, since my motor is apparently OK), and 5 hours of labor. I'm more than a little surprised that fixing a sun roof is about a 2K hit.

Does this seem reasonable and appropriate?

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Appropriate no and reasonable no, but the quote doesn't surprise me. This is 10+% of the car's value! I suggest you also go directly to Porsche for a second opinion and quotation (it can't be any more than what you were quoted). The parts are expensive (big parts are the whole rail assembly and the motor), but the labor is the killer - access to the mechanism is restricted and time consuming. Take a look on eBay where occasionally you can buy the whole assembly with roof, rails, and motor for less than $1K. Ascertain that your mechanic doesn't damage any of the trim or the headliner. Since he's going in there, make sure he takes a good look at everything, cleans, aligns, and lubes it up, so you're good to go for the next years. If you're handy and confident, you might want to take the job on yourself. I love having a sunroof, but when things like this happen, I think about having extra headroom, and less headaches. Another less attractive option is to leave it as is, and hopefully the tilt function still works. Best of luck with it, and please update me on how it goes.

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While on this topic, what type of lub is used and do you lub the rails or the spring like mechanism?

I would like to know this also the 996 I'm buying on Friday has a sun roof, WOW 2K to fix it I don't think I will be using it very often.

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Simple question on where to lube and what type to use as preventative measure on the sunroof. Responses are appreciated- thx

Clear all old grease and dirt off first.

An extremely light coating of white lithium based grease - wipe all excess until there is almost none left.

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  • 2 weeks later...

So, I at mghorayeb's insightful and most helpful (if less than obvious to me) suggestion, I obtained a whole new roof cassette assembly (everything but the motor) on ebay shipped to me for $360. It came complete the the exterior painted roof panel, which was replaced with my own. The part was was from the same model and year as my car, but one with half as many miles as my car has. Thank you mghorayeb. That saved me $1K in parts.

My local shop charged me $600 (i.e. 6 hrs) for the remove and re-install, and it works well now, again.

Moral: I think I kept my roof lubed, but I'm sure to continue to do that now.

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