Sun/Moon Roof on chase ride

I've had a moonroof on every vehicle I've owned since I've been chasing: one Jeep Cherokee and two Toyota 4Runners. I've had one moonroof glass pane broken: June 1, 2004 from dense baseball hail near Windthorst, Texas. In other instances of hail damage to my vehicles, the moonroof glass has held up perfectly. It's a sturdy pane.

When my glass broke on June 1, the excellent drainage system and the sliding headliner cover protected the interior of the truck from water damage.

It's a mixed bag about whether to recommend one or not. The problems involved with fixing or replacing them are huge. My moonroof still doesn't track exactly right from the 2004 damage, but it's not a big problem; I just have to hit the button a few more times to get it sealed flush.

It's pretty nice to throw back the headliner sliding door and get a perfect view of activity directly overhead, especially if you think that activity might be rotating.

As much as I hated waiting for the body shop to struggle while fixing mine last year, it was pretty cool yesterday to throw it open and see the underbelly of a supercell without having to lean forward and look up through the windshield. I'd probably get another one on my next ride.
I have a moon roof, and am generally afraid of having it while chasing. So far it's taken a few 1.5-2 inch hail strikes and good pounding from little half inch stuff. It hasn't broken yet. Usually when chasing I keep the cover on it. Although it is occasionally nice to look up when chasing, but I'd stick with no moon roof while chasing if you could. One less thing to worry about. I have 92 toyota paseo if that helps for extra info, the windows a little small. So, that just my humble opinon on them anyways...

*edit* P.S. It just worries me if any window broke(so less windows the better for me). I'd probably have much of my electronic stuff broken. I only have a water proof case for a camera or two. Except for that my labtop, video camera, and a camera would be left open for the elements.
I use rental cars for chasing and in Spring 2005, I was stuck with car with a moonroof. I didn't like the hail risk and a tried to do a makshift cover using cheap plastic floor mats and duct tape. My hastily built cover lasted one chase day before the effects of wind and rain blew off my floor mats. I think a similar solution would be workable given more prep time.

I think Chris Kridler built a metal hail shield to cover her moonroof.

Bill Hark
My 95 cougar has a sun roof and it just with stood slightly larger then baseball stones earlier this year (although it was parked).
a friend of mine owns a body shop and had a old moon roof that he had to replace due teh to track mechanism malfuntioning and he let me have at it with a hammer. it surprized me how hard i had to hit it to get the glass to break.

I would think some sort of grill would be easy to make using some heavy guage expanded metal, some rubber stand offs with threaded inserts and some indutrial strength suction cups or some sort of mounting clip.

try for the mecca of raw materials for such projects.

edit: here ya go... a 3 1/8th" suction cup with a 1/4-20 bolt molded in and it has a 30# rating:

Click Here

part number 53535A45
Thanks for the info guys.... i'm really gearing into the new 2006 civic... and the EX version with navi only comes with a moonroof.

That brings up another question... how good is the navi in the boonies? I'm not sure, but I will check it out when I test drive the car. No point getting it if it doesn't show county roads... BUT if it does, it makes for an extremely tidy looking chase ride with gps/navi.

Aaron, I have a sunroof on my 98 monte carlo, and haven't had any chasing related problems with it. Of course, IL doesn't have softball sized hail either. But you can always slide the thing that covers it closed, and I'd think that would do a decent job protecting people if the glass did break. My only gripe is it leaves less room for antennas in the center of the roof. Plus, my sunroom opens out then back, and I've hit my antenna a few times when I've forgotten its there lol.
I don't really know. But I bet it would be cool, to look out of, to watch for possible rotation, and cloud feature/detail. And maybe for standing up in to video tape/take pictures.
I have a sunroof too, and it's pretty strong glass. As others mentioned, its great for getting a quick view of the underbelly of a supercell, but I like it much more for the ventilation it provides (no need to run the AC unless its really freakin hot). That, and you can get a really nice right arm tan while driving too! :wink:
Due to my regular chase ride being down this season, I chased in my 2001 Eclipse for most of 2005. It has a sunroof, but I was very careful about getting into hail when I was in it. I did manage to get into a very small hail core on May 11 2005 in SW KS that only produced small amount of golf ball size hail. One did hit the sunroof glass but didn't do anything. Regardless, I was still cussing it because I though I was going to get into bigger hail all while I was strategically trying to get to the back side of the cell to avoid the hail. Funny how things workout.

I hated chasing in that car. Not because it is a bad car, but I was just so afraid of messing it up. Plus the sunroof was always in the back of my mind also. I will only chase in it if I have to at a last resort. 2005 I had no choice but to use it, but 2006 I will have old whitey backup and running. I know she is eager to get back out and start chasing again.

IMHO don’t get a chase ride with a sunroof. That’s just me though.

Originally posted by Mickey Ptak

IMHO don’t get a chase ride with a sunroof. That’s just me though.

My sentiments exactly. I've been in enough big hail to know that the last thing I want on a chase vehicle is a sunroof, unless some sort of hail shield is constructed for it, which, as Bill Hark noted above, Chris Kridler did for her Honda Element. As far as I know, it's worked well for her, and she can detach it when not chasing since it's mounted primarily with large suction cups if I remember correctly.
My lincoln has a moonroof.. i like it.. Although i fear of large hail visiting me in the cab. Like Mickey i have encountered golf ball size with no real issues..

I Chase with a Toyota 4 Runner. Yes it has a moon roof. Ive been very concerned about hail. But since reading about how strong the glass is i dont think i need to worry. If baseball size hail doesnt break it, i ought to be alright.
However i have thought of ways to protect myself. One idea was fixating a peice of 1/4 inch plexi glass or acrylic above the glass. This wont abstruct the view like a grill will and is protective. Thanks for all the info, i will sleep better tonight knowing that moon roof glass is stronger than i thought.
I also have a moonroof on my Pathfinder and I've worried about it (need to carry a trashbag and duct tape just in case), but I figure if the hail is large enough to bust it out, I probably have bigger things to worry about. I would assume (and we all know what assuming leads to) that an automotive manufacturer would take into account that a vehicle might get hailed on with decent sized hail. But I know I'm probably incorrect, heh.
Any exposed glass is a risk out there, and the last place I would want there to be a risk of breaking/flying glass is directly over my head. This issue is a lot like having auto insurance IMO; it's something you'll probably never have to deal with, but if you ever do - you wanna make sure you're covered.

In my humble opinion, I think a moon/sunroof is a liability.
I'm real lucky because the sunroof on my 1990 Mercedes 300TE wagon is a steel sunroof. It has a two mode system: push the button backwards and it retracts back into the roof; push it backwards and upwards only the rear part pops up for ventilation purposes. In place it pretty much looks like just another part of the roof and headliner. So the risk of broken sunroof glass is a non-issue thanks to German ingenuity! :) Yeah, it's nice to be able to look up into the sky or stormclouds through a glass moonroof, but the compromise there is safety if you run into some megastones or if you are very close to a tornado, in which case debris may rain from the sky, some of it more than large enough to smash through your moonroof and into your lap; with my steel sunroof I sacrifice being able to look up without opening the sunroof but in turn I will have complete safety (from above at least) if I run into megastones or tornadic debris is raining down from above. :D
I have the advantages of ventilation, sky viewing (if it's not raining/hailing) and maybe popping up to take some quick stills or video without sacrificing my safety and the safety of any of my passengers (I might be taking some of my friends chasing this summer!) 8)
Hey Dick, you know how you were saying you might just have to get a Mercedes wagon like mine? Well, I found this one just 16 miles from Olathe on Autotrader:
It's a silver 1989 300TE wagon with 100,118 miles in what looks like really good shape for $4,995. The only thing about it is it doesn't have the 4MATIC on demand all wheel drive option, which mine has. The 300TE for sale has just the standard RWD. That 4MATIC option was a pretty costly one at about $2500, so you'd be hard pressed to find many 300TE wagons that were equipped with it; I just got lucky that I found mine and jumped on it before anyone else could. Nontheless, if you are genuinely interested it might be worth looking at. These Mercedes are built like tanks and you could run that thing another 100,000 miles and still resell it for about $3500-4000.
Hey Caleb, that car on Ebay is my wagon's identical twin, paintjob and all! :shock: Only difference between them is mine is two years older, has about 15,000 less miles and the paint on mine is in better shape. Small world...
I used to chase with a Rodeo that had a glass sun/moon roof. I always worried about the hail aspect and probably had some nightmares about it. However I managed to avoid the big hail back then. Today I am glad to have sturdy metal overhead in my Tahoe, but I miss the view of the moonroof of course. Obviously a moon roof isn't really a practical chase option, but perhaps some metal shield could be rigged making it safer.