Fixing a Saturn sunroof and replacing the headliner. Thoughts? Opinion?

I’m not sure if MPSIMS if the proper place for this but it’s not something that actually has a factual answer so here it is.

I have a 99 Saturn SL2. The sunroof stopped working a number of years ago and, unknown to me, it was stopped not totally closed. So during heavy rains water was overflowing the internal gutters. Because of this the headliner got wet and has been damaged. The cloth is starting to sag a little in the front by the windshield. Also, over the winter the passenger side visor had frozen to the liner. Not realizing this, I pulled it down and it ripped the cloth so that now there is a small strip of cloth hanging down.

I found a certified Saturn service center (difficult to do these days) for this issue as well as a couple of others. They’re the ones who discovered that the roof isn’t completely closed.

They gave me a couple of solutions. I can have them permanently caulk the sunroof so that it won’t leak but can NEVER be repaired, or I can have the sunroof repaired, which would involve removing the headliner. Whether or not they actually fix the sunroof would depend on what they find when they remove the headliner. It could be a simple electrical issue, which would be relatively inexpensive to fix, or it could be a $1000 repair job. If it’s the $1000 repair I’ll just have them permanently seal it instead.

I’ve heard horror stories about how, once you remove or replace the headliner, it’s never the same and won’t stay up properly. So I’m leery of having them mess with it. On the other hand, it’s already coming loose and since I’m putting money into some other repairs, and it only has 76,000 miles on it, I plan to keep it for at least a few more years. That means that I’ll likely have to deal with the headliner at some point anyway. I prefer not to do ugly fixes like thumbtacks.

So, thoughts? Should I have them pull the headliner to check the sunroof, and should I have them replace it? The other issue, of course, is that they’re still checking to see if they can even get a replacement headliner.

Paneling. It won’t sag. Just make sure you align it properly or the lines will drive you to crash.

I had a 95 SL2, and in fact, just got rid of it a couple of months ago (we bought it brand new with about 10 miles on it, and when it was about to give out, it had around 132,000 miles). The difference between my experience and yours is we didn’t have a sunroof, but the liner was coming down of its own volition several years ago.

At the time, I took it to my local Saturn dealer, and was told it would cost $300 or so to replace the liner; then I was later told they couldn’t even get it. We finally began just ripping the liner out, because frankly, the car was just beaten up at that point. The seats were falling apart, and the muffler needed replacing. It still ran okay, but the liner was the least of my worries.

I finally sold it for $150 cash (the guy scrapped it), but considering we’d had it for 15 years and two full-time drivers, it was a great car. Just not worth replacing the liner IMO. Naturally, you may feel differently. But my guess is you probably can’t get an authorized SC to replace it anyway.

Duckster, What do you mean by “paneling”? Is there some sort of auto paneling?

I really hate the idea of just ripping it off and exposing the insides of the ceiling. The car is overall in pretty good shape.

No idea how it is on your Saturn, but I once removed the headliner from a 2003 Grand Am. I put new material on with 3M 90 spray glue. I did this because I had a tear in the fabric. After I put it back up, I never had any problems with sagging or anything. If you can remove the headliner yourself, you’ll see the sunroof motor. Maybe you can diagnose something or replace it while it’s exposed.

I don’t blame you, if the car is in otherwise good shape. No need to tear it down needlessly–my car, on the other hand…

As I remember though, we tried spray adhesive, and for us at least, it didn’t work. That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work for you of course. It’d certainly be worth a try, and if it doesn’t work, you’re not out that much money.

While it’s possible that I could do that I have to say that I’m pretty nervous that I’ll screw it up somehow and not be able to get it back together properly. It seems like I’d have to remove a lot of trim and various fixtures.

I imagine that some body shops will do something similar. I don’t know if my service center’s body shop would do something like that or not.

The whole point is to remove it only once to

[li]Checkout and possibly repair the sunroof.[/li][li]Repair the headliner[/li][/ol]
The odds of me being able to diagnose and repair the sunroof aren’t very good.

In any case the sunroof has to be fixed or sealed NOW, before there’s any more water damage, possibly to something more critical than the liner. It can’t wait till I have the time to personally screw around with the liner.

The car is in the shop now and I have to take some action, possibly irreversible, NOW. I’m currently waiting to hear back on whether or not they can even replace the liner, so my decision may be made for me.

How did you do that? Did you remove it from the car? Is there some other way to get the adhesive under the cloth?

I’ve also got the problem of the hanging strip. I can glue that up but it won’t look very nice. I guess I’d just have to live with that.

It sounds like your car’s too nice for how we did it: ultimately we just ripped it and left the foam exposed. By that time, the car wasn’t in very good shape (though it was drivable, and safe enough, which was more important to us than how the liner looked). So in the end, I’m not much help, although I do empathize with your situation.

Using the spray: we held the liner away from the rest of the roof, being careful not to tear it any more, and sprayed both the liner and foam (or whatever the directions on the can said…spray one side, spray both sides, I don’t remember honestly). Then gently press the liner back up. I think it stayed for awhile, but then fell back down. There could be lots of reasons why it didn’t work: the humidity or temperature when we tried to use the spray, or somehow didn’t follow directions right. Maybe it was just plain shitty adhesive we used.

I can’t imagine though there’s no way to fix it…there are car customizers who do much more than that, although in your case, it may or may not be worth the money you’d put into it. For us, it just wasn’t worth any more money than the cost of the spray adhesive. At any rate, I wish you luck.

Oh, I’m sure if money was no object I could have the thing working and looking like it’s brand new, but I’m not sure that it’s really worth it.

On the other hand, financially, I’m not really comfortable starting car payments right now and, as I’ve said, I’ve already put money into other needed repairs. The brakes HAD to be fixed, as did the ignition key cylinder if I want to continue to be able to start the car. So, financially I really need to be able to drive it for at least a few more years and the liner will likely continue to come loose.

I guess the decisions I have to make at this point are largely aesthetic rather than practical. The practical things HAVE to be done. The aesthetics are… well. aesthetic.

But, being a single guy, I’d rather not pickup a date in a car that has the ceiling exposed or cloth sagging onto her head. :dubious:

What’s the budget? I’m guessing the sunroof motor will need replaced. The part alone is probably $150 to $200 new, maybe $50 on ebay. Plus labor for that and to remove and repair headliner…I’m GUESSING you might actually approach the $1000 figure you stated in your OP. Then again, I could be way off.

IIRC, the cost if it was some simple electrical thing was $100 to $300. That didn’t include repairing or replacing the headliner just taking it out and putting it back. The high end possibility he gave was $1000, which I assume was replacing some major part or even the whole sunroof.

I’d go with the low end repair of the roof and replacing the headliner if that part wasn’t too ridiculous. If it would cost $1000 then I’d go with sealing it (which I think was maybe $100+) and replacing the headliner.

I don’t even care much about having a working sunroof, I just figure if it’s something simple then fixing it will add to the resale value.

I talked to the mechanic about 5 hours ago and he was going to look into what it would take to replace the headliner (or if it was even possible). I haven’t heard back yet. I’m not sure what that means. Maybe they’re waiting to hear from some junkyards or something.

Headliners fall down because the foam on the back of the headliner material deteriorates with age. Gluing a headliner back up never works for long because the foam just crumbles some more and down she comes again.

When I had a falling headliner on my old Dodge Omni, I was able to remove the entire headliner backing piece (a huge piece of cardboard) and then had a local upholstery shop glue new material onto it. Cost me about $80 plus a couple afternoons’ work.

The business about the foam crumbling is what I’d heard and what made me dubious about gluing.

I’m a little confused though. I keep hearing about foam and now you’re mentioning cardboard. Does the upholstery shop glue new foam to the cardboard and then cloth to the foam?

How difficult is it to match the color?

I think what I might end up doing is telling the repair center to just seal the sunroof without removing the headliner. Then I can try and find a body shop that will remove and reupholster the liner.

Well, problem solved, sort of.

Yesterday I had told them to go ahead and seal the sunroof. I called this morning and told him that I had had second thoughts and if they hadn’t started sealing it yet could they wait and first check to see if they could replace the liner, and then check out the sunroof while they were doing that to see if it was easily repairable.

So I’ve been waiting all day to hear back from him. I assumed that since he hadn’t called back they hadn’t sealed it yet and were waiting to find out about the liner.

I just called him to see what was happening. He told me that when he checked with the body shop this morning they had already started working on it so it’s been sealed. (I don’t know why he didn’t call and tell me that.)

So I’ll worry about the headliner a little later. If I do take it out myself and notice a loose wire on the sunroof I’ll be kinda pissed. :smack:

This is exactly why glue won’t work for very long.

About the only thing short of replacement that will work is saggy pins. Thumbtacks with oversized heads and curly-q pins so they don’t just pull out. You can get them from Amazon or just about any chain auto parts store.

This sounds like a solution for the sagging parts. Not sure what I’m going to do about the torn spot. Short of completely recovering the headliner that’ll be ugly no matter what I do.

I’m looking at some “fabric repair kits” on Amazon, like this:

or this:

for example.

They’re the stuff you’ve probably seen on TV where you mix up some goop to match the color as close as possible and then smooth it over the rip.

Anyone have any experience with this kind of thing?

Maybe a curved sewing needle and just pull the edges together.