Driving your car with the sunroof opened at high speeds can cause wind buffeting which can be both uncomfortable and sometimes even dangerous depending on how fast you are going. It also depends on how your sunroof is designed to cope with such circumstances, but all in all, you should be able to open the sunroof on a highway.
Older cars are often equipped with smaller sunroofs that are not designed to withstand higher speeds because they usually don’t come with a wind deflector. Be that as it may, most newer cars offer a larger sunroof, and almost all of them do come with some form of wind protection.
Whenever you are in doubt, it’s always best to either look in your owner’s manual or to ask around your dealership. If you are unable to do both, you should just stick to the 60mph limit which is a safe speed for almost every type of sunroof out there.
Truth to be told, you can open the sunroof at virtually any legal speed in the US without a hiccup if the car is equipped with a wind deflector. Opening your sunroof at illegal speeds is far less of an issue if you get in trouble with the police.
Sunroof design – Why it exists in the first place
The purpose of a sunroof is to provide you with extra air, extra light, extra ventilation, and extra style. Sunroofs range from smaller metal sunroofs usually equipped on older cars all the way up to large panoramic panels which can take up the entirety of the roof surface.
Most of them can be opened except the very largest ones, and most of them also come with some form of wind protection. A panoramic sunroof makes the car feel airy, a more pleasant place to spend time in no matter where you are sitting.
That being said, in order to enjoy the sunroof, you need to be in a comfortable environment. That means that the sunroof is not exactly made for you to open it while traveling at high speeds. Even though it’s completely fine to open the window at highway speeds, it’s not exactly comfortable if your car does not have an adequate level of wind protection.
Most common reasons why people opt for a sunroof
People don’t always buy a car with a sunroof to use it for what it is intended to do. Some people just like the extra light inside the cabin because it makes the interior way more pleasant. They don’t care about opening the sunroof, nor do they care about how fast they can go with it opened.
I, myself have rarely ever opened the sunroof on my car even though my car is equipped with one. I enjoy the extra light the sunroofs bring in, and they also enjoy the styling of it because the roof is painted black which perfectly contrasts some brighter exterior colors such as red or white.
Tesla is currently one of the most popular car brands on the planet, and the huge panoramic sunroofs offered in every Tesla model can not be opened at all. They are just there for styling and extra light purposes because the vast majority of customers are not even interested in driving with an opened sunroof.
Why you should not open the sunroof on a highway
Even though you should be completely fine if you open the sunroof while traveling at higher speeds, it’s better not to do it because it is uncomfortable and it can also lower your overall efficiency. Another reason why Tesla cars don’t even offer openable sunroofs is that they impact aerodynamics.
They create drag which makes the car less slippery and in turn increases the fuel consumption. Another common issue with a sunroof is that people often forget to close it when they leave the car. Because most sunroofs can either be tilted or fully opened, sometimes it’s hard to judge if the sunroof is shut completely.
This can be a huge problem if it starts raining because a lot of water can enter the car’s interior quickly which can be a huge issue. Sunroofs are a clever piece of design that makes the driving experience more enjoyable, but you need to be aware of what can happen if you don’t follow the owner’s manual.
Why should I buy a car with a sunroof?
There are many reasons why one should buy a car with a sunroof, but the importance of these reasons is up to you. As mentioned countless times, your car feels a lot more spacious and full of light. This can create a more pleasant aura inside the car which in itself is enough for most people to buy a sunroof, myself included.
Besides this, a sunroof can also boost the car’s resale value because the sunroof option is often one of the most expensive factory options you can get.
Why shouldn’t I buy a car with a sunroof?
Some people believe that buying a car with a sunroof creates potential problems which can easily be avoided completely. If your car has a regular roof, the chances of it leaking are negligible. On the other hand, there are countless instances of owners reporting sunroof leakages across virtually all consumer car brands.
Besides the price, of course, a sunroof makes the car less practical as it robs the passengers of a significant portion of headroom. Furthermore, a sunroof also increases the car’s center of gravity and weight, and both of these are detrimental to your car’s handling capabilities.
Can you drive a convertible at highway speeds?
Yes, you can, for pretty much the very same reasons because convertible cars are also designed to cope with increased speeds because they have various ways of clever wind management. While all of your windows are up and the car is equipped with a decent wind deflector, a modern-day convertible is pleasant to drive no matter the speeds in question.
Of course, some convertibles like the Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse are capable of a 253mph top speed even with the roof down, so it’s safe to say that you can go 60mph in your “regular” car.