I just bought a 2006 Chevy HHR for $7k and within 3 months, I find my sunroof unable to close properly. The sound when driving at speeds above 25 miles an hour is deafening to me. Luckily, I live in Orange County which has rather dry weather so I had time to fix the situation before my car was soaked. This blog is to describe my experience in fixing this issue since this is a design flaw in the car and will probably be experienced by many other HHR owners.
The whole headliner is out!
First things first. Decide if you want to fix it on your own or fork over around $800 to a dealer to fix. It costs about $10 to fix it on your own and about 10 hours if you have 0 experience in any car fixing at all and read and watch the videos on this blog. You will need a number of tools to do this, but these tools are handy to have anyway so invest in them. The tools will cost you in total of around $60.
Here is a video of the broken bracket which is the root cause of the problem:
If you decided to fix it on your own! Great. Then keep reading.
1. Read the official technical service bulletin at the link below. This gives you the very high level information on how to fix the issue. This is what the dealership mechanics will use. Use this blog and the videos on this blog as a way to augment the instructions from the link below.
2. Notice the first step - Remove the headliner following SI procedures.
Seems pretty benign doesnt it. NOT !! It takes 4 hours to do just this one step !! To remove the headliner (the ceiling of the car so that it exposes the bolt that you need to remove out of the bracket) read this
3. Removing the headliner. Now to do this properly you need a few tools ! A star head screwdriver (the star head is for these screws that are specific to automobiles. Kind of like phillips head but its a star instead. Dont forcibly use a philips head since it will strip the head. Here are some vidoes of the headliner being removed. Note that you dont need to take the whole headliner out of the car. SO once you start this process, YOU NEED TO FINISH IT ALL THE WAY !! Otherwise you will have a hanging headliner while driving which is a little more than distracting.
Taking out the airbag tags to get the headliner out:
How NOT to remove the seat belt bolts. I did this before i got tools. Use a proper ratchet tool !!!
You will have to remove every part that holds the headliner up. Its time consuming but the only way to get access to the other end of the rivet.
The whole headliner is out!
4. Drill out those rivets ! You will need a drill of 1/4th inch to drill out the head and then 1/8th inch to drill out the body of the rivet. Then put in place new rivets. I think you can also do nut and bolt as well. No harm in that since the headliner has clearance and can cover the extra length of the nut. Otherwise, use a rivet tool and rivet to put new ones back in.
Video of the replaced rivet and bracket!
5. Now test it out. Note that it took me a number of times before the calibration of the module worked properly with the fixed system.
Testing out the fixed system!
6. Now put the whole headliner back together again. Its pretty easy but just be patient and make sure that you push the pieces back into the various holes in the car's chassis. Hear for the click sound as the widgets get into place.
As a note, the design defect still exists and the bracket WILL break again. The only way to mitigate the design defect is to remove the wind deflector resistance by pushing the wind deflector portion down permanently or by placing an additional wind deflector on the sun roof. Here is a thread on how to fix this design issue: