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  1. #1
    Bald Tire
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    H3 Sunroof Drive Ribbon Cable Replacement - Aternative Affordable Solution

    Save some big dollars on H3 Sunroof ribbon cable replacement. This is not an advertisement for a product or service… just some information I could find nowhere else. I finally researched it and dug up the info after a few days of research and multiple dealership visits to look at similar parts. If it is common knowledge, then please overlook my excitement of saving $1400 vs GM Dealership part costs.

    As many H3 owners know from experience it does not take much to damage the sunroof plastic ribbon cables. Damage can come from excessive wear over time, or as simple as debris jamming the sunroof while the motor "eats a ribbon cable tooth or two" trying to completely close the top.

    (The sunroof drive "ribbon cable" is unique to the H3 whereas the H2 uses an actual sunroof drive "cable").

    The results is usually one side of the top not closing completely, or one side dragging behind the other side on open or close, or the dreaded "I got to help push it closed" solutions.

    Mine just simply lacked closing the last 2/10 of an inch on the passenger side which allowed leaking under certain conditions (even beyond what the 4 cleaned drain tubes could handle).

    I removed my entire sunroof assembly, brought it under a bright shop light, and found a small piece of hickory nut blocking the last 2/10 inch of closing. I removed the nut hull, but still the roof would not close completely (even with me trying to help force close it).

    Upon a second removal of the sunroof assembly, and removal of a very tight ribbon-cable which drives the sunroof assembly in the track. I discovered that my motor/gear attempting to fully close the sunroof had deformed the drive ribbon cable in two places. It appeared to be only mildly deformed, but even after cleaning it up with a dremmel tool it still was extremely tight in the track and would not move fully through the motor's gear head when closing.

    Solution? Replace one white 62-inch ribbon cable.
    Problem? Not only does GM not offer the ribbon cable as a replacement part (they want to sell you a new $900 to $1500 sunroof drive assembly as a solution. Add to that, they do not show the part, describe the part, and there is no part number nor manufacturer stamped on the part.

    After some intense research I stumbled across the fact that a Lexus sunroof motor has been found to be a workable replacement match for a Hummer H3 sunroof motor. From that I figured that the sunroof drive ribbon cable had to be the same.

    I began searching for Lexus/Toyota sunroof ribbon cables. Just like GM/Hummer the Toyota/Lexus team does not offer the individual part, nor do they show the actual photo of the part, only an artist unlifelike rendering.

    I began visiting dealers and digging for product and for photos of "sunroof ribbon cable" for Toyota/Lexus. I found that the 08 to 12 Rav4 looked identical in ribbon cable and carriage arm. I later found the Camry to appear the same. I could not confirm the ribbon cable length on these, but they appeared to be a fit.

    The logic did not hit me, until stumbled across a 2009-2014 Tahoe/Escalade sunroof ribbon cable assembly for sale on eBay. The detailed photo appeared identical, and after contacting the seller the ribbon cable length also matched my H3 length.

    So it appears (logically) that GM used the same sunroof assembly in all of its full sized truck format vehicles (at least from 2009 to 2014) and that those are interchangeable with H3 which there are minimal to zero supply for. There are likely other GM years which use the same ribbon/cable but I have not confirmed those. Most older GM's use an actual cable system instead of the ribbon cable like H3.

    The Toyota's and Lexus' are made the same, the same rails, same sunroof motor and gear, same sunroof carriage assembly and track... but I have not confirmed the same ribbon cable lenght (but it appears to all be the same. confirm length before you buy. Mine was approximately 62 inches).

    The short story of this long post? I bought a pair of new complete sunroof carriage arms with cable ribbons for a 2009-2014 Tahoe/Escalade for $100 on eBay and saved $1400 as opposed to GM Hummer's $1500 solution. (you could use the entire carriage arm/ribbon cable assemblies as ordered as replacements, OR you can simply unsnap the ribbon cables and snap them onto your existing carriage assemblies, my photo shows removed and beside the original carriage assembly – plug and play)

    2 hours to remove headliner and all, a few choice words, two skinned knuckles, repair, and replace... cost of $100 using 09-14 Tahoe/Escalade parts from eBay.

    As opposed to:

    GM? $1500 assembly part plus another $1000 for labor.

    A note, not sure how the continued availability will be on the 09-14 Tahoe/Escalade individual parts as GM does not offer those parts separately either. The ones I found was from a guy who had bought a closeout of the OEM sunroof complete assemblies and he had broken them down selling the individual parts from those.

    I do expect that even in the salvage market, the sunroof assemblies for Tahoe/Escalade will remain a great cost savings with a glut of those vehicles on the road... as compared to the H3 which is no longer built and with limited availability.

    There are other excellent links here regarding how to access to the complete sunroof assembly (cleaning and replacing drain lines). Start by removing the four small visible screws attaching the Sunroof to the arms on each side, gently push upward to remove sunroof. Once you look up at the assembly inside the vehicle you find about eight clearly visible 10mm bolts which hold the entire sunroof assembly against the vehicle interior roof, two more bolts holding the motor into the assembly. (remove motor before removing or reinstalling ribbon cables), When you reinstall the entire sunroof assembly there is a tab on each side near the middle of the of the assembly which will guide it perfectly back into place when you replace it. I am attaching a few pictures to show only the damaged ribbon cable and to reference its removal from the assembly.

    Notes: Remove the motor from the assembly before removing and replacing the ribbon cables. Do not attempt removal or replacement of ribbon cable with motor in place. The plastic drive gear made onto my motor was not damaged, only one of my ribbon cables was deformed as shown in photo, but check both ribbon cables and then inspect the gear on the motor head for any potential damage as some folks have experienced that. Add a little white lithium grease in a few places (a LITTLE of the grease goes a long way in the tight ribbon cable track) and slide the new ribbon cables back in. I reinstalled the entire sunroof assembly AND the actual sunroof before I reinstalled the motor... so that I could be certain both of my sunroof side arms were fully and completely closed (placing the ribbon cable teeth correctly in alignment for the motor to be reinstalled at correct alignment)… works like new. Once you have the sunroof in place and the arms pushed fully closed, and the motor reinstalled and memory reset (by raising the roof and holding button for about 30 seconds if I recall correctly)... then you can get the sunroof in normal closed position and slightly loosen the four sunroof mounting screw in order to fine tune and adjust the heighth of each corner of the sunroof to the roof line. The screws themselves provide enough sunroof movement up and down at each corner to properly seat the sunroof and limit any potential leaks.

    Hope it saves you as much money and makes it as perfect as this one did. Attempting to add photos. Will work on it.
    Last edited by CharlieG; 10-08-2018 at 10:58 PM. Reason: attempt to upload 4 photos

  2. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to CharlieG For This Useful Post:

    Acer4LO (10-08-2018), amrg (10-08-2018), Korby7 (10-09-2018)

  3. #2
    All Terrain
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    I think I have a similar problem too not sure its the same. Basically my sunroof doesn't want to open or close. When I press the sunroof, it just makes a loud whurrrr-ing noise like the gears are broken or something. I am pretty sure I am responsible for breaking it because I go full send with my H3 and have gone through tons of mud in the sunroof when it was open. I then would close it. It would go really slow and sounded like it was burning out. Does that so anything like you had?
    2008 Hummer H3 Alpha Adventure + Luxury

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  4. #3
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    I have a H2 where the sunroof opens fine but when you close it it gets twisted and stops unless you push forward on the front passenger side corner as it closes. If you let off on the forward pressure it will twist and bind. Any suggestions would be appreciated.


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  5. #4
    Bald Tire
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    Acer4LO, I am betting if you drop out the headliner, pull the two bolts holding the motor in, pull the motor out... you will either find the motor gear spinning on the shaft, or the motor gear stripped.... if you are unlucky you will find both of the ribbon cables deformed/stripped at the motor. With motor removed you can look up into gear drive hole and see both of the side ribbon cables. If your motor is creating the spinning sound then the probem is either the motor gear or the ribbon cables I am thinking.

    If you are lucky, you get to just replace the motor (I have not tried it yet, but I understand there are Lexus/Toyota motors which fit perfectly if you cant find a H3 motor priced right.. not guarantee as I have tried it personally yet)... if not the motor then this thread will hopefully save you some dollars on finding the two white plastic/wire ribbon cables driving it all. I suggested that it might be a problem at the motor... or visible within the motor mount hole... because usually one of the cables will pull at least some movement on one side or the other of the sunroof. Good luck!
    Last edited by CharlieG; 10-08-2018 at 11:03 PM.

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  7. #5
    Bald Tire
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    MilamJR, I will first admit I am not completely familiar with the H2 sunroof... but I understand in place of the ribbon cables on the H3, your H2 will have the older style real cables driving the sunroof on both sides. From my understanding those slide through a tube... which can fill with water if drains are draining incorrectly... and rust/bind up. The H2 cable, as I understand it, will be an entirely different cable, track, and animal to purchase than the H3 I described above.

    BUT! I would consider breaking it down and looking at the older style (pre 2009) Tahoe/Suburban/Escalade cables to see if GM used the same cables. I suspect the only way you will find out for certain is to simply compare the two via photograph or in person. The GM and Hummer parts list does not break them down on diagram beyond the entire sunroof assmebly, and the parts were largely artist renderings instead of actual photos of the parts. Only way I found the H3 solution was by taking mine out and physically comparing to a number of different vehicle sunroof systems online and through sympathetic dealer parts departments.

    It would seem from my cheap seat though... if H3 uses the same newer ribbon cable system as the newer large GM SUV 2009 - 2014... that the H2 may possibly use the same older style cable drive as the pre-2009 large GM SUV old style cable drive.

    Would be interesting to hear what you find out on the H2 cable system if you dig that deep into it. Again, I am no expert... but I am cheap where I can be... and I am pretty good as a self sustaining Hummer Enthusiast on a budget. This forum certainly helps.

  8. The Following User Says Thank You to CharlieG For This Useful Post:

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  9. #6
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    Thanks for the information.


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  10. #7
    Mud Terrain
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    Congratulations! I looked all over the place and never found the answer you came up with. I had to end up buying the whole assembly. Do you have the GM part numbers by any chance?

  11. #8
    Bald Tire
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    Quote Originally Posted by 08H3 View Post
    Congratulations! I looked all over the place and never found the answer you came up with. I had to end up buying the whole assembly. Do you have the GM part numbers by any chance?
    I second this! Having the part numbers would be awesome! I can add them to my little book of part numbers for future referent


 

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