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Title:
VEHICLE SUNROOF WIND DEFLECTOR EXTENSIONS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2015/191484
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention provides vehicle sunroof wind deflector extensions (100) to be disposed adjacent to the sunroof, each comprising a deflector member (202) affixed to a cross member (110) that is supported by at least one support arm (104); a lift mechanism (106) rotatably coupled to the at least one support arm for raising the at least one support arm so that the deflector member (202) is in the deployed position; and an extension (100) coupled to the cross member and disposed above the deflector member (202).

Inventors:
TOLINSKI ROCH J (US)
CARSON DOUGLAS C (US)
ALLARD JAMES E (US)
Application Number:
US2015/034759
Publication Date:
December 17, 2015
Filing Date:
June 08, 2015
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
JIANXIN ZHAOS GROUP CORP (CN)
TOLINSKI ROCH J (US)
CARSON DOUGLAS C (US)
ALLARD JAMES E (US)
International Classes:
B60J7/22
Foreign References:
DE4126568A11993-02-11
DE19518774A11996-11-28
DE4446016C11996-01-18
DE19549200A11997-07-03
FR2940934A12010-07-16
US201462009690P2014-06-09
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
RAO, Weisun (LLP77 West Wacker Drive,Suite 310, Chicago IL, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
What Is Claimed Is:

1. A sunroof wind deflector for reducing an amount of airflow that enters a sunroof of a moving vehicle having a front, a back, a left side, and a right side, wherein the sunroof wind deflector is configured to be disposed at a leading edge of the sunroof and comprises:

an extension that is rotatable between a first position and a second position, the extension being configured to be disposed at the leading edge of the vehicle sunroof, wherein in the first position the extension is generally horizontal with a leading edge of the extension configured to face the front of the vehicle, wherein a rotation of the extension from the first position to the second position involves rotating the leading edge of the extension upwards and backwards to a point where the extension is tilted at least partially forward from a vertical frame of reference.

2. The sunroof wind deflector of claim 1, further comprising one delimiter that prevents the extension from rotating backwards from the second position.

3. The sunroof wind deflector of claim 1, wherein in the second position the extension is tilted between 15 degrees and 75 degrees forward from the vertical from of reference.

4. The sunroof wind deflector of claim 1, wherein an arched tip is disposed along at least a portion of the leading edge of the extension.

5. The sunroof wind deflector of claim 1, wherein the leading edge of the extension is slanted so as to allow incoming airflow underneath the extension to rotate the extension from the first position to the second position as the vehicle accelerates.

6. The sunroof wind deflector of claim 1, wherein a first portion of the leading edge includes an arched tip and a second portion of the leading edge is slanted so as to allow incoming airflow underneath the extension to rotate the extension from the first position to the second position as the vehicle accelerates, wherein the second portion of the leading edge does not include an arched tip.

7. The sunroof wind deflector of claim 1, further comprising a tensioning apparatus for eliminating jitter in the extension based on movement between the first and second positions.

8. The sunroof wind deflector of claim 1, wherein in the first position the extension is stowable between a structure of a roof of the vehicle and a sheet of glass that selectively covers the sunroof.

9. The sunroof wind deflector of claim 1, further comprising:

a deflector member having a top, a bottom, and two opposing sides; and

a cross member secured to the top of the deflector member,

wherein the extension is coupled to the cross member.

10. The sunroof wind deflector of claim 9, further comprising at least one support arm coupled to the cross member, wherein the at least one support arm moves the cross member and the deflector member between a stowed position and a deployed position.

11. A sunroof wind deflector for reducing an amount of airflow that enters a sunroof of a moving vehicle, the sunroof wind deflector comprising:

a deflector member configured to be disposed at a leading edge of the sunroof of the moving vehicle, the deflector member configurable in a stowed position and in a deployed position; and

an extension secured at a top of the deflector member, the extension being rotatable between a first position and a second position, wherein in the first position the extension is generally horizontal with a leading edge of the extension configured to face a front of the moving vehicle, wherein in the second position the extension is tilted at least partially forward from a vertical frame of reference.

12. The sunroof wind deflector of claim 11, wherein in the second position the extension is tilted between 15 degrees and 75 degrees forward from the vertical from of reference.

13. The sunroof wind deflector of claim 11, further comprising at least one of an arched tip or a slanted surface disposed along at least a portion of the leading edge of the extension, the slanted surface for allowing incoming airflow underneath the extension to rotate the extension from the first position to the second position.

14. The sunroof wind deflector of claim 11, further comprising:

a delimiter that prevents the extension from rotating from the second position towards the vertical frame of reference; and a tensioning apparatus for eliminating jitter in the extension.

15. The sunroof wind deflector of claim 11, wherein the extension is secured to the deflector member by way of a cross member affixed to the top of the deflector member.

16. The sunroof wind deflector of claim 15, further comprising:

a pair of support arms coupled to the cross member for raising and lowering the cross member, wherein raising and lowering the cross member moves the deflector member between the stowed and deployed positions; and

at least one lift mechanism rotatably coupled to at least one of the pair of support arms for raising the pair of support arms so that the deflector member is in the deployed position.

17. The sunroof wind deflector of claim 16, wherein the pair of support arms are coupled to the cross member with a pair of joints.

18. A sunroof wind deflector for reducing an amount of airflow that enters a sunroof of a moving vehicle having a front, a back, a left side, and a right side, wherein the sunroof wind deflector is configured to be disposed at a leading edge of the sunroof and comprises:

a deflector member having a top and a bottom, the bottom being securable to the vehicle at the leading edge of the sunroof, wherein the deflector member is configurable in a stowed position and in a deployed position;

a cross member secured to the top of the deflector member;

first and second support arms coupled to the cross member for moving the cross member to move the deflector member between the stowed and deployed positions; and an extension coupled to the cross member, the extension being rotatable between a first position and a second position, wherein in the first position the extension is generally horizontal with a leading edge of the extension configured to face the front of the vehicle, wherein a rotation of the extension from the first position to the second position involves rotating the leading edge of the extension upwards and backwards to a point where the extension is tilted at least partially forward from a vertical frame of reference.

19. The sunroof wind deflector of claim 18, further comprising at least one lift mechanism configured at least to raise the first and second support arms and selectively maintain the first and second support arms in a position such that the deflector member remains in the deployed position.

20. The sunroof wind deflector of claim 19, wherein the leading edge of the extension comprises a slanted surface or an arched tip.

Description:
VEHICLE SUNROOF WIND DEFLECTOR EXTENSIONS

Cross- Reference to Related Application

[01] This application claims priority to US application number 62/009,885, filed on June 9, 2014, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entireties.

Field of the Invention

[02] The present invention relates generally to vehicle sunroof wind deflectors and, more particularly, to extensions for vehicle sunroof wind deflectors that reduce the amount of air that flows to the interior of the vehicle through the sunroof or other opening on top of the vehicle.

Background of the Invention

[03] It is known that an increasing percentage of vehicles have sunroofs nowadays. The driver or passengers of a vehicle can open a sunroof to allow light and fresh air into the passenger compartment, or "interior," of the vehicle. Despite their advantages, open sunroofs introduce an aerodynamic discontinuity to the vehicle profile. Open sunroofs disrupt generally laminar airflow along the top of a vehicle because air passing by the open sunroof tends to enter the interior of the vehicle. Such airflow can become "turbulent" and oftentimes leads to acoustics that are unpleasant to passengers of the vehicle. These acoustics are referred to as "wind noise," which not only inhibits passenger comfort, but can in some instances result in relatively painful vibrations in the eardrums of passengers. Further, turbulent airflow is also detrimental to a vehicle's fuel economy and to the durability of at least some vehicle components.

[04] Several different types of sunroof wind deflectors have been used over the years to try and reduce wind noise that accompanies open sunroofs. One type of design involves a rigid structure that is mounted onto the top of the vehicle near a leading edge of the sunroof. Some of these rigid structures are installed by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), while others are installed as aftermarket products. Many of these deflectors using the rigid structure design are too short to effectively reduce wind noise. Other deflectors using the rigid structure design that are larger protrude from the top of the vehicle even when the sunroof is closed. Such deflectors are not aesthetically pleasing, reduce fuel efficiency when the sunroof is closed, and are easily damaged when vehicles pass through automatic carwashes, for example.

[05] A more recent design of sunroof wind deflectors involves a fabric net that is deployed in a vertical direction near the leading edge of an opened sunroof. The fabric net collapses when the sunroof is closed. The problem with wind deflectors that involve this fabric net is that wind noise still persists as airflow passing the vehicle permeates through the fabric net. Moreover, it has been shown that with respect to all existing wind deflector designs, much of the air striking the wind deflector is merely displaced up and over the wind deflector. Once up and over the wind deflector, the airflow is still prone to entering the sunroof to generate wind noise. Thus the wind noise is only somewhat reduced by existing sunroof wind deflectors because much of the airflow is not sufficiently displaced so as to prevent it from entering the open sunroof.

[06] Therefore, a need exists for a vehicle sunroof wind deflector design that more effectively reduces wind noise and can be stowed when not in use.

Summary of the Invention

[07] The present invention provides vehicle sunroof wind deflectors and extensions to be used with vehicle sunroofs. A sunroof wind deflector may be employed to reduce an amount of airflow that enters an open sunroof of a moving vehicle. The sunroof wind deflector may be configured to be disposed at a leading edge of the sunroof. Further, in some examples, a sunroof wind deflector may include a deflector member having a top, a bottom, and two opposing sides. The deflector member may be configured in a stowed position, typically when the sunroof is closed, and in a deployed position, typically when the sunroof is open.

[08] The sunroof wind deflector may further include a cross member secured to the top of the deflector member. In some examples, the cross member may be coupled directly or indirectly to first and second support arms (or a "pair of support arms") that control the position of the cross member and hence the deflector member. Raising or pivoting upwards ends of the support arms coupled to the cross member moves the deflector member from a stowed position to a deployed position. In some cases, however, only one support arm may be employed. And where the cross member is not coupled directly to the support arms, joints may be utilized to couple the cross member to the support arms. Moreover, one or more lift mechanisms may be utilized to raise and/or pivot one or both of the support arms coupled to the cross member.

[09] Furthermore, in some examples the sunroof wind deflector may further, or primarily, include an extension. In examples where the sunroof wind deflector includes a deflector member, the extension may be secured at the top of the deflector member, in some cases to the cross member. Conversely, in examples where the sunroof wind deflector does not include a deflector member and the extension is the primary component of the sunroof wind deflector, the extension can be located at a leading edge of the sunroof.

[010] In any case, the extension may be capable of rotating between a first position and a second position. In the first position, the extension may be oriented generally horizontally with a leading edge of the extension facing towards a front of the vehicle. The extension is typically oriented in the first position when the sunroof is closed or when the vehicle is not moving and hence there is little or no airflow passing over the vehicle. As a vehicle accelerates, airflow travels underneath the extension and causes the extension to rotate upwards and backwards to a second position. A delimiter may operate to prevent the extension from rotating further backwards from the second position. In the second position, the extension may be tilted at least partially forwards from a vertical frame of reference. More specifically, the extension may be tilted between 15 and 75 degrees forward from a vertical frame of reference in the second position. When the vehicle decelerates or comes to a stop and the rate and/or amount of airflow against the extension subsides, the extension may rotate from the second position back to the first position.

[Oil] In some examples, the extension may include an arched tip disposed along at least a portion of the leading edge. One or more portions of the leading edge of the extension may in some examples be slanted to allow airflow to get underneath the extension and rotate the extension from the first position to the second position when the vehicle accelerates and airflow increases. In some cases, some portions of the leading edge may be slanted without an arched tip, whereas other portions of the leading edge may have an arched tip. To reduce jitter in the extension, especially when the vehicle is moving at slower speeds such that airflow does not completely rotate the extension to the second position, the sunroof wind deflector may include a tensioning apparatus.

Brief Description of the Drawings

[012] Figure 1 is a partial perspective view of an example sunroof wind deflector with an example extension.

[013] Figure 2 is a cross-sectional view taken across line A— A in Figure 1 of the example extension shown in Figure 1.

[014] Figure 3 is a partial perspective view of the example sunroof wind deflector of Figure 1, but with the example extension rotated to another position.

[015] Figure 4 is a top view of an example extension for a sunroof wind deflector

[016] Figure 5 is a cross-sectional view taken across line B— B in Figure 4 of the example extension shown in Figure 4.

[017] Figure 6 is a partial perspective view of an example sunroof wind deflector and an example extension in a stowed position.

[018] Figure 7 is another partial perspective view of an example sunroof wind deflector, with the example sunroof wind deflector shown in a stowed position and also shown in a deployed position.

Detailed Description of the Invention

[019] The following disclosure of example sunroof wind deflectors is not intended to limit the scope of the present invention to the precise form or forms detailed herein. Instead, the following disclosure is intended to be illustrative so that others may follow its teachings.

[020] An extension for a vehicle sunroof wind deflector may significantly reduce, if not eliminate, airflow that is displaced over a sunroof wind deflector only to enter an open sunroof. A vehicle sunroof wind deflector may include a deflector member that, when deployed, diverts air from entering an open sunroof. The deflector member may in one example be secured to a cross member and to a base of a component near a leading edge of the sunroof. The cross member may be effectively coupled to a pair of support arms that pivot to raise and lower the deflector member. At least one lift mechanism may act on the pair of support arms to raise the support arms.

[021] The sunroof wind deflector may further include an extension that is secured to the cross member. In some cases the extension may be affixed to the cross member. In other cases, though, the extension may be rotatably coupled to the cross member. In either case, the extension may be oriented towards a front of the vehicle such that the extension is at least partially tilted into a flow of air that passes the vehicle when the vehicle is at speed. In some examples, the extension may be tilted between, for example only, 45 and 60 degrees forward from a vertical frame of reference. However, to minimize wind noise, the angle at which the extension is tilted will vary from vehicle to vehicle because a number of characteristics that are unique to each vehicle may affect the impact of the extension.

[022] Still further, in some examples the extension may be rotated between a first position and a second position. In the first position, the extension may be oriented generally flat or horizontal. One advantage of such a design is that the sunroof wind deflector becomes more compact for purposes of being stowed. In the second position, the extension may be oriented as described above such that the extension is tilted at least partially forwards from a vertical frame of reference, towards the front of the vehicle. Air flowing over the vehicle may cause the extension to rotate from the first position to the second position.

[023] Turning now to the figures, Figure 1 shows part of an example extension 100 for a sunroof wind deflector 102. In some instances, the extension 100 may be assembled with the sunroof wind deflector 102 as part of an OEM product. In other instances, however, the extension 100 may be added to the sunroof wind deflector 102 after the sunroof wind deflector 102 is initially assembled. In still other instances, the extension 100 may be used as the primary component of a sunroof wind deflector. Thus, as those having ordinary skill in the art will appreciate, the present invention pertains not only to extensions for sunroof wind deflectors, but also to sunroof wind deflectors that incorporate such extensions and to extensions that are used as the primary component of a sunroof wind deflector. [024] In general, the sunroof wind deflector 102 may comprise a deflector member (shown in Figure 7), at least one support arm 104, at least one lift mechanism 106, at least one joint 108, and/or a cross member 110 in some examples. Those having ordinary skill in the art will recognize that in some examples one or more additional support arms, lift mechanisms, and joints may be included because Figure 1 only shows one side of the example sunroof wind deflector 102. Likewise, one having ordinary skill in the art will also recognize that in other examples, all of these components may not necessarily be included. For instance, in some examples the sunroof wind deflector 102 may not necessarily include the joint 108, as the cross member 110 may be coupled to the at least one support arm 104 directly. Further, the example extension 100 and the example sunroof wind deflector 102 may be utilized with a variety of types of sunroofs. For instance, the example extension 100 and the example sunroof wind deflector 102 are shown in Figure 1 with another component 112 that helps define a sunroof and cooperates with still other components (not shown), such as a panel of glass. The particular arrangement of the other components, including the component 112, is not critical to the disclosed extensions and sunroof wind deflectors, as the present invention may be employed with a variety of different sunroof designs.

[025] With continued reference to Figure 1, the cross member 110 may be secured to the joint 108, which in turn may be coupled to the support arm 104. The support arm 104 may in one example be pivotally coupled to the component 112 disposed about the sunroof. Further, the lift mechanism 106 may in one example be rotatably coupled to the support arm 104. Such an arrangement may be used in examples where the lift mechanism 106 is a piston or other hydraulic-like device. In other cases, though, the lift mechanism 106 may be another device, such as a spring, for example, that is capable of exerting at least an upward force on the support arm 104. Thus the lift mechanism 106 is not necessarily rotatably coupled to the support arm 104. Furthermore, the sunroof wind deflector 102 may be positioned in a deployed position 118 as shown in Figure 1 when the sunroof is open and in a stowed position when the sunroof is closed, as described further below.

[026] Although a vehicle sunroof is not shown in Figure 1, the example extension 100 of the sunroof wind deflector 102 may be disposed near a leading edge of the vehicle sunroof. For context, the present invention will presume that a vehicle equipped with the example sunroof wind deflector 102 is headed in a direction 114. Thus, relative to the vehicle, air that strikes the sunroof wind deflector 102 flows in a direction 116 generally opposite the direction 114 of the vehicle path. Regardless of the specific type of deflector member that is utilized with the sunroof wind deflector 102, at least some portion of the air that strikes the sunroof wind deflector 102 is diverted upwards by the deflector member. The extension 100 may be placed above the deflector member.

[027] I n one example, the extension 100 may be ½ inch tall and may extend along a length of the sunroof wind deflector 102. As shown in Figure 1, the extension 100 may be oriented at an angle Θ forward of a vertical frame of reference 120. In some examples, the vertical frame of reference 120 may be taken with respect to a normal based on a sheet of glass that selectively covers the sunroof. I n other examples, the vertical frame of reference 120 may be taken with respect to the vehicle as a whole (e.g., as defined by the normal of a plane that is formed by the lowest point on each of four vehicle tires). Unless specified otherwise, the present disclosure and appended claims assume that the vertical frame of reference 120 is taken with respect to the vehicle as a whole. That said, the angle Θ at which the extension 100 may be oriented forward of the vertical frame of reference 120, at least in some examples, is between 45 degrees and 60 degrees. I n other examples, the extension 100 may be oriented between 15 degrees and 75 degrees forward of the vertical frame of reference 120. Orienting the extension 100 atop the sunroof wind deflector 102 against the airflow forces air passing by the sunroof wind deflector 102 considerably higher above the sunroof than does a sunroof wind deflector without the extension 100. By diverting the airflow passing by the sunroof even higher than would a typical sunroof wind deflector, a smaller portion of the airflow enters the sunroof, if any. This diversion caused by the extension 100 in turn reduces wind noise heard within the vehicle.

[028] I n some examples, the extension 100 may include an arched tip 130 disposed near a leading edge 132 of the example extension 100, as shown in Figure 2. The arched tip 130 may enhance the effect of the extension 100 as explained above. For example, the arched tip 130 may cause a higher percentage of the incoming airflow 116 that strikes the deflector 102 to be diverted to sides of the extension 100, as opposed to up and over the extension 100. Moreover, in examples in which the extension 100 can be rotated, as disclosed below, the arched tip 130 may help maintain the extension 100 in a deployed position.

[029] Those having ordinary skill in the art will recognize that the aerodynamic profile of every vehicle is different. Thus the present invention contemplates a variety of modifications to the extension 100 so as to optimize its utility for any given vehicle. An optimal size and orientation of the extension 100 may depend, for example and without limitation, on the shape of the deflector member, the orientation of the deflector member, the material from which the deflector member is formed, the position of the sunroof wind deflector along the top of a vehicle, the shape of the vehicle, the orientation of the windshield, the size of the sunroof opening, the shape of the sunroof opening, and the like.

[030] With reference now to Figure 3, the extension 100 may in some examples be configured to rotate to another position when the vehicle is not moving and/or when the sunroof is closed. In such examples, it may be said that the extension 100 starts in a "first" position like that shown in Figure 3, and rotates upwards to a "second" position like that shown in Figure 1.

Once the vehicle with the sunroof wind deflector 102 and the extension 100 are at speed, the extension 100 may rotate to the second position shown in Figure 1. As the vehicle approaches a stop light or is stopped in traffic, the extension 100 may return to the first position of Figure 3.

[031] The present invention contemplates a number of structures by which to implement this rotational feature of the extension 100. In one example, the extension 100 may be rotatably coupled to the cross member 110. At least one hinge (not shown), for example, between the cross member 110 and the extension 100 may include delimiters that prevent the extension 100 from rotating past the first or second positions. In some examples, the hinge may include one or more tensioning apparatus, such as a torsion spring, for instance, to eliminate jitter in the extension 100, especially when the vehicle approaches a critical point at which the extension 100 is about to transition between the first and second positions. In another example, the extension 100 may be affixed to the cross member 110, which may be rotatably coupled to the joint 108. The connection between the cross member 110 and the joint 108 may include one or more of the components discussed above with respect to the example hinge.

[032] With reference now to Figure 4, the example extension 100 for the sunroof wind deflector 102 may include at least one notch 140. The notches 140 may in some examples have a slanted surface (not shown) that allows the extension 100 to more easily rotate from the first position shown in Figure 3 to the second position shown in Figure 1, in which the extension 100 is deployed. In one example in which the extension 100 includes the arched tip 130, the notches 140 may be portions along the leading edge 132 of the extension 100 that do not have the arched tip 130. However, one having ordinary skill in the art will recognize that the extension 100 need not necessarily have the arched tip 130 to include the notches 140. Thus the notches 140 may be present even where the leading edge 132 is flat, rounded, pointed, and so on. Still further, the notches 140 may be integrated into the leading edge 132 of the extension 100 in a variety of shapes and sizes. In one example, for instance, the notches 140 may be two inches wide and each respective arched tip 130 may be one inch wide. Likewise, the notches 140 may have different depths in different examples. For instance, the notches 140 may be ½ inch deep in some examples.

[033] Figure 5 shows a cross-sectional view of the example extension 100 of Figure 4 taken across line B— B in Figure 4. Unlike Figure 4, though, Figure 5 shows an example slanted surface 150 of one of the notches 140 of Figure 4. The slanted surface 150 will catch some of the oncoming airflow 116 when the extension 100 is in the first (stowed) position and cause the extension 100 to rotate slightly until additional air strikes a main portion 152 of the extension 100. At that point, the extension 100 will rotate to the second (deployed) position. In essence, the notches 140 and the slanted surfaces 150 make it easier for the airflow 116 to get underneath the extension 100 and rotate the extension 100 to the second position shown in Figure 1. The notches 140 also help to disrupt the uniformity of air traveling over the extension 100, which can in many cases further reduce wind noise.

[034] Referring now to Figure 6, the sunroof wind deflector 102 is shown in a stowed position 200 that may be utilized when the sunroof is closed. One example reason why the extension 100 may in some cases be rotated between two positions is because the extension 100 is easier to stow in a generally flat orientation as shown in the first position of Figures 2 and 3. Thus, in examples where the extension 100 is rotatable, a baseline position for the extension 100 is this first position shown in Figures 2 and 3. With continued reference to Figure 6, the extension 100 is shown to fit neatly above the cross member 110 and an example deflector member 202. The example deflector member 202 may in some instances be a bellowed member as disclosed in U.S. patent application No. 62/009,690 directed to a "Vehicle Sunroof Wind Deflector," which is co-owned by the applicant here and was filed on the same day as the present application, and which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety. Figure 6 also shows a number of other components 204 that help define the sunroof, though not critical here.

[035] With reference now to Figure 7, the example sunroof wind deflector 102 is shown in a deployed position 118 as well as in a stowed position 200. It should be understood that Figure 7 overlays the example sunroof wind deflector 102 in the deployed position 118 and the example sunroof wind deflector 102 in the stowed position 200. Likewise, it should be understood that the example sunroof wind deflector 102 of Figure 7 includes some

components that are slightly different than those shown in the other figures.

[036] Notwithstanding, as the sunroof is opened and the sunroof wind deflector 102 is deployed, the lift mechanism 106 pivots the support arm 104 upwards. The support arm 104, acting through the joint 108, causes the cross member 110 to move upwards, which in turn causes the example deflector member 202 to expand upwards. As the sunroof wind deflector 102 is deployed, the airflow due to the vehicle being at speed catches the extension 100 and forces the extension 100 from the first position to the second position. As explained above, the extension 100 may in some examples be oriented forward of a vertical frame of reference.

[037] In some examples, when the sunroof is closed the glass panel or a member affixed to the glass panel forces the support arm 104 downwards. This downward force overcomes the force provided by the lift mechanism 106 and causes the sunroof wind deflector to be returned to the stowed position 200.

[038] Although certain example methods and apparatus have been described herein, the scope of coverage of this patent is not limited thereto. On the contrary, this patent covers all methods, apparatus, and articles of manufacture fairly falling within the scope of the appended claims either literally or under the doctrine of equivalents.