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'02 Subaru roof vent

I can hear the mechanism operate, but roof vent won’t open. Shop tells me a complete replcement is required to fix problem to the tune of $1200. Any ideas?

Roof vent?
Are you referring to the sunroof/moonroof?

Repairing these devices can be expensive, and a dealership (which I suspect is the one that gave you this estimate) is the most expensive of all. I suggest that you check with a body shop for a lower estimate.

this is an outback with two sunroofs, the front one only tilts up to act as a vent while driving while the rear one opens fully for slow speed viewing of the heavens I guess. It’s the front one that is presently inoperative.

In view of the fact that it is only the front, tilting sunroof that is problematic, I doubt that a “complete replacement” is necessary. Both of your sunroofs utilize the same motor, so if the larger rear sunroof still operates properly, a “complete replacement” sounds extreme and unnecessary.

Take the car to a body shop with a good reputation and get an estimate from them.