Exploding Sunroofs Are More Common Than You Might Think

Over 800 incidents have been reported since 1995.

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When you’re on the road, anything can happen. You could get a flat tire. You could end up in an accident. Your car could simply stop running. But there’s one thing you probably never imagined was possible—an exploding sunroof.

That’s right. Your sunroof. Exploding. While you’re driving. And it turns out that exploding sunroofs are more than just a weird, once in a blue moon, “that’ll never happen to me” sort of thing. In fact, a Consumer Reports investigation has found that it happens every month of the year, in every part of the country, in vehicles all over the world. While parked, while on interstates and even on country roads.

While this type of thing doesn’t happen as often as tire blow-outs or rocks hitting windshields, it can be pretty scary, and is obviously a big safety hazard. Based on Consumer Reports’ analysis of complaints maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the incident has been reported in at least 208 different models representing 35 brands during the last 20-plus years. Hyundai tops the list with the most complaints, while Ford is second and BMW is last.

Consumer Reports also found that the issue is actually well known to both the auto industry and government safety regulators, but aside from a few exceptions, most aren’t working hard enough to resolve the issue.

“It’s also clear that the safety standards and regulatory oversight of sunroofs have not kept pace with that dramatic size and design changes and that more needs to be done to guarantee they are safe,” the report says.

At a loss as to what else to do, some consumers have taken to social media to share their stories:

Why Is This Happening?

So why is this happening? That’s not exactly clear. It is true that sunroofs are increasing in size, so one hypothesis is that because of the heat a sunroof absorbs, the bigger the expanse of glass, the harder it is to make sure it won’t shatter.

There’s also the possibility, of course, that the sunroofs are simply defective. “If the flat glass at the edges of where it’s broken are curved up, that indicates something internally caused the glass to break—a defect in the glass,” Peter Daly, the president of Paymer & Phillips Auto Repair in Laurel, Maryland, told TV station WJLA.

What To Do If Your Sunroof Explodes

Unfortunately, there is little information out there on what you should do if your sunroof explodes. Consumer Reports found that there isn’t much consistency in how dealerships or automakers resolve the issue, or about who should pay. Still, what we do know is that you should immediately contact the NHTS hotline at 888-327-4236 or online here so that you can file a vehicle safety complaint. You should also take a picture of the damage and report the incident to your dealership and to the manufacturer.

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