Complaints of automobile sunroofs shattering without warning have increased in recent years, leading to concerns about the roofs’ safety. According to the watchdog group Consumer Reports, these once-rare incidents are occurring with greater frequency. There were 859 complaints of exploding sunroofs filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration since 1995, 71 percent of which occurred after 2011.
The complaints come from all over the United States. The incidents occurred in vehicles of several different makes and models, both American and international. Although most of the incidents took place while the vehicles were in motion on interstates, country roads and residential streets, some sunroofs exploded in vehicles that were stationary.
What is causing the explosions?
One factor that may contribute to a sunroof’s likelihood of exploding is its size. Large panes of glass tend to shatter more easily than small ones, and automakers have designed sunroofs to be larger than ever.
Consumer safety advocates say that automakers and government regulators are likely aware of the issue of exploding sunroofs, but have done little to acknowledge or prevent it. The auto industry has not yet adapted its safety regulations to address shattering sunroofs. To the contrary, automakers have been incorporating even sunroofs into even more of their vehicles’ designs.
This puts drivers at risk for injury from shattered glass or car accidents. Several consumers have already filed lawsuits against automakers whose sunroofs exploded. For example, the South Korean auto manufacturer Hyundai is the target of a recent class-action lawsuit from dozens of victims. Anyone whose windshield has shattered without explanation is encouraged to contact a product liability attorney.