Anything can happen when you’re riding in a car. Drivers are trained to keep their eyes on the road, so it’s beyond surprising when an incident comes from overhead. Over the past 20 years, though, sunroofs have exploded in more than 200 different car models.
Imagine driving down the highway and there’s a loud bang, followed by a shower of glass fragments. Drivers and passengers are cut by the glass, often in the head, shoulder and arms. The sudden breakage is loud, also making your ears ring. Imagine safely navigating traffic through such a surprise. It could happen when merging onto a highway at a high speed, while changing lanes or making a sharp turn.
What is happening
In an in-depth report by Consumer Reports, the magazine identifies Hyundai, Ford, Nissan, Kia and Scion as having the most complaints on the topic, though over 35 brands have had sunroofs suddenly shatter.
Since the mid-1990s, sunroofs and car designs have changed, Consumer Reports says, with sunroofs growing dramatically in that time. While windshields and other windows are highly regulated, sunroofs don’t face the same level of scrutiny. While manufacturers are aware of the problem, no direct causes have been named for the sudden breakage—which means it’s not covered by a warranty or recall.
If it happens to you
If you hear a sudden bang in the car, the first thing a driver needs to do is to safely maneuver through traffic and park the vehicle. You should only look for damages after safely parking.
If you have a shade guard, consider using it as often as possible. It will block fragments from hitting you and your passengers.
Getting service on a defective product
When this happens, document the incident as thoroughly as possible: where you were driving, what the road conditions were, and if there were witnesses. Take photographs and detail the damage, from scratched paint to injuries from glass or even a related crash.
Because the issue is still under investigation and there is no recall, each dealership treats it differently. An attorney can provide leverage in your discussion. It isn’t just broken glass and shattered confidence in your vehicle, there will likely be additional physical damage to your car and injuries from the incident.
The scariest thing about these sunroofs isn’t the broken glass, it’s the surprise factor. Drivers are following proper rules of the road when it happens, seemingly out of nowhere. If a product you’ve spent thousands of dollars on breaks through no fault of your own, you deserve coverage and compensation for the damages of a defective product.