Federal regulators close case as thousands of people still complain about exploding sunroofs

ATLANTA — Sunroofs that spontaneously shatter.

Several people told our sister station WSB-TV in Atlanta that this happened to them while driving.

Federal regulators closed their case into the problem without ever determining a cause.

They said it was a safety concern, but many disagree.

April Harvey’s husband was driving their brand new Hyundai Palisade when the sunroof “exploded.”

“All of a sudden he heard a big boom. And then the glass started shattering on him,” Harvey said.

It’s the same thing that happened last year to Kate Holder in her new Jeep Wagoneer.

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“Going 55 miles per hour then all the sudden like an explosion,” Holder told WSB-TV in 2023. “Yes, the most bizarre thing ever.”

But it has happened so frequently that federal regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched a seven-year investigation.

They found that “spontaneous sunroof glass shattering is not an uncommon occurrence: More than 4,000 complaints of such occurrences were reported by the 13 manufacturers.”

Harvey’s husband had to go to urgent care after spitting up blood, worried he’d swallowed some of the glass.

Hyundai settled a class action lawsuit about exploding sunroofs in 2019, agreeing to pay for repairs and cover shattered sunroofs by warranty for several model vehicles between 2011 and 2016.

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But NHTSA closed its sunroof investigation in 2021, without ever determining the cause of the shattered sunroofs saying it “has not identified sufficient evidence of a safety-related defect in the subject sunroof.”

But Harvey can’t help thinking about what could have happened.

“Can you imagine a distraction like that,” she said.

A big issue the Harveys are dealing with — and most drivers this happened to experience — these sunroofs are typically not covered by warranty, even on new cars like theirs.

WSB-TV reached out to Hyundai for a comment and received the following statement:

“The safety of our customers is Hyundai’s number one priority. In the event of a safety-related defect identified in any of our vehicles, Hyundai acts swiftly and efficiently to recall and fix the problem for affected customers. For instance, in 2012 and 2013 we recalled certain Hyundai Velosters because we identified a manufacturing issue that may have caused damage to the sunroof glass.

Hyundai has commissioned multiple studies to analyze instances of sunroof breakage. Those studies have found no inherent defect within the sunroofs and the only confirmed cause of damage to the glass panels of sunroofs has been related to foreign object impact.  Hyundai has identified no other safety-related defects and has issued no other safety-related recalls on its sunroofs since the reports of late last year. Hyundai continues to monitor this issue and if a product defect is identified we will take action to ensure the safety of our customers.”

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