Shattering sunroofs is a growing problem

Published: Tuesday, February 13, 2018 @ 5:19 PM

Reports Of Exploding Sunroofs Are On The Rise

Some drivers say it happened to them on the interstate highway and others said they weren't even moving. But, they all describe the sound the same way.

"All of a sudden we heard what we thought was a gunshot," said Kate Vasiloff, of Virginia. 

It was the sound of her sunroof shattering into pieces.

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LIST: Car makes, models whose sunroofs explode the most

"I was one hundred percent shocked," said Kara Ardron of South Carolina. "My sunroof was in a thousand pieces."

Kate Vasiloff was in her Nissan in Washington D.C. at a stop sign when she heard the sound.

Sunroofs are shattering all over the countries with all different kinds of cars.

"We finally looked up and opened the visor and the glass fell in on us," said Vasiloff. "God forbid it went into my eyes. I could have swerved into another car. I mean, the possibilities of how bad this could have been are endless."

Consumer Reporters writer Jeff Plungis found nearly 859 similar complaints about exploding sunroofs in the U.S. that involved 35 automakers and more than 200 models.

INVESTIGATION: Reports of exploding sunroofs on the rise

"So this is a widespread problem. It's not confined to just a couple of makes and models," said Plungis. "We feel like these are scary incidents. They're inherently dangerous and the automakers need to step up and be more accountable."

Experts have different theories as to why this is happening. Russ Corsi blames cheaper materials and larger sunroofs on newer models. Corsi is a consultant with 30 years experience in the auto glass industry.

"If it isn't bent property, shaped properly, it's got that opening," said Corsi. "Changes in temperature, thermal changes from hot to cold, cold to hot, cause that glass to try to flex and that could cause it to break." 

Corsi is based in Pittsburgh so we asked him to check the sunroof on one of the vehicles at our sister station there. He found a potentially dangerous, 8-inch crack in the sunroof.

"A sudden thermal shock or sudden twist in the body could cause that to blow up," Corsi said. 

Some of these cases have sparked lawsuits, recalls, federal safety inspections and U.S. Senate inquiries. Just last month, General Motors launched an internal review. 

"You never think it's going to happen to you," said Kara Ardron. 

Insurance paid part of the claim for damage, but she had to come up with $2500.