What Are Exploding Sunroofs?


Congratulations on your new vehicle purchase! Spring really is the best time of the year to have a sunroof. But did you know that your sunroof could actually explode? It’s not common, but it doesn’t mean it cannot happen.

So, what is an exploding sunroof? How and why does it happen? We dig into this terrifying sounding ordeal so you can be prepared in case it happens to you.

What Is An Exploding Sunroof?

It sounds crazy, but it happens. A person is just driving along when suddenly, they hear a loud bang. It may sound like a tire going flat. All of a sudden, you notice your sunroof glass has exploded. It is becoming more and more common lately.

“Shattered sunroofs have been reported in at least 208 models of vehicles representing 35 brands over the last 20-plus years in the U.S., based on CR’s analysis of the consumer complaints database maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.” It seemingly happens out of nowhere, and can cause injuries to anyone in the vehicle.

What Causes A Sunroof Explosion?

There is no pinpointed reason behind sunroof explosions yet. Researchers are still trying to find a definitive explanation behind them. While they’re not entirely sure what is going on, a few possible explanations include:

Growing Sunroof Size

Sunroof size has steadily risen since 2011. They have grown from only six inches to almost twelve inches in diameter. Many new vehicles have been equipped with larger sunroofs that cover a greater area. These panoramic sunroofs are an impressive feat of engineering. They’re made of a large pane of glass curved to the roof’s aerodynamic contours and are usually made of tempered glass. Some automakers have made them a standard in almost every model.

The number of sunroof auto glass repairs since sunroofs increased in size indicate there is something that must be happening and indicate a correlation between these two. There are currently no regulations governing the overall area a sunroof can take up so automakers have not felt much urgency to correct this issue. 

High Temperatures

Extreme sunlight exposure can weaken glass, causing it to “explode.” Auto glass should all be designed to withstand extreme temperatures. It should also be made of tempered glass and shaped correctly to avoid any spontaneous shattering. If heat is causing the sunroof explosions, there is not a ton of evidence to support it. 

Defective Glass

The most plausible theory behind exploding sunroofs is that there is a manufacturer defect in the glass. Many safety reports indicate the explosion issue stems from a small percentage of both domestic and foreign auto glass manufacturers. The reports and consistencies with the manufacturers named present the most viable explanation of why sunroofs are exploding. 

What Should You Do If Your Sunroof Explodes?

So, what happens when you’re driving along the road and your sunroof explodes? What do you do? First, don’t freak out. Identify the problem and then clean any broken glass that got into your vehicle. You can do this manually and also by using a vacuum. Next, immediately contact an auto glass repair specialist to repair your sunroof.

If your sunroof spontaneously shatters and you incur any injuries or property damage, you can file a claim against the manufacturer that produced the glass. You may also want to contact the dealer of the automobile to inform them of the exploding sunroof.

How Are Manufacturers Responding To Exploding Sunroofs?

Auto manufacturers have been slow responding to the complaints and are not much help when it has happened to drivers. A man from Arkansas with an exploded sunroof on his 2013 Ford F-150 pickup truck wrote, “Ford customer service denied my warranty claim, so I had to get it repaired under my insurance and pay the difference,” which, he said, came to $1,009.68. The automakers and manufacturers should be of more assistance to vehicle owners. 

Some manufacturers are even resorting to turning the blame on the vehicle owner. According to Consumer Reports, “Omid Rashid, from Alberta, Canada, was driving his 2015 Toyota Venza last winter on a sunny, 40° F day. Rashid had noticed some popping sounds coming from the roof, but he didn’t know what to make of them. Then he heard a sound “like a bomb,” and suddenly he was showered in glass. Shaken, and far from home on a remote highway, he waited hours for a tow truck to take him to the nearest Toyota dealer. He recalls going to sleep in a hotel room with glass shards still in his hair.

The next day, he says, a dealership technician said it was pretty common and likely caused by a rock, a theory Rashid says was also repeated by a Toyota corporate representative. Rashid wasn’t buying it.

He’d been expecting some sympathy or an apology. Instead, he got a repair bill of roughly $900 and, to his engineer’s mind, at least, lots of faulty reasoning. Rashid says he knew the temperature didn’t fluctuate much that day (CR confirmed), and no other vehicles were nearby. And he says any rock spit out from his own car’s tires would have flown backward, not up toward the roof. “The laws of physics say this is not possible,” Rashid says.” 

How Can We Prevent This From Happening Again?

Auto makers that manufacture vehicles consistently that contain exploding sunroofs should order recalls immediately. Additionally, lawmakers should issue stringent regulations around sunroofs and explore why sunroofs are exploding. Thirdly, The automotive industry needs to establish stronger safety standards for sunroofs without waiting for lawmakers. 

There is no reason that sunroofs cannot be big and safe. The type of glass the sunroofs are made of is very important in its durability. Tempered glass is ok for smaller sunroofs, but larger panoramic sunroofs should be made with laminated glass. Laminated glass provides extra protection that tempered glass does not, because it is more likely to stay in one piece when broken.

If an exploding sunroof happens to you, don’t panic. Instead, relax and contact us online or call us at 877-49-GLASS immediately so we can fix your sunroof. We want to make sure you maximize on every beautiful sunny day!

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      Enter your full name

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      Where can we reach you?

      Any additional information we should know about.