More cars experience exploding glass sunroofs than ever, study finds

October 13, 2017

Glass sunroofs have become an incredibly popular option in recent years for new-car buyers. However, an unusual side effect to their popularity is more prevalent than ever: cases of exploding glass sunroofs have skyrocketed in recent years.

Consumer Reports cites National Highway Traffic and Safety Association data that shows 859 cases of exploding sunroofs were reported since 1995. But, the complaints increased significantly by 71 percent since 2011 and industry experts don't have concrete information to understand why sunroofs exhibit the dangerous characteristic.

Only one theory exists thus far. The size of glass sunroofs has grown as consumers have shown interest in large panoramic designs, which may trap too much heat and prevent the glass from expanding properly.

Hyundai and Ford top the list with the most complaints about exploding sunroofs. The Korean brand tallied 119 cases since 1995 and Ford amounted 85 since the same year. However, the Scion tC is most likely to experience the issue after 71 unique cases were reported during the time period. Nissan isn't far behind Ford with 82 cases of exploding sunroofs.

To be clear, no physical force is present to make the sunroof explode. The accessories are simply shattering, and subsequently, showering drivers and passengers with glass.

“A shower of glass fell on me,” the owner of a 2013 Hyundai Veloster said in his complaint to NHTSA. “I managed to get to work with a bloody arm and forehead, and thank God I had no other cars close to me when it happened.”

The report suggests manufacturers are aware of the issue and haven't made any significant changes to fix the issue. Back in February, the IIHS told The Car Connection it has no evidence to suggest roofs equipped with sunroofs are weaker than regular steel roofs, though it suggested sunroofs can pop out of place in the event of a rollover crash.

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