Shattering sunroofs: It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it can be scary and dangerous.
The problem has been reported before and dates back decades. Now an investigation by Consumer Reports finds complaints have been filed for hundreds of models, including cars with panoramic sunroofs -- a luxury feature that could could pose a risk. Consumer Reports says the industry needs to put the pedal to the metal when it comes to improving standards and design.
Consumer Reports recently analyzed more than 20 years of data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and found that shattered sunroofs were reported in at least 208 models across 35 brands. And these are only the cases reported to the agency. Some manufacturers know of even more.
David Friedman of Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization division of Consumer Reports, was acting administrator of NHTSA in 2014. He said that although it’s not clear exactly why the sunroofs are shattering, the evidence that it is happening is clear, so automakers should be much more proactive and recall the vehicles.
The agency is currently only investigating the 2011 through 2013 Kia Sorento SUV -- but Consumers Union would like that to be expanded. NHTSA has more than enough evidence to consider the issue a safety defect, and they certainly shouldn't wait for a fatality or an injury before forcing the car companies to act.
When it comes to the glass itself, regulators can also call for different kinds of testing and adjust the standards as designs evolve. The regulations around sunroofs are outdated. They were designed when the sunroofs were a lot smaller, and sunroof regulation needs to catch up.
Consumer Reports says if this happens to you, take pictures and video with your phone immediately and contact your dealer about a repair. If the dealer isn't helpful, contact the automaker. You can also enlist your insurer to help convince them to cover the repair. Finally, be sure to file a report with NHTSA, which you can do at safercar.gov.