When shopping for a new vehicle in the summertime, many people look for cars that have a sunroof. The appeal is obvious, especially on warm and sunny days: an open rooftop keeps the vehicle fresh and ventilated, provides a source of natural light, and makes for a romantic drive under the stars.
Unfortunately, there also appears to be a downside: sunroofs can explode.
In August 2014 a Long Island limo company told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that five sunroof explosions affected its fleet of 18 Lincoln MKTs. One of the incidents occurred when the vehicle was parked on the company’s lot.
Back in January, Consumer Reports stated that an increasing number of sunroofs have been spontaneously shattering without contact with a rock or any other object. In 2017 the safety group published a report that identified hundreds of incidents involving 35 automobile brands and over 200 models. Those with the highest number of explosion reports include:
- Ford Explorer
- Hyundai Veloster
- Scion tC
- Nissan Murano
- Kia Sorento
Approximately 70% of all reported incidents have taken place in the last six years, coinciding with a trend in larger, panoramic car sunroofs. Research also suggests that contaminants in the glass may weaken it during high temperatures. Both Congress and industry trade groups have been called upon to re-examine sunroof designs and take steps to eradicate a very real safety issue.
While General Motors responded to the reports by conducting their own internal investigation and review, other automakers have been alarmingly slow to acknowledge the problem and even refuse to include repair costs in their warranties. The result has been several class action lawsuits against certain companies.
What if someone gets hurt?
According to this website, almost 200 Kia owners reported to the NHTSA that their sunroofs exploded without warning, frequently while traveling at highway speeds. These sudden incidents were responsible for 18 reported injuries to passengers and drivers.
Unfortunately, the potential for injury is high when an explosion occurs. Vehicle occupants can be cut and burned by sharp pieces of hot glass and if the incident takes place while the car is in motion, the loud noise can startle the driver and cause a collision. Even if a crash is not fatal, then everyone inside can face months of painful and expensive recovery.
If your sunroof explodes, causing injury to you or a loved one, then contact a New York personal injury attorney who will help you hold the manufacturer accountable. Automakers should design vehicles in a manner that minimizes the risk of sunroof explosion and if they don’t, then you may be entitled to a financial recovery for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and possibly more. Jayson Lutzky is an attorney with over 35 years of legal experience who handles accident cases. He has helped recover millions of dollars for past clients and offers free in-person initial consultations. Call 718-329-9500 to set up an appointment.