Consumer Reports spotlights exploding sunroofs after I-TEAM investigation

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Consumer Reports issued a new warning Thursday regarding exploding sunroofs, something the I-TEAM has been warning people about for the past 10 months.

I-TEAM investigator Lynnsey Gardner is exposing the growing nationwide problem after an area mother and a combat veteran both called the I-TEAM to investigate.

Consumer Reports listed several vehicles in their top 10 list of brands that are makes and models whose sunroofs have shattered.

Consumer Reports found the problem isn't unique to the list. In fact, there are more than 200 models affected across 35 brands in the U.S. with absolutely no government oversight.

Local mother Theresa Childs told the I-TEAM she was on the interstate when the sunroof flew off her Infiniti G-35 and shattered.

"This type of thing could have killed somebody,” Theresa Childs said. 

Army veteran J.P. Ortiz was also on the interstate when the sunroof on his Volvo shattered.

"I was traveling down (Interstate) 95 and suddenly my sunroof exploded without reason or cause," Ortiz said. "I started feeling glass falling on my face.”

Consumer Reports analyzed 20 years of data and found sunroofs have exploded in every month of the year across the nation.

The explosions have been reported while cars were on interstates, country roads and while parked in driveways. 

Consumer Reports found 859 accounts with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, with most coming since 2011 as sunroofs have grown in size.

Only one make and model -- the Kia Sorento -- was under official review by the NHTSA.

Consumer Reports also noticed some trends. Many sunroofs broke spontaneously without warning, just as Childs and Ortiz told the I-TEAM theirs did. Consumer Reports also found that car manufacturers often blame the consumer, which was the case for both Ortiz and Childs.

Volvo told the I-TEAM, "It was likely a projectile that struck the sunroof and caused it to shatter." Volvo refused to pay, forcing Ortiz to pay for repairs. 

Consumer Reports writes, "Our investigation has found that, with a few exceptions, automakers are not acknowledging or resolving the issue. It's also clear that the safety standards and regulatory oversight of sunroofs have not kept pace with those dramatic size and design changes and that more needs to be done to guarantee they are safe."

It's believed the problem is much bigger because some consumers are filing complaints with automakers and not federal regulators.

Experts told Consumer Reports they couldn't pinpoint an exact cause but said with larger glass being installed, it's harder to ensure it won't shatter. 

Manufacturers recommend installing laminated glass instead of tempered glass. They are also urging federal regulators to take the issue more seriously and consider more investigations and possibly some recalls. 

Click here if you wish to file a complaint. 

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