Why Are Nissan Sunroofs Randomly Exploding?

Heads up, Nissan owners! That giant piece of glass above your head may soon be on its way down in a thousand little pieces. Lawsuits accuse Nissan of using a faulty tempering process for their sunroofs since 2008.

These days it’s hard to find a car without a sunroof, so it’s no surprise that there’s more complaints about sunroofs than ever before. While sunroofs will rattle and leak just like any other window, what’s truly concerning is reports of them randomly exploding.

Most exploding reports are about larger sunroofs, such as Nissan’s panoramic sunroof which is an upgrade feature. This expansive piece of glass sounds really nice in marketing and looks great on a test drive, but there’s a problem.

Glass is heavy → large pieces of glass are really heavy → really heavy can affect MPGs → MPGs are king. So to offer a panoramic sunroof, Nissan has resorted to using thinner glass.

Tempering Expectations

Like side and rear windows, sunroof glass is tempered. Tempering is a process of rapid heating and cooling that strengthens the glass and creates a safer break pattern. If tempered glass breaks, you get small chunks rather than life-ending shards.

Tempering is a tricky process and particularly difficult on thin glass. There’s reason to believe that automakers haven’t perfected their tempering process.

Exploding sunroof lawsuit says Nissan’s tempering is flawed

A 2017 lawsuit filed in a California court says all 2008–present Nissan and Infiniti models are at risk of their sunroofs exploding because of Nissan’s flawed tempering.

[The plaintiff] lays out the case about how the tempered glass is heated and then rapidly cooled, creating an outer layer of compression shrink-wrapped around the middle of the glass that is constantly pressing outwards. The tempering creates a stronger piece of glass compared to non-tempered glazing, but the glass can explode without warning if the compressed layer is compromised.

When CarComplaints.com asked four top university engineering professors what makes sunroofs explode, they said that imperfections in tempered glass will cause it to shatter under pressure.

Considering cars are more airtight than ever, the pressure is on.

Reports of Nissan Sunroof Problems

Model Year Exploded Other Problems
Altima 2010   leaked
  2013   rattles
  2014 Bang  
Maxima 2010 Boom  
Murano 2011 Crash  
  2013 Pop  
  2014 Bazinga  
Pathfinder 2013 Smash  
  2014 Crack  
Rogue 2012   doesn’t work
  2013   leaked
Sentra 2012 Boom  

The “Rock Fell on it Excuse”

Automakers like to blame sunroof explosions on owners or random rocks (that somehow shatter the glass from inside). Here’s one reason they’re wrong.

Story Timeline

Get FREE email alerts from CarComplaints.com with new information about this problem.

Learn about the news before others. Impress your friends. Be a hero.

Free Vehicle Alerts

OK, Now What?

Maybe you've experienced this problem. Maybe you're concerned you will soon. Whatever the reason, you can help make sure it gets the attention it deserves.

  1. File Your Complaint

    CarComplaints.com is a free site dedicated to uncovering problem trends and informing owners about potential issues with their cars. Major class action law firms use this data when researching cases.

    Add a Complaint

  2. Notify CAS

    The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) is a pro-consumer organization that researches auto safety issues & often compels the US government to do the right thing through lobbying & lawsuits.

    Notify the CAS

  3. Report a Safety Concern

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the US agency with the authority to conduct vehicle defect investigations & force recalls. Their focus is on safety-related issues.

    Report to NHTSA

  4. Contact Nissan

    Nissan Support

    P.O. Box 191 Gardena CA 90248 USA

    This site is not affiliated with Nissan.