There’s a lawsuit alleging that since 2007 all of Nissan’s factory-installed, tempered-glass sunroofs (panoramic or otherwise) can explode without warning.
It’s a bold claim, but there are reports of sunroof explosions to back it up.
"Suddenly we heard a very loud explosion above our heads, Then shards of glass started to shower my wife and a big gust of wind entered the vehicle. We were both in shock and didn't know what was going on, but was able to safely pull the vehicle over."
That'll get your attention. Here's a list of Nissan vehicles with sunroof complaints:
An Industry Wide Problem?
So what’s going on?
For starters, there’s probably an uptick in sunroof complaints because there are more sunroofs than ever. It really used to be more of a luxury upgrade.
Not only do more cars have sunroofs, but many of the sunroofs are bigger. Nissan advertises their large sunroofs as panoramic which sounds really nice. The problem is, 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 needs to use thinner glass.
Tempering is a thermal or chemical process that strengthens the glass and also makes it safer in the event the glass breaks. Instead of life-ending shards, when tempered glass breaks it breaks into small chunks.
But thin glass is more difficult to temper. In addition, 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 really on.
The lawsuit against Nissan blames the automaker’s tempering process.
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.