Drivers still complain of exploding sunroofs despite closure of federal investigation

ATLANTA — Federal officials say they have determined that there are no serious safety risks after thousands of people reported that sunroofs were exploding in their vehicles.

Regulators have closed their investigation into these explosions, but people who have experienced this told Channel 2 consumer investigator Justin Gray that it sounds and feels like an explosion in their vehicles.

Auto safety advocates say that really puts drivers at risk of an accident.

Kate Holder said she had to pull over after hearing what she can only describe as an explosion while driving her brand-new Jeep Wagoneer to work.

“I was going 55 miles an hour, then all of a sudden, like, literally an explosion,” Holder said.

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Then she got out of the car.

“I just stood up on the rail. Got up and saw the big hole,” Holder said.

“Truly spontaneous?” Gray asked Holder.

“Yes, the most bizarre thing ever,” she said.

But when Channel 2 Action News checked with federal regulators, we found spontaneous breakage of panoramic sunroofs have been happening with a variety of makes and model vehicles for years.

So much so that The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched a 7-year investigation finding, “spontaneous sunroof glass shattering is not an uncommon occurrence: More than 4,000 complaints of such occurrences were reported by the 13 manufacturers”


Gray checked the NHTSA complaint database as recently as last week.

The driver of a Ford Edge wrote, “I was driving down the road when out of nowhere my sunroof started raining glass in the inside of my car!! There was no Crack or stone that hit it nothing!!”

“That type of distraction while you’re driving, you know, you’ve got tempered glass chunks all over you and you don’t know what just happened. I think any reasonable person can see that that could pose a pretty serious distraction risk,” said Michael Brooks, executive director of The Center for Auto Safety.

But in 2021, NHTSA closed its investigation into panoramic sunroofs without ever determining what’s causing them to spontaneously explode, writing it “has not identified sufficient evidence of a safety-related defect in the subject sunroof.”

“What if the glass got into my baby’s eyes, or face, or even the car seat?” Holder asked.

She told Gray that she’s just thankful she had the cover closed on the sunroof.

“Now, I don’t want to open up the sunroof … just in case,” Holder said.

NHTSA said there have been about a dozen reported minor injuries, most from cleaning up the glass.

Gray checked with NHTSA before his report on Wednesday to see if there have been any updates. A spokesman told said there is no current investigation into the sunroofs.