Hyundai's panoramic sunroofs have a tendency to explode under normal driving conditions, but they're far from alone. What's causing these giant sheets of glass to shatter without being hit? And what's being done to prevent it from happening in the future?
Panoramic sunroofs are the new hotness. They look great and provide a ton of natural light. But they also come with problems – reduced structural integrity, added complexity, more noise, and additional weight (glass is heavy).
Hyundai’s panoramic sunroofs have a tendency to explode under normal driving conditions.
The Veloster Investigation
One of the first large-scale investigations into shattering sunroof glass came in October 2012, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation into sunroof complaints for the 2012 Veloster.
At the time, 7 owners have complained of the glass randomly falling to pieces.
By the end of the year, Hyundai agreed to recall certain 2012 Velosters citing concerns that the glass may have been damaged during installation at the factory. The recall was later expanded, brining the total number of affected vehicles to roughly 20,000.
An installation or design problem?
Hyundai is not alone in sunroof-shattering problems, in fact multiple manufacturers are dealing with similar issues. Are they all installing them incorrectly?
When CarComplaints.com asked 4 mechanical engineering professors what they thought was causing shattered sunroofs, they agreed it isn’t an installation problem, but the glass itself and the modern design of cars.
A sunroof is made with tempered glass that is designed to break into small pieces for safety. Any imperfection in the glass–whether caused by a bad batch of glass or a scratch from a rock–can cause the glass to shatter when under pressure. The pressure might come from the vehicle itself because every vehicle is more airtight than ever.
Because a glass sunroof is under a lot of compression, air pressure or temperature changes can all contribute to pressure on the glass. All it takes is one microscopic imperfection and time to allow the problem to reach a level where the glass explodes.
Lawsuit for Exploding Panoramic Sunroofs
In 2016 a class-action lawsuit was filed against Hyundai over concerns with their giant, panoramic sunroofs. Specifically how they were breaking without being struck by an object.
- The sunroofs darkened with a ceramic tint tend to shatter without warning
- Numerous complaints have been filed to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and CarComplaints.com
- Despite its awareness of the dangerous defect, Hyundai has done nothing to fix the problem or warn drivers about the risk
“Despite its awareness of the danger, Hyundai to this day has not warned drivers about the risk of sunroof shattering, still sells the defective vehicles and denies that the defect exists even after owners experience the problem.”
Hyundai filed a motion to dismiss the case and got close. However, the judge allowed the plaintiff to amend the complaint on claims based on fraud.
“_The judge said the plaintiffs can move forward based on claims of fraud and can amend the complaint4 if they want the judge to reconsider violations of consumer protection laws and unjust enrichment.”
The case has not been certified as a class-action as of July 2016.
Reports of sunroof problems are far-reaching
That doesn’t vibe with owners of other Hyundais experiencing similar problems. That includes the:
Strange Noises From Above
Even the sunroofs that have managed to keep it together don’t exactly inspire confidence in the people sitting below them. Numerous owners have complained about strange noises from above.
“Panoramic sunroofs introduce added complexity to a vehicle. Suddenly you’ve got two or more heavy glass panels; motors, channels and rollers for the sunshade; plus the main motor and sliding mechanism for the sunroof panel itself.”
“Aside from all being parts which could break or go wrong, they’re all positioned directly above your head, with the potential for a myriad of rattles, squeaks and flexing noises to develop and annoy the hell out of you as you drive along.” — Motoringbox.com(http://www.motoringbox.com/cars/your-car/6-reasons-to-avoid-a-panoramic-roof/)”
Hyundai has issued a technical service bulletin (TSB) in the past on how to treat panoramic sunroof noise:
“On some 2012-2013 Sonata (YF) and 2012 Sonata Hybrid (YF-HEV) vehicles with panoramic sunroof, a slight creaking or rattle noise in the roof may be heard. If the source of the noise is around the roof area on top of the B-pillar, follow the procedure outlined in this bulletin to eliminate the noise.”
This TSB recommends the dealership use acoustic felt and Loctite to secure the sunroof cross-members to stop the creaking.
Fixing a panoramic sunroof’s noise
Fixing the squeaks from a sunroof is a bit of a crapshoot. First, you need to find a mechanic willing to do it and that’s often difficult if they can’t replicate the issue during a short test drive. Second, if you do find someone to help you out it can be tricky isolating the source of the noise. Here’s a few tips from owners who have had success:
- Lube it up: lubricate the dealers and the sunroof track itself
- Tighten the bolts securing the sunroof crossbar
- If all else fails, closing the shade can help mask the noise