MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The phenomenon of sunroofs exploding without warning has reared its ugly head in recent years. It's not limited to a specific vehicle make or model, either.
A recent Consumer Reports investigation linked exploding sunroofs to as many as ten vehicle brands and ten models. It attributed the problem to sunroof safety standards not keeping up with vehicle size and design changes.
CR said most of the exploding sunroofs were panoramic sunroofs -- larger, wider sunroofs. Before you buy a vehicle with one, CR's experts suggested you follow these guidelines to protect yourself:
* ASK THE DEALER IF THE SUNROOF IS MADE OF LAMINATED GLASS. "Make clear that you're asking about the kind of glass found in windshields, designed to stay in one piece if the glass breaks, not about tinted glass," wrote CR's Jeff Plungis and Thomas Germain in their blog. "Glass experts told us that if it is laminated, it is usually stamped."
* ASK ABOUT THE VEHICLE'S WARRANTY. Does it cover manufacturer defects or unexplained, sudden breakage of the sunroof?
* CHECK YOUR AUTO INSURANCE. See if your policy covers either the repair or the replacement of the sunroof in circumstances like this.
* LISTEN FOR THE "POPPING." If you already drive a vehicle with one of these sunroofs, and you hear a "popping" noise, alert the local dealership of your make and model immediately.
IF YOUR SUNROOF DOES EXPLODE:
* DON'T PANIC. Get your vehicle to a safe place.
* DOCUMENT THE DAMAGE. Whip out that smart phone and take pictures. CR suggested you take note of the weather conditions, time, date, location and whether any objects that may have contributed to the damage were found in or around the vehicle.
* FILE A REPORT WITH THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION. Use that link to file a complaint online or call NHTSA's Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236.
* CONTACT YOUR DEALER AND YOUR MANUFACTURER.
* IF THEY DON'T HELP, CALL YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY. It may be able to pressure the dealer or manufacturer to repair the problem.