14 Feb 2020
Having a sunroof can be a big bonus for many car buyers. There is something almost magical about lights and air coming through your car to help you enjoy the whole experience of the open road.
Recently, however, a number of consumers both in the US and in Canada have been experiencing the phenomenon of shattering or even exploding sunroofs on their vehicles. Canada’s Global News recently reported that in the fall of 2017, one woman in Ontario had the sunroof on her new BMW X5 inexplicably shatter after purchasing it two weeks before. The owner, Jody Winder, asserted that her vehicle was not around any trees or objects that could have struck the sunroof causing it to shatter. Internal dashcam video also supported Winder’s claim.
According to Consumer Reports, in 2017, there were at least 208 different models of vehicles from 35 automobile brands. So far there has been little consistency in how manufacturers and dealerships are resolving the safety concerns by consumers and the cost to repair vehicles with panoramic sunroofs.
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The glass used in automobiles must meet certain safety requirements as outlined by the American National Standards Institute and SAE International. Consumers have found that dealerships will often try to blame the sunroof breakage on them. While even a pebble flung from the roadway by another vehicle can cause safety glass to shatter, factors such as extreme heat, cold or even impurities in the manufacture of the glass can cause safety glass to shatter or explode as in the case of panoramic sunroofs. Figuring out who is responsible for paying for repairs is where arbitration comes in.
The consumer is given a choice to pay for the repairs themselves, file a claim with insurance, or enter into arbitration. In Winder’s case, she had to first threaten legal action, demanding that either the repairs were made at BMW’s expense or they would replace or refund the $90,000 purchase price of her vehicle. While it took several months to get BMW to make all of the necessary repairs and do the right thing, it finally ended with Winder’s vehicle being fully repaired –and at no cost to herself.