Sunroofs can suddenly explode while you’re driving

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Sunroofs can suddenly explode while you’re driving
Image Credit: CBS Denver/ Linda Spry
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Can you imagine what it would be like to have your sunroof spontaneously break into thousands of pieces while you’re driving down the highway? 

It happened to a news reporter with Oklahoma City’s KFOR-TV recently, and now she’s sharing her scary story.

Read more: New report: The most reliable car brand

Sunroof explosions more common than you think 

Abby Broyles was driving through New Mexico with a friend when she heard what sounded like gunshots. But since no other cars were around, she soon realized that the sound was from her exploding sunroof.

ABC News says there have been about 400 similar incidents reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In many of the cases, the cars were traveling at highway speeds. Various car makes and models have been affected.

And as soon as we posted this story to Facebook, Clark.com followers began sharing their own terrifying stories about shattering sunroofs:

Betty: I’ve had this happen to me & my hubby was driving! Very scary & we could have been killed!

Wendy: Happened a couple of years ago to me. It sounded like I was being shot at. Luckily the interior cover was closed so glass didn’t rain down. I was told ‘the tempered glass just does that.”

Laura: I had this happen. Scared the daylights out of me when glass came crashing down.

How exactly can this happen?

One glass expert told WRAL-TV that tempered glass used in sunroofs can break easily, unlike laminated glass in windshields. Because the visor was closed, no glass shattered on Broyles. She was lucky.

There might also be an environmental explanation for these explosions. Broyles said it was 106 degrees outside when her sunroof shattered, and excessive heat was a common factor in many of the other incidents.

Combine heat with a chip or crack in the glass and the likelihood of it shattering only increases. To reduce the risk of that happening to you, one collision repair expert suggests leaving a little ventilation in the car.

While the glass used to make sunroofs is strong, a small object like a piece of gravel can cause it to shatter when the car is traveling at a high speed.

CBS Denver recently interviewed a woman who experienced a similar exploding sunroof problem while driving her Nissan Murano. She said she was driving about 70 miles per hour on the highway when she heard a ‘pop,’ followed by a loud crack, and then the sunroof shattered into the car.

‘The glass in sunroofs, which is typically either tempered or laminated, is made to shatter into small pieces that are not sharp,’ Darrell Martinez, the owner of a Denver sunroof repair shop who has worked with sunroof glass for 30 years, told CBS. ‘You’re not going to get hurt with that glass.’

The sudden explosion, however, can put drivers in a very dangerous situation.

Sunroofs have made a comeback in recent years, according to the Wall Street Journal. They used to be available on mostly high-end cars, but they’re now on all types of cars. Expect to pay an additional $1,000 to $2,000 if a sunroof doesn’t come standard.

How to check for reports related to your vehicle

If you want to see if there have been any reports of exploding sunroofs with your vehicle, go to NHTSA’s website. Enter your car’s make, model and model year to review consumer complaints.

Read more: These SUVs did NOT perform well in a passenger-side crash test

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Michael Timmermann paid off his mortgage in two years. Now, he shares his money-saving tips on his blog, MichaelSaves.com.
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