by Bob Beranek
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Is there a defect in the glass currently being manufactured for late model sunroofs? I recently received a call from a TV station that wanted my thoughts on a rash of sunroof breakages happening across the United States. My initial reaction was that I hadn’t noticed the increase in breakage. The telephone call stirred my interest however, so I decided to do a little research. It seems there has been an increase in breakage, mostly on 2011 and 2012 vehicles. Obviously, if that is the case, it was covered under warranty and most dealers will replace moveable glass themselves and not contract a glass shop for replacement, especially if the part is unique to a specific year, make and model. No wonder I didn’t see an increase.

Some breakage occurs when the mechanism was engaged and others when the car was parked in a driveway. Why would there be an increase in breakage now? The more I thought about it, the more questions I had. Why haven’t the breaks been limited to a specific make of vehicle?  Why did the break occur in numerous ways? Was the sunroof manufacturer the same on all the vehicles? Did the glass in these sunroof assemblies change in thickness or construction?

I love this stuff.  It’s like investigating a crime. I can’t answer these questions right now but I am currently researching the problem. However, be it known that there is a problem and you may be called upon to replace these units for those dealerships that don’t touch glass parts. If you are called upon, or even if you don’t like to do sunroofs, I would urge you to consider this replacement. The sunroof installations are relatively easy with a good profit. In most cases the steps are: remove screw panels, remove the screws, clean up, position the unit, replace the screws, replace the cover and collect the money, that simple. I may agree to refrain from doing aftermarket sunroof repairs because the all the variables but OE sunroofs are easy. I urge you to consider adding OE sunroof replacement to your repertoire.

I will keep you informed of the progress made with this research and if any of you out there can help with the facts on this issue, I would appreciate your help. If you know anything about this sunroof issue, give me a call or post on this blog. My number is 800-695-5418.

Comments (7)

  1. Patrick O'Leary said on 15-11-2012

    e-mail correction

  2. John R. Allen said on 16-11-2012

    We have seeen this situation with all different car makes at various dealerships that we service around the country. We saw one girl with a brand nw G6 Panoramic sun roof a few years ago during the ice storm admit to the dealership in Toronto that she wanted to see if the sunroof could be opended with all hat ice on it…It ended up costing her $2,600.00. I did look at a BMW 525(?) and could see a “chunk” in the glass where something hit it, and I have seen glass for no reason shatter at a dealership while the vehicle was in for service.

    That being said, replacing is complicated with the multi panel roofs, not getting them aligned could chip the glass or even shatter it if the two (or more) panels come in contact with each other. We are trained by the various manufactureres and receive the latest updates etc…and are Webasto authorized. It may sound GREAT to add this service, think twice and find out from the dealership what warranty pays to replace and align the glass….4-.6 and you have to drive there, get the work order, locate the car, get the parts, install, clean up the mess and old glass and make up the bill etc…

    I hope everyone has a PROFITABLE week!

  3. Glasseye said on 18-11-2012

    One area that may be causing problems is body flex, there used to be one make of car manufactured in the UK where just jacking up the car caused the rear windscreen to shatter. Another consideration is that the weakest part of a toughened glass is the edge, so if the glass has no protective edging and it is, incorrectly, contacting the edge of the body panel or another pane of glass, this would increase the risk of shatter. Just a couple of points for consideration. one final thing is that the panels may have had a stone impact some time way before the glass finally shatters.

  4. Phil said on 10-12-2012

    I have seen a lot of unexplained sunroof breakage in the last two model year vehicles. In every case Webasto was the supplier to the manufacturer, with the possible exception of a couple of BMW parts (I couldn’t find any indication of the supplier).

  5. Cheryl said on 06-02-2013

    Today I was driving to work and I heard a shattering noise. When I opened my sun roof cover, glass fell into my car. I immediately thought something hit the glass, but when I got to work, the glass was pointing up as if someone sat in my car and punched a hole in my sun roof! I hate seeing all of these blogs about this happening because now I feel really uneasy about paying 700 dollars to get it fixed and knowing this may happen again. I hope your investigating brings some light on the issue. This happening once is ONE too many times..

    • Bob Beranek said on 07-02-2013

      I agree. The vehicle manufacturers are aware of the problem. I cannot tell what the result will be because unless there is loss of life or serious injury, the government does not get involved. The car manufacturers have the discretion to determine the extent of the repairs they offer. I wish I could offer more encouraging news.

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