Shattering sunroofs prompt call for investigation

WATCH: An increasing number of drivers have been calling for an investigation into exploding sunroofs, and Global has learned that Transport Canada is now probing the defects. Tony Tighe reports.

CALGARY – Many drivers blame manufacturing defects or design problems for vehicle sunroofs that suddenly explode while driving, but one Calgary man’s experience has been added to a Transport Canada investigation.

Jim Ashe is a Calgary realtor and on the way to an appointment on June 29, he said he heard what sounded like an explosion in his car.

“It was really loud and it scared me.”

He pulled over and discovered his sunroof had shattered into tiny pieces.

He said he didn’t hear anything hit the car, but when he called the dealer, they said they had never heard of it happening and blamed a rock.

Story continues below advertisement

He wasn’t satisfied, so he did some research.

“I Googled ‘exploding sunroofs’ and realized there are videos of people who have had their sunroofs explode for no real apparent reason,” he said.

Sunroof shattered Calgary
Jim Ashe said he heard what sounded like an explosion in his car before his sunroof shattered in June, 2015. Jim Ashe

Ashe then contacted General Motors about a defect or possible recall.

“The typical reason for this type of glass shattering is due to a stone or object impacting the glass at some point,” said GM in a statement.

“Over time the stresses on the glass can lead to a point when the glass shatters.”

Not satisfied, Ashe contacted Global Calgary, who forwarded the complaint to Transport Canada, and also asked if the government was investigating sunroof defects.

Ashe was surprised when he got a call from a defect investigator.

Story continues below advertisement

“He said it was the first Buick that Transport Canada had ever heard of that had this issue, and that this was a known issue and because of that, they wanted to investigate it further,” said Ashe.

Transport Canada said it has had 10 recent sunroof explosion complaints, and started two active investigations.

Drivers can file complaints with Transport Canada here

Glass repair shops say they see this regularly. Fred Denomme of King’s Glass believes it could be related to the parts that are installed.

“The sunroof panel is attached to a metal plate,” said Denomme. “If that expands in the heat, then touches the glass, the glass is going to be susceptible to breakage, and I think that is a large cause of it.  In the summer it definitely increases.”

It cost Ashe over $1,000 to replace the sunroof; he said the dealer and GM eventually discounted $500 off the cost.