One July day in 2015, Steven Kaufman hopped into his brand new Hyundai Elantra GT and went for a drive. He was traveling down a highway when suddenly
"The sunroof exploded. The glass started raining down on me. I thought someone had taken a shotgun and blown out the glass. It was so loud," said Kaufman.
His was not an isolated incident.
Consumer Reports recently analyzed over 20 years of data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and found shattered sunroofs reported in at least 208 models across 35 brands.
Kaufman bought his car in 2015, right around the time when the problem spiked.
And these are only the cases reported to the agency. Some manufacturers know of even more.
David Friedman of Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization division of Consumer Reports, was acting administrator of NHTSA in 2014.
"Although it's not clear exactly why this is happening, the evidence that it is happening is really clear. And so automakers should be much more proactive. Just recall these vehicles," Friedman said.
The agency is currently only investigating the 2011 through 2013 Kia Sorento SUV but Consumers Union would like that to be expanded.
Friedman said, "These sunroofs are shattering. NHTSA has more than enough evidence to consider this a safety defect. And they certainly shouldn't wait for a fatality or an injury before forcing the car companies to act."
When it comes to the glass itself, regulators can also call for different kinds of testing and adjust the standards as designs evolve.
"The regulations around sunroofs are clearly outdated. They were designed when they were a lot smaller. Today they are a lot bigger and sunroof regulation needs to catch up."
While Hyundai declined to comment on Steven Kaufman's incident, they told Consumer Reports, "The safety of our customers is Hyundai's number one priority."
Consumer Reports says if this happens to you, take pictures and video with your phone and immediately and contact your dealer about a repair.
If they are not helpful, contact the automaker.
You can also enlist your insurer to help convince them to cover the repair.
Also be sure to file a report with National Highway Transportation Safety Administration
Automakers under investigation for shattering sunroofs
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