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TOPIC: Important Exploding Sunroof

Exploding Sunroof 3 years 11 months ago #949

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So there I was, getting back onto I80 after stopping for fuel in Laramie, WY. in my 2010 XC70 and just hitting 30,000 miles. I may have reached 65 or 70 mph and then what sounded like a shotgun blast went off right over my head. Immediately, I was showered with glass raining down over me and the noise of loud rushing wind. I eased the windscreen back and saw the damage; a huge gaping hole centered over the passenger seat.

My first thought was “What hit me?” There was nothing around, nothing bouncing along the highway, no dead bird stuck in the roof-rack, just glass cascading over the roof and off the tailgate. When I inspected the damage, I expected to see the broken edges caved in to the windscreen, but that’s not what I found. The broken edges actually curved upwards as if something had impacted the glass from the inside. Furthermore, there was no damage to the top of the windscreen. If something had impacted from above, surely there would be some damage to the windscreen from the force of the broken glass or the projectile, but it was unmarked.

I called my son, who works for a central Pa. Volvo dealer and asked him to order a new sunroof for me. I decided not to bother with notifying my insurance company, as with a $500 deductible, it probably wouldn’t be covered anyway. I’ll install it myself and be spared the installation charges, which I assumed would be over $1,000. I later discovered the cost of the replacement was $568.00, but still not worth taking the hit for filing a claim.

To continue the trip, I purchased a heavy rubber front door mat and duct taped it over the gaping hole. It worked great! When I arrived in Pa., the replacement was waiting for me and my son and I cleaned up the mess and installed the new sunroof. Piece of cake; four screws, align the top surface with the roof profile and that’s it. The worst part was cleaning up the glass shards from the track and the inside of the car.

All this time I thought I had been hit by something; how else would the sunroof shatter?

But, several days later, my son-in-law told me he searched the net and found that there are many, many instances of glass sunroofs exploding for no apparent reason. High speed, low speed, warm or cold weather, Audis, Volvos, BMW, Mercedes, Mitsubishis, Toyotas. It doesn’t seem to be brand specific, temperature or speed related. They just explode for no apparent reason.

I’m concerned that since I handled this myself, Volvo won’t take responsibility for it. So, has anyone else had this experience and if so, what was Volvo’s reaction and resolution?
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I want to die like my Grandfather did, peacefully in his sleep.
Not screaming in terror like the passengers in his car.

Exploding Sunroof 3 years 11 months ago #953

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At least you are not alone among Volvo owners...

www.carcomplaints.com/news/2012/why-do-sunroofs-explode.shtml

George Dill

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Exploding Sunroof 3 years 11 months ago #966

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That's one of the sites I discovered in researching this. These reports are everywhere; Edmonds, almost any automotive forum, auto recall notices, NHTSA investigations, etc., etc.

There is even a report from the auto glass industry acknowledging the issue: www.usglassmag.com/AGRR/Backissues/2013/JanuaryFebruary/PlayingSherlock__Feature.htm

Why in the world aren't these glass sunroofs made with safety glass?

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I want to die like my Grandfather did, peacefully in his sleep.
Not screaming in terror like the passengers in his car.

Exploding Sunroof 3 years 11 months ago #972

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TailFin wrote: That's one of the sites I discovered in researching this. These reports are everywhere; Edmonds, almost any automotive forum, auto recall notices, NHTSA investigations, etc., etc.

There is even a report from the auto glass industry acknowledging the issue: www.usglassmag.com/AGRR/Backissues/2013/JanuaryFebruary/PlayingSherlock__Feature.htm

Why in the world aren't these glass sunroofs made with safety glass?


That is the problem - sunroof glass is tempered and under constant tension. The edges of the glass are vulnerable to sharp shocks which can cause the glass to explode into small pieces as designed. Most of us old timers remember (those that CAN remember) when "safety" glass had a gooey layer between two glass panes - this arrangement resulted in injury/death for those passing through the windshield during headers as large pieces of glass became swords.

One fix (BEFORE the event) is to attach a self-sticky sheet of clear plastic (similar to headlight protectors) UNDER the sunroof glass. This would need to be carefully installed as to not mess up the open/close mechanisms.

George Dill
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Exploding Sunroof 3 years 11 months ago #974

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The XC70 sunroof glass is surrounded by a metal frame which is also surrounded by the rubber sealing gasket, so edge impact to the glass should be minimal. That said, I do like your idea of adhering a sheet of plastic to the inside surface. In fact, I think the perfect solution would be to use the same sheeting material used for after-market window tinting with a very lightly tinted film.

Good suggestion George.

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I want to die like my Grandfather did, peacefully in his sleep.
Not screaming in terror like the passengers in his car.

Exploding Sunroof 3 months 1 week ago #2895

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Hi, I'm a reporter with Consumer Reports. I'd love to speak to you about your experience. If you're interested, please drop me a line at

Hope to hear from you!

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Last Edit: by CRreporter. Reason: exclusivity
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