Data shows shattered sunroofs affect at least 208 models
Consumer Reports calls on NHTSA automakers to act
SAN ANTONIO – For Steven Kaufman, a leisurely drive two years ago in his brand new Hyundai Elantra GT took an unexpected turn.
"The sunroof exploded," he said. "The glass started raining down on me. I thought someone had taken a shotgun and blown out the glass. It was so loud."
His was not an isolated incident. Consumer Reports analyzed more than 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, about the time the problem spiked.
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," he said. "And, so automakers should be much more proactive. Just recall these vehicles."
The agency currently is investigating only the 2011-2013 Kia Sorento SUV. Consumers Union would like for that to be expanded.
"These sunroofs are shattering. NHTSA has more than enough evidence to consider this a safety defect," Friedman said. "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.
Friedman says the regulations are outdated.
"They were designed when they were a lot smaller," he said. "Today they are a lot bigger and sunroof regulation needs to catch up."
Hyundai declined to comment on Kaufman's incident, but issued a statement: "The safety or our customers is Hyundai's number one priority."