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We were cruising 100km/h on the highway when a loud discharge noise happened. We then realize the sunroof glass had mostly disappeared. In the end we were lucky as the sunroof curtain was closed preventing the falling glass debris to enter the vehicle. At that moment, we were not going through an underpass. Also, at no moment did I witness any visible debris coming from the only 2 cars in front that could have resulted in an impact.
Fortunately, I had experienced such an event of exploding sunroof on a 2004 Toyota Matrix and was aware of such defect. Since the car had been purchased used and certified at a dealer, I was convinced the extended warranty would apply. Well I was wrong. I entered in a ballet of "not me but him" and vice versa between the dealer where I was servicing, Volkswagen Canada and the dealer I bought the used vehicle.
Through a logic that defies all scientific principles, Volkswagen Canada determined that since this happen on a 4 year vehicle this can only be due to an exterior event and cannot be due to defect. The dealer who presented the facts to Volkswagen was ecstatic to explain how well he defended my position to Volkswagen by taking pictures from the inside (remember, the curtain is closed) of the vehicle but not from the exterior (they left the plastic on). This obviously does not show the remaining glass going outward. Also, Volkswagen is kind enough to sell this wonderful piece of glass 1400$ CAD + 2 hr to install and to make sure no debris is in the sunroof mechanism, they recommend an additional 2 hr to disassemble the canopy and use a vacuum cleaner for a total of +2000$ CAD if you include tax.
In the end, this is utterly BS. Having a background in mechanical engineering, we did some math. 1st, the chances a debris from the car in front flies up in the air in a trajectory that will hit the sunroof glass of a vehicle traveling at 100km/h are very, very slim. 2nd, even if this indeed happened, with the average strength of tempered glass, there is no way an unnoticed debris could cause such catastrophic failure without having some sort of defect.
Also, some research demonstrate there is a known manufacturing defect in the Tempered Glass industry (for all types including the one used on car) caused by inclusion of NiS or Nickel Sulfide in the tempered glass. Interesting enough is the fact that the presence of such defect, called inclusion, can result in spontaneous tempered glass failure. Even more interesting is that time is not a factor for those defect. This means that, if the glass has the defect, the failure rate of tempered glass is the same after 1, 2, 3, 5, 7.... years.
And lastly, I guess that might simply be a coincidence, but the NiS may caused the spontaneous failure by going though temperature cycles, which is something very odd here in Canada as we do not have cold winter and hot summer. Any how, this will obviously go to court one day and this car, although wonderfully handling and comfortable it is, will be the last VW I own.
Update from Apr 25, 2018: The design of this sunroof is bad, really bad. Brought the car to the dealer who sold the car. We were talking about 2000 CAD$. But then the dealer suggested to change the whole sunroof mechanism in case broken glass got stuck in the roof or in the mechanism. This not only add 1000 CAD$, but 10hrs of labor. 3 days later after they received the part and started the job, they called and added the curtain to the shopping list, for a whooping 900 CAD$... Why so.. glass got stuck in the mechanism and they could not close the curtain, and they need to open that curtain in order to disassemble the sunroof mechanism. I'm the end, they had to cut it open to do the job. Had no other choice to go through insurance as the bill got past 5000 CAD$.
So, if the sunroof glass explodes, stop the vehicle, take pictures, remove as much glass as you can, retract the curtain if it was closed and then drive to the dealer right away.
Boisbriand, QC, Canada