Nissan Exploding Sunroof Lawsuit Filed in California

Nissan exploding sunroofs cause owners to file lawsuit that alleges problems with the glass.

Posted in News

— A Nissan exploding sunroof lawsuit alleges 2008-present Nissan and Infiniti models with factory-installed sunroofs made of tempered glass are at risk of the sunroof glass exploding without warning, leaving occupants a bundle of nerves if the glass shatters while driving.

Plaintiff Janelle Horne says she was riding with her husband and four kids in a leased Infiniti QX80 when the sunroof exploded like a shotgun, causing Mr. Horne to pull off the highway and see shards of glass everywhere.

After taking the Infiniti to a dealership, the dealer allegedly tried to lay blame on rocks or falling objects that hit the outside of the sunroof. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff threatened to go public with what was happening, so the dealer eventually replaced the sunroof at no cost.

However, this allegedly still left expensive damages the plaintiff had to cover, including damage caused to the paint of the SUV.

Horne says she would not have paid what she did for the Infiniti QX80 or possibly wouldn't have leased the SUV if Nissan would have warned consumers about the sunroof glass. In addition, the plaintiff says the SUV was within the scope of the warranty when the sunroof exploded and when it was repaired, so making her pay anything violated the lease agreement she had signed.

The plaintiff isn't the only one who allegedly had sunroof problems because Nissan customers have complained for years about exploding sunroofs and the huge cost to fix the damage.

"Traveling on highway about 60 mph when a semi passed us going in the opposite direction. After he passed there was a loud explosion. We discovered that the sunroof was completely shattered and glass was everywhere. Luckily we had the inside roof cover closed or we would have been covered with glass. Total cost of replacing sunroof was $1914.07." - 2015 Nissan Rogue owner

Another Nissan complaint gave a similar amount the owner paid to have the sunroof repaired.

"It exploded outward, sounded like large rock hitting windshield 30 minute's later 5" circular piece departed the vehicle (feel out) wind noise started. Dealership said it was not warranted, why don't I go though insurance (none of their business). It does look like I will be on the hook for about $1900 in repairs, and if I was to rent a car from Nissan maybe more. Every time I said the word warranty the air went quiet and the subject changed." - 2013 Nissan Murano owner

The lawsuit alleges Nissan generally markets the larger sunroof as a luxury upgrade and charges several thousand dollars for the upgrade even though the actual cost of the panoramic sunroof is relatively low, making it a profitable feature for the automaker.

Horne lays out the case about how the tempered glass is heated and then rapidly cooled, creating an outer layer of compression shrink-wrapped around the middle of the glass that is constantly pressing outwards. The tempering creates a stronger piece of glass compared to non-tempered glazing, but the glass can explode without warning if the compressed layer is compromised.

As with exploding sunroof lawsuits against other manufacturers, Nissan allegedly uses thinner glass in their larger sunroofs to save weight and improve fuel economy. However, the plaintiff says thinner glass is more difficult to temper properly.

The plaintiff says the tempered glass used in the sunroofs has ceramic paint applied before the tempering process, applied on the top around the edges of the panoramic sunroof glazing, with the ceramic paint appearing as a band of black along the edge of the glass.

According to the lawsuit, ceramic enamels weaken the structural strength of the tempered sunroof glazing because the glass and the paint expand at different rates.

The plaintiff says Nissan should have known about the sunroof dangers long ago, especially since many sunroofs have allegedly exploded within weeks or months of purchase going back to at least 2008.

The lawsuit includes all consumers who purchased or leased in the state of California a 2008-present Nissan and Infiniti models with factory-installed sunroofs made of tempered glass. As with many similar state-specific class-action lawsuits, it's possible similar lawsuits may be filed across the country based on the results for California.

The Nissan exploding sunroof lawsuit was filed in the Solano County Superior Court of California - Janelle Horne, et al, v. Nissan North America, Inc., and Nissan Motor Company, LTD.

Horne is represented by Finkelstein & Krinsk LLP.