This is an open letter to the DVSA:
Monday, 16th January 2023
Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency,
Reference: Exploding Sunroof Incident in Hyundai Tucson
Dear Sir / Madam
My name is Peter Pilgrim. I work as a senior manager at Cognizant UK, an experienced software engineer, designer and consultant. I am writing to you to report on an incident with my car: TUCSON ULTIMATE T-GDI MHEV S-A with panoramic sunroof and electronic tailgate.
I am addressing the department responsible for vehicle manufacturing issues and after car warranty in your organisation. Though I am unfamiliar with the disparate departments in your organisation DVSA, I want to stipulate this incident was not an accident.
Moreover, I strongly feel that the wider consumers, respectful car buyers, especially in the United Kingdom, must be made aware of unexpected dangerous incidents around shattering sunroofs, “moon roofs”, panoramic or not.
On Friday, 30th December 2022, my partner and I were travelling from our home to Norfolk, Eastern coast of England on the A428. I was driving our Tucson Ultimate and my partner was in the front passenger seat. We reached the outskirts of Cambridge, just after 1pm, we heard a bang sound like a firework, a gunshot sound in our car. I jolted, because I was driving and luckily there were no other vehicles directly close to us at the time, in front or behind or to the side. I swerved on the road. Immediately, I thought a window had broken, or we had been hit by another vehicle, or one of the bottles of champagne (pre–New Year’s Eve) had gone off.
I managed to drive to the car to lay-by a couple of minutes later. We got out of our car, and we checked the luggage for broken champagne bottles. Nothing. We looked at the windows. Nothing. We noticed the draughty air a moment before, we looked at the sunroof and there it was. The panoramic sunroof on our Tucson Ultimate had exploded.
I have included pictures in this message as attachments: Evidence 1, Evidence 2 and Evidence 3
We encountered several consumer headaches that are serious causes for concern, namely:
Car Manufacturer Warranty
There are UK consumers buying and/or leasing cars with panoramic roofs. Even though companies like Hyundai advertise a 5-year warranty for new cars. When these incidents occur, they respond typically that any glass breakage is not covered by the warranty. There is no way to prove or disprove that a “projectile hit the car”.
Type of Sunroof Safety Glass
The panoramic glass used in my car shattered into hundreds of pieces. This is dangerous. Luckily for us, the textile part of the sunroof was glass. The sunroof glass is not the same as laminated safety glass like that in a windscreen / windshield. We could have been seriously injured with debris, because many of the pieces were sharp and razor thin.
Car Insurance Clause Exemptions
There are car insurance providers and underwriters (redacted) that have exclusion clauses buried deep into contract agreements, which state explicitly that car owners with panoramic sunroofs are covered by a loss or damage claim.
Moreover, we found multiple incidents of “exploding sunroofs” in the United Kingdom and North America. It is present in almost all car manufacturers, including Hyundai. This phenomenon is ever-present and the earliest incident I have found dates back to 2006. In terms of Hyundai there is a Velostar from 2012. In the USA and Canada there is an active class-action lawsuit. Of course, Britain and Europe, thankfully, have slightly stronger laws and regulations. However, in my opinion, we have a widening hole that many more consumers will eventually fall into.
I would like the DVSA and other government organisations to interact with the car manufacturers and the car insurance underwriters to strengthen safety for panoramic glass.
Car consumers like myself, my partner and our dependents and pets should be first protected from serious injury. Car manufacturers that make glass in extensive sunroof designs like panoramic and/or “moon roofs” orientations must be fully laminated. The glass should not shatter. The type of glass should match or better the standards for windscreens. This is a business, design and implementation choice of vehicle manufacturers and not the responsible of the consumer.
Unwary consumers like myself have fallen into a trap of insurance providers not covering loss and damage from panoramic sunroofs, because these exemption clauses are buried in documentation.
Why are car manufacturers like Hyundai allowed to sell cars with unsafe shattering sunroof glass to unsuspecting customers like me?
Why are car insurance underwriters now allowed to dodge loss and damage claims for owners of cars with panoramic sunroofs like me?
I look forward to hearing your reply.
This open letter is available as a public accesible PDF. For full disclosure, I sent a private version to the DVSA with my full address and other salient details.
Evidence 1 (30-Dec-2022 13:02)
Evidence 2 (30-Dec-2022 13:02)
Evidence 3 (30-Dec-2022 13:02)
Addendum: Thursday 19th January 2023 – PDF convert to individual JPEG images