Nissan Avoids Blame in Exploding Sunroof Lawsuit

Nissan is known for making reliable cars, but like any other car company, it runs into problems with dissatisfied customers. One of them concerns a class-action lawsuit alleging Nissan’s sunroofs could explode, potentially harming drivers and passengers. But that lawsuit recently hit the end of the line, as Nissan escaped blame for any wrongdoing over shattering sunroofs on its vehicles. 

A recap of Nissan’s exploding sunroof problem

Nissan exploding sunroof lawsuit, Nissan sunroof
Nissan logo | Kazuhiro NogiAFP via Getty Images

Nissan has faced multiple exploding sunroof lawsuits, and they mostly make similar allegations. One way or another, the plaintiffs suing Nissan experienced shattered sunroofs, sending shards of glass into the cars’ cabins. The lawsuits claimed the exploding sunroof issue affected many Nissan models and years.

These sunroofs allegedly exploded because of their design. Instead of laminating the glass in the sunroofs, the lawsuits claimed, Nissan used thin pieces of tempered glass instead of thicker pieces. The reason why Nissan allegedly did this, according to the suits, is so that the sunroof could be lighter and, thus, the vehicle could get better fuel economy. The lawsuits also alleged the Japanese automaker applied ceramic enamel around the edges of the sunroofs, weakening the strength of the glass. 

Though some Nissan dealerships replaced the shattered sunroofs, some owners had to pay for the replacement themselves. Repairs cost one owner about $185, though another paid $1,000 to replace a sunroof. 

A judge recently dismissed a lawsuit against Nissan over exploding sunroofs

One class-action lawsuit against Nissan over exploding sunroofs began in 2016 and recently ended, CarComplaints.com reports. Like other sunroof lawsuits, this one made similar allegations about why the sunroofs had shattered. However, the plaintiffs in this case didn’t submit much evidence to support their claims.

That’s part of the reason why the judge in the case dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice. According to CarComplaints.com, the judge wrote, “Bizarrely, Plaintiffs have not submitted evidence of more traditional forms of injury. There are no medical bills. Plaintiffs apparently had no repair expenses, or they were fully compensated.”

The plaintiffs also made other claims, including that their Nissan vehicles lost value due to the exploding sunroofs. However, an expert witness testifying for Nissan said they “found no evidence of a price differential due to the alleged defect.” The judge agreed with that assessment and dismissed the class action against the car company

Other automakers have faced similar accusations

Though Nissan escaped blame in that six-year-long case, drivers should still be aware that sunroofs can explode. In fact, many new cars have sunroofs that could break. And though some Nissan models, such as the Murano, have experienced many reported cases of exploding sunroofs, others have seen more.

For instance, the Hyundai Santa Fe has had the most reported cases of shattering sunroofs. That said, there have been only about 37 reported complaints about this model’s sunroof, a small fraction of the number of Santa Fe SUVs on the road. 

RELATED: What Nissan Employees Go Through to Ensure the Best New Car Smell