Exploding Prius Windshields Leads To Lawsuit


It’s fair to say, when most people get a new or used car one of the last things on their mind is having their windshield. And having that windshield explode never enters their minds. Unfortunately this was the case for a number of owners in 2018; in fact, several who purchased Toyota Prius’ filed a lawsuit against the car company claiming to have defective windshields that exploded.

Windshield Composition

Before we get into the finer details of the lawsuit, it’s important to first understand what windshields are made of. Yes, we all know that there’s glass involved, and by federal law almost all windshields must be made of laminated glass.

Laminated glass in windshields is actually two pieces of glass that have a thin plastic interlayer in between that separates them. You might be wondering why this is important; this type of auto glass is actually safer to have installed as your windshield because it affects the way in which it breaks. The glass does not break into weapon-like shards but rather pieces with safer edges. And much laminated glass tends to stay in place when broken, depending on the force used of course.

Allegations and Causes

Since multiple individuals came forward agreeing to a common theme it wasn’t long before the allegations were seen in a courtroom. According to the vehicle owners’ complaint, Prius windshields from 2016 and 2017 can, and have been known to, randomly crack and break without being in hazardous conditions. According to court documents, the plaintiffs felt unsafe while driving in standard conditions after they noticed cracks starting to form on their windshields.

According to the amended complaint, the vehicle owners experienced design defects that affected their safety.

“The windshield defect can manifest at any time, while parked or operating at highway speeds, and requires windshield replacement in order to ensure safe operation of Class Vehicles. The windshield defect presents a substantial safety risk,” an excerpt from the complaint reads.

Safety First

Although not every 2016 and 2017 Prius had an alleged defect, it’s important to remember that a drivers’ safety comes first and if a break or crack is present in your windshield you should contact an affiliate on Glass.com to help you repair or replace it. It’s also important to remember that it’s not safe to continue driving with a break in your windshield, as it may impair your driving, especially in poor weather, and it may “crack out” engulfing the full windshield at any time.

If a driver’s view is compromised while behind the wheel, it increases the likelihood of an accident.

What Drivers Noticed

Several of the drivers in the lawsuit said their windshields started getting small nicks and cracks that eventually spread across the front layer of glass. Vehicle owners also claimed the defective windshield weakened the overall strength in the front of their Prius in the event of an accident.

“… this exposes vehicle occupants and fellow drivers to a substantial and unreasonable risk of physical harm. The only means by which to remedy the defect once it manifests is to replace the windshield, often at considerable expense,” says an excerpt from the complaint.

If a break grows in length beyond a certain point it is not longer in your best interest to get it repaired, but your glass expert should advise also advise you to replace it for your safety and your vehicle’s total expectancy.

Claiming The Issue

The class action lawsuit claims Toyota to be responsible for the unjustified breaks in the certain windshields and that the company should replace the defective 2016 and 2017 Prius windshields free of charge for those affected.

Toyota denied the claims that any of its windshields were defected. The company said it believes the claims made in the lawsuit were too broad to find the company responsible.

Toyota then chose to make a reference to its warranty, which states the windshield damages claimed by Prius owners were not covered by its warranty. Therefore the company should not have to take any further action to its windshields. After this point Toyota sought to have the class certification denied.

Toyota alleges that there are vast amounts of ways for a driver to damage their windshield and that it is too early to determine the causes for the broken windshields.

What Happened Next

After Toyota claimed there could be more than one cause to the broken windshields in its Prius models, an opposition brief was filed.

After this several Prius owners stated “the injunctive or declaratory relief plaintiff seek in the form of a recall would provide all plaintiffs and class members with that for which they bargained: class vehicles with non-defective windshields.”

Which means the Prius owners would like their windshields fixed or replaced. They believe the replacement or repair should be given to them because when they purchased their vehicle they were under the assumption of a non-defective windshield being included.

Going Forward

The initial class action lawsuit was filed in early March 2018. Since then the Texas Eastern District Court Judge allowed more Prius owners to be added to the lawsuit if they experienced the same problem with their windshields breaking. The deadline for them to be added was December 21, 2018.

Though plaintiffs will continue to be added since the court has set new deadlines that go into 2020 that include various documents to be entered, motions to be filed, and more. Time will tell which side will win or if Toyota will end up paying a settlement to those who claimed to have defected windshields. In the meantime, if your Prius’ windshield needs to be replaced, use Glass.com to get an instant price quote from local companies in your area and book your replacement conveniently.

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5 responses to “Exploding Prius Windshields Leads To Lawsuit”

  1. This is similar to the problem Subaru owners are having , especially with 2015 and 2016 models. From NHTSA reports it appears that Subaru’s problems may be extending into their newer models with 2018 and 2019 Outbacks, Foresters and Legacies having problems with spontaneous cracks developing.
    I can only hypothesize that these may be developing due to either a change in the glass composition or construction , poor engineering in glass mounting or application of wiper heating zones and radio antennas. No matter , it appears that neither manufacturer has much interest in looking into the problem, preferring to put the onus on the buyer and insurance companies.

    Perhaps if the problem becomes big enough the insurance companies will exert their power and financial resources and file some meaningful legal actions. In the meantime, the buyer will be saddled with the inconvenience (and potential danger) of cracked windshields occurring spontaneously or by slight contact with outside objects.

    I have been driving cars since 1958, both foreign and domestic and have had two windshields replaced due to rock or debris damage. I have two older Subaru Outbacks. a 2001 and a 2003 with a combined mileage of over 400,000 miles and have had one windshield replaced. Recently I had a 2013 Outback that was hit with small object at speed. It developed a rapidly spreading crack that required replacement. My new 2019 Outback developed what appears to be a spontaneous crack originating near the wiper heating area and extending about twelve inches from the edge to an area near the middle of the windshield.

    I would be interested to know if the composition of the glass and the inner plastic layer has been changed in the last ten years. Also it could be that that glass layers of older safety glass were thicker and more resilient and resistant to cracking. Newer cars have large expanses of glass and it perhaps engineers have lightened the windshields by making them thinner and therefore more likely to crack. These statistics should be readily available and looked at especially since the windshield is an integral part of the cocoon that surrounds the cars occupants.

    If the glass is thinner and weaker then it is the manufacturers fault and it should be remediated by them.

    Looking forward to responses by engineers and people who know this area.

  2. parked in the lot 2:00 pm 7/26/2019 temp around 94 deg f. as i got in the car at 6:00 pm i noticed a crack on the windshield across about 2 feet or so. i looked around it to check for nicks or sign of foreign object hitting but it was a clean crack. this is a lease car and i can’t afford a glass replacement.

  3. My 2018 Prius has a long crack from the driver windshield wiper to the center of the windshield obstructing the view … I place tape on the cut daily as it grows

    … I’m going to tell people not to buy Toyota until they fix this Problem

  4. I think 🤔 I’ll bring this up with my AAA insurance company … because it takes a big fish to give a bigger fish a run for their money … meanwhile I’m just a microbe inside a small fish with my 👁 eyes 👀 on the Toyota leadership … be proactive and fix the laminate on the windshield at your supplier’s factory

  5. Wow I just went on a trip to Tahoe, Labor Day I was headed way home and noticed there was 2 equal in size cracks that spread from middle of windshield to drivers side, and same on the passengers side, Now today I go out to car and there is a third one 2-3 feet across. What the heck, it definitely
    does not feel safe.

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