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What is Sunroof Detachment?

A man sitting in a car scrolling on his phone with an open sunroof.
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The Sunny Side of Sunroofs

Sunroofs can be a great upgrade option for car owners looking to get a little more sunshine on their face and wind in their hair. Most everyone who has had a sunroof make it a must-have requirement for any of their future cars. Sunroofs have come a long way since they first appeared on the market in the mid 20th century. With the advent of panoramic sunroofs, they are not only growing in size but popularity as well.

people looking out of a sunroof

Sunroof Downsides

There are some very rare, but possible downsides to having sunroof though. For instance, a quality issue could mean that a sunroof spontaneous explodes as a car is driving down the road. There have been numerous recalls for these problems from a wide range of manufacturers including Hyundai, Nissan, BMW, Kia and Ford among others. This spread just goes to show that this problem isn’t exclusive to any certain automakers.

person sitting under a car sunroof

What is Sunroof Detachment?


The new issue the industry is facing that is not yet (and hopefully won’t be) as widespread as spontaneous sunroof explosion is an issue called sunroof detachment. Sunroof detachments are where the entire glass panel lifts out of the vehicle. Obviously, this can be a major issue if you’re driving down the highway- especially with vehicles behind you. Sunroof detachment is usually caused by a combination of two factors:

1. Failing polyurethane.

Polyurethane is the bonding agent that vehicle manufacturers use to glue the sunroof into place. If the urethane fails, breaking the bond, then the sunroof does not have anything holding it in place.

2. Pressure changes.

Once the urethane bond has sufficiently weakened, it won’t take much for the sunroof to detach from the car’s body. A pressure change within the cabin can be enough to launch the windshield into the air. If you’re traveling down the road at 55 miles per an hour and open the windows, the incoming air will create an upward pressure on the inside of a sunroof.


So what happens once the sunroof detaches? Well as you can imagine this could have a wide range of effects depending on the circumstances. If there is traffic behind you, the sunroof could cause serious damage- either striking other vehicles or hitting the ground and scattering debris.

What to do if this happens to you:

  1. Slow down and pull over to the shoulder of the road as it becomes safe to do so.
  2. Assess any damage to your own vehicle and other vehicles.
  3. Dial 911 if there are injuries, damaged vehicles, or debris in the road that need to be cleaned up.
  4. Once you, your passengers, and other vehicles are safe, focus on taking care of your own vehicle now that there is a gaping hole in the roof.
  5. Follow the steps in this article to cover the hole until you are able to have the sunroof replaced.
  6. Schedule the replacement with a professional shop in your area using the auto glass locator service.

How to Prevent Sunroof Detachment

Rest assured that sunroof detachment is a rare issue and it should not deter you from purchasing a vehicle with a sunroof- especially if a sunroof brings more enjoyment to your daily commute.

A handful of makes and models already have recalls for sunroof detachment. They are Mitsubishi, Hyundai, Kia, Land Rover, and Bentley among others. You can use the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website to look up whether or not your vehicle has any recalls.

Should your vehicle have an open recall, follow the instructions on the NHTSA site. Most of the time dealerships are responsible for providing parts and labor free of charge to remedy any such manufacturer defects.

Have you Experienced Sunroof Detachment?

If you have experienced sunroof detachment, we’d love to hear your story in the comments below. What was the year, make and model of the vehicle? Did the dealership provide assistance? Was the point of failure determined?

Many have already shared their stories of spontaneously shattering sunroofs in our related blog. And if you’re looking for more information about auto glass and sunroofs in general, you can check out our Info Center which covers all things glass-related.

Remember, if you’re in need of a shop to handle sunroof replacement for your vehicle, can help locate a reputable shop in your area and provide you with instant price quotes so you can compare options quickly and easily.


Please note, this article may contain links to Amazon products. As an Amazon Associate, earns from qualifying purchases.



Daniel Snow

Daniel Snow serves as the Vice President of Operations for and is also a contributing editor. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from George Mason University and has a background in the real estate industry. After high school, Daniel even worked at a family-owned glass shop for a short period of time and is an Auto Glass Safety Council certified installer. In his free time, Daniel enjoys being outdoors, especially around the water where he can be found surfing, fishing, and boating. He has a passion for bringing old vehicles back to life and loves working with his hands to restore cars, boats, and motorcycles. Find out more about Daniel on Linkedin.

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4 Responses

  1. Driving at 72 mph in the center lane of Interstate 80 I witnessed a detachment occur approximately 1/4 mile in front of me.
    At first I thought an object had been dropped by an airplane. That is, until it shattered on the ground, and the only other vehicle in sight and ahead of me pulled to the shoulder, from the center lane in which we were traveling. It was the culprit.
    Unfortunately it happened so quickly I did not see the make and model of the car from which the detachment originated.
    I was in a state of shock as my mind put together the sequence of events I had just witnessed.
    By the grace of God I am still here
    to write about this.
    Best regards,

  2. I was driving down the highway at 55 mph in my 2006 chevy equinox and the wind picked up and my sunroof detached. All I heard was a woose and it was airborne striking a vehicle behind me. It dented their hood and cracked their windshield. I had purchased the vehicle 10 days prior and my mechanic is still looking for a replacement. He ordered a sunroof from a company and they sent 3 different ones that were the wrong size.

  3. Driving approximately 45 miles on the street and suddenly a loud swoosh sound and my sunroof detached from my New VW Beetle 2004 model unbelievable!! I am so lucky no one was directly behind me. Also, to no avail have I got any acknowledgment of this being a problem with VW nor any assistance in getting it replaced. Still riding around with no sunroof!

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