— An exploding sunroof in a Ford Escape has caused a class-action lawsuit that alleges the large glass panels used in multiple Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models are not strong enough to prevent shattering.
Included in the class-action lawsuit are the following vehicles if equipped with factory-installed panoramic sunroofs:
- 2007-present Ford Edge
- 2009-present Ford Focus
- 2010-present Ford Fusion
- 2011-present Ford Explorer
- 2009-present Ford Flex
- 2011-present Ford F-150
- 2009-2014 Ford Mustang
- 2008-present Ford Escape
- 2014-present Ford Transit Connect
- 2013-present Ford C-Max
- 2007-present Lincoln MKX
- 2009-2015 Lincoln MKS
- 2013-present Lincoln MKZ
- 2010-present Lincoln MKT
- 2010-2011 Mercury Milan
- 2010-2011 Mercury Montego
Plaintiffs Jacob and Jessica Beaty say they purchased a new 2013 Ford Escape Titanium in September 2012 from a Ford dealer in the state of Washington. The $33,000 SUV came equipped with a “Power Panoramic Vista Roof” that was allegedly described in the brochure as a technological advancement.
Jessica Beaty says she was driving the Escape in February 2017 when she heard what she thought was a shotgun being fired next to her. In a panic, she was trying to deal with her young daughter and the highway traffic when she saw glass missing from the sunroof, so she closed the sunroof cover.
Mrs. Beaty says she finally got the Escape pulled over and realized her daughter had a scratch on her forehead and Mrs. Beaty allegedly had multiple scratches on her hands.
After being told the SUV was no longer covered under warranty, she was allegedly sent to an auto glass business where she paid a $500 deductible to her insurance company to replace the damaged sunroof (pictured above).
In addition to the deductible, the lawsuit says about $111 was paid out-of-pocket to rent a car for the three days it took to replace the sunroof.
The plaintiffs say the auto glass business replaced the shattered sunroof with the same manufacturer and model sunroof that exploded, allegedly leaving the plaintiffs in fear of opening the sunroof cover ever again.
The plaintiffs claim they wouldn't have bought the Escape if Ford would have admitted the sunroof was liable to shatter.
Ford claims its sunroofs explode because outside objects hit the glass, but the plaintiffs say the broken glass points outward and proves nothing outside the vehicles hit the sunroofs. Additionally, while many vehicle owners report their sunroofs exploded while driving, other customers say their glass shattered with the vehicles parked.
The lawsuit says Ford uses various suppliers and calls the panoramic sunroofs by different names. For example, the 2011-2014 Ford Explorer glass panel is supplied by Inalfa Roof Systems and is called a "Moonroof."
However, the 2011-2014 Ford Edge glass panel is supplied by Webasto Roof Systems and is called a "Panoramic Vista Roof," and the 2013-2014 Ford Escape has a "Panoramic Vista Roof" supplied by Inalfa Roof Systems.
Manufacturers such as Volvo and Honda have allegedly used laminated glass, but the plaintiffs claim Ford, Nissan, Kia, Hyundai and Volkswagen install panoramic sunroofs with tempered glass that features large areas of ceramic paint.
The lawsuit alleges all Ford panoramic sunroofs are similar and made of tempered or laminated glass that attaches to tracks set inside a frame. Tempered glass is allegedly made in the same manner by all manufacturers, using a piece of annealed glass shaped and cut to original specifications for each manufacturer.
Tempered glass is heated and then rapidly cooled, creating an outer layer of glass that is compressed (similar to being shrink-wrapped) around a middle core of the glass that is constantly pressing outwards. However, the plaintiffs claim the glass can explode if the compressed layer is compromised.
The lawsuit also says the tempered glass used in the Ford vehicles features a ceramic paint applied before tempering. These ceramic enamels are applied on the top around the edges of panoramic sunroof glazing and appear as “black bands” along the edges of the glass.
However, ceramic enamels allegedly weaken the tempered sunroof glazing, not too bad of a thing for a small sunroof. But the plaintiffs claim the huge panoramic sunroofs have glass that becomes progressively weaker and prone to explode.
Owners claim the cost to upgrade to panoramic roofs can cost at least a thousand dollars and in some cases several thousand dollars, a huge money-maker for car manufacturers.
The Ford exploding sunroof lawsuit references a 2013 report from the Korean Automobile Testing & Research Institute that concluded the enamel used for ceramic paint in panoramic sunroofs decreases the strength of the glass, making it less durable than even ordinary glass.
In response, Ford filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit and convinced the judge certain claims should be dropped, namely concerning warranties. The judge agreed that Ford didn't violate implied warranties because customers bought their vehicles from dealers, not directly from Ford.
The judge also said the plaintiffs can't complain about Ford refusing to replace the sunroof on the Escape because the warranty had already expired.
Although certain warranty claims were dismissed, the judge ruled the plaintiffs can amend the lawsuit in an effort to get those claims included in the lawsuit.
A similar Ford sunroof lawsuit was filed in September 2016 by the same attorneys, but the suit was voluntarily dropped by the plaintiffs the next month.
The Ford Escape exploding sunroof lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington - Beaty et. al, v. Ford Motor Company.
CarComplaints.com has complaints about the Ford vehicles named in the exploding sunroof lawsuit.