Nissan Altima Shattered Sunroof

I apologize in advance for kind of a long story but here we go.

I have a 2009 Nissan Altima with just over 13000 miles on it. Last week as I was driving to work at about 65 mph I heard what sounded like a shotgun blast over my head. The sunroof glass had shattered (more like exploded) leaving about a 2 foot circular hole in the glass. At first I thought something must have hit me but when I pulled over I could obviously see that the glass was mushroomed out as if it had exploded from the inside out, not pushed in.

I took the car to my Nissan dealer and they agreed that that there was no evidence that anything had hit the glass and that it had simply spontaneously shattered. They assured me that Nissan would take care of everything, arranged a rental, and even pointed out chips in the paint on the roof and trunk lid caused by the pieces of broken glass.

Long story short, Nissan is now denying the warranty claim. They paid for the new glass as a “goodwill repair” but refused to pay for installation, the rental, or the paint damage. The dealership (Lujack’s in Davenport, IA) picked up the installation and rental car but I am still stuck with a $2500 estimate to repair the paint damage. I contacted Nissan Consumer Affairs to appeal their decision but was very curtly denied again.

I admittedly don’t have a lot a knowledge about cars but I’m reasonably sure that sunroofs should not just explode on their own. It seems to me that there must have been some sort of manufacturing defect in the glass. I am amazed that Nissan is not standing behind their product and repairing the damage caused by their defective sunroof.

Did you talk to your car insurance agent? Maybe this is covered. Probably part of your comprehensive coverage.

Did the dealer give you anything in writing about covering the damage? If not, it’s time to call the insurance company as it should be covered under comprehensive.

Ed B.

You should also ask Nissan to explain why they are denying the warranty claim, and then tell them to prove it.

The representative from Nissan was very abrupt on the phone. She would not give me a reason why, just said that they were denying any warranty coverage and that they were not going to cover anything except the cost of the replacement glass. I’ve contacted my insurance company and should find out in a couple of days if they are going to cover the paint damage.

I’d Have A High Quality, Reputable Body Shop (Or Two) Have Their Best Painter Examine The Paint Damage. These Guys Have Lots Of Tricks (Good Tricks) Up Their Sleeves.

You really don’t want to repaint the “damaged” panels if there’s a work-around. Sometimes superficial damage can be polished out or perhaps lightly sanded and maybe just re-clear-coated at most.

Call and stop by the shops and explain what happened and see if they can save the factory finish for you.


I’m not defending Nissan on this at all but they could be looking at it as if someone had caused this from the inside. Balled up fist in a fit of temper, inadvertent gunshot, etc.
Keep in mind that I’m not saying any of this is true, only that Nissan may be looking at it that way.

A Good Will warranty is a PR move. By doing this they are not admitting to a fault even with the glass itself.

My personal opinion is that if they’re going to Good Will the sunroof they should cover the incidentals too.
I have no idea how to advise you on this matter unless you have some glass experts look it over very closely and see what they come up with. That is tempered glass and it’s extremely difficult to even crack, much less shatter.

Theory here. Maybe this sunroof never fit quite properly and was tight in the track and the glass would have constant pressure applied to it. All cars have body flex in them which means the body twists and moves around as you drive. Maybe it’s possible that a bump in the road, no matter how small, was the tipping point and the glass gave up due to that constantly applied pressure. That’s the only logical thing I can come up with.