A federal class action lawsuit was filed last month against Ford Motor Co., contending the automaker ignored for years that many models’ luxury panoramic sunroofs can explode from compression pressures. Panoramic sunroofs are bigger than normal sunroofs. Their size gives them a larger role to play in the structural integrity of a roof. Ford’s sunroofs are made of tempered glass. It’s alleged in the complaint that they are too thin and prone to suddenly fail. It’s alleged further:
The shattering events are so powerful that startled drivers compare it to the sound of a gunshot, after which glass fragments rain down upon the occupants of the vehicle, sometimes while driving at highway speeds. Flexing and vibration caused by ordinary driving imposes stress on the sunroof. In the Ford models at issue, the compromised tempered glass cannot withstand the pressures and flexing that the sunroof frame and vehicle demand, even when the vehicle is brand new or is parked and sitting still.
The Plaintiffs said that the problem is caused by at least these reasons: Ford uses tempered glass that’s only 4 mm thick, which is allegedly too thin for tempered glass; and the integrity of the glass is compromised further by painting it with ceramic materials that allegedly are known to weaken glass.
The Plaintiffs said that “Ford has known about this problem since at least 2008 as a result of a number of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) complaints.” They cited customer communications with Ford that describe inverted craters left in the centers of sunroofs where pressure emanating from the edges exploded the glass upward, also destroying the four corners of a sunroof pane.
The problem allegedly exists in panoramic sunroofs from the following Ford models: Edge from 2007-present, Flex from 2009-2016, Focus from 2009-2016, Fusion from 2010-present, Explorer from 2011-2016, F-150 from 2011-2016, Mustang from 2009-2014, Escape from 2013-2016, Transit Connect from 2014-2106, and C-Max from 2013-2016.
Cars from Ford’s Mercury and Lincoln brand are also allegedly affected. The cars include Lincoln MKX from 2007-2016, Lincoln MKS from 2009-2015, Lincoln MKZ from 2013-2016, Lincoln MKT from 2010-2016, Mercury Milan from 2010-2011, and Mercury Montego from 2010-2011.
For those who are not familiar with the term, tempering is a process in which annealed glass is cut to size, heated, and then rapidly cooled, which leaves the core of the glass still trying to expand and so creates additional tensile strength because of that pressure. But if the outer layer is “compromised” in any way, the complaint says, the violent failure of the entire pane immediately follows.
The Plaintiffs are represented by Crystal Foley, Paul Hanly, and Mitchell Breit of Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC and Gregory Coleman, Mark Silvey, Adam Edwards, and Lisa White of Greg Coleman Law PC. The case is Krebsbach et al. v. Ford Motor Co. in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.
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