2011 Kia Sorento

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration isn't ready to give up its investigation into spontaneously shattering sunroofs in the 2011-2013 Kia Sorento yet. In fact, it has actually broadened it into a full engineering analysis affecting as many as 65,347 vehicles.

The investigation started in 2013 when NHTSA received 15 complaints about breaking sunroofs in the crossover. Since then, the regulator requested data from Kia and found that there have been 95 complaints of the roof abruptly braking. In many of those cases, the vehicle was moving at the time. People have been injured when this happens; NHTSA found 14 incidents where at least one person in the vehicle suffered from cuts or scrapes.

According to the investigation document, Kia also conducted its own internal review but couldn't find any defects. The company claims that the only way for the roof to break is for an object to strike it. Although, it does admit that the large surface of the sunroof on the Sorento could be the cause of the high frequency of damage. NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation isn't convinced and calls it "concerning." It's pressing forward to find more details in the engineering analysis.

The situation is somewhat similar to a problem with the Hyundai Veloster. NHTSA received complaints about its sunroof shattering and investigated, and it eventually led to a recall by Hyundai.

Kia has responded to our request for comment in the form of an emailed statement. The company says, in part, "To date, only debris and hail have been identified as the cause of sunroof breakage in product investigations, supporting the conclusion that the sunroof is appropriately designed and suffers from no defect trend." Company PR reps were unwilling to speculate about a link to the sunroof issues with the Veloster. Scroll down to view the full statement from Kia, as well as the NHTSA investigation report.
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ODI RESUME

Investigation: EA 14-002
Prompted by: PE13-035, Consumer Complaints
Date Opened: 05/12/2014
Investigator: Emily Reichard
Reviewer: Scott Yon
Approver: Frank Borris
Subject: Spontaneous Sunroof Breakage

MANUFACTURER & PRODUCT INFORMATION
Manufacturer: Kia Motors Corporation
Products: 2011-2013 Kia Sorento
Population: 65,347
Problem Description: The sunroof may spontaneously shatter while the vehicle is in motion or stationary.

FAILURE REPORT SUMMARY

ODI

Manufacturer

Total

Complaints:

26

123

95**

Crashes/Fires:

0

0

0

Injury Incidents:

4

14

14**

Number of Injuries:

6

16

18**

Fatality Incidents:

0

0

0

Other*:

0

101

86


*Description of Other: Warranty and goodwill claims for sunroof replacement, total indicates unique vehicles involved.
** Total eliminates duplicates received by ODI and manufacturer.

ACTION / SUMMARY INFORMATION

Action: An Engineering Analysis has been opened.

Summary:
On October 21, 2013 the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) opened PE13-035 in order to further examine claims that the sunroof would spontaneously break on 2011-2013 Kia Sorento vehicles. The majority of these claims occurred while the vehicle was in motion. Glass shattering while driving may distract the driver, and the resulting glass particles which enter the passenger compartment may injure occupants.

To date, ODI has received a total of 26 reports of sunroof breakage on the subject vehicles. Of those, 24 occurred while the vehicle was in motion. There were also four (4) injury incident reports for minor cuts/scratches.

Kia submitted a total of 123 field incidents related to sunroof breakage in response to ODI's information request. Of this number, ODI identified 78 unique vehicle identification numbers (VINs), with 9 matching ODI complaint vehicles. Sixty of the submitted reports occurred while the vehicle was in motion. Fourteen (14) of the submitted reports alleged minor cuts/scratches from falling glass. Kia also submitted a total of 101 warranty and goodwill claims for sunroof replacement, of which 86 unique VINs were identified.

Kia stated in its response that their field inspections identified only one potential cause for the sunroof breakage - external impacts from rocks or other foreign objects encountered while the vehicle was in motion. In the other instances, no evidence of a defect was found, however, Kia's inspection results were inconclusive as to a cause for the breakage. Kia advises that the Sorento sunroofs also have a greater surface area than many other vehicles, potentially making them more susceptible to road debris strikes. While ODI recognizes that the Sorento may be more at risk due to its larger impact area, the rate of ODI reported incidents is concerning. Thus, the investigation has been upgraded to further analyze the scope, frequency, and consequence of these failures.

The ODI reports cited above can be reviewed online at www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/owners/SearchNHTSAID under the following identification (ODI) numbers: 10345933, 10410440, 10432904, 10453957, 10466987, 10478778, 10492886, 10502219, 10508983, 10514388, 10531972, 10534883, 10553341, 10555931, 10556212, 10562460, 10562516, 10563779, 10564555, 10567351, 10568629, 10572959, 10575487, 10583122, 10583626, 10584650

Kia Statement:

Model(s): 2011-2013 Sorento Vehicle Population: 65,347 Component: Panoramic sunroof

Kia Motors America (KMA) is aware that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has upgraded its evaluation of the 2011-2013 Kia Sorento panoramic sunroof from a Preliminary Evaluation (PE) to an Engineering Analysis (EA). KMA places a priority on vehicle safety and has been evaluating the performance of the sunroof as part of ongoing vehicle monitoring activities conducted as a standard practice on all Kia models. KMA initiated discussions with NHTSA on this issue before the PE was opened and is continuing to cooperate with NHTSA in its investigation. To date, only debris and hail have been identified as the cause of sunroof breakage in product investigations, supporting the conclusion that the sunroof is appropriately designed and suffers from no defect trend. KMA will continue to thoroughly investigate and research this issue and will continue to share its findings with NHTSA.

Sorento owners are encouraged to contact Kia Consumer Affairs at 800-333-4542 with any questions or concerns related to this matter.