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Electric Vehicle Owners Dismayed By Broken and Cracked Glass Roofs

Many electric vehicles have roofs made entirely or mostly of glass. Now that glass is breaking and owners are in a fix.


Electric vehicles have added many new features to our vehicles. Most notably, the frunk, or “front trunk.” Given the clean sheet of paper automakers are working with, new things should be part of the EV revolution. However, some owners are finding that one trend, glass roofs, may not be suitable for all vehicle types or all owners’ needs.

Related Story: Every New Vehicle Owner Convinced Their Model Has Defective Windshield Glass

ID.4 image courtesy of VWWhat Are "Glass Roofs" On Vehicles?
The glass roofs we are referring to are not moonroofs or sunroofs. Nor are they really panoramic moonroofs or sunroofs either. Rather, we are referring to the all-glass roofs or mostly-glass roofs used on some models. The Tesla Model X was a pioneer of novel use of glass in its roof, and along with its “falcon” doors, came to be associated with the model. The Model X was unusual in that the model does not include a windshield header. The glass expands from the base of the dash up over the occupant compartment. Other vehicles that use glass roofs include the new Volkswagen ID.4, Tesla Model Y, Tesla Model S, Tesla Model 3, Jaguar I-PACE, and Ford Mustang Mach-E.

Miata RF Roof Image Courtesy Of MazdaSometimes Novel Roofs Do Make Sense
In sports cars or even sporty sedans, novel roofs can make sense. Convertibles, retractable tops, targas, T-tops, and many other types of novel roofs all enhance the enjoyment of the vehicle. However, is an all-glass roof appropriate for a sport utility vehicle, or even a crossover utility vehicle?

I-PACE image courtesy of Jaguar

Could such a roof withstand the impact of a kayak being accidentally bumped down on the glass while loading? Perhaps. What about the forks or pedals of a mountain bike? Unlikely. And can such roofs happily coexist with aftermarket cargo bars or cargo bags? Why would anyone assume so?

Update: Chevrolet Follows Glass Roof Craze With Upcoming Silverado Electric Pickup

Do Glass Roofs Break With No Known Cause?
One Ford Mustang Mach-E owner reported in the MachEForum that the glass roof was damaged with no known impact. The owner didn’t hear anything hit the roof. Tesla vehicle owners have also had roofs break without any clear explanation why. A Model 3 owner reported that the glass roof of the sedan was broken, but not from the outside, the inside.

ID.4 image courtesy of VolkswagenWhy Do Glass Roofs Break?
Some of the broken roofs seem to have occurred from undetectable causes. Conversely, reports of glass roofs surviving severe hail storms are common. When the breaks occur, some owners find the part is not available. Such as one EV owner in a popular forum who reported waiting 20 weeks for a glass roof replacement. The owner of the EV who provided us with images of the broken roof shown here was told the replacement would be a one-week wait. That seems more reasonable given that the vehicle is driveable.

Related Story: This Hybrid's Solar Roof Adds 14,000 EV Range Miles

Multiple Broken Glass Roofs On One Car
It would be easy to dismiss glass roof breaks by wishing they were a very rare occurrence, but one EV owner has had two glass roofs break. He has a first and second Youtube video showing the breaks and detailing how it was resolved.

Mustang Mach-E glass roof image courtesy of FordIs A Broken Glass Roof Covered By Warranty?
One clear trend from the owner posts we’ve read is that manufacturers do not consider the glass roof part of their warranty program for repair after the vehicle has been delivered and inspected by the new owner. This was true for one owner who had a glass roof panel actually fly off the vehicle. The manufacturer was forced to recall that model for unsafe glass roof panels. Following this, one would expect that the manufacturer would change its quality control to ensure its roofs were well secured, but an owner of a newer model from that same brand reported that the glass roof flew off on the drive home from the vehicle’s delivery appointment. NHTSA has also recalled that model’s roof due to safety issues.

UPDATE! - Ford Recalls Mustang Mach-E for Glass Roof Defect

Broken sunroof image by John GorehamAre Broken Roofs Just an Electric Vehicle Thing?
Although we have used multiple EV examples in this story, it is not the opinion of the writer that electric vehicles’ roofs are in any way less robust than glass roofs found on other vehicles. Rather, Tesla and Ford are just ahead of the curve. Glass moonroofs and sunroofs have been "exploding" for decades. The image above is a Honda Accord's moonroof. With more new models following Tesla’s lead on glass roofs (and a lot of other things), we suspect more roof-related problems from more brands and models will follow.

ID.4 image courtesy of VolkswagenDo Glass Roofs Ever Make Sense On Utility Vehicles?
To this recovering engineer, it seems illogical to add a roof panel that adds weight to a utility vehicle and which also makes it less resistant to damage. Yes, the style and enjoyment of a vehicle matter. However, the Model Y, Model X, I-PACE, and Mustang Mach-E are considered crossovers by everyone and considered SUVs by many. It is this vehicle tester’s opinion that a delicate all-glass roof has no place on a utility vehicle.

Tell Us About Your Broken Roof
What’s your opinion? Tell us what you think about using large glass panels or all-glass roofs on vehicles in the comments below. If you have had a glass roof problem, please tell us about your experience so that others may benefit from your lessons learned.

Top of page image courtesy of Joan Morgan.

John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. Following his engineering program, John also completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin


Daryl Kuiper (not verified)    September 17, 2021 - 12:05PM

My 2020 Tesla model 3 roof (glass) is cracked. Replacement is approximately $1300.00 The service center said a tiny little chip of glass along the crack was probably caused by a small rock that landed on the top of the car. I have my doubts. The crack is not in the windshield. If this can happen this year what is the likely hood that it will happen again within a year at the tune of another $1300? It seems to me that Tesla should have known better and used a metal roof not susceptible to the cracks. My insurance company indicated that nearly every Tesla they have insured has had a similar problem. I will not expect my insurance company to cover the cost of a issue the Tesla engineers should have been well aware of. I will not replace it until it leaks water and will badmouth Tesla every chance I get; whereas before, I was full of praise.

said iravanipour (not verified)    September 18, 2021 - 10:03AM

In reply to by Daryl Kuiper (not verified)

Hello ,
just to noticed that there is a tiny undetectable crack on my tesla model3
Tesla didn’t fulfill the warranty saying it is caused by impact of an object !!
it is totally obvious an uneven base caused the damage. i will not repair it until it leaks
it is not easy to win against a big company policies
Thank you to letting me to add more proof to these cases an situation .
Saïd Itavanipour

Justin Krauss (not verified)    February 19, 2023 - 5:24PM

There is another cause that is very common. If you are going to tint a sunroof or a full Tesla roof specifically you need to make sure you are using an experienced tint shop. You should use 70% to 80% LVT in an IR or ultimate IR film to avoid the risk of cracking .

Going to dark or using a film that absorbs instead of dissipates heat is a major risk.