Motorist Claire Spencer got the shock of her life when she pulled up in her driveway and the panoramic sunroof of her 19-month-old Kia KX3 Sportage car imploded.
The glass suddenly shattered without warning when she got out to open her garage door, causing more than £1,500 of damage to the vehicle.
Only a matter of minutes before I’d been driving down the motorway and I dread to think of what could have happened if, without warning, I’d unexpectedly been showered in glassClaire Spencer
Kia’s marketing mantra is ‘The Power To Surprise’ and the car certainly lived up to expectations. It will need a replacement sunroof and extensive damage to the paintwork and leather seats will have to be repaired.
She says: ‘When I got over the shock and saw the damage, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I’d just got back from work and got out to open the garage door when I heard a cracking noise and the whole roof fell in.
‘There was glass all over the place. Only a matter of minutes before I’d been driving down the motorway and I dread to think of what could have happened if, without warning, I’d unexpectedly been showered in glass.’
But the shaken 29-year-old court administrator had an even bigger shock when she discovered the shattered roof wasn’t covered under Kia’s seven-year vehicle guarantee.
Claire obtained the sporty £22,000 car on a rental agreement and is tied into the contract for three years.
She says she enjoyed her Sportage motoring experience and was considering buying the car outright when the agreement came to an end.
She rang the AA, who towed the car to a Kia dealer. She was immediately given a courtesy car to drive, but two days later she got a call from the dealership to return it or they’d have to make a charge for daily hire.
Later a surprised Claire received a call from Kia advising the roof was not covered by the guarantee and she was left trying to get it replaced under her glass insurance.
Kia refused to accept the imploding sunroof was a guarantee fault. Although the car was covered by a guarantee for seven years, the exterior glass was excluded and only covered for three months.
Claire was incredulous. ‘Why make a sales point of selling a car with a seven-year warranty but only cover the glass for three months? They cannot be serious.’
The car was regularly garaged overnight and on the day the roof broke it was cloudy and the temperature was around 12C.
She was adamant that, to her knowledge, the roof hadn’t been hit by a stone or sustained any previous damage.
According to most glass replacement firms, the insurance companies have to give approval for the repair as generally only the windscreen and side glass is covered.
‘This just isn’t fair. It’s not right that I’ll lose my no claims bonus and end up paying extra premiums when I’m not at fault,’ Claire says.
When she asked Streetwise for advice, we took the view that the sunroof should have lasted longer than 19 months before disintegrating into a heap inside her car.
It appeared the roof wasn’t sufficiently durable as required by law and the dealer should have replaced it for free.
We suggested Claire put this to Kia, but it refused to budge.
In the meantime, we also researched other similar driver complaints, but in relation to the number of Sportage cars made by Kia, the number of recorded implosions did not amount to a significantly serious issue.
Kia told us its technical teams had investigated small number of cases of sunroof panels shattering unexpectedly, but hadn’t found any evidence to indicate failures were due to a manufacturing defect or faulty installation. The glass roofs were designed to break into tiny fragments if compromised.
A Kia spokesperson explained: ‘It is important to understand that the warranty is a guarantee against faulty manufacture and workmanship – not a guarantee against damage or wear and tear.’
‘The process of crazing and shattering is not always an immediate reaction to damage – it can be dormant for some time before a total failure of the glass panel, just in the same way as small cracks or chips in a car windscreen.
‘It’s often the case that a secondary factor will cause the crazing and shattering – such as ice or cold weather, the ingress of water or even the jolt of a vehicle being driven over a speed hump or pothole.
‘Whilst we can sympathise with the customer, we have no reason to believe that this case is covered by the warranty.’
Claire was not convinced, saying: ‘I’m appalled. I’m not the only one this has happened to. The sunroof seems to fail with this car and I just can’t understand why Kia refused to take responsibility.’
‘I’ve changed my mind about these cars. It’s a good, reliable drive but after this experience I won’t be buying mine when the rental comes to an end.’