HOUSTON, TEXAS -- It seems so eerily similar the details of exploding sunroofs with Honda vehicles. My unfortunate ordeal began 5 days ago when my wife calls me at 7am on a Monday morning to tell me that the sunroof on our 2010 Honda Crosstour has just exploded. My reaction? Did I just hear you correctly? The sunroof exploded? She described it as two *creaks* like stepping on thin ice and then *BOOM*, the sunroof explodes.
So I go to swap cars with her and take a B-Line to Goodson Honda. I called Goodson on my way to tell them I was coming and the reaction in the voice of the representative had as much dismay as I had. Once I get to Goodson, the service manager takes a 10 second look and tell me that it was due to impact and proceeds to instruct the representative to quote the repair to me and he disappears.
At that point, I was plenty ticked, late for work and since Goodson is such a small, pathetic dealership, I thought I'd take my battle to a larger Honda dealership with more resources and history, Gillman Honda.
I take my care there the next morning and the service manager there inspects the car, agrees with me that the sunroof has exploded outwards and now has a very unnatural concave flex in the glass. He explains to me that they will contact Honda's district representative and reply to me shortly.
Later that day, I receive a phone call and an email from the service director of Gillman telling me that the my request for warranty repair has been denied due to her assessment that in her experience, any type of shattering glass is caused by "impact of some sort". I proceed to ask her for any observations that lead to this assessment and none can be given, only referring back to her experience. She added that the decision really is in Honda's hands and that I should call the warranty hotline, and so I do. The response by the hotline was initially positive. They gave me a case number and told me that they will contact Gillman and the district manager to schedule a follow-up inspection and get back with me to let me know when that would happen.
A couple days later, I offered the service director some research which I had come up with which counters her and Honda's argument that shattered glass MUST be the result of impact.
1. There is a current recall from Webasto, a manufacturer of sunroofs which states that a defect may cause a seal failure in the sunroof causing the glass to separate from the sunroof and cause "damage to trailing vehicles". This recall in fact involves other year and models of Honda vehicles. Although this does not directly relate to the Crosstour, it's evidence that there are other possibilities than impact that can case a sunroof to break or shatter.
2. Honda's warranty itself states that broken, chipped or scratched glass is not covered under the warranty UNLESS it results from workmanship or material defect. That means Honda itself acknowledges that it is at least plausible to have means other than impact for shattered glass.
3. Lastly, I've emailed her posts by other unfortunate drivers of Honda's or Crosstours who have had exploded sunroofs and had the dealership made the warranty repair in certain circumstances. I also offered her the name of the service director at the dealership which I had knowledge of making the warranty repair. The director distinctly recalls the situation and I hoped that Gillman's service director could draw upon the experience from another case. That also sets precedence for Honda of at least acknowledging the possibility of defect in its sunroof. Put it more directly, those repairs were made with the assessment that the exploded sunroofs were due to manufacturer's defect, otherwise it would not have been covered
To my surprise, the immediate reply that I received was an email from the service director explaining that the district manager has visited the dealership and supposedly inspected my car. His assessment? "He has concluded that this is not a factory defect, but some type of impact damage". I reply requesting an explanation for what he found, what observations were made, that led to this assessment, because I know there is none. This is when the correspondence becomes testy and I am simply asked to pick up my car.
Finally, I make several attempts to call the case manager at Honda to find out why she didn't notify me of the District Rep's visit as originally planned. I also make a plea for some sort of written documentation explaining what observations were found that led to the assessment, nothing. My case manager said that the only assessment will come from the dealer and my case is CLOSED, no if's or but's.
So for a week, I was Ping Pong'ed between the dealer and Honda America while both deferred to each other. What good is an written assessment from the dealer if they aren't the decision making authority? I also made repeated pleas to be given the opportunity to contact or be contacted by the district representative but was denied.
It's a shame that in the wake of the Toyota recalls that a car manufacturer would take such safety claims with such disregard and carelessness. I guess nobody bats an eye until someone gets hurt. Is that the way it should be, Honda? Should the consumer be always given the runaround to call the dealer and call the hotline and then call the dealer and then call the hotline? Is that in the company manual to defer responsibility so that the consumer becomes too confused at who is the authority and finally throw their hands in the air in defeat?
One last bit of background. I'm one of the original Crosstour owners, purchasing the car in Dec. of '09. I've followed the car's release ever since it's days of a possible diesel engine and I made my release within weeks of its initial release. My other car is an Acura MDX, manufactured by Honda. I consider myself a loyal Honda owner...that is no longer the case.