Welcome to Bimmerfest -- The #1 Online Community for BMW related information! Please enjoy the discussion forums below and share your experiences with the 200,000 current, new and past BMW owners. The forums are broken out by car model and into other special interest sections such as BMW European Delivery and a special forum to voice your questions to the many BMW dealers on the site to assist our members!

Please follow the links below to help get you started!

Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 5 Series > E39 (1997 - 2003)

E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 08-05-2006, 08:31 AM
Annie Alberti Annie Alberti is offline
Location: Fresno, CA
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1
Mein Auto: Nissan Altima
Shattered sunroof

Just last night, I discovered my sunroof glass, shattered. (crackled) Last week, temperatures in our area reached 114° outside. Every summer that I've had this car, I would here a sharp crack or popping sound, sometimes sounding like a rock hitting the car. Now I'm thinking there was something originally wrong with this sunroof. Some kind of expansion problem. I don't think I'll hear that popping anymore. DARN!! Has anyone else experienced this?
Reply With Quote
Old 08-07-2006, 08:04 AM
mkosma mkosma is offline
Registered User
Location: Virginia
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 18
Mein Auto: not sure yet...
Sounds like what must have happened to mine. Time to call your insurance, this is not something inexpensive like window glass. State Farm ended up paying something around $2000 for my repair.
Reply With Quote
Old 08-08-2006, 12:18 AM
1Red540 1Red540 is offline
1 Red 540
Location: Chatsworth California
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 359
Send a message via AIM to 1Red540
Mein Auto: 1998 540i Sport
I dont know if anybody had mentioned but imagine if that was the front window... Thats scary Sh!t I have all the windows in my car tinted but man still crazy scary.

Reply With Quote
Old 08-08-2006, 04:49 PM
tempestv8 tempestv8 is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 241
Mein Auto: '03 530i Touring & '03 X3
I've been told never to apply tinting to the sunroof because it will result in a glass explosion.

Can you tell us if your sunroof has been tinted?
Reply With Quote
Old 08-09-2006, 03:56 AM
nightkrawler nightkrawler is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: pa
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 637
Mein Auto: M5
a good friend of mine own the most prominent window tinting shop in the area and has been in business for 20yrs. i've gotten a lot of good info about tint from him. a lighter shade of tint will actually keep the interior cooler than a darker shade, especially 5%(limo). though all tint has the same amout of uv blocking, a car that is tinted with limo will actually be hotter because its almost like painting your windows black, the tint will actually absorb and hold the heat because it is so dark. and yes, never tint a sunroof!! i have 35% on mine all the way around and it works great, my friend has the same car with 5% and his is much hotter inside when the doors are opened after sitting in the sun all day.
Reply With Quote
Old 08-24-2006, 06:51 AM
coolloon coolloon is offline
Registered User
Location: Canada
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 2
Mein Auto: BMW 535i, VW Passat
sunroof explosion

I would like to report a dangerous event that occured while travelling at highway speed, approximately 70 mph, in our 2000 Volkswagen Passat. Our car originally imported to the USA and we purchased it in Statesville North Carolina.

My family and I were on a road trip recently on a sunny afternoon when we heard an extremely loud BANG near the front of the car's roof! We were puzzled by this because we had not seen anything approaching the car (such as a rock) prior to the noise, but had been about sixty to eighty feet from a semi-trailer truck when it occurred.

Approximately 20 or 30 seconds later we were again shocked to experience a second loud explosion as the sunroof was sucked upwards (as evidenced by the angle of the glass that remained in the frame after the event) and then finally several large pieces of glass and many small fragments fell down into the car. The entire glass sunroof was shattered and crazed as is typical with tempered glass when it breaks.

My wife suffered a deep gash in her upper arm which sliced through the skin into the muscle tissue. The cut opened wide to expose the muscle tissue bulging out.

We now believe that there was in fact no rock or other object that hit the sunroof glass. The sunroof just shattered and then, due to the difference in pressure inside and outside the car, the glass was sucked upward until it exploded into tiny pieces and larger pieces composed of the tiny fragments still interlocked. The sunroof was closed at the time, but the sliding cover below was open. The day was very warm, approximately 80 to 85 degrees, and the airconditioning was set to 68 degrees.

Is this a common occurance with VW sunroofs? Is this a fault in the manufacture of the tempered glass?

Of course we have been quoted approximately CAN$1,000.00 for the replacement part, glass only, by VW. THIS IS A RIPOFF!!
Reply With Quote
Old 08-24-2006, 07:43 AM
Ågent99's Avatar
Ågent99 Ågent99 is offline
Moderator, 5-Series
Location: Bay Area, CA
Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 5,937
Mein Auto: ...a lot of people crazy.
Sounds like grounds to involve a lawyer...unfortunately. I hope your wife is okay and healing up fine...didn't lose any work time, etc.

If you read this whole thread, I think you'll have your answer to your questions in general about sunroofs.
2001 530i/5 (E39), Topaz Blue/Stone Green/Black (sold) *very rare interior/exterior color combo*
2005 545i/SMG (E60), ED Order, Titanium Grey/Grey (lease over)
2014 335i/Auto (F30), Mineral Grey/Black (lease over)
2017 340i/Auto (F30), ED Order, Estoril Blue/Black
Reply With Quote
Old 08-24-2006, 10:42 AM
528ITNut 528ITNut is offline
Registered User
Location: Tacoma, Wa
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 53
Mein Auto: 528iT Sport
You guys dont have to worry about your windsheild exploding... Windsheilds are made of laminated glass. Two peaces of glass with plastic film in the center to hold the glass together it you hit it or something. Plus Winsheilds are way stronger than Tempered glass.
If this sunroof thing happens to me.. Im not payin a thing! These are Bmw's we drive,
Not Toyotas or Hondas! We pay for Quality not Economy!
Reply With Quote
Old 08-24-2006, 05:42 PM
Premier Premier is offline
Past Sponsor
Location: Fremont
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 40
Mein Auto: M5
Glass breakage during the toughening process (tempured glass) will at times have enough nickel inclusions. These inclusions, if higher levels not detected during the process, could result in glass failure through extensive heat exposure. Although tempured glass is 4 times stronger than standard annealed glass, it can still break, but will shatter into thousands of pieces. Having your windows filmed can help minimize injury if the film is installed properly.

Here is a customer of ours who had our ceramic line installed w/ the door's glass broken by having a projectile hit the glass - http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showt...highlight=tint
Reply With Quote
Old 08-30-2006, 10:13 PM
coolloon coolloon is offline
Registered User
Location: Canada
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 2
Mein Auto: BMW 535i, VW Passat
Volkswagen Canada Responds!!

I am the original author of this ripoff report. Subsequent to filing this report I contacted Volkswagen Canada and in a very short period of time a Volkswagen customer agent called to enquire about my complaint. Within 2 business days a more senior Volkswagen agent called and offered to repair the sunroof at no cost to me. Thank you Volkswagen Canada!!

However, my original concern regarding the safety of the sunroof glass remains. I believe that Volkwagen (and other car manufacturers as well) should review the sunroof glass design. Should this glass be factory laminated to prevent shattered glass from spilling down on the vehicle occupants?
Reply With Quote
Old 09-01-2006, 07:17 AM
Premier Premier is offline
Past Sponsor
Location: Fremont
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 40
Mein Auto: M5
If concerned, you could locate a good window tinter to apply a clear safety film on the glass. We perform this type of installation for high-profile clients and it works great from a safety standpoint. please feel free to visit our site - www.premiermobilegroup.com
Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2006, 11:33 AM
icyzz icyzz is offline
Registered User
Location: california
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 1
Mein Auto: 325i
2006 325i sunroof explode

I just have similar experience. I was driving down the freeway going about 65mph with a couple cars around me. Then all of a sudden, I heard a loud bang and hisses around the sunroof area. The sunroof exploded and half of them are gone. I did not see anything coming at me. However, it was early and it was still dark outside. When I did stop and look, not only half of the sunroof is gone, paint on my roof and truck is scratched up by the broken glasses. I never know if something did hit me or not.

The car is only 4 months old. I called my insurance and the comprehensive coverage will fix it. However, going thru this thread, sounds like there might be some structural problem with the sunroof design. Is this a well document problem? Does BMW on hook in fixing this or shall I work it out with my insurance?

All help is appreciated.
Reply With Quote
Old 09-05-2006, 06:15 PM
blue_uhuru blue_uhuru is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: Louisville, KY
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 226
Mein Auto: 2005 Highland Green 3.0i
Some days, very rarely I might add, I'm glad I don't have a sunroof.
Reply With Quote
Old 09-13-2006, 09:36 PM
stephanieislost stephanieislost is offline
Registered User
Location: houston
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 1
Mein Auto: 325i
Angry sunroof explodes

My husband was driving home tonight and the sunroof did exactly what you described. His shade was back and it exploded outward, mushroomed as you described.
Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2006, 05:49 AM
darkstar darkstar is offline
Registered User
Location: maryland
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 43
Mein Auto: 03 540i M-Sport
Originally Posted by c1540 View Post
here is something from the trial about escorts having exploding glass to shed some light on this phenomenon:

"When tempered safety glass fractures it disintegrates into hundreds of small
granular fragments which have rounded or blunt edges. Such small bluntly-edged pieces
generally cause less injury than regular glass fragments. The tempering process creates
a tough "skin" on the surface of the glass which is referred to as the "compressive
surface." If the compressive surface of the glass is penetrated for any reason the window
will spontaneously fracture and disintegrate into hundreds of small pieces. All failures of tempered safety glass originate from penetration of one of the compressive surfaces on the glass.
Ford has received reports of spontaneous breakage of side windows of
vehicles parked in driveways, vehicles traveling on the road, vehicles passing each other,vehicles hitting potholes, vehicle doors slamming, vehicle windows breaking in car
washes, and other situations.
Ford's expert testified that the typical scenario for such spontaneous glass
breakages is that a small scratch or chip is inflicted on one of the window surfaces from
rock chips on the road, grit or sand lodged between the window and window seal, or
sharp objects coming in contact with the glass surface. Typically such scratches or chips
are not visible to the naked eye and, over time, the scratch or chip enlarges to the point
that it penetrates the compressive surface, although it is still too small to be noticeable.

Spontaneous glass breakage of tempered glass occurs on all models of vehicles regardless of manufacture and vehicle line. Ford's expert testified that even today there is no technology available to avoid occasional breakages of this type.
Both Ford's expert and Wise's expert testified that Ford experienced higher than
expected breakages of side windows on Ford Escorts produced between 1981 and 1987.
In mid-1985, Ford engineers investigated the problem and concluded that on some Ford
Escorts, the glass surface of the window could come into contact with the edge of a metal
bracket in the door frame when the window was rolled up tightly (highly torqued)
creating a scratch on the compressive surface of the window."
This is really funny (well not funny). My wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, had a 1985 Ford Escort and the exact thing happened to us. We were in her car driving to a friends house and all of a sudden the front passenger window shattered. Scarred the crap out of both of us.

Reply With Quote
Old 12-21-2006, 06:49 PM
ttgxc's Avatar
ttgxc ttgxc is offline
Long Distance Runner
Location: Hudson Valley - NY
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 826
Mein Auto: 1999 540i Sport
About 10 years ago, my family and I were on vacation down in Florida in our 1986 Mercedes 300SDL. We were driving across Tampa Bay Bridge with all the windows and steel sunroof closed. Then all of a sudden the sunroof started making a lot of noise and the liner underneath started moving. Then a loud noise and whoosing. The liner was still there, so we didn't know what happened. We got off the bridge and the sunroof is gone! It ripped right off the metal tracks, pulling screws with it. A cop went back on the bridge and actually saw next to the wall. It only had a small dent in the corner. Surprised it did not go over the bridge and luckily did not hit another car following us, that would have been really bad. Anyway we took the car to the local Mercedes dealer and they and the insurance adjuster never saw anything like it. They even considered putting in the old sunroof back in, fixing the corner of it, but did not want to risk it leaking. Pretty crazy and random.
Reply With Quote
Old 12-28-2006, 07:56 AM
mbiela mbiela is offline
Registered User
Location: MA
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 3
Mein Auto: 2006 530xiT, 2006 325xi
I just had a simular experience with my 2006 530xiT.
While driving on the highway (in CA) about 75mph my sunroof "exploded".
At least that's what if felt like.
I had a large roof box covering almost entire sunroof, so there was no way that anything hit the glass.
Anyway, the large piece (it is the panoramic roof) broke into many pieces and it looked like it mashroomed. Looked like it was pushed from inside the car.
I brought the car back to the BMW Dealer and they will replace the sunroof and any other part that got demaged under warranty.
I did not have to have any argument if this should be a warranty, they just took care of this.
The experience of this sunroof braking was terreble, but the experience at the BMW dealer was excellent.
Thank you BMW.
Reply With Quote
Old 12-28-2006, 01:11 PM
chiefwej's Avatar
chiefwej chiefwej is offline
Freude am Fahren
Location: Tucson, AZ
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 2,388
Mein Auto: 2003 540i/6 //m-tech
Originally Posted by darkstar View Post
This is really funny (well not funny). My wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, had a 1985 Ford Escort and the exact thing happened to us. We were in her car driving to a friends house and all of a sudden the front passenger window shattered. Scarred the crap out of both of us.

I certainly hope that you meant to say, that it scared you not: "Scarred the crap out of both of us."

If not, how severe were your injuries?
Reply With Quote
Old 12-28-2006, 02:32 PM
AusBmw's Avatar
AusBmw AusBmw is offline
E Nomine.....Das Omen!
Location: Sydney Australia,mate!
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 1,118
Mein Auto: Oxford Green BMW E39 523i
WOW,here is was saying I wish I had a glass one,makes me glad i don't ,the only thing I've got to put up with is high speed vibration over rough road with my metal sun roof.
Reply With Quote
Old 01-15-2007, 05:16 PM
cujodad cujodad is offline
Registered User
Location: Texas
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1
Mein Auto: 2006 BMW M5
Red face Exploding Window - 2006 M5

Yesterday, driving 70 MPH down 1-45 in my 2006 BMW M5 (with 8000 miles), my rear, driver side window EXPLODED outward while my son slept with his head 6 inches from the window. Amazingly, even though he was left sitting in a pile of tiny shards, he was uninjured.

The majority of the glass was sucked out and "sprayed" all over the side and the back of the car. When I took it to the BMW dealer to have the glass repaired, I saw that there were over 100 paint chips all over the roof, back door, rear 1/4P, trunk, spoiler, etc. My car is now in the body shop getting about a 50% body repainting. Incredible! State Farm is handling it as a comprehensive claim. I might go back and bitch to BMW about the $250 deductible. Not sure.

While I was driving, I had a truck to my left, but know of no reason that it would blow. I heard lots of "ideas," but the one that keeps coming back is that the window regulator was set too high, it was forcing the glass to bulge slightly and one little imperfection or chip and - BAM - out she comes.

Very, very scary. Can't complain because my son is 100% healthy
Reply With Quote
Old 04-20-2007, 10:45 PM
alma alma is offline
Registered User
Location: Seattle
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 2
Mein Auto: X3
Originally Posted by surs73 View Post
I wanted to share with everyone the experience I had over the weekend and also to find out if it's happened to anyone else.

I was driving my 528i on vacation over the weekend when the sunroof, for lack of a better term, exploded and shot glass everywhere. I was going about 75mph, all the windows were up, the sunshade was pushed back to let light into the car when the sunroof glass just gave way. It sounded like a bomb went off inside the car. The hole was the size of a large dinner plate and the glass was mushroomed outward as if someone had kicked the glass out from the inside. No cars were around me and I can assure you no object struck the car. I pulled over and called roadside assistance who directed me to the nearest BMW dealer about 45 minutes away. I have spoken with both the dealer I bought the car from as well as the BMW center that repaired the car and they both said they've seen this happen a handfull of times over the past 5 or 6 years but only in 3 series cars. They said this was the first 5 series they have every seen this happen to. The car only has 17,000 miles on it and they are replacing the sunroof under warranty.

Has anyone heard of a similar incident happening to them?
That's exactly what happened to me with my X3. No cars around on the freeway, no overpass, and it just exploded, my nor my passenger heard anything hit the car. The guy behind me said he just saw the glass come out of my car. He didn't see anything hit it. My car has only 8k miles on it and is still new. The dealership does not want to fix it under warranty. They said something must have hit it since they have never seen this happen before. I don't really know what to do now since I feel like I should NOT be paying my deductible to fix their manufacturing problem. Any ideas?
Reply With Quote
Old 08-14-2007, 09:21 AM
oxaros oxaros is offline
Registered User
Location: houston, texas
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 5
Mein Auto: 97 528i
I have a 97 528i and it just happened to me 2 nights ago! I was driving on highway and there was nothing all of a sudden small explosion (at least it was sounded like it) and i knew my sunroof was broken. Thank god i had my sunroof shield on so i didn't get injured. My car is not under waranty and i am looking for cheap fix other than dealer. Any advices will be appreciated! I have no clue wat is caused it but it was humid and hot evening. So maybe hot air caused it.
Reply With Quote
Old 08-14-2007, 09:38 AM
1Dreamer's Avatar
1Dreamer 1Dreamer is offline
Super Moderator
Location: A block off Sunset Blvd.
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 7,779
Mein Auto: Fiver
Originally Posted by oxaros View Post
I have a 97 528i and it just happened to me 2 nights ago! I was driving on highway and there was nothing all of a sudden small explosion (at least it was sounded like it) and i knew my sunroof was broken. Thank god i had my sunroof shield on so i didn't get injured. My car is not under waranty and i am looking for cheap fix other than dealer. Any advices will be appreciated! I have no clue wat is caused it but it was humid and hot evening. So maybe hot air caused it.
Same thing happened 2 months ago to a friend of mine with a brand new e92 328i coupe. He wasn't even on the road. He was driving about 5 mph in a parking structure when it exploded. Glass everywhere. He took it into Beverly Hills BMW to have the sunroof replaced and they didn't want to cover it under warranty at first, but I remembered reading this thread, dug it up for him, sent him the link and armed with this info, they covered it.
Reply With Quote
Old 02-04-2008, 12:47 AM
sfmcoupe sfmcoupe is offline
Registered User
Location: San Francisco, CA
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 1
Mein Auto: 200 M Coupe
Broken M Coupe Sunroof

Huh, this is the closest I've found to my current situation. Earlier this evening I walked out to my 2000 M Coupe which is in a car port half exposed (sun roof is exposed) in San Francisco and the sunroof had shattered. It has that tempered glass that sticks together but fragments into hundreds of pieces. I have no idea what happened. Clearly nothing fell on it and I can pretty safely rule out foul play as only i am two other neighbors can make it into this locked area.

So, I can only assume it spontaneously combusted.

It was bulging in the middle with what I believe was the primary crack occurring in the center along the width of the sunroof.

From what I can tell this story differs from the others in that my car was parked and not on.
Reply With Quote
Old 02-05-2008, 10:41 PM
porksoda porksoda is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: Canada
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 447
Mein Auto: 530i
I think it probably has to do with the difference in temperature in cabin and outside.

I have seen this happen on 3 series a lot and its ALWAYS happened when the window was open.

i think you dont want to tint the window mainly possibly because the heat will get absorved and it will get extra hot...

I would be interested in if anyone's window exploded while it was closed.
Reply With Quote

See More Related BMW Stories

Forum Navigation
Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 5 Series > E39 (1997 - 2003)
Today's Posts Search
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 05:20 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
© 2001-2015 performanceIX, Inc. All Rights Reserved .: guidelines .:. privacy .:. terms