The Roof Detatches from the XLR and the Government Doesn't Care

The XLR roadster comes with a retractable roof system that is supposed to give owners the option of riding around with the top down. Unfortunately, a problem with the adhension of the roof means owners may suddenly find themselves riding around with the roof off.

A picture of an inner XLR roof frame which is now missing a roof

Every XLR roof has an outer skin made of a sheet-molded composite. The skin is held onto an inner magnesium alloy frame using an adhesive that appears to degrade over time, loosening that bond and allowing the skin to pull away from the frame. The majority of complaints come from 2004 and 2005 owners which suggests the degredation may not happen quickly, but it's only a matter of time befoe newer model years have the same issue.

Owners who have experienced this problem say they heard an louder-than-noraml amount of wind noise while driving, shortly before their roofs flew off into traffic.

A Roof Seperation Investigation

During a federal investigation, General Motors told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that they believe an oxide layer on the magnesium frame reduces the effectiveness of the adhesion, but the problem takes a long time to develop.

Why NHTSA thinks the problem doesn't warrant a recall

The investigation found that most issues happened more than 10 years after the cars were manufacturered and that, along with a relatively low incident report rate, didn't warrant a recall.

Try telling that to owners.

"...while traveling at approximately 72 mph down the interstate, with the convertible top close, the top fiberglass panel of the convertible roof separated entirely and cleanly from the frame of the vehicle."

Maybe it's just me, but I find it odd that an agency tasked with the safety of our national highways doesn't think a roof suddenly detatching at 65mph is a safety concern.

So, Now What?

So an XLR's roof is likely to come off after a decade. GM admits it, NHTSA knows it, and owners are ... well, left with few options. They could have the roof reattached, but the car is out-of-warranty and the repair is expensive. Which is why some owners are just garaging their cars.

"I love the car but it has been in my garage for a year. Not sure what to do about the roof. Plan to address it this summer with a body shop. The dealer is so expensive with any kind of work they do and it's no longer under warranty."

It's possible the investigation will resurface if (when?) owners of the 2006 through 2009 model years share their own roof-flying stories.

Models Mentioned

These models have been linked to this problem.

In The News

This problem has been mentioned in the following news stories.

2020

  • NHTSA Says No Recall Neccessary for Flying XLR Roof Panels

    carcomplaints.com

    The agency tasked with keeping our national highways safe has decided that roofs flying off cars at 65mph doesn't warrant a recall. During their investigation into why XLR roofs are detaching, NHTSA found that the adhesion holding the car's roof panels in place will weaken over a decade or so due to an "unintentional oxide layer" on the magnesium roof frame.

    So they know the problem will eventually occur, but it just takes too long to justify fixing it?

    Published in #investigation on

2019

  • Investigation Looks Into Reports Roofs Flying Off the XLR

    carcomplaints.com

    Multiple complaints about the roof flying off of the 2004-2005 XLR are under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). There’s concern that the adhesive used to secure the roof panels to the frame is degrading over time. Obviously, folks who bought an XLR enjoy driving with the roof down, but the roof off? That’s a different story.

    Published in #investigation on

Related Complaints

Owners have been talking about this issue over at CarComplaints.com.

Click on one of the links to read their complaints and compare them to your experience.

Model Year Problem Count
XLR 2004 roof separating from frame 3
This data was last updated on .

What to Do Next

Maybe you've experienced this problem. Maybe you're concerned it'll happen soon.

Whatever the reason, you can help make sure it gets the attention it deserves by following these steps.

  1. File Your Complaint

    CarComplaints.com is a free site dedicated to uncovering problem trends and informing owners about potential issues with their cars. Major class action law firms use this data when researching cases.

    Add a Complaint

  2. Notify CAS

    The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) is a pro-consumer organization that researches auto safety issues & often compels the US government to do the right thing through lobbying & lawsuits.

    Notify the CAS

  3. Report a Safety Concern

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the US agency with the authority to conduct vehicle defect investigations & force recalls. Their focus is on safety-related issues.

    Report to NHTSA