Can You Get a Sunburn From Your Sunroof?

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The Ford Vista Roof has an SPF equivalent of 50 (Photo: Ford)

As the engineering gets more and more advanced, cars are using more and more glass. Especially in the roof, where panoramic/vista/front-to-back all-glass sunroofs are becoming an increasingly popular option.

But when riding with a buddy recently in a Ford Escape tester car outfitted with their oversized Vista Roof, he asked me to keep the Vista’s shade closed so he wouldn’t get a sunburn on his shaved head. I wanted the open air feeling, but didn’t want to hear him complain about a peeling scalp for the next four days, so I closed it.

And that got me thinking: If we’re spending a lot of time in a glass-sided box on wheels—that now has a glass roof—are we opening ourselves up to the risk of sun damage or skin cancer?

So I asked the guys at Ford for some info and here’s something you probably didn’t know: The glass in their vehicles is designed to block UV rays, and actually has an SPF rating. Here are the facts they gave me:

  • Ford’s panoramic Vista Roof has the equivalent of a 50 SPF
  • The roof glass filters the sun’s heat-generating infrared (IR) rays
  • The privacy glass on the side windows blocks more than 93 percent of harmful rays
  • The front windshield offers 99 percent UV protection

That’s good news for the more than 40 percent of Ford SUV and crossover buyers who opt for the panoramic Vista Roof. Medical studies show increased exposure to sunshine is therapeutic because it moderates the body’s mood-regulating hormone and triggers vitamin D. But burning? That’s not so therapeutic. Which is why automakers have spent so much time making the glass “sun safe.”

So go ahead, open that sunroof and let the sun shine in.

For more, follow me @ericrogell.

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