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Finding and Fixing a Sunroof Leak

Finding and Fixing a Sunroof Leak

A sunroof is a popular and attractive feature on many vehicles. It's a convenient and generally hassle-free alternative to having a removable top. However, it is possible for sunroofs to start leaking. It might be due to simple wear and tear from consistent use or it might be related to age like worn seals. Let's take a look at how to find and fix a sunroof leak.

Do You Have a Leak?

You might think a leak is easily recognizable, but that's not always the case. Small leaks can be hard to find and pinpoint. They don't always behave as you'd expect either. Leaks can travel to various places inside your car, leaving you to wonder where they came from. In other words, a leaky sunroof may not give you the obvious clue of water dripping on your head as you drive. Look for signs of a leak in the following places:

  • A musty smell in your car
  • Mold or mildew inside your car
  • Excessive condensation on the inside of your windows
  • Damp floor or seats

All of these signs point to water getting inside your car

Inspect Your Windshield

Before you decide that the sunroof is the culprit, take a closer look at your windshield. Does it have any chips or cracks? Is the lining of your windshield missing or torn? Another possibility is the seals on your back window. One way to check is to spray your back and front windows with a hose while avoiding your sunroof.

Is It Really Your Sunroof?

If it doesn't look like the leak is coming from your front or rear windows, then it's time to inspect your sunroof. Look for signs of obvious damage like cracks or tears in the seals. If that checks out, then make sure your sunroof closes properly and tightly. Open and close your sunroof. If the motor seems sluggish or it doesn't open or close all the way, then you might have a problem.

Your sunroof also has drain holes in each of the four frame corners. These holes allow water to divert through tubing that goes down through the door pillars and exits at the bottom of your vehicle. If the system gets clogged, water can pool and end up traveling to places it shouldn't.

Testing and Cleaning the Drain System

Don't try to clean your drain holes with compressed air or anything sharp. This can damage the rubber tubing. Test your drain system first to make sure this is really the issue. Locate your drains and then pour some water into the drains. Check under your car for a puddle. If there's no puddle, then you probably have a clog.

You can either use a shop vac with a narrow attachment to suck out debris or you can use a cotton swab to gently dislodge debris from your drain holes. Most of the debris will be visible at the top of the drains. Once it's cleaned, do the water test again and check for a puddle before assuming the drains are clear.

Inspect and Clean Your Sunroof Track

The track of your sunroof runs around the frame. It can get dirty and clogged as well. Open your sunroof and take a look at the seal. If it's cracked or worn, it might not be watertight anymore. If there are no cracks, take a wet cloth and wipe the track clean of any debris or residue.

Fixing a Cracked Seal

Seals crack over time as they're exposed to hot and cold temperatures. Besides obvious cracking, another sign of seal failure is mold or moss buildup around the seal. You can fix this by applying a layer of liquid electrical tape over any worn or cracked areas. Press it firmly around the seal and then allow it to dry. Test the new barrier by closing your sunroof and pouring water over it. If there are no leaks, then that was likely the culprit.

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