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Leaking sunroof? You’re not alone. Sunroof problems can pose a problem for those who have sunroofs installed in their vehicles. Sunroofs can be a wonderful feature for your car but they require additional maintenance. All types of sunroofs are susceptible to leaks: pop-up, folding, panoramic, and Targa-top sunroofs.

Family looking through a sunroof

How to Tell if Your Sunroof is Leaking

There are common telltale signs that your sunroof is leaking. If the interior of your car smells musty or you’ve actually seen mold spores, this is a dead giveaway that there is too much moisture entering the vehicle’s cabin. Sometimes it is difficult to pinpoint where the moisture is coming from though and the sunroof isn’t always the   glass culprit. Water flows downhill, so it typically follows channels and ends up in a car’s floorboards, making it hard to tell where it originally started. Sometimes, it is obvious through staining or wet spots.

Moisture can wreak havoc on your car’s interior. Mold issues can not only cause discomfort, but they can also lead to health problems. On top of that, moisture can fry your car’s electronics and even cause rust issues if left untreated. Any water leak should be treated immediately and taken seriously.

Molded and Rusted Car Interior

A sunroof on your car could indicate a water leak. Water may be seen leaking from the sunroof or staining the headliner.

Other less common leaks can be caused by your vehicle’s:

Windshield

Possible symptoms: Windshield easily fogs Whistling noise from the windshield when driving Moisture on, behind, or underneath the dashboard

Parts that might need replacing: Windshield urethane seal Windshield molding

Side windows

Possible symptoms: Wet door panel Electronics in door panel no longer function properly

Parts that might need replacing: Weather-stripping

Quarter windows

Possible symptoms: Wetness underneath

Parts that might need replacing: Weather-stripping

Back glass (Back windshield)

Possible symptoms: Wetness underneath the back window

Parts that might need replacing: Gasket

Slider (only applies to pickup trucks)

Possible symptoms: Wetness underneath the back window, typically where the slider section opens

Parts that might need replacing: Weather-stripping

Air Conditioning Condenser (AC Condenser)

Possible symptoms: Water in floorboards after running AC

Parts that might need replacing: AC condenser Clogged drain Hoses

Heater Core

Possible symptoms: Low coolant Moisture is not clear water, has a colored tint Sweet chemical odor

Parts that might need replacing: Heater Core Hoses

The glass parts listed above are all barriers to outside elements. These parts will not leak if the vehicle gets wet. Leakage signs usually appear after a rainstorm, washing your vehicle, or other similar events. The other parts such as AC condenser and heater core are parts of the car’s HVAC system which will not be as affected by outside moisture. To determine if moisture is entering your car through open spaces or from HVAC parts, note the time it occurred. Do you feel the car became moist after it was wet? Or did it happen after running the car’s heat or air conditioning?

To diagnose the problem, run a gardenhose across the car and then check for moisture in the interior. You can also run the AC or heat to check for moisture. This is a good place to start diagnosing the problem. This will allow you to pinpoint the issue more quickly.

Common Types of Sunroof Leaks and How to Fix Them

Sunroofs can leak in a number of places. Because most sunroofs are designed to leak, they are especially susceptible to leakage. The glass must be flush against the roof. There is typically no exterior gasket to stop water dripping from the edges. Instead, water is captured by channels under the glass at the edges. To allow water to drain out, the channels often have drain holes at each corner. These drain holes are usually connected to tubing that runs down and out under the car.

When it rains, some water seeps into the sunroof’s channels and drains out beneath the car. There are three issues you’ll want to look for if your sunroof is leaking. It’s best to check them in order of easiest to hardest.

Bad Sunroof Seal

Although there typically is not a gasket to lock out water, there is still a seal to limit the amount of water that enters underneath the sunroof. The sunroof seal is the first thing you’ll want to check. Depending on which type of sunroof it is, it might play a greater role than others. Some sunroofs depend entirely or partially on a sunroof sealing to block out water. This is the case with Targa tops and T-tops. Some sunroofs depend on the seal to block wind noise. This is the case with sliding sunroofs. Others have no seal attached to the glass as with panoramic sunroofs.

The seal is a rubber trim that wraps around the edges of the sunroof or roof panel. This seal prevents water from getting into the car or track below. A seal can be used to prevent water from leaking into the track or the car itself.

Thegoneapp.com strongly recommends that your car be serviced by a qualified professional. You should not attempt to repair the damage yourself. Here is what a professional might look for when determining if the sunroof seal is bad:

  • Sunroof seal is dry and cracking
  • Sunroof seal has a gash, split, rip, or tear
  • Sunroof seal is warped or misshapen
  • Sunroof seal is missing

In many of these cases above, the sunroof seal should be replaced. It is typically a simple task to remove the old seal and install a new one. If the sunroof seal is undamaged or has been replaced and the leak continues, move on to checking the other parts of your car’s sunroof below.

Clogged Sunroof Drain Line

The drain lines work similarly to the plumbing in a home sink. Water will overflow if the drain is blocked. Your sunroof is the same. Remember the drain holes we mentioned are typically mounted in each corner of your car’s sunroof? These drain holes, and the lines connecting them, can become blocked and water will overflow from the channel. This can cause the sunroof to soak the headliner. The headliner may become too saturated and drip onto the seats or consoles below.

Thegoneapp.com recommends that your car be serviced by a professional, and not you trying to do the work yourself. Here are the steps a professional might take of how to locate a clogged sunroof drain line:

  1. Start by covering the interior of your car underneath the sunroof with towels. This will catch any water that drips.
  2. Next, open your sunroof. Locate the drain holes. Each corner usually has one.
  3. To carefully pour water into the first hole, use a cup or a glass of water. Do you notice a slow or fast drain? This is the likely source of the problem.
  4. Check underneath the car to determine if there is water below. The drain holes for the front and rear drain holes drain behind the tires.
Sunroof water leak test

If water is not draining or very little, it could indicate that the drain line is responsible.

  • You can continue testing the three remaining drain holes.
  • After determining which drain holes are blocked, you can then fix them.

Here are the steps a professional might take of how to clean a clogged sunroof drain lines:

    1. Start by cleaning the area around the clogged drain holes. It’s a good idea to go ahead and clean the rest of the channel and the sunroof too. They are less likely to fail the cleaner they are. You can use a quality, ammonia-free glass cleaner along with lint free paper towels or a Microfiber towel to clean these parts.
    2. Use a toothbrush, small pipe cleaner or another similar item to clean out the drain hole. This is where debris can get stuck.
    3. You can test the holes again by filling them with water using the above methods.
    4. If the holes still aren’t draining, you can either snake the line with a stiff piece of string (such as a weedeater string) or blow the line clean using an air hose. You must use either of these methods gently to avoid causing damage or puncturing the line.
  1. Retest the line using the water method after cleaning.
  2. You will need to repeat the testing and cleaning process until the water stops leaking.
Clean Sunroof Drain

Disconnected Sunroof Drain Line

If the technician has tested and cleaned the sunroof drain lines, and water is still leaking, it could be caused by a disconnected sunroof drain line. Attached to each of the sunroof drainage holes is a drain line that directs the water to a lower location on the car’s exterior. The water will drain out without causing any damage.

The drain line is usually rubber hose. The drain line is attached at one end to the sunroof drain hole. It is attached to the fitting that drains water underneath the car. A leak can occur if either end of the drain tube is removed from one of these fittings. The drain tube may be disconnected from the sunroof track channel if the leak is high. The sunroof drain tube is likely to be disconnected from the fitting that allows water to exit the vehicle’s exterior.

Disconnected sunroof drain line

Thegoneapp.com strongly recommends that your car be serviced by a qualified professional. Here are the steps a professional might take of how to fix a disconnected sunroof drain line:

    1. Locate the drain holes in the sunroof.
    2. To locate the source of the leak, pour a small amount water into the drain holes with a plastic cup or water bottle.
    3. If the leakage is very severe, remove the sunroof track from underneath. This is usually done by dropping headliner.
  1. Low leaks can be accessed by removing trim panels and pulling back carpeting.
  2. Attach drain hose to fitting. A new clamp may be required.
  3. Check the drain holes, and retest as needed.

Where to get a Sunroof Leak Fixed

If your sunroof is leaking, there are a number of ways to get it fixed. The first place to go is your local glass shop. You can use thegoneapp.com for help in finding a local glass shop. Keep in mind, not all glass shops service sunroofs, so you’ll want to call ahead of time to double-check.

If there aren’t any glass shops in your area that service sunroofs, Try your local mechanic. They should know how sunroofs work and the steps to fix them.

You can also take your vehicle to the dealer to have it serviced. Your dealership’s mechanics should be familiar with your car and its make and model as they are experts in this area.

Where to get Sunroof Glass Replaced

If your sunroof happens to be leaking because the glass is broken, the above steps won’t be of much help to you. You’ll need to get the glass in your sunroof replaced as soon as possible. Don’t worry though, thegoneapp.com makes this an easy hassle-free process. Simply go to thegoneapp.com, type in your zip code, enter your car’s year, make and model, then complete the booking with our affiliate that services your area. We’ll just need some basic contact info and there’s no obligation.

We hope this information helps you fix your sunroof’s leak in order to get your car back on the road!

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thegoneapp.com attempts to provide accurate information but cannot be held liable for any information provided or omitted. It is important to only work with licensed, insured, and reputable shops that are able to assess your specific needs and comply with local building codes. They can also offer professional services. You should never attempt to cut or install glass by yourself. All content is intended to be used as an informational only.

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