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leaky sunroof


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12 replies to this topic

#1 charm

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 08:42 PM

There are a few threads on this but none answered the question for me.

I have 2000 Outback wagon with the two sunroofs. Or is it one sunroof and one moonroof?

I have leak that appeared to be coming from the panel in the headliner with the two lights and the sunroof controls. Pulled that out and, well, more water came out. Still no clue where it's coming from.

Today I removed the headliner and the frame that holds the sliding cover for the front sunroof. My goal is to hopefully actually see where the water is coming from now that I have nothing imparing my vision.

So far, it appears that the foam seal that goes half away around the forward portion of the front sunroof is kinda thin and compressed. It was very wet when I removed the glass.

I read something about a TSB in another post. Is any of this potentially related to that? With nothing in my way visually, if it is that TSB that the previous owner did not take the car in for, what should I be looking for?

Other suggestions for a solution or clue as to the problem are always welcome.

#2 EVOthis

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 05:26 AM

you could shower the sunroof area with some water just to make sure that its coming from where you think....don't want to go replacing this and that if your not absolutely positive of the area of the leak...:)

#3 Scoobywagon

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 10:21 AM

The most common cause of leakage in a factory sunroof is clogged drains. If you open the sunroof and stick your head up through it, you will find small drain lines in all 4 corners. These tend to clog up over time. Clean them out with some compressed air. Just be prepared because this procedure makes a mess you won't believe until you see it.

#4 gbhrps

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 07:40 PM

Charm,
My 02 OBW LTD did exactly the same thing,
leaked small amounts of water into the overhead map lights.

After much searching I located the factory TSB that addressed the issue.
You'll be surprised that the fix is surprisingly easy.

The culprit is the back sliding sunroof.
When manufactured the roof skin was folded down along both sides of the sunroof opening.
This side edge was then welded to an interior support and
was supposed to be coated with a seam sealer to prevent leaks
when water got past the rubber seal of the glass sunroof edge.

The factory found that this sealer wasn't properly applied in all cars.
The area of concern is along both sides of the sunroof opening
from about 6 inches back from the front outside corners.

On my 02 the sealant was there, visible under the paint (it was a white car),
but the sealant had shrunk over time to show a very fine crazing of the paint
that was almost unseen until you looked very closely.

The water was wicked into this crazing, followed internal roof stiffeners
down to drain into the overhead courtesy and map lights up by the rearview mirror.

The fix my dealership used was to rough up this side seam paint with 200 grit sandpaper
very lightly and apply a very thin coat of 5 minute epoxy along the six inches of each side.
When cured (10 minutes later at most) my leak never returned.

I had always thought that I should have used some touchup paint
over this epoxy to hide its grey colour,
but I never got around to it.
I was never in the back seat of the car with the sunroof open to see if it was even noticeable.

Hope this solves your problem, because it sure solved mine.
Good Luck!

Edited by Skip, 12 January 2009 - 10:05 PM.
just a little help reading the good informatiom


#5 charm

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 08:15 PM

Charm,
My 02 OBW LTD did exactly the same thing, leaked small amounts of water into the overhead map lights. After much searching I located the factory TSB that addressed the issue. You'll be surprised that the fix is surprisingly easy. The culprit is the back sliding sunroof. When manufactured the roof skin was folded down along both sides of the sunroof opening. This side edge was then welded to an interior support and was supposed to be coated with a seam sealer to prevent leaks when water got past the rubber seal of the glass sunroof edge. The factory found that this sealer wasn't properly applied in all cars. The area of concern is along both sides of the sunroof opening from about 6 inches back from the front outside corners. On my 02 the sealant was there, visible under the paint (it was a white car), but the sealant had shrunk over time to show a very fine crazing of the paint that was almost unseen until you looked very closely. The water was wicked into this crazing, followed internal roof stiffeners down to drain into the overhead courtesy and map lights up by the rearview mirror. The fix my dealership used was to rough up this side seam paint with 200 grit sandpaper very lightly and apply a very thin coat of 5 minute epoxy along the six inches of each side. When cured (10 minutes later at most) my leak never returned. I had always thought that I should have used some touchup paint over this epoxy to hide its grey colour, but I never got around to it, and I was never in the back seat of the car with the sunroof open to see if it was even noticeable. Hope this solves your problem, because it sure solved mine. Good Luck!


I'll look at it a little later this evening. If I understand this correctly, I need to look for an almost invisible crack along both sides of the rear sunroof, not the front one. My car is also white, it sounds like that may help me see this.

Curious how TSBs work. Do they function like recalls where SOA pays for the repair? Could I still get the dealer to pay for this repair? Heck, I've already done most of the work for them by disassembling the interior of my car!

It is certainly not the drains, I've blown them all out. While I haven't done the hose thing, I can blow air through all of them easily and therefore am certain they're clear enough to run water through.

#6 charm

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 08:54 PM

O.k., just took a look based on the direction posted above from gbhrps.

What I'm seeing is, on the rear sunroof, from each front corner back about 4 inches, is some brownish crazing up near where, if the sunroof were closed, it would be outside.

Are you saying that that crazing is enough to pour water all over me after running through a carwash? It seems so minor. In fact, it seems minor enough that I imagine the eopxy is unneeded if all you were to use is a good automotive paint with a primer under it...assuming it's been dried out properly.

Am I looking at the right thing?

#7 Skip

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 10:18 PM

I am going to addess this from a point of view you may not like.

The seal around sun/moon roofs will eventualy leak.
Dried out gaskets, not closed properly ect.

The factory knew this and thus the drains we all know about.

Now the problem I have seen is wicking of H20
under the channel (rail) that supports the glass.

This can allow H20 to migrate into the area where
it will be introduced into the headliner area.

You may want to look closely at that possibility.

It will not cause
"to pour water all over me after running through a carwash?"

But I saw no reference to this calamity in the opening post.

Sorry please accept my apology if this is not conducive to your problem.

#8 charm

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 10:50 PM

I've looked for areas that are really seeping heavily. I'm hoping to be able to see it with my interior placed conveniently in the garage. I may have to do the hose thing since it's decided to finally stop raining for a few days in Seattle.

The only thing I've seen that looks like a possiblity is the crazing mentioned previously.

By pouring in, I don't mean it's like standing in the shower. It's more like a couple ounces of water. It tends to pool in that little depression in front of the cup holder but it's not enough to fill it up. Of course that depends on the angle that the car's parked at.

I am also aware that sunrooves (or is it roofs?) are designed to leak. My first guess as to the source of the problem was a clogged drain. It was the first thing I ruled out.

I still think that the foam strip, not the rubber weather stripping, is part of the problem. But, we'll see when we get a fare bit of water on there.

#9 Skip

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 10:59 PM

My apologies then sir,
as it seems you have addressed
the areas where I have seen issues.

Which as I said,
have nothing to due with the sealing of the glass.

#10 charm

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Posted 13 January 2009 - 01:56 AM

My apologies then sir,
as it seems you have addressed
the areas where I have seen issues.

Which as I said,
have nothing to due with the sealing of the glass.


Don't apologize, I'm the one seeking help with this! Thanks for the suggestions.

So is the general thinking that it's from the crazing? I've seen stranger things turn out to be true.

From what little I know of these things, it's either the crazing or the foam. I assume the foam is in place to slow the water down, when there is enough of it, while it goes down the drains. If the foam isn't doing it's job, wouldn't it allow water to back up into the cabin?

At the same time, if there is a TSB about the crazing, it could be that too.

I guess I'm looking for a definitive answer on a message board when really the only place where I can find the answer is from the end of hose directed at the roof of my car.

Thanks for the help.

#11 unibrook

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Posted 13 January 2009 - 01:20 PM

gotta say it...this is why I love NOT having a sunroof on my Forester.

#12 charm

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Posted 16 January 2009 - 01:56 PM

Update....

Ran past the dealer to chat with them about the leak. A mechanic pointed to the rear corners of the rear sunroof where the weld stops before the seam does. He said they put some clear silicone in that gap and the problem is solved.

Silicone applied and now I just need to hit it with a hose to see if it worked.

#13 Thunderchild

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 09:23 AM

Well, did it work? I need to know since I have an Outback with a sunroof, so if this is the fix I will make a note of it.
:drunk:




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