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craigmcd

Water Leaking into roof and rear hatch - ‘05 Outback

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After rinsing bird poop off of the car recently, I noticed water stains in the roof liner, rear corners, approximately in the area of the rear mounts of the roof rack. Has anybody had to fix this leak? Are there seals available? I seriously do not want to remove the roof liner and insulation - is there anything I can do instead?

Similarly, I have had significant water in the rear hatch door. The left side back-up light is constantly fogged up. When I open the door, remove the cover, then remove the light, water pours out. Several years ago I cleaned around the rubber fittings (which cover wires) at the top of the door, and put a little sealant on. I will probably do that again. Can I purchase those rubber tubing seals from a newer year? Has anybody tracked water leaking to other areas?

Ideas to correct either problem are welcome. Thanks, C

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two issues:

1. is there a sunroof? clogged/disconnected drain tubes?

2. there are numerous posts about sealing the rear light assembly

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I had this issue with a 2003 Outback. I was able to get a cup of water to drain through it, but after an extended rain I would still have a puddle in the rear cargo mat. Where the rubber tube from the sunroof terminated in the fender area, it is pushed into what looks like a rubber molded funnel with a 90 degree bend out through the inner fender wall. The end of the tube is cut on 45 angle. This was stuffed to the bottom of the funnel and the angle on the end of the tube was a perfect match for the angle of the funnel. That and perhaps a little dirt, would be enough to get the end of the tube to seal closed against the wall of the funnel or at least restrict the drain. Pull the tube back out (up) slightly, or trim the end of the tube a little, so that it does not jam all the way into the bottom of the funnel. 

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craigmcd,

There are 4 drain tubes to the dual sunroof, one at each front and rear corner. The sunroofs will leak water into the headliner if the drain tubes are plugged at the roof or at the bottom where the tubes drain, or if the drain tubes themselves split where they attach to the roof channels at the corners. If the tubes have split, then the headliner must come down to replace them (not a hard job, just very time consuming, and not worth the $1000 the dealership will want to do the fix.)

From the top of the car with the sunroofs open, the first solution is to clean the drain tubes  at the end of the sun roof channels using an extended air gun and compressed air. One could also use a reasonably stiff wire to push through the dirt plug at the drain tubes' entrance.

The front drain tubes exit the bottom of the car between the front fender and the car's body, just in front of the door. Usually they can't be seen unless the front fenders are removed. The rear sunroof drain tubes drain exit behind the rear wheels through the side of the car body. When the rear bumper cover is removed you can see them.

 

As for the tailgate rear lens water leak, pull all of the interior plastic panels of the tailgate to gain access to the tail light mounting bolt nuts (You'll need a 10 mm deep socket on those nuts.) Once the nuts are removed wiggle and pry the lens assembly from the tailgate (you might even have to cut the seal to get it to separate.). Once you have the water removed from the lens assembly (hairdrier), either buy a new seal, make your own from automotive dumdum or plumber's putty.

Dumdum comes in 12 inch long string sections (like the very thin red licorice). use 3 or 4 sections and rub it between your palms to make a 3/8 's inch single roll and lay it around the lens mating surface (or do the same with plumber's putty). once stuck to the lens, push it back onto the tailgate and press firmly to get the lens to the same level as your other lens assembly on the other side, and reinstall the parts back on the car.

Yes, I have had to fix both issues on subies over the years.

Good Luck!

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Gbhrps (and everyone),

Thanks for the advice. I am not a big fan of tearing into interior headliner and door panels, but it looks like I am going to have to do a deep dive - if for no other reason then to positively identify the source.  Very good ideas for me to look at.

A couple years ago, on the same Outback, I had water trickling into the spare tire compartment. I thought it was a leak on the bottom of the car, and sealed it very thoroughly. Later I found the water originated at the top of the tailgate opening, where the rubber flextube protects the wire bundle, and followed interior parts all the way down. It can be vexing. The leak was partly because where the rubber flextube meets the metal had built up grim, allowing water to pool higher than it normally should. I good cleaning (and some caulk) fixed that.

Thanks again for the ideas.

C

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This is a sunroof car then ?   If you go to remove the headliner be aware they used Velcro in places near the sun roof.   I recommend trying air pressure in the drain tubes before pulling your headliner.  Also headliner's stain very easy from dirty fingers … use gloves.

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craigmcd,

Be aware that the high mount brake light gasket is known to leak water into the tailgate light area. I think it was my 2012 that had that issue, an easy fix to replace the gasket with automotive dumdum.

You really don't need to pull the entire headliner down to check those drain tubes. Pull the sun visors, overhead assist handles and the A, B and C pillars (you'll need a Torx 55 bit for the front seat upper seat belt anchor points), and you'll need to pull down the door weather seals to about half way. Then, keeping your hands clean, you can pull the sides of the headliner down far enough to see your drain tubes front and rear, and make any repairs needed. The entire headliner doesn't need to come out.

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On the 2000-2004 outback's ,the front drain tubes are visible with the front sunroof open. The rears can be reached with an extended blow gun from the open rear sunroof.

The reason to drop the headliner is as follows. The channels that the water runs in to reach those tubes , can leak at their seams. Resealing the seams with silicon stops that.  Also small hose clamps on each drain tube can stop leakage as well. Very common for water to back up and fill the map light housing, then dripping out as you drive.

I currently still own a sunroof car (the wife's) Once she decides to let that one go … I'll never own one again.   Other than the extra light in the winter , we never open them.

 

 

 

 

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Procrastinating this project. I have watched a couple videos to show the headliner coming out - not fun.  After watching the videos I agree with the suggestions above, and that the drains are plugged.

The window glass seal edges are in bad shape (front sunroof and rear sunroof). On the 2005 Outback LL Bean can the glass be replaced without removing the sunroof assembly? I know the answer is yes on some models, but can’t find this one specifically.

Thanks again for the suggestions. For now been keeping the car out of the rain.

 

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On 4/3/2019 at 4:17 PM, gbhrps said:

 The entire headliner doesn't need to come out.

yeah, but it's really better to just drop the enitire thing.  The risk of folding or qworse ripping it is too great with it hanging off of the middle rail between the glass panels.

As you mentioned you need to remove the handles, the dome light, map light, seat belt mounts, and the a, b and c pillar upper plastic.   Also, there are some large flat clips that pop out int eh middle of the roof, and 4 rectangular plastic clips that hang the center portion.  To get to them you must open the sliding roof, and they are visible from above looking down at the rail between the 2 glass panels. Pull up on the center section of the clip, and then remove the entire thing.

The benefit here is it allows you to access all *8* connections of the tubing to the drains.  And it give you a chance to blow compressed air directly through the drain tubes with a positive seal for maximum pressure.

At the rear there are just 2.

In front, there are 2 connections of the rear roof rails to the drain tubes.  Additionally, there are 2 more drain holes and tubes from the front roof tray.  Those connect into a "T" and then there is a final connection of the drain hose in the a-pillar to those "T's"

All of them can leak, I put clamps on all of them.

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Thank you for those helpful suggestions and specific info on those center clips. Yesterday I dropped by Harbor Frieght for a clip removal tool set, that way I don’t damage the headliner so much using pliers and screwdrivers.

I am not excited about removing the whole headliner, but I do agree it is the best way to go - otherwise it is just going to be constantly in the way while doing the rest of the work. I will also try to clean it and see if any of the water stains will come out.

Yesterday I did take a closer look at the sunroof, and easily confirmed that the rear tubes are blocked (now that I know where they drain). I sent a small amount of water right into the very back of the headliner. It just moved a few positions up my ‘to do’ list. Later, C

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Hi All, I want to follow up on the repairs of these sunroof leaks. Phase 1 was to access the drain tubes and clear obstructions, and Phase 2 was to replace the sunroof glass because the rubber seals are shot. There are a couple key tips in this if you are about to do this project. This is a 2005 Outback VDC (Limited, LL Bean) wagon.

Phase 1 >  I thought the headliner would have to be completely removed per the suggestions above, but that is niether necessary or advised. This is because there is a black wire which runs in the front left pillar, and a wire bundle which runs in the front right pillar. The black wire would have to be cut and spliced again, and the larger bundle on the right side is also problematic, but would be removable with considerable effort. The solution is to lower the headliner enough to clear the rear view mirror, then gently work it forward about 16-18 inches (watch not to yank on the wiring). Let the headliner rest on the driver row headrests. I lowered the rear seats, so the headliner was not supported  in the rear. The headliner DID FOLD on the headrests, but when reassembled, the fold was really not noticeable. Now you can reach all four corners of the sunroof assembly. This car has only four tubes, one in each corner of the assembly. As instructed previously, remove each tube and clean it out. Clean the drain channels throughly. I reduced the pressure on the compressor to 40 psi, and blew out the tubes. Use a little pipe cleaner brush to clean each corner drain hole. A hose clamp or plastic tie strip should be used on each tube. There was no Velcro, and only 5 plastic clips in the rear area. The headliner is largely held in place by the pillars, and you have to pull those away. I did not fully remove any of the pillar column trim, just pull away the top area as best you can. To accomplish this, remove the plastic cover (w the logo) on the side pillars and unscrew the bolt. Be REALLY careful not to drop this bolt inside the pillar! Be careful with sharp tools, the airbag is running above the side windows!  Removing the light assembly’s are a little tricky, but they all hinge towards the front of the car. On the reading light console in the front, you do not remove the whole thing, just the light cover so you can reach the screws. At the front corners you need to unclip the visor light wire - be really careful unplugging these, and all wire connectors (use pliers). Drop the sunroof enough to unclip the three wire connectors above the center console. One of the hardest things to remove was the rear seatbelt cover. Drop the headliner a little so you can see how that works, and to reach it with a tool. The other part which was tricky is the two visor support clips. They are removed by sticking two screwdrivers simultaneously into each side, and pressing the two clips as you pull the thing out. I took a lot of time carefully removing the headliner and cleaning everything, with reassembly taking about 90 minutes. You should figure 4 to 5 hours total for this project. There is an amazing amount of stuff hidden by that headliner, try not to break anything.

Phase 2 >  After much searching, I found a 2008 Subaru in a salvage yard with a decent sunroof seal. It is used, but should last at least 3 or 4 years. I paid $200 total for both the front and rear pieces. To my surprise, the salvage yard removed and sold me the entire sunroof assembly (about 33” x 60”), saying it was easier for them. The replacement of both pieces is really pretty easy, just a few 10mm bolts, which are hidden by four pieces of plastic trim. I spent a decent amount of time cleaning the hard to reach areas. Make a note of how many shims are under each bolt. Before you start, look at how the original window aligns to the top of the car, and shim to match. When reassembling, don’t overtighten, I think you could crack the glass if over enthusiastic with the wrench. This little project took me about 90 minutes. Could be done in less than an hour.

I am good at working on the cars and have plenty of tools, but for my sanity and enjoyment, I set aside a decent amount of time for a project, and I take my time. A pro in a shop could probably do Phase 1 in 3.5 hours, but also might damage something along the way - and won’t clean things as I do. I also used a tiny fountain pump and tested the drains before reassembly. 

 

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Nice write up.

Is there reason to believe that the tubes could not be cleared without full dissection of the roof of the car?

Fine wire threaded through the tubes assisted with compressed air?

 

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2 hours ago, brus brother said:

Nice write up.

Is there reason to believe that the tubes could not be cleared without full dissection of the roof of the car?

Fine wire threaded through the tubes assisted with compressed air?

 

sometimes the gasket around the sunroof is hosed and i guess if it's bad enough it'll let it more water than those tubes are designed to flow.  

 

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5 hours ago, craigmcd said:


Phase 2 >  After much searching, I found a 2008 Subaru in a salvage yard with a decent sunroof seal. It is used, but should last at least 3 or 4 years. 

 

yep, that's what i did on the one i ran into.  easy, took very little time. 

they don't fail often, even most earlier generation outback sunroofs are still original. it should easily last the life of the vehicle just based on statistics. 

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5 hours ago, craigmcd said:


Phase 1 >  I thought the headliner would have to be completely removed per the suggestions above, but that is niether necessary or advised. This is because there is a black wire which runs in the front left pillar, and a wire bundle which runs in the front right pillar. The black wire would have to be cut and spliced again, and the larger bundle on the right side is also problematic, but would be removable with considerable effort. The solution is to lower the headliner enough to clear the rear view mirror, then gently work it forward about 16-18 inches (watch not to yank on the wiring). Let the headliner rest on the driver row headrests. I lowered the rear seats, so the headliner was not supported  in the rear. The headliner DID FOLD on the headrests, but when reassembled, the fold was really not noticeable. Now you can reach all four corners of the sunroof assembly. This car has only four tubes, one in each corner of the assembly. As instructed previously, remove each tube and clean it out. Clean the drain channels throughly. I reduced the pressure on the compressor to 40 psi, 

 

 

You didn't find the connectors for the wiring.  it unclips.  The liner comes out.  Subaru didn't thread wiring after the liner install.  There is a way to remove the liner without disturbing wiring.

I would never ever risk letting that liner be unsupported.  "folded" but not "noticeable" will get me sued.

It REALLY REALLY is better to just take the time to properly get the liner out and not risk damaging it.

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With the sunroof open, the front tubes can be seen, and either a skinny skinny vacuum hose or compressed air can reach them. I pulled out a larger piece of debris with long plier device. The rear tubes are 34” back and very difficult to reach with just the roof open. I might try to rig a long 1/2” plastic tube to snake back there and vacuum out the drain channel occasionally.

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15 hours ago, FerGloyale said:

You didn't find the connectors for the wiring.  it unclips.  The liner comes out.  Subaru didn't thread wiring after the liner install.  There is a way to remove the liner without disturbing wiring.

Yes, the wiring can be unclipped. On the black wire on the driver side of the car, it runs the length of the headliner to the left rear pillar, where it unclips behind the pillar trim. On the front of the headliner the wire bundle coming from the passenger side front pillar is for a number of things, such as visor lights, garage door button, dome light, and sunroof switches. In the center (under the headliner) are three wire clips for the console. In each front corner are the visor clips. Fair enough. The problem I chose not to solve, is that all these wires are taped down to the headliner, and thin insulation sheets are glued over the top of them. It just looked like a big pain in the rump roast to cut them out to free them. The black wire would be easiest to just splice somewhere easy to reach.

If you left the rear seats up with the headrests on, they would support the headliner so it would not fold, and with it shoved forward, you would have sufficient room to work on the rear tubes. I can not recall why I folded the seats down, but it was probably just for better access.

One last note - the first step on this project should be to disconnect the battery negative terminal.

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