Reader Question: Leaking Sunroof?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply! 

Dianne asks: I have a Toyota RAV4 with a leaking sunroof. After a heavy rain, the headliner is damp and sometimes it actually drips. The car is relatively new – 2006 model year – and the gaskets look ok to me. The roof closes fully, etc. Do you have any idea why it might be leaking?

My reply: Yes, I do! And here’s what to do: Open the sunroof – on a dry day – and poke your head through it. Now point your eyes at the four corners of the open box. You should see drain holes at each of the four corners or at least two of them. If you don’t see them, you have found your problem. The holes are blocked with the dirt/grit/leaves, etc. that get into the drain channels and plug up the holes. Use a small pick or appropriate size screw driver to clean out the gunk. Once the holes are wide open, test them to make sure they are all the way open.

The drain holes connect to tubes that route the water underneath the car, kind of like the AC condensation drain hole (the water that you see dripping underneath the car in summer comes from that). So, with the drain holes open, pour a little water in the drain channels around the perimeter of the sunroof, in the drain channels (roof open).The water should drain through the holes and then drain underneath the car somewhere – probably just aft of the front tires, near the A pillar at the windshield base.If the water backs up in the drainage channel or does not drip underneath the car, the tubes are likely clogged.

You can try to clear them using compressed air – not too much! You don’t even need an air compressor to do this. Get an aerosol can of keyboard cleaner – compressed C02 – and use that in each drain hole. Then try the experiment with the water again to see whether it drains.

Keep us posted!

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