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Volkswagen Cabrio Water Leaks

Every time it rains I get water in the rear seat driver side. The harder it rains
the more water I get. I had 2-3 inches of water the last time it rained hard.

It's not coming from the roof or window seals. It looks as though it's coming from
the drivers side door area and making its way to the rear seat area.

I closed off the drivers door with a large plastic garbage bag and then shut drivers
door thinking that would stop the water from entering but the water was still coming

A friend told me to check the moisture barrier that is in door. I had new speakers
installed a few years back at Circuit City. Could not replacing the plastic barrier
cause such a leak. The water does build up rather quickly.

Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


  • i dont know if you still have the water problem, but ny wife's 97 has the same problem. i know the water is getting in between the top and the seal at the rear of the back window. i took the car to the VW dealer who changed the seals.$350.00
    guess what? water is still getting in.
    i'm at a loss to know what to do at this point. any ideas?

    ed simpson
  • After a couple of very rainy days, I heard some water moving on the paasenger door. Went to dealer and they want to change 6 seals for $1,300 !! Anyone knows what those seals are and how much the repair should cost? Thanks. FYI it's a 01 Cabrio.
  • Hey all I got a 97 cabrio that I am in the process of getting the top changed on but I cant figure out how to get in the trunk I dont have the owners manual and havent been able to find one online not for the 97 I have tried the key in the trunk turning it every which way and it feels like the trunk releases i thought when I got the car that you pushed in on the key and turned but that dont release it either any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated thanks
  • sarakisaraki Posts: 6
    Hello, I have this same problem with my 2001 cabrio. It has been going on for a long time and I never really investigated. After the last hard rain, I reached back to grab a baseball hat from the floor of the drivers side rear and realized the cap was soaked! I always have a moldy smell after a rain. If you find out what is causing this, can you let me know please? I have had one prob after another with this car! My warranty has expired now (except power train) so i dont think the dealer will fix anything like this. Also, now the ABS light wont go off and my mechanic cant find anything. I notice it affects the AM radio station when it is on. Further, my check engine light is on and mechanic cant find anything. I just spent 2000 bucks on this lemon in repairs that "needed" to be done.
  • We just bought a used 2002 even after reading all the problems that folks have been having...I have seveal friends that I work with at my firehouse that are great mechanics. I had a check engine light that we've taken care of. It was the water temp sensor. It cost 5 buck at Carquest and less then 5 mins to replace. There were 3 codes and this took care of all three of them. If you make the repairs you must still use the code reader to erase them. If the problem persists, the code will come back. If not, they'll still show up.

    On the water. I've noticed the weatherstripping doesn't seat around the glass properly when they're in the up position. I'm not sure how I'm going to rectify this one yet. I've read that many people have had this and some have replaced it without relief. We are fortunate enough that this is a pleasure vehicle and she can drive the van in inclimate weather. For now, I'm leaving the VW in the garage with the windows down hoping the weatherstripping will relax and seal better. If anyone has had luck with this one I'm all ears.
  • I have a 96 Cabrio and the trunk is tricky. Put your key in, turn it as far to the right as it will go, then push in and turn it about one more click. It should open.
  • t_ht_h Posts: 2
    I have a 99 Cabrio with similar symptoms. 3 inches of water in the backseat plus water sloshing around in the driver's door. Were you ever able to get yours repaired? Any advice would be appreciated - I am about to start tearing apart the door!
  • Hi All,
    I am on my second Cabrio. I now have a 2001, I am having problems with the musty smell of wet in my car after it rains. My passanger side seatbelt gets wet and smells horrible. I have already had the weather stripping replaced. Still nothing.
    As far as the ABS light and check engine light... my '97 Cabrio, I had the worst time with. The ABS light was coming on after I got the brakes done at a local brake master shop and the check engine light would come on and off as it pleased. And on top of that my automatic transmission would slip into neutral in the middle of driving.
    I found later on the internet that the transmission problem was due to a temp gauge.
    Please fill me in on the water leak if you find anything.

  • This may not fix them all but a customer of mine printed out all of your concerns and brought the list in with her 01 Cabrio convertable and her driver floor had 3 inches of water in it. Much like the chrysler sebring convertables that had this problem. The pinch weld at the bottom of the rocker panel has about 5- 1 inch long lumps in it. These are the drain holes for all the water that runs down the cowl. If clogged the rocker {body below the door} will fill with water and overflow into the car. Very simple fix. Take a small screw driver and clear out the holes. Then use the screw driver to pry the holes larger so they dont clog so easily. I hope this helps.
  • hozahoza Posts: 1
    Thanks for the advice Bigg454.....(99 Cabrio) I did notice that seal was very wet.. I pushed on it and water gushed out. My Corrado did this.... Wished I remembered that...would've saved some headaches. If this does not solve anyone's wet floor problem check the seal after you close your door. Mine caught the seal flap and it folded in just enough to redirect water into the car...The rubber seal is deformed now... I did put a small bead of black gasket sealant at the top to redirect the water onto the glass instead of flowing down the rubber seal. Don't block the water coming off the top where the windshield and top meet. it has to flow off. You don't want the water to sit on top... so far so good. Good luck
  • agc2agc2 Posts: 1
    edited November 2011
    Hi Hoza
    I have a 2002 cabrio with all new window seals on the driver's door window and have a water leak exactly in the same location where the the top of the windshield meet. Did you ever solve your problem?
    Thanks in advance
  • thejousterthejouster Posts: 1
    edited January 2013
    My 2001 Cabrio was leaking water too--I knew it wasnt the windows because the seats never got wet but i'd have an inch of water on the floor. I cleared out those 1" holes on the bottom of the frame, and it looks like that was the problem! For those of us who don't know the car language--the very bottom of the sides of the car, below where the door opens and closes, has holes that look like warps in the metal, but they're there to drain water!
  • reksasreksas Posts: 1
    edited March 2013
    Absolutely the same problem for me. Thanks god it was easy to fix.
  • Thank-you so much for the help. I soaked up inches of water in my back passenger side floor yesterday and wondered what the heck was happening. Today the towels are frozen to the floor because it snowed but at least now I know to clear those holes with a screwdriver. Brilliant!
  • jollygreen1jollygreen1 Posts: 42
    I just read and read about this maintenance nightmare of a vehicle. I've noticed on this forum and others most of the posts are old. I guess the Golf/Cabrio is moving on to the junk yards and that is why there are less and less problems. I just purchased my '98 dark green Cabrio from an elderly couple I have known since they bought the '98. They decided to sell it and I bought at a very good price knowing the VW lack of quality. This ones runs and drives excellent, but starting to have those nit noy problems everyone else has. The tachometer and clock does not work nor does the cruise control. I am glad I have the manual top. I will try to fix the instrument cluster myself (it must be a piece of crap) and trouble shoot the cruise. I must say my two toyotas are boring because I have never had to work on them (camry 8yrs, 4R 10yrs). These forums offer good information and I am going out tomorrow to buy a scan tool so I can begin work. I know all about VW dealers and will never go there unless absolutely necessary. The second thing I will do is find a good independent mechanic for those things I cannot do. Good luck to you Cabrio owners and I know I will need luck keeping this one running.
  • I've had the same problem for years, and decided to just go drill some holes in the rear floor boards. I pushed a thin drill thru the carpet when found the low spot in the floor, reached under the floor board to make sure i didn't drill thru something vital and guess what I found a rubber seal. I pulled it out and the water came pouring out. Now water may leak in but it will leak right back out. I think i solved it.
  • Just came back in after checking for a seal on the other side found another seal and pulled it out to. I think i will drill some holes in them an try putting the seals back in.
  • suzkat9suzkat9 Posts: 1
    Hi Everyone - just bought 2001 Cabrio in May. Had the water on the floor problem and this forum is a lifesaver! I told my mechanic about those holes being clogged so hopefully that is the problem. The reason the car is in right now is b/c it wouldn't start yesterday - dead. No problem with battery etc. Question: Could that water on carpet in back be causing electrical problems? Anyone have that problem?
  • wogga4evawogga4eva Posts: 3
    Great page everyone. I've had my car a month and everyday something breaks or is discovered to be wrong. Similar to the above person, it was a 1 family car and was taken good care of, yet vws seem destined to be a hobby as well as a car. So far I'm enjoying solving problems at about the same rate that new ones appear.

    Anyway, on the subject of rain getting in, wouldn't you know my top has just been waterproofed by me with 303 Fabric protectant and is dry. On the web people say vws of this vintage can let water in on the passenger side rear. at the pollen filter gasket ( under the cowling on the outside of the windshield. My soaked rugs are rear passenger side. During a rain I checked the rear heater vent ( not blowing hot by the way, but that is a fix for another day!). The floor vent was very dry and dusty- not a source of soaked rugs! Some people said the door liners fail or the black door gaskets can fail min my case the door plastic trim was all dry and the rigging near the door wasn't very wet. The wet part was closer to the rear seat. Have you taken off your seat on your old cabrio? If not do it tomorrow. If you have an automatic top, you will want to look for sticky leaks from you hydraulic new ones from britains 'so HEL auto part not vw. Anyway, today I found that in the metal area under the little rear passenger window there was a small slow flowing river. Source of leak found. I'm missing the rub strip on the rear quarter panel exterior, so there are 5 or 6 tiny holes but it doesn't seem likely that the rear floor could be soaked by them. Instead I suspect that area is supposed to be a little river, channel for water coming off the top or down the window. I think tomorrow I'll find the little drain holes that the others speak of. I expect they'll need to be cleaned. What a car! Fun to drive too.

    Things to do:
    - install those new hydraulic hoses for the top. Replace hydraulic oil.
    -Figure out whether my Mass air sensor is really bad, or if it's just a bad sei secondary air pump or vacuum. I already replaced the 14 year old fuel filter
    -Change the 14 year old plugs, wires. (Have to take the intake valve off!?!?)
    -Pay someone to gore place the distributor cap I bought. It looks impossible to get the rear clip off
    -Clean the abs brake sensors, figure out where the abs pump fuses are and or where the bad solder joints are that cause abs pump errors in VCDS and abs mechanical and sensor errors
    - take off those stupid security vw wheel nuts. I broke the vw special socket since it is extremely fragile !
    - Install the cool usb/aux in/MP3 player that plugs into the 8 pin connector on the stock head to have endless audio p
    - Install a purchased wind deflector at the feet of the rear seat
    - Figure out why th central locking system works from the remotes but not from the interior door lock/unlock switches
    - someone removed the car's gas door actuator and crimped the t connector in the trunk at the vacuum locks pump.
    - prepare to fix Something that will break tomorrow that I don't know about yet.
    - Either replace the broken antenna grommet, make a new grommet with a 3D printer or install an a cover over the hole where the grommet was.
    - Install the used rub strip I found online to where there are holes waiting to hold it on.

    Would I buy it again? Yes...

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