Water Leaks -- How to Find and Fix

jetta_juliejetta_julie Member Posts: 1
edited May 2015 in General
Hello Jetta owners,

I own a '99 VW New Jetta and have been frustrated the last month about a passenger side leak. It's already been determined that the leak has NOTHING to do with the windshield or windows. 4 mechanics have looked at the car to no avail.

Everytime it rains, i get about 3 inches of water on my passenger side. Not only does it stink, but I cannot figure out where it's coming from! Someone suggested it was coming through the speaker. is that possible? It's not coming from the front of the car, but somewhere on the side. No mechanic within 30 miles of San Francisco has been able to help me.

CAn you???? I'm tired of having a pool of rain water in my car!

Thank you! Julie

See Also: How to Find Water Leaks in Your Vehicle


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    Hi Julie,

    I'm going to change the title of this topic to "Water Leaks" and e-mail you so you can find your topic again.

    But as to the cause, I can think of two things:

    1. Does your car have a sunroof? If so, you may have a plugged sunroof drain.

    2. Has any warranty work been done to that passenger door, like window regulator, etc. If so, there is a moisture barrier (plastic shield) and sometimes mechanics, in their rush, will tear it or forget to replace it. This moisture shield will sometimes re-direct water leaking past the window "squeegee" (rubber strip at the bottom of the window) into the door drains. If there is no moisture barrier, the water leaking past the squeegee will drip into the car instead.


    1. Push sunroof all the way back. Using gentle air pressure, blow into front sunroof drain (there are usually two, front and back). Then pour a small amount of water into sunroof channel. Water should be seen draining somewhere in back of front tire. If no water is draining, and you can't unplug the drain by air pressure, you may have to dig into the headliner or window trim to get at the channel. There is usually a small section of rubber hose that can be cleaned.

    2. Obviously replace the moisture barrier and the window squeegee.

  • mobymoby Member Posts: 1
    I also have a leak on the pasenger side of my car 2001 honda crv.
    The water is leaking in a few areas. the first is where the fan is at your feet (know I no why my fan onley works on high) I do not have a sunroof and am pretty sure it is not leaking from the door. it is leaking up high, I have \had a knew winsheild put in 1-2 years ago And I think it was leaking a little before then, anyways it started to rain last night and when I went out to check this morning their was a 1"-2" puddle. when I drove to work it stopped leaking.

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    I think your problem is the drains for the fresh air vents, which are just below your windshield (the cowl) on the outside of the car. You or the dealer or repair shop will have to remove the vents and/or cowling and try to unplug these drains. It is quite common for them to collect leaves and other debris which, in time, soften with water and turn into a gooey mess that does a nice job of plugging the drains. Then, the compartment that houses your windshield wipers perhaps or other ducting, fills up with water and finally the water reaches a height where there is no waterproofing for the firewall. So it spills over into the interior of the car.

    You can test this by pouring a cupful of water into the fresh air cowl and see if it drains out behind the front wheel. If you don't see the water going anywhere, you are plugged up for sure.
  • cameraartcameraart Member Posts: 2
    Car is 98 Nissan Quest
    Passanger side leak. All drains seem to be clear, but I suspect the fresh air intake vent drain is partly stopped up. Water poured thru exterior intake vent will drain under car, but the soft rubber parts covering parts behind interior vent and under under dash become wet. I see no way to approach intake vent drain drain from the top.
    Any suggestions?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    You have to pull the fresh air vent cowel off and blow air or run a rod through the vent, that's the only way I know how to unclog them.

    What happens is that the "box" or compartment under the fresh air cowl eventually fills up with water and then leaks through plugs or holes that were never designed to keep water out.
  • cameraartcameraart Member Posts: 2
    The intake vent seems to be welded in and covered with a wire mesh. Is it just forced fittted? Just pry it out? Bad design.

    It is well under the part of the hood that does not lift and there is very little clearence. I did caulk around the front of the joint that appeared to not be well sealed.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    Well I can't see it from here. If I see a Quest I'll take a look. I think I know where there is one just down the street. Don't pry just yet. You might also ask at the Nissan dealer, or your friendly body shop.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    Okay I looked at a '98 Quest and there's a black plastic grille under the windshield wipers. It is held in place by 6 screws. So you take off the wiper blades, then the six screws and then figure out how to test and unplug that drain. Don't get too frisky with a wire, because if you knock off the rubber hose for the drain you might be in deep do-do. I'd try something like first seeing what you can dig out with your hands, and then using compressed air in a can or even a bicycle pump.
  • alexander1alexander1 Member Posts: 1
    Somehow, water got in the floor of the back seats along with the trunk! The well for the spare tire has about 2 inches of water in it. I'll try to see if the drains in the sunroof are clogged...but how come there is only water in the back seats and front but nowhere in the front seats?
  • bolivarbolivar Member Posts: 2,316
    ...and I actually have one.

    (At one time, for birthday, Christmas, etc my wife bought me several things she thought I needed. A several hundred dollar scope that I never used and sold for $50 in a garage sale {who needs one, just put new plugs and wires on, don't 'test' them} High voltage and non-distributer cars don't need such things anyway.).

    The tool is a sonic tester to find leaks. It has a small box, which is an 'emitter'. (You can't hear the emitter at all. Dog and cats sure can.) You can put this inside a car near where you think it leaks. Then there is a large detector box, with meter and buzzer and long tube to use as a noise 'sniffer'. You go ourside the car and move the tube around until it registers on the meter.

    It actually works very well. A friend used it to find a leak in a Suburban rear door. I used it to verify missing sealing in a windshield (I could actually feel cold air coming in there.)

    It's just - how often do you really need to use one of these things.....

    A large body shop might have one of these. Mine came from Sears, years ago when they carried more tools than they do now....

    Oh, yes, this thing can also find vacumn leaks. A vacumn leak will produce an untrasonic sound, which is what the detector is listening for. It works very well for this also. You have to get right down on the connections, but if one is leaking, this thing will tell you about it. A carborated motor will set it off anywhere near the open intake. It will also tell you how bad the throttle rods are leaking. I've never used it around a fuel injected car, I need to play around and do this.....
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    Along with sunroof drains be SURE to check the tail light gaskets...those are chronic leakers. It's hard for sun roof drains to drain into the trunk....possible I suppose with hard acceleration but with water in your spare tire well I'm guessin' tail light gaskets. Last possibility might be trunk seal. Look for deformity or a seal that has been pulled out of its runner.
  • mcoishmcoish Member Posts: 1
    Hello Neon owners,

    I own a 2001 Chrysler Neon and have noticed that water is leaking into the back passenger floor space on both sides. I can't figure out how it is getting in. My vehicle does have a sun roof, but it isn't wet at all around that area. Does anyone have any suggestions as to where it could be getting in?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    Could be the sunroof drains...that's where they might spill over if they were clogged up.
  • w0bymagnusw0bymagnus Member Posts: 19
    I have a 01 Lincoln Town Car. Whenever it rains out or I drive through a puddle I get water leaking from under the dash board onto the carpeting where the passenger would put their right foot. I've also talked to about 15 other TC owners and they're having the same problem. Does anyone have any information on how to fix this? I've already cleaned out all of the water drains and everything is clear now. But it's still leaking water.
  • wotto1wotto1 Member Posts: 1
    I have a 1986 Mercedes 300 that suddenly started leaking water into the front passenger side. We have tried cleaning drains and it still leaks. It seems to come from water off the lower windshield , possibly from around the air intake. Are there any seals in that area? It seems to have started after the car was painted. Is it possible that the baking of paint could have messed up a sealed seam?
  • burdawgburdawg Member Posts: 1,524
    What condition is the windshield seal in? Is it dried out, shrunken and cracked? Also have a look at the door seal on that side.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    Both of you need to test the drains to see if you have cleared them.

    If you can see the water draining out the bottom of the car as you pour it in (a small amount please) through the air intake, then you have to look at the windshield gasket probably.

    If you suspect a bad windshield gasket, one quick and easy fix might be to use a LATEX based black-colored sealer that is used in a caulking gun to seal windows, etc on houses. This must be LATEX based and you just wipe it on with your finger and clean the excess with a wet rag. Be sure to get the sealer up under the gasket if you can do this. Of course, this is done from OUTSIDE the car.

    Last of all, sunroof drains can clog and water will leak from the A-pillar.
  • egrahamegraham Member Posts: 1
    I have a 99 Chevy Prism, Power Moonroof. I have read your fourm but cannot locate exactly where my leak is comming from. It appears to be entering (internally) from a plastic to plastic seam above the right shoulder of the right rear passanger and runs down a plastic panel to the rear passanger side foot rest area. The problem just recently became very problematic with inches of water after a recent rain storm. It was worse when I parked my car in an uphill situation on my direway, but also appears to leak when it is parked downhill. Should I focus on the exterior right rear windown sealing (I heard the corollas had an issue in 1998...), or the moon roof, or the rear windown seal?


    I have had a problem for years with water entering into the trunk and spare wheel well, and will try siliconing the rear tail lights. Any direcion or help would be greatly appreciated!


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    That sounds like a sunroof drain. You can open the sunroof and actually see the drain hole, and you can test it with a shotglass full of water. YOu should see it dribbling out somewhere near the rear wheel.


    Unplugging a sunroof drain can be trickly. You don't necessary want to be poking something down there, as you might dislodge the rubber hose that is embedded somewhere in the car's interior roof. Compressed air is best.
  • scooterjohnscooterjohn Member Posts: 1
    Our Camry has developed a leak that I THINK is coming from the front passenger door somewhere. Items in the map pocket were wet, and the rear floor mat had quite a lot of water soaked into it. After a dry out, it had a day of hard rain today, and I see where water has dripped onto the carpet just inside the front passenger door sill, run down under the seat and ended by the edge of the rear mat next to the tunnel. I see nothing wrong with the weather stripping, and this is a car that has been garaged.


    Any ideas?? Please help maintain a otherwise immaculate car.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    Has any work been done to this door recently?


    Also, have you checked to see that the drains under the door itself are not clogged?
  • jmorris1jmorris1 Member Posts: 1
    My '04 Pontiac Sunfire routinely has three inches of standing water in the trunk. The vehicle was purchased in used condition. On a dry day have run water over problem areas for 10 minutes around trunk seal, over rear tail lights and over all welds around trunk, etc. When testing can not seem to find any leakage from repeated tests. I do not understand this but it appears that the wettest portion after a rain is the carpet by the trunk latch. Unfortunately, I do not see any way for water to come in there. Suggestions?
  • bolivarbolivar Member Posts: 2,316
    The trunk seal is probably loose or does not have adhesive under it somewhere. The water will come under the seal, run alongside the seal to the bottom of the trunk, near the latch, then overflow the rim into the trunk.


    Peel the seal up along its entire length. If you find even a small place without adhesive, reglue it there.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    Dry everything out, put some newspaper down in there, and hit the trunk with a hose.


    My own personal experience working on cars for many years that it is 80% the tail light lens gaskets and 20% the trunk seal...sometimes the trunk seal can look fine but is too compressed to work properly anymore.


    Point of entry would be the tip off. If it's the tail light lens gaskets you will of course get water right under the lens body on one or both sides.


    Water can run left or right or seep into carpeting, so what you feel as wet may not be the point of entry.
  • seabeckianseabeckian Member Posts: 1
    This is exactly what is happening with my 95 Jetta! Have you received any advise?
  • ghancock1ghancock1 Member Posts: 1
    I have a 1995 dodge dakota SLT with moisure in the right floor board. It is not antifreeze. No cracks in windows. Any owners with same make with similar problems?
  • jgmilbergjgmilberg Member Posts: 872
    Does the car have a sunroof? If so pull back the carpet trim on the trunk sides and check to make sure that the plastic drain hoses are fully seated into the drain holes. If the car does not have a sunroof pull the carpet back on the sides and check the grommets where the wire harness goes through the lower quarter panel make sure that it is fully seated and check to make sure that the trunk vents are installed and that the rubber flaps are in place. The rubber flaps are like a one way valve and lets air flow out and keeps water, and exhaust fumes from getting in.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    Also check the fresh air vents under the windshield wipers. If those drains are clogged from leaves or other organic debris, the area under the wipers will fill up with water, overflow, and seep into the passenger compartment.
  • nypzzlrnypzzlr Member Posts: 2
    I also have a neon with water leaking into the passenger floor space on both sides. I do not have a sun roof. Any advice?
  • nypzzlrnypzzlr Member Posts: 2
    I also have a Neon with water leaking into the back passenger floors, both sides. Anyone with any advice? I'm at a loss! Feel free to email [email protected]
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    See message #29 for leaks in front.

    Back passenger floor leaks can be sunroof drains or door drains.
  • lmcchesneylmcchesney Member Posts: 2
    My 2004 Honda Civic has a water leak near the firewall. I have a sunroof, that I have checked the drains on the sunroof and they are clear. I have replaced the windshield and had a new gasket installed and I still have a leak. It appears to be near the firewall on the passage side. How do you clean out the air vents along the outside of the firewall?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    Usually you have to take the front cowl piece off and your windshield wiper blades (in reverse order from the way I said it) , and dig down there to free up the clogged drains.

    What happens is that organic matter (leaves, debris, whatever) gets down in there and decomposed over time, forming a kind of glop that plugs the drain.

    Now you are SURE the water is not anti-freeze?
  • munalmunal Member Posts: 2
    After a hard rain, I am getting a water leak above the driver's seat. I think the problem is a bad seal on the sunroof. When I open the sunroof there is a small pool of water underneath the sunroof. When closed, it appears that the sunroof is tightly sealed, but I am not sure. Is this seal difficult to replace? Thanks for any help.

  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    There are usually 4 drains for the sunroof, one at each corner, with hoses which run down the A and C pillars. If one's come off it would allow water to drain into the headliner. The rubber seal is usually not the culprit.
  • munalmunal Member Posts: 2
    Thanks a bunch - alcan
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    If the seal looks good it probably is good. It's usually the drains.

    If you try to unplug them BE CAREFUL how you do this---if you run a wire down there you could dislodge the rubber hosing in the A pillar and then you REALLY have a problem. So try compressed air if you can buy a can of it somewhere or blow through a soda straw. That might work or at least give you a red face.
  • audimarkaudimark Member Posts: 1
    I just bought a 1998 audi a6 and every time I wash the car, there is large puddle of water on the floor in front of the back driver side seat. There is a vent of some kind under the driver's seat, and I think the water may be coming from there? Can anyone help me with this problem? It is becoming an annoying little problem to have sopping wet carpet in my back seat and not to mention the smell when it sits in the sun. The water is clear water so I'm sure it's from the car wash. I don't believe it's rained since I've had the car, so I can't be sure if rain water would leak in too.
  • vicks44dvicks44d Member Posts: 1
    I have a 93 grand am that I bought used. It runs real good, but gets alot of water in the interior after a rain storm. We have not been able to determine where it is coming from. Has anyone else had this problem? Please advise me! If I can't fix it I'm going to have to get rid of a good running car due to the mildew. Help!
  • lchronisterlchronister Member Posts: 1
    I have a 99 Honda Prelude, the backseats and the carpet of the trunk get wet. It mostly happens when it rains but sometimes it will happen a couple of days after it rains, and it will stay wet for a couple of weeks.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    I'd replace your rear tail light gaskets.
  • athomasathomas Member Posts: 1
    My 2000 Saturn SL1 is leaking water under the hood near the drivers side. I have to refill the antifreeze at least once a day (I have been using water lately as antifreeze gets expensive). Any ideas? Could this simply be a hose or possibly a BIGGER problem?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    With a leak that size it had BETTER be a hose or you are in big trouble. You need to get the car on a lift ASAP.
  • 02taurussucks02taurussucks Member Posts: 1
    I have an 02 Ford Taurus that leaks water into the passenger side floorboard after a heavy rain. One dealer ship said that I probably had a leak in the windshield. The other toal me that the water was getting in through the heater. Anyone else having water problems with an 02 Taurus.
  • t_ac_st_ac_s Member Posts: 1
    Hi. This is my first post.. trying to figure out where the water comes from.

    Carpet getting wet in passenger well, water dripping from the screws around the heater blower engine. Have now taken out both seats and carpet to determine where the leaking comes from, but with no luck. Seems also to be comming water from the B-pillars (Maby from window or rails on the roof?) I don't think it's the sealing in the doors, it's not comming from there.

    Anyone having a maintenance manual for 1997 Tahoe, showing the ventilation-system? Thinking it maby be a leak where the fresh air enters.. a broken gasket.. leaky seal.. ?

    If there are anyone that has experienced similar problems, please contact me at: [email protected]
  • broke_carbroke_car Member Posts: 1
    After every rain there are small (and sometimes very big) pools of water on the driver and passenger side. Please let me know exactly what I have to do to find this leak. I'm pretty handy but not very knowledgeable about cars. I'm confident with your help I won't have to drive around in scuba gear!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    Probably debris from trees has gotten into your fresh air vents (under your windshield wipers) and plugged up the drain holes. Access to these drains varies from car to car, but you have to somehow get in there and get rid of the muck that is plugging the holes.

    Since your car is wet anyhow, you can test this by pouring a small amount of water into those vents and seeing if they drain out behind the front wheels...maybe a coffee cup full at most. Of course if the drains are plugged on both sides, this water may go into your car.

    What happens is that the compartment under your wipers fills up and up, since the drains are clogged, and eventually, like a kitchen sink, is going to overflow through wiring holes or cable holes in the firewall.
  • avengerofevilavengerofevil Member Posts: 5
    Driver side leaks all over my leg if it is down a hair in the rain.

    Very annoying when there is no ashtray and I smoke.
    I know quit smoking, Right?
    I will as soon as I figure out this damn leak...
  • skylar111skylar111 Member Posts: 2
    Hi, I erad your post and have a question. I have been having a water leak in my 2000 Jetta which started very recently after my window regulator was repaired under warranty. I immediately made the connection about the window and the leak, but then thought I was wrong. It took me several months to figure out what was wrong, as the first mechanic said it was the sun roof drains (it wasn't). Once I read your post, I realized I was right all along and that the water barrier in the door had been damaged by the shop when they fixed my window. It made perfect sense. Now they are saying it wasn't them, it is just wear and tear. Is that possible? Am I being taken for a fool? I feel like it is quite a coincidence they the window was fixed and the leak started so close together. I am already out of pocket s few hundred for drying the car out etc... now it will cost me $120 more to repair what I think they OBVIOUSLY broke. Any suggestions would help since I think they know I don't know enough about cars, so they can say whatever they want and I will believe them... ugh THANK YOU VERY MUCH!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    Well if they are saying that the water barrier (moisture barrier is the correct term) wore out by itself, that's a bit of a joke, especially since THEY were in that very door.

    You have a very sweet case for Small Claims Court on this one, if indeed that's what they are claiming....."wear and tear" on a sheet of plastic glued to a door, with an upholstery panel on top of that, that they recently removed.

    Yeah, right.

    I haven't heard their side of the story, but I'd love to. :P
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