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BMW X3 Sunroof

The sunroof on my BMW X3 leaks. Is anybody having the same problem?


  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Check out this X5 post while waiting for responses:

    Mr_Shiftright, "BMW X5 Maintenance and Repair" #468, 13 Jan 2007 10:16 am
  • myx3myx3 Posts: 1
    Hello Everyone,I am new to this and I greatly appreciate your time and consideration.

    I purchased my 2004 x3 with 59K miles from an auction in December 2007. I love this vehicle, drives great (gas mileage ok). I knew (or thought the rear interior shade for sunroof was missing but later noticed it was lodged in headliner) however the sun roof worked fine for several weeks. Then one weekend on a drive to FL I opened the sunroof, heard a lock of clicking (probably parts breaking) and the sunroof remained open in the "tilt" position. I took it to the local Volvo "authorized bmw center" and they recommended an upholstery shop. Took it there, they tore down the headliner removed the sunroof and said that about 400 bucks in parts were needed and 450 for labor. I like my sunroof so I agreed. TWELVE DAYS LATER , parts from Germany, they assembled and it still would not leave the tilt position when activated. They showed me in manual where "the system had to be initialized by BMW." They did refund the Labor portion of repair. I drove 107 miles one way to closest BMW Delearship authorized repair center. By the way since then it rained and I had water in rear interior of vehicle. After two days at dealership they said sunroof was "wedge" , cost would be 3300 bucks for New Sunroof Cassette, they supposedly repaired leak cleaned drains, and were suppose to program key. They could not close sunroof back and wanted to charge me 300.00 for them to close it, when it was in the close position when I brought it in!! Reluctantly they closed it back for no charge, but plenty of headache. I talked to a body shop to see if i could get a refurbished sunroof cassette, he located one for 500 but got damaged during shipping from California. Meanwhile, I noticed a couple of weeks later 5 INCHES OF WATER in the plastic "holder" in rear of vehicle and driver rear floor was also very wet. I called the dealer back, drove 107 miles ONE WAY to let them take another look. AFTER TWO DAYS, they said " when they gave the vehicle back to me the interior shades were closed and the exterior was completely shut>" They accuse me (or someone else) of opening after they closed? Why would I do that when I have learned by now that it will not be able to close back unless you remove entire Sunroof again. I CALLED THEM A BOLD FACE LIE! Obviously, I would know if this was true (the interior shades were open because it could not go into close position) they also said that my key could not be programmed because the water had damaged the TCU whatever that is. I am losing the fight because it is my word against theirs..... I would like to get my sunroof fixed It is difficult for me to believe that the entire unit needs to be replaced when something is working but "binds" when you activate motor, why not just "unbind" or fix the area that is binding. Why NEW CASSETTE? I want the problems fixed (what are your thoughts on refurbished cassettes)and the leak fixed, but do not know where to turn. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I truly apologize for long email.

    Sincerely Needs Help!!
  • I am having a problem with my 2005 BMW moonroof leaking. Has anyone found a solution?
    Please reply asap, it will be greatly appreciated.


  • pp2009pppp2009pp Posts: 228
    Lots of chatter about this. If it is the roof leaking those are likely stuffed up roof drains. People are using weed wacker line to clear them out until they run clear.

    If you park outside, more like to have a problem. Someone said pollen stuffed up his drains. Why it leaks into the passenger compartment? Who the heck knows.

    Other sources of BMW X3 leaking: engine compartment where debris collects under the hood catch basin causing leaking into the cabin.

    Back windshield washer fluid leak.

    Door vapor barriers not working.

    Hopefully it is something simple like the roof drains being clogged because that sunroof is a cassette and if it breaks you may need to replace the entire thing - out of warranty?

  • Background:

    I have a 2004 X3 with 70k miles on it (although this fix will work on any leaking sunroof). I purchased this vehicle new (it was a program car). My X3 never lived outside (it had always been garaged) until I started spending extended periods of time with my fiancé two years ago (my work requires only an internet connection and an airport).

    Once it lived outside, the car started leaking after every heavy rain (and when I say leaking, I mean all I needed was the koi to have a once worth $50k now worthless piece of…German engineering become an upscale pond using the floor of my vehicle). It has been in the shop numerous times since. Over the last two years, I’ve spent hundreds in having BMW blow out the panoramic sunroof drains (they eventually showed me how to do it) and hundreds more in replacing the driver’s door vapor seal. Nothing has resolved the leaking. So, I put on my closet engineer hat and came up with the following workaround. My fiance is an engineer and was impressed by the effectiveness of this workaround. (Not meaning to pat myself on the back, but desperate times leads to desperate measures.)

    The Fix:

    First, let me say that this workaround is 100% effective. It is also very inexpensive ($150.00), but it may not be All That for everyone.

    What I did was find a location that installs 3M Paint Protector film, also known as the Invisible Bra. I've used the Invisible Bra product on all of my BMW’s so I had a company called Tint King install a sheet of the 3M Paint Protector film across the top of my car. (Actually, they installed two sheets with about a 1/4” overlap at the sunroof seam due to the size of the panoramic sunroof - as well as about 4" around the edge of the sunroof, totally sealing it from the elements. See pictures below.)

    The film is completely see through (you would never know it was there) so you can open the shade and get full sun. You can also see out the sunroof as if you were looking through glass alone. You cannot, however, open the sunroof, which is why this workaround may not be for everyone. But, for me, that is more than acceptable.

    I was lucky enough (or unlucky enough) to have tornadoes rip through the area - along with another round of torrential rains the tornadoes brought with them - the day after my install which allowed me to test my workaround. The car interior was completely dry.

    I used Tint King (in London, Ontario – I am an American who spends much time in Canada, as my finace is Canadian. Tint King did a GREAT job and the car has not leaked during any of the subsequent rains, including the one that brought the tornadoes. There are Tint King locations throughout the US and Canada (I used Google). You seriously cannot tell the film is on the top of the car. It is crystal clear. (The film is also 100% removable should you desire to remove it at a future date.)


    Sorry for the reflection of the car's interior. I snapped these with my cell phone right after installation and there's not much to see other than gray and blue sky.



    Note that the remaining water from the installation has completely dissipated and the film is flat and perfectly installed. They couldn't initially squeegee out that bit of water due to the lip around the sunroof.

    An Unconcerned BMW of North America:

    When I called BMW of North America to ask them to help me out with drying the underside of the mats (IOW pay the labor to pull up the mats and dry the vehicle once and for all), they told me tough luck. I need to eat my German engineered crap sandwich and enjoy it. The cost for BMW to dry out the flooring under the mats is more than $600 which is all labor.

    I was told that BMW is completely unaware of any leakage problem in their vehicles and it was my responsibility alone if I wanted to dry out the cabin floor. I tried to get some pages of a manual to show how to pull up the carpets so I could do it myself and was told to check YouTube (I couldn’t find one that applied…if anyone has some help/instructions for pulling up the front cabin carpeting it would be greatly appreciated.) I was told that there were no design problems causing leakage and too bad for me.

    I told her I was a three time BMW owner (new 2001 X5, new 2004 X3, used 1999 318ti) and was looking to get a new car in the upcoming months and that I had a hard time justifying buying another BMW when I didn’t feel that they were standing behind their product in what is obviously, reading all the BMW boards, a design flaw. Enjoy my turd sandwich was the only response.

    Additional Information:

    A couple of other things; the installed carpets show no sign of mold (something I won’t know fully until I can lift those carpets up). The BMW floor mats molded badly. Once I removed them, the smell immediately went away. I will not be replacing the BMW mats. I am going to solely replace my ancient WeatherTech rubber mats.

    As an added bonus, the cabin is much quieter now that the 3M Paint Protector film is across the top of my car. It used to have more wind noise than I would like with the shade fully open. No more.

    Lastly, my vehicle is older (though I am the only owner) so I probably have little leg to stand on in a class lawsuit, but I think that owner’s experiencing this disaster with their once worth tens of thousands of dollars but now worthless pieces of…German engineering should band together to get some kind of compensation. Seriously, who is going to purchase my or your leaking BMW disaster? In my eyes, this is unacceptable for a premium brand.

    Now that I no longer have the leaks, I will keep this guy until it’s time for me to get a new car and then I will probably give it away to one of my friend’s kids or donate it to a good cause.

    Sorry for the length of this post.
  • Justjayna, Thanks for your post. Hopefully this information will be helpful for my garage and may be worth a trip to Quebec or another company that tints as you state.
  • I've had the same problem with water leaking into the rear passenger floorboards of my 2004 BMW X3 over the last several years following a heavy rain/snow.

    BMW of Arlington did attempt to repair the problem (replaced drains and interior carpeting and floor mats) and they even covered 100% of the costs (several thousand dollars) but the problem resumed within two month's time and has gradually gotten worse over the last two years. The moisture has created a mold and mildew problem (again) and I am worried about the potential health consequences of being exposed to this for prolonged periods of time. BMW was never able to identify the source of the leak and they tried several high-pressured water tests to no avail. But, it's clear to me that BMW will not be able to correctly fix the problem unless they do something akin to the solution that you've proposed.

    One thing that I have recently noted is that there is a container in the rear (just inside the hatchback) on the right side of the car. This container seems to fill with water after it rains and the floorboard seems to be dry until this compartment becomes full. Has anyone else noticed this?

    In good conscious, I can't trade this car in and pass this problem along to someone else. I bought this car used from Carmax and I feel that someone else just passed the problem along to me. I also plan to give the car to a friend or donate it once I'm ready for a new vehicle though I'm worried that the mold and mildew could create health issues with the next owner. Obviously, being unable to trade the vehicle in represents a loss of thousands of dollars to me and I would support a class action lawsuit. It sounds as if BMW has been made aware of this and has not taken the problem seriously, at best.
  • dmw8dmw8 Posts: 1
    How is the 3M paint protection film holding up? I have a leaky sunroof on my 2004 X3 and am considering your innovative solution. I certainly don't want to spend the $3500 or so I understand it costs to fix the sunroof, which will probably just start leaking again! Thanks in advance for the update on your car!
  • justjaynajustjayna Posts: 3
    edited January 2012
    It's holding up very well.

    Remember that after you apply tge 3M film you can use the power shade screen but don't try to open the glass as you could damage the motor that powers the shade screen.

    I'd do this again in a heartbeat! The car's been cleaned, dried, detailed and it's like it was when I got it. I'm very pleased.

    FYI, my 3M invisible bra has been in place since I got the car and it's faded some (seven years, not too shabby) but if you keep your car for a long time, you may have to replace what you've put on the roof. Well worth a small investment for keeping perfectly clear like glass. You truly cannot see it on the car
  • :lemon: Wifes 2011 X3 arrived with improperly installed rear master seal, leaking sunroof(4 attempts to repair including complete replacement by dealer. Still leaking), seat memory refuses to work after many computer reflash attempts, lights began flashing and horn going off (no security system of any kind), coolant leak, passenger side mirror stuck in down position after reverse, ad naseum...Service Manager awesome by saying car needs to be replaced and helping fight BMW in our Lemon Law and Warranty Claim. First two bmw's were awesome. This is our last! Guess that's what happens when assembled in the U.S.
  • nancysx3nancysx3 Posts: 1
    I recently purchased a 2008 X3 with 28K miles ... I love it, drives great, very comfortable. BUT .... every time I open or close the door my sunroof "clunks" and makes it sound so cheap. Also, when I have my sunroof open all the way & doing highway driving it makes a terrible clunky sound ... like the wind is getting between the 2 glass panes & rattles then terribly. Any solutions to this ??? it just sounds terrible when opening & closing .... THANKS !
  • ggm0481ggm0481 Posts: 1
    hi, im having terrible issues with my 2011 x3 as well (to make a long story short, the DME was messed up, burnt up all my sensors and even after the replacement of the DME lights are STILL coming on) They dont want to do anything with the car. Let me know if you were successful so i can speak to the person you spoke/are speaking to.
  • justjaynajustjayna Posts: 3
    1. Call BMWNA and work with them to resolve your issue. You must do this first.

    2. If not resolved, sit down using Word or some WP program and write a detailed explanation of what happened. Use pics, list service dates/service details, warranty information, what BMWNA said/did, or what have you, to support your issue. Make sure it's perfect or near perfect (spelling, logical flow of thought, all your ducks in a row). Post with a way that BMW will know who you are (first (and last, if you're comfortable) name, service locations, etc.)

    3. Post it on every BMW board you can locate.

    4. Hope you have a strong case and BMW offers to resolve the issue (if so, they'll contact you via your BMWNA contact...they log all calls).

    Good luck!
  • My 2004 X3 sunroof stuck open in the rear (flipped up) and had to be closed manually by the dealer. The dealer said all roof components are broken and in pieces. Very puzzling as I only used it occaisonally as a vent. It happend at the same time as the AC failed, various oil leaks and all the windows would not work. BMW corporate would not assist with sunroof repair and said it was not a recall. To repair the sunroof is $1,900 !. I am so disapointed with the car as it seems to have fallen apart at 100K miles - over 6K in repairs in 3 months. I would not recommend this car except for a 3 year lease where all is covered. Not for someone who expects longevity.
  • Same thing happened to me. I had to have it manually closed at the dealer. The sunroof was in pieces. BMW would not consider it a recall which was disapointing. You can have it manually closed for about 100$ vs 2000-3000 to repair it.
  • If you have rainwater collecting in to the carpeting and cubby near the rear of your X-3, your sunroof drainpipes may be clogged or bio-fouled. The drainpipes are located inside the rear corner pillars behind the removable panels that you would remove to access your rear lights. The drainpipe is a 1/2 inch diameter black tube running down the inside corner. I chose to cut my drainpipes at approximately the level of the tops of my rear lights, or midway where they are visible. You'll then need to blow out the pipes (top and bottom half) with compressed air, with the sunroof slightly open. You could also jet compressed air from the bottom drainpipe outlet, but the debris needs to go out, not back upwards into the sunroof area. Either way, your drainpipes can bio-foul, especially if you live in a humid climate and you may have to jet them or flush them out periodically.

    You can repair (reconnect) the drainpipes with duct-tape or electrical tape. I used a stint made from a McDonald's straw to keep the piping rigid while reconnecting the two halves. Sunroof problems can be daunting, but if you are patient and creative, you can master their maintenance and enjoy that open air exhilaration of your beloved Bimmer.
  • notmybmwnotmybmw Posts: 101
    Hey, whisperer.......I couldn't disagree with your post more vigorously.
    To have to be either "patient" OR "creative" while simply trying to get your FIFTY THOUSAND dollar German luxury automobile to perform the way it was designed is a crime against consumer sensibility and a giant PIE in the face of alleged German design superiority.
    I used to be an "Kraut import snob"......but after spending just 2 months acquainting myself with my wife's (thank God) LEASED X3, everything from its orange-peel paint job to intermittent iDrive display has me wondering what has happened to the marque.
    Our old (2004) 325i is twice the car in terms of both form AND function.
    Did I hear someone say they're assembled in America now? That would explain a lot.
  • bmwx3ughbmwx3ugh Posts: 1
    Dear Jmoney,

    My daughter's 2006 BMW X3, which was always garaged, has now developed deep puddles of water in the passenger side of the car as well after sitting outside for 2 weeks during a vacation. Mold and disgusting stuff was growing inside the car. BMW suggests we contact our insurance company because of all the potential damage to the wiring inside the car. The car had to be towed to the garage because it wouldn't start. Have you resolved your issues with your wife's car? I certainly feel that BMW is somewhat to blame. After seeing all of the issues on the web with the problems with the sunroof seal, I'm surprised they did not recall or fix this issue. It would have prevented issues like this. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you,
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