How to Repair a Leaky Sunroof in 4 Easy Steps

Owning a car with a sunroof can be a wonderful thing, especially on warm summer days when the wind ruffles your hair as you explore the back roads of the countryside. However, a sunroof is a less pleasant feature on a car when it rains and cold rainwater starts trickling down your neck. Not only is this exceedingly unpleasant- water leaking into the cabin can also destroy your seats and upholstery, so if you have this problem, read on, and we will tell you how to fix your leaking sunroof.

Step 1 – Clean out the sunroof periphery

This is the area around the sunroof in the body work in which water collects before it drains away through drainage channels in the window pillars. Open the sunroof, and using a powerful vacuum cleaner, suck out all the dead leaves, collected sand, and other debris you see. Over time, dead leaves, insects, and other gunk can work itself in between the seal, which will not only let water through- it will also damage the seal.

Step 2 – Locate the drainage channels

These will look like the openings of small pipes in the corners of the body work around the edge of the periphery. In fact, the channels are pipes that pas through the window pillars to exit under the front fenders. If you see anything that blocks the entrance of the channels, remove it carefully to avoid it falling into the tube, which could make clearing out the tube very difficult.

Step 3 – Clean out the drainage channels

Avoid using hard wire, such as bailing wire, since it could scratch the anti-rust coating inside the drainage tubes, which will certainly cause rust and corrosion to form. Instead, use the flexible, inner part of a speedometer cable, which you can buy from any auto parts store for a few dollars.

Carefully thread the cable into the tube, while rotating it at the same time. This makes it easier for the cable end to follow the sometimes acute angles in the tube, but the rotating motion also serves to clean the sides of the tubes. Sometimes it may be necessary to pour a small amount of water into the tube to soften the blockage, but continue to feed the cable through the channel until it emerges from the opening under the fender.

Extract the cable, and carefully pour clean water into the drainage tube to confirm that the blockage had been cleared. If the water backs up in the tube, feed the cable into the tube again, and continue the process until the blockage is cleared, and water flows freely through the tube. Repeat the process for the other drainage tubes until all are clear.

Step 4 – Inspect the rubber seal

Check the seal for damage, or excessive wear through constant use. Replacing the seal is a complicated affair, and unless you are a skilled mechanic you can create more problems than you are trying to solve if you replace the seal yourself. This job is best left to professional mechanics or body repairers, but while you are inspecting the seal, take the time to thoroughly clean the area around the seal to prevent future leaks.


You have now successfully repaired a serious water leak, but to prevent it happening again, perform regular checks on the seal, and drainage channels to prevent a repeat of the problem. If you live in an area with many trees, check the sunroof at least once a month during autumn, and remove all debris and dead leaves immediately before they block up the drainage channels again.