How to Fix a Leaking Sunroof

Clearing a clogged drain tube will solve the problem

Solve most sunroof leak problems by clearing a clogged drain tube with your shop vacuum.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Fix a leaky sunroof

You've got water on your seats right below the sunroof, and you're about to take matters into your own hands. We're warning you: Put down the caulk gun and step away from the vehicle. Usually it's simply a drain tube that's clogged with debris. Then the water can't drain and it overflows into the cabin. And that's a simple DIY repair that you can do in about 20 minutes.

Open your sunroof and look for the drain holes in both front corners. Those tubes run through the door pillars and drain through to the rocker panels. You may be tempted to run a coat hanger down the tubes or blast them with compressed air. Don't! You might poke the wire right through the tubing or disconnect it from the drain hole. Then you'd have to remove the entire headliner to reconnect it—a big job. Instead, use a shop vacuum and small-diameter vinyl tubing to suck out the clog (Photo 1).

If that doesn't do the trick, try running a very small flexible “plumbing” snake down the tube to break up the clog. (Actually, it's a speedometer cable found at any auto parts store for about $8.)

If cleaning the tubes doesn't work, don't try to disassemble the mechanism or bend the sheet metal to get a better fit. That's a job for a top-notch body shop. If the car isn't worth the cost of the repair, we rescind our earlier warning. Go for the silicone and live without the wind in your hair.

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Shop vacuum

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

  • PVC trap adapter, to fit vacuum hose
  • PVC cap, to fit adapter
  • PVC barbed adapter, 3/8-in.
  • Vinyl hose, to fit barbed adapter
  • Speedometer cable