How to Fix a Leaking Sunroof

Updated: May 18, 2023

Clearing a clogged drain tube will solve the problem

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

Tools Required

  • Shop vacuum

Materials Required

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

Project step-by-step (3)

Step 1

Car sunroof repair: Grab the vacuum!

Family Handyman

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.

Step 2

Car sunroof repair: Vacuum the drain tube

Family Handyman

Make a hose reducer with ordinary PVC plumbing parts: you’ll need a PVC trap adapter (to fit the vacuum hose), a PVC cap (to fit the adapter), and a 3/8-in. PVC barbed adapter. Once you’ve created your hose reducer, attach a vinyl hose to the end and vacuum the crud out of the water channel and the drain tube.

100 Super-Simple Car Repairs You Don’t Need to Go to the Shop For

Step 3

Car sunroof repair: Insert a snake

Family Handyman

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.) Snake out a really stubborn clog with a speedometer cable. Twist the cable as you feed it down the tube. 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.