Question: It has been raining hard up here in Boston. My 1996 Pathfinder is now leaking water inside. From research, I've heard it can be from the sunroof drains. How do I know for sure?
Answer: That's always a good possibility. Every sunroof has four drain tubes leading from the sunroof tracks; there's one at each corner. Sunroof weatherstrips don't always form a sufficient seal when it's raining hard. Also, when the roof is opened after a downpour, water is bound to trickle in. As with any water leak, stick your hand under the carpet to feel for wetness at all four corners of the passenger compartment. If it's wet only in one spot -- say, the driver's front -- locate the outside end of the sunroof drain tube. Often, leaves, twigs, and other debris will plug up the tubes. The tubes usually come out near the fenderwell. Find the top end of the drain tube at the sunroof opening, and blow compressed air into the tube or fitting.
If you can feel the relief of pressure as the tube is cleared or see the debris blow out the lower end of the tube, you might have fixed the leak. If the sunroof tubes look good, remove the interior trim panels in the wet area and run a garden hose consistently over the exterior parts of that section while carefully inspecting the inside for a water entry point. It could be a poor weatherstrip seal, separation at a body seal, or a missing body plug. Remember, when using a sealant to patch a water leak, always apply the sealant from the outside. It's a much stronger fix.
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