Have I Ever Mentioned That I Really Really, Really Really, Hate Sunroofs?

I used to have to work on those miserable sonsabitches at the dealership.

They can be a nightmare.

I always questioned the wisdom of buying a vehicle here in the Pacific North West that had a built in water leak anyways but holy shit did I wind up with some real doozies.

There is a little nylon drain tube at each corner that you can’t see underneath the outer skin and they get plugged up constantly around here.

Pine needles are the worst offenders by a mile.

When those little drain tubes get plugged up, this is what happens when it rains a half an inch in ten minutes here.

Yukitty yuk, right?

That’s no joke. I’ve seen it first hand.

Of course then the dumb bastards bring it in bitching and whining and want you to wave your magic wand at the fucking thing.

We actually had a shower head on a hunk of iron pipe seven feet tall that was clamped to an old steel wheel.

You could point the shower head where you were suspecting the leak was and turn the water on that one spot.

When the leaks were real bad, I would have to tear the seats and the carpeting out to dry them out.

I had entire interiors out of rigs trying to find where the water was coming in and have several memories of some seriously fucked up rigs that had MULTIPLE water leaks that didn’t even HAVE sunroofs in them.

Sometimes the sunroofs had multiple issues and the thing about them is, Ford doesn’t make sun roofs. They were buying them from an outfit called WEBCO and just installing them.

I used to have to call Ford, jump through their hoops and when they couldn’t figure it out, they would have me call WEBCO and start all over again.

Fucking bastards.

A couple real live nightmares still stand out real good twenty five years later.

One was so bad that I fought it off and on for six months and the dealership actually wound up buying the car back.

The robot that applied the seam sealer must have run out of the sealer because that fucker had 13 different water leaks in it. All the way around the opening for the windshield and the back glass. and down both sides of the roof line. Like the sealer was skipping spots.

SIX MONTHS off and on I had that thing tore apart. From one end to the other all the way down to bare metal inside.

Multiple times.

Then there was the Mini Van From Hell.

I turned that shower head on and went to lunch. When I came back there was two inches of water inside the front of that mini van.

I had to completely strip all of the interrior panels out of both sides, all the seats and then the entire carpet.

Something like 147 nuts bolts and screws.

When I pulled the carpet back from the front passenger side, I found a message written in the color coded sealer they had used with a long arrow on the steel floor.The message said “It’s In The Hole” and the arrow was pointing to a factory hole in the floor pan.

I’m like What the fuck is this about?

I took pictures of it and they got kicked up the chain back to the manufacturing plant but it puzzled the hell out of me.

Just out of curiousity, I picked the back of the van all the way up in the air until that van was standing on it’s nose and about to fall off the hoist. Right as the back was getting almost to the very top, I heard it.

Rattle rattle rattle rattle, from the very back to the very front right under the dash on that side.

It took me a while but I finally found it.

Some complete asshole at the plant had dropped a little bolt down in that hole. The hole was right over the channel that acted like a frame for the rig as it was a unibody construction and there was one on both sides of it. Those channels went from right under the dash to all the way back to the wheel well openings.

I had to mess with it for a long time, picking the front up, dropping it back down and the picking the back up again, until I got that stupid little bolt to roll back down to the hole and stick to a little pocket magnet I had stuck down in it to snag it so I could get it back out.


Lemme tell ya, I was LIVID.

THEN, I still had to find and fix the damn water leak.

That turned into a giant fiasco all by its self and I wound up pulling the entire dash board out of the damn thing too.

I finally found it.

It was coming in at the very bottom right hand corner of the windshield, dripping onto a great big wiring harness, running down the harness and dripping on the heater box assembly next to the firewall almost exactly dead in the middle of the rig behind the dash and then, dripping onto the carpet.

So I wound up tearing all that out too, chasing it down.

What a nightmare that one was.

Total time on it was a week and a half, just to find and fix the leak.

Hell it took me three hours just to fish that little bolt out.

Then I had to put the entire thing back together.

And people wonder why I quit working on cars.

It was to retain what little sanity I still had left.

24 thoughts on “Have I Ever Mentioned That I Really Really, Really Really, Hate Sunroofs?

  1. I feel ya Phil. I work on my own cars and nobody elses, can’t afford to hire it done. My wifes 99 explorer just last year started a teeny tiny leak on her sunroof. Just haven’t had the ambition to deal with it. Currently I am try to deal with 2 broken exterior door handles. Both broke the same day. Got the paint, now to git er done.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wife had an 85 Celica GTS when we first got married with a sunroof and the aluminum casting along the front edge that guided the Teleflex cable broke. It was held in with 2 screws. After looking at it I called a friend who was knowledgeable on Toyotas and asked him what was involved in replacing the damn thing. He said “you’re not going to believe me but you have to take out both front seats and ALL the interior trim” The thing was so layered that’s what it took. I knew there was an 85 GTS in a nearby junkyard so I went over there and told them what part I needed. It was one of those places where they don’t let you pull the parts, they have a guy that does that. They sent him out in the yard and I sat down and read a bunch of car magazines in the lobby. After a long while the parts guy came stomping back in and threw down the part and yelled at me “there’s your damn part!” and turned around and stomped out. I was laughing so hard I was in tears. Then I had to go home and rebuild the car.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Had a sunroof, once. The track broke when I was using it one day. Called around, only a dealership would touch those. $500. I was really poor back then! Nope, couldn’t fix it. I was driving down the road later and the sunroof tries to fly off! I used some try wraps to hold it down. Then, a month or so later, the leaks started! I finally epoxied the stupid thing shut. I was in Florida, so the epoxy would dry out and start leaking every couple of months. I’d have to scrape off the old stuff and put on new. Never again! I’ll try never to be that poor again but I can promise there won’t be a sunroof no matter what my financial situation is!


  4. I feel you pain, truly so. I was working on my old ’67 at home (couldn’t afford to take it anywhere). Had to pull the heads off. First off was the big heavy old cast-iron exhaust manifolds. Left the exhaust pipe in place as it was out of the way for the head pull. Of course, that left a big 3″ hole facing up that I didn’t think about until later when I dropped a head bolt into it. Perfect shot, hole-in-one, and I head the damn bolt rattle and clang as it rolled halfway back down the pipe. I should mention that the exhaust pipe was custom made and all welded, front to back. Couldn’t just unclamp the muffler, I’d have to cut it off. Ended up jacking the rear of the car up in stages. Had to jack up, then put stands, then put 2×6 boards under the jack, jack again, re-arrange stands, put more 2×6 boards under the jack, and so-on. Finally got the rear up high enough it was touching the top of my garage ceiling. Finally heard the bolt roll back down and was able to fish it out. That little detour took most of the day. Closest I ever came to crying while working on a car.


  5. This rant, among many other reasons, is why I no longer buy American vehicles. Oh…I have stories.

    Early 90s Taurus and Sables had a combination rubber/metal hose that went across the back of the engine to the heater. One side 5/8, one 3/4. Genius. It blew on two of our fleet cars and started leaking on my Sable. One dude at work wound up with a blown motor.
    Because you’re rocking down the highway on a rainy night, and don’t notice that the cloud of vapor behind you isn’t rainwater, but antifreeze. The temp gauge never showed overheat.

    My personal worst was changing a water pump on a 94 Deville
    37 different nuts, bolts, and screws, some metric, some SAE, and a 3” hose connection to a pipe behind the exhaust manifold. I nearly set the sumbitch on fire.

    Just as I had it buttoned up and was checking for leaks, a Mexican dude came up the alley and asked if I’d sell it. Gone that afternoon.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. usta have a honda del sol that was a nice fun little car but if it was even damp outside the roof would never stop leaking. finally got turned in as a lemon after i gave the dealer almost 20 tries.


  7. Phil, buddy we are kindred spirits. Worked my entire career in GM dealerships. Sunroofs gotta love em, hoses come off,roof panels not sealed,misadjusted. Best part was trying go get paid for your time. Try running clock time on 3 warranty cars at one time. Retired in 2016,vehicles had molded rubber underlayment under the carpet,can’t dry it, gotta be replaced. One of my last water leaks was on a brand new Yukon.Poured water on the windshield area, no leak. Advisor called owner,parked on steep driveway in NC. Jacked the bitch up in the back and started pouring water on the rig. Holy crap,looked like I turned the hose on in the truck. Turns out the selling dealer had cracked the windshield and replaced it. LIght on the sealer at top of windshield and the slight body flex let in the water. Another windshield, radio and ac control (water intrusion shorted them) new front carpet good as new. Glad it’s over.Take care my friend.


  8. My Dad worked at a GM assembly plant as a millwright. He had all kinds of stories about how guys on the line would sabotage cars as they’re going down the line. He also had stories about how guys would sabotage nut drivers and other tools they used to do their jobs just because they didn’t feel like working.


  9. I have always avoided sunroofs and T-tops. Early experience convinced me if you want open air you need a convertible.

    The first “new from the dealer” car I experienced belonged to my new bride. It was a two year old 82 Monte Carlo SS w/ a 350 that had the 305 FI intake. The SS package allowed the fuel deprived 350 engine, badges, striping, and the choice for advanced options that were not on that car. This one had AC, AM/FM stereo, bench seat, power steering, auto tranny with an open diff. Running down the road there was always a rattle coming from the trunk. I removed everything looking for that rattle for over a year. I finally found a 10mm wrench in the lower quarter panel. My name for that car was the Monte Shitlo. It was still in warranty and every 3 to 5 months another sensor was required to get the check engine light to go out. Before the warranty ran out I bought a 4 year/50K mile extended warranty that would protect it till it was 7 years old or 86k miles. It was a $25 deducible that got used almost every other month.

    It was 6 years old with 65kish miles on it when the wife lost control in a rainstorm and took it sideways across open RR tracks. It ripped the entire undercarriage out from under it. Insurance paid us more than what I thought the car was worth. The replacement was a new model Buick Summerset that had a HO V-6 that went through a transmission yearly. It is good I had the extended warranty on that one also.


  10. I worked at a Ford dealer in the late 80’s, body shop. I was the leak fixer too.

    Back then it was Taurus taillights. Just about every one leaked. I got to the point that if one came in I just sealed over every seam right off rather than wasting time trying to trace it.

    The other bane was mustang convertibles. Had one come in with a snow drift in the back seat. I too never understood sunroofs and convertibles in the Pacific NW.


    • Hey Ohio Guy,When I worked in a GM dealership in Scottsdale AZ. Dillon Aero bought a new 2500 series full size Suburban from us. I was instructed to remove the complete interior from the front seats back. Next time it came in it had a turret mounted 7.62 mini gun in the back seat area with a clam shell assisted opening. The clear coat on the roof was rubbed off from the river of shell casings that poured out of the gun. I think they sold them as force protection to the middle eastern nations sheiks. They had a you tube page if you want to see it.


  11. Yep. My nemesis isn’t automotive, it’s aviation. The motto at Learjet is “Put it where you can see it or just touch it with one finger, but not both, then make that the most common failure item in the system.”
    Getting too old to be doing this much longer….


  12. You guys are gonna hate me – got an ’89 Taurus SHO and a ’03 Jeep Grand Cherokee that have perfectly working sunroofs.
    Of course, I *do* maintain ’em, send a small wire down the drain tubes, and keep the gaskets “oiled” – okay, siliconed – and make sure the slides and mechanisms are greased.

    Sorry, guys. I *do* like sunroofs. Gotta be one in every crowd, huh?


  13. On skoolie, a forum dedicated to folks converting busses to mobile homes, I frequently attempt to convince home-builder converters to avoid holes in the roof.
    I know, it seems simple.
    But people want a sky-light over the bed so they can watch the stars.
    The fools!
    They want a roof-mounted air-conditioner instead of a wall-mount mini-split (I built our ExpeditionVehicle in 2003, no issues with our mini-split in nearly two decades full-time live-aboard.).
    After they understand the junction of rain with gravity, a common cure is silicone caulk.
    After the first bump, the components shift, requiring a second application of silicone caulk… then a fifteenth.
    Tragically, although silicone caulk never seals, it is impossible to remove.
    I honestly truly believe the gods have a devious sense of humor.


    • Agreed, the 1985 Beaver Motor Coach I have has a roof leak that I STILL CAN’T find. New Dicor coating on the roof, re-sealed everything – still can’t get it to seal.

      I wish I had a canopy I could drive it under. That would help the aging of the fiberglass…


  14. My father worked in a Ford dealership in the mid- 70’s. One he had to deal with was a nut, hanging by a wire, inside of a door. It would occasionally thump the panel and drove the owner nuts. The worst he told me about was every time the customer took off or stopped, there was a rattle that seemed to travel the length of the car. After several days, they cut out a section of the Unibody frame. When they jacked the car up, a golf ball came rolling out – with writing on it. ” Bet this drove you nuts”. Dearborn got an earful that day.

    Whitehall, NY


  15. Western Wa here too. I kept telling the wife toeavr the sunroof closed while at work. She parked under the trees and left it open. Then, one fall, she got caught in traffic, and spent 2 hours with a crotch full of water…

    she keeps it closed when parked now


  16. Western Wa here too. I kept telling the wife to leave the sunroof closed while at work. She parked under the trees and left it open all summer. Then, one fall, she got caught in traffic, in the rain, and spent 2 hours with a crotch full of water…

    she keeps it closed when parked now


  17. My parents had a VW Rabbit that had a leak around the radio antenna, and when it rained, the water would leak in and short the starter circuitry, and the car would start all on its own. Took ’em a while to figure out why they would come outside and find the car running.


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