By on April 19, 2016

expetion_over3

TTAC commentator kericf writes:

Sajeev,

I know you experienced the deluge of rain in Houston (Last October, and it was pretty bad. —SM). We live on the north side of the city and own a six-month-old 2015 Ford Expedition EL that has been outside its whole life (it doesn’t fit in the garage). It has seen much heavier rain than we had this weekend, but not a storm that lasted so long.

Water  somehow got into the headliner and dropped into the interior. It does have a sunroof and roof rack. The dealership has only had it a day but hasn’t been able to figure out the source of the leak. It hasn’t leaked before. We are baffled and I have a feeling the dealership will be too.

From a consumer standpoint, what should I expect to get replaced under warranty and what will just get dried and cleaned in my six-month-old car? The passenger side middle row bucket was drenched; the leather was waterlogged and was buckling. I would say this seat cover should be replaced — but will it? Should the soaked headliner be removed?

I’m just wondering how much I should push to get things replaced and as a consumer what I have a right to demand is replaced as part of the warranty work. The car was purchased in June and has ~6,000 miles on it.

Sajeev answers:

This is our second installment of leaky Ford roofs, and I suspect yours is also a moonroof drainage problem. On that problem, TTAC commentator Vinnie had a very interesting post:

… the dealer just figured out this same problem in my 2012 (Fusion) SE. It took several calls to Ford engineering and a year of trial and error for them to figure it out. It ended up being the moonroof glass itself. Apparently, the metal band around the glass can become separated and water can get in there and leak into the headliner. Based on what Ford told them, the dealer put in three brand new moonroof glass panels before they found one that worked. There seems to be a bad batch or two where the metal and glass did not bond correctly.

Either you have this internal moonroof fusing problem, or it left the factory out of alignment. Since it’s a recent purchase, the latter is entirely possible.

As far as the water damage, I wouldn’t be surprised if the dealer is able to salvage the leather, headliner and carpets. That said, the dealer may decide it’s not worth its time and effort to do that, especially if it can authorize replacement of those parts through warranty. Whatever happens, the dealer needs to make sure it looks like new again. Sadly, we all know it’s gonna be a mammoth task for the service department’s trim person/team.

I’m crossing my fingers and toes that the dealer fixed it to your satisfaction. Nobody wants this to happen to their new ride!

Send your queries to [email protected]com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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49 Comments on “Piston Slap: A Fusion of Moonroof Drainage Problems? (Part II)...”


  • avatar
    GTL

    My 2010 Escape has had three separate instances of leaking: water puddling up in the passenger floor board. The last time I vacuumed more than a gallon of water out.

    The dealer called in a specialist each time; first time was a bad seal on the windshield, second a body seam and the last an opening between the firewall and body. Since I can’t actually see any of these places (without a lot of trouble) I can’t verify these were the causes or the repair done.

    the first instance was under warranty, the second was after the warranty period, but the dealer covered it, the 3rd was long out of warranty, but the dealer only charged $50 in light of the previous issues.

    None was due to the moonroof leaking.

    • 0 avatar
      gonk

      I had a Ford Focus that had the same problem. I’ll spare you the rant I have about a particularly shitty dealership in Houston, but long story short, it was due to a warped evaporator coil in the AC system that was dumping water. There is a TSB on it, and one of the symptoms is water in the passenger foot-well.

      My dealership misdiagnosed it twice, charged me a bundle each time to fix it (as my car had just passed the warranty period), each time giving me some bullshit similar to what you were told.

      Finally, on the third time, I took it to an indy mechanic that had good reviews. They knew about the TSB, fixed it up.

  • avatar
    Joss

    If they haven’t already, ask the dealer to blast the drainage channels with compressed air. There could be debris/ foilage stuck in there. I had this issue with my Versa hatch moonroof.

  • avatar

    After three repairs and notice of final repair prior to filing for lemon law, Ford finally sent a technician out to help the dealer. They realigned the tray and rerouted the rear drain lines. They said there were issues with the curtain airbags pinching the drain lines reducing the flow.

    This was actually perfect timing on this since we had 500 year level rain the past couple days and the car stayed dry so I guess they finally fixed it.

    It took two headliners, three seat covers and one seat heater module, but hopefully it’s finally repaired for good.

    • 0 avatar

      “This was actually perfect timing on this since we had 500 year level rain the past couple days and the car stayed dry so I guess they finally fixed it.”

      Great to hear! I was actually thinking about your Expedition while the thunder and the light show kept me up throughout the night.

    • 0 avatar
      Tinn-Can

      I was kind of wondering if this would be the ironic fate of one of the cars I saw floating around on the news… I’m glad you managed to stay out of it.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Like the dude in the Honda Insight that jumped out just before it sank.

        Although, sadly, I’ve heard about fatalities from people drowning in their cars. “Turn around, don’t drown.”

        My thoughts and prayers go out to you folks down there.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Do you worry about mold growth in these situations? I think that would be on my mind enough to get rid of the car.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    This adds to the reasons that I will not buy a car with a moon roof. Even if they never leak, they take up several inches of head room, and are way to noisy on the open road especially if you travel roads used by 18 wheelers. I had an MB with one. I used it a few times before I decided that my ear drums were more valuable to me than the open sky above that small hole in the roof.

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    New cars are so much better than used cars because they never break!

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Well, there’s dealing with leaky sunroofs or minor computer glitches, but generally making it to 150K miles at a minimum (as any modern car will do)…and there’s needing to outright replace your car by 60K miles, as was the case with classic metal. The fact that surviving classic cars often need new frames, floorpans, interiors and powertrains should tell you just how durable and preservable they were / are. That’s not to say classics aren’t impressive and cool, but unless you like to be able to stand inside of your engine bay while you’re working inside it, newer cars are just much better to live with.

      Besides, sunroofs have leaked for as long as they’ve existed. You can’t just put a glass or metal opening on the roof of a car and not have problems. It is not an issue inherent to modern cars.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        You especially can’t put a glass roof on a Pontiac G6, for example, unless you want major issues.

      • 0 avatar
        GS 455

        A sunroof is just like a skylight in the roof of a home. Yeah they’re nice, they let light in but be prepared to deal with leaks at some point in time. To each his own. As time goes on I want my home and cars to be as low maintenance as possible.

      • 0 avatar
        SC5door

        No, you actually can put a sunroof in a car and not have it leak.

        All the components must be properly installed at the factory to the proper specs. You absolutely have to hold the line on the tolerances; building a half shift of production with the glass too high or low isn’t acceptable. In the OP’s case it sounds like there was a pinched line for the drain tubes caused by improper install at KTP for the curtain airbags; it’s either an operator or engineering issue. Old and worn out tooling for installing the glass assembly could be an issue as well.

        It also must be properly taken care of, including when you replace the battery in the vehicle. I would imagine that not one person does a reset on the system after replacing a battery. (Owners manuals typically help with this).

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          To make sure it fully-closes?

          The Accord in my avatar is the first I’ve had with “one-touch” open-and-close, and yes, the O/M has a reset procedure for that and the power windows.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    How hard have the doors been closed/slammed? I suffered a cracked drainage channel in my Flex when a particularly frustrated individual hurled shut the passenger side door in the Spring of last year. I only learned of the malady weeks later after it began raining in my car while driving the kids to school; the headliner replacement postmortem revealed the damage done, in addition to a destroyed door sensor which had completely screwed up all the modern convenience features via a confused BCM.

    Is the roof straight? Was your Expedition assembled on a cold day? If the sunroof mechanism was installed with a significant temperature differential between its frame and the mounting points on the roof, the exterior sheet metal will suffer a bell-curve distortion once temperatures equalize. That warping of the roof will ensure no replacement glass will ever seal fully: you’ll either have leaks around the raised corner edges, or if you lower the glass to seal at the corners, the rear center section will be lowered so much you can simply drop a playing card in the slot and watch it fall through.

    In that case it’s time to make the automaker’s techs fix it, or find a good professional independent body shop; no chain shop will be interested in actually straightening out your subtly bent roof. The headliner must be dropped and the sunroof mechanism unbolted. Using a spreader and performing the operation on a hot day to ensure everything is at equilibrium, apply gentle pressure on the sides of the roof to remove the bell curve, then refasten the sunroof assembly and remove the spreader. That should ensure everything “breathes” normally and the mechanism seals properly.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      “I suffered a cracked drainage channel in my Flex when a particularly frustrated individual hurled shut the passenger side door”

      My condolences on having met my ex-wife.

    • 0 avatar
      Weltron

      “I suffered a cracked drainage channel in my Flex when a particularly frustrated individual hurled shut the passenger side door in the Spring of last year.”

      Well I guess they don’t call it a Flex for nothing.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      “in addition to a destroyed door sensor which had completely screwed up all the modern convenience features via a confused BCM.”

      I don’t know where the Body Control Module is on your Flex, but GM has a thing—or at least they did in the past—for putting the BCM near or under floor, where it was susceptible to rain or water damage. I have no idea why they’d do that.

      • 0 avatar
        Felis Concolor

        The BCM itself wasn’t hurt – but if it doesn’t get the “door_not_closed=FALSE” flag from the sensor, it won’t auto-lock once the vehicle is in motion, or dim the interior lights, or silence the “door is open” alarm… amazing what a single failed signal can do to a modern automobile’s systems.

        It’s a lot like a faulty ground on earlier automobiles; if there are more than a half dozen grounding wires in the harness or engine bay, you’re facing a headache of tracing wires and sticking multimeter leads in near-inaccessible areas.

        And as I’ve harped on in the past, ChryCo’s penchant for poorly sealing the firewall-mounted A/C condenser drain led to desert-zone vehicles with no rust anywhere on the body or floorpan – until you came to the completely rotted passenger footwell. Fortunately I detected my L-body’s drainback issue in its first year and fixed it permanently with a wad of florist’s putty.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I think mine in ’90s GM is behind the big “hush panel” which is at the top of the passenger foot well area. The third fuse box location (so many)!

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      After I backed my 2006 Accord into a contractor’s ladder backstopped by a porta-John, I slammed the driver’s door so hard that the right-rear speaker grille popped off from the overpressure, and since the engine was running and the navigation unit’s DVD drive was active, the DVD head-crashed!

      $250 for the collision claim to fix the trunk lid, and another $200 for the upgrade DVD for the navigation, no damage to glass!

  • avatar
    nickoo

    I tell you what you do, you just go get a piece of steel and butt weld it right up, be sure to use a permanent backer and vacuum box it post weld. You will never have to worry about that fancy dancy skylight leaking I tell you hwhat.

  • avatar
    Tinn-Can

    Maybe it’s because I actually use my sunroofs, but none have had any problems… They are all Asian cars though. Toyota, Mazda, and Honda. I wouldn’t want a car that doesn’t have one.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Once I experience certain things in a car, such as automatic climate-control, Adaptive Cruise, or LED headlights, I vow to never have another car without them.

      Same with the moonroof!

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Ugh. My sister was supposed to come in from Houston and she didn’t because of the rain, so now I’m bummed.

    As far as leaky roofs, I’ve never had one…but then, I don’t keep cars that long. I did have the panoramic sunroof on my Jetta SportWagen refuse to close *the day I bought it and drove it 200 miles home*, but that was down to a misaligned wind deflector. I’m sorry this happened to your six-month-old car.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Every single car I’ve owned has had a sunroof/moonroof with the exception of the Deville. And I’ve never had a sunroof fault – bearing in mind three of these examples were 9+ year old VAG items, I guess I should consider myself very lucky.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Best of all, Cadillac didn’t make astroroof standard.

    • 0 avatar
      06V66speed

      Like those big holes in the air, do ya?

      Out of the numerous cars I’ve owned (I don’t feel like counting, I’ve got enough “counting” going on here at my desk in the Accounts Receivable Department ;), I’ve had all of two with sunroofs/moonroofs.

      One was a ’94 Jetta.

      The other is one of my current vehicles, the Accord Coupe.

      They’ve both worked fine. Even on my 94 VW, which I find particularly surprising considering not much else on the Jetta worked (just being honest). Even turning the key all the way to the left while it was inserted in the driver’s door still opened the sunroof.

      Sunroof FTW. I guess.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I think VW and Audi still do this, as does Infiniti. Hold down the unlock on the fob for a couple seconds, and your windows and sunroof open up.

        • 0 avatar
          06V66speed

          My Accord actually does that, too. Opens the sunroof up if you turn the key all the way over (left, I think…?).

          Only just the windows, *not* the sunroof. Why not the sunroof, haven’t the slightest.

          ADDENDUM: Those centrally-operated (driver’s door controlled) vacuum-powered (???) door locks on my 94 Jetta were… interesting. Lol

          Those crazy Germans.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I wonder if they didn’t want to do an additional relay or whatever, because 1/2 of Accords don’t have a sunroof? Just a guess there.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            The 8th-Gens and up (2008+) link the key and/or the fob (open only) with the roof.

  • avatar
    PRNDLOL

    The second gen Cadillac CTS with Ultraview double sunroof is notorious for this. I had already pulled out the rear drain tubes in the trunk and ran a rear derailleur cable up both to clear them out and wet carpet returned only a few weeks later. Turns out the rubber grommet the drain tubes terminate into in the wheel hump seal flat and over time and stops opening up to channel out the water. Once I bypassed those duckbills they clear all the time now.

  • avatar
    Speedster356

    There is a 95% chance you have a clogged drain in the moonroof system
    There should be 4 of those.
    Many Hard-Top convertible and moonroof owners face similar problems, especially when the vehicle is parked outside and on an incline.
    Best way to test/clean the drains, get the largest syringe you can find and send water through the drain holes and watch the water ending somewhere under the fenders/wheel-wells.
    On rare occasions, the drain has by (bad) design a bottleneck that needs to be widened.
    Look for a TSB…

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      I can’t imagine how horrid the G6 h/t convertible must have been!

      • 0 avatar
        Speedster356

        I had an EOS. It never leaked but had many forum members (vwvortex as well as Greek forum members with issues)
        I also have a Skoda Yeti (no moonroof) but also seen similar issues of forum members with moonroofs (UK and Greek). I even submitted the moonroof drain bottlenect issue fox to my local Skoda dealer…

  • avatar
    dal20402

    8 vehicles in my history with factory moonroofs, one with a crappy aftermarket glass sunroof (not my choice!) Of those 9 vehicles, 5 spent significant amounts of time parked outside.

    I’ve had one tiny leak, from the seal in my ’89 Taurus SHO, that only showed up (in the form of a few drops of water falling on the driver’s head) when going around hard corners immediately after a hard rain. My only other moonroof issue was a guide that somehow got bent in my G8, which I eventually fixed by bending it back. Never had a drain channel clog or a moonroof fail to work.

    And I love them and won’t buy a car without one if I can help it (but then again I’m only 5’10”).

  • avatar
    zip89105

    2015 F150’s were notorious for leaky sunroofs. Clogged drains and disconnected drain hoses didn’t help either. QC really needs to be improved. Myself, although I like sunroofs, I won’t own a vehicle with one unless it is a Toyota.

  • avatar
    06V66speed

    Well, could be worse…

    You could have T-tops. Between the squeaks, wind noise, and leaks… I don’t know what’s worse. Lol

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