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Water Leaking Into a Car

Eddie spent 35 years in the automotive business with Honda. He is an ASE certified master technician and has bruised knuckles to prove it.

Water leaking inside car

Water leaking inside car

Why Is My Car Leaking Water Inside?

If you have water leaking into your car, you need to deal with it promptly because of the many serious problems it can cause. If water sits for too long on a car's carpet, mold can grow and cause bad smells. Other problems can include corrosion of pin connectors, computer failures, sensor failures, rust, and high humidity inside the car that causes your windows to fog up.

Where Is the Water Coming From?

A wet carpet is not the only sign of water leaking in a car. If you have an idea of where the water is getting into the car, check for watermarks, stains, or even signs of rust. Take a close look at connectors for corrosion and check brackets for rust spots; you will be amazed at what you will find when you look.

I have always said, "Mechanics' best tools are not found in their toolbox, they are found in their heads." Water leaks are hard to pinpoint, but once you find exactly where the water is coming in, you can access the problem spot and repair it.

Leaks From Outside the Car

Improperly installed urethane that caused a windshield to leak water into the vehicle.

Improperly installed urethane that caused a windshield to leak water into the vehicle.

There was a water leak near the back glass, the trunk and rear seat were soaked to the point of black mold growing. We had the rear glass removed professionally and found this pinhole near the urethane.

There was a water leak near the back glass, the trunk and rear seat were soaked to the point of black mold growing. We had the rear glass removed professionally and found this pinhole near the urethane.

Leaking Windshield

The number one cause of a water leak in a car is the poor installation of a windshield. If you have had a windshield replaced recently, take a look at this possibility. I'm not trying to disrespect windshield replacement companies, it's just that some companies hire people who just don't care; they will cut out the old windshield and slap in the new one without proper preparation.

If a professional replaces the windshield, it will take a minimum of an hour. It takes time to remove the moldings, cut the windshield out, trim the old urethane so the new windshield sits flat, touch up any scratches in the paint from the removal process, prime the glass with a primer, and install a nice bead of new urethane.

If your "professional" replaced the glass in just 15 minutes, his or her work might be not just the cause of a water leak but a safety issue. In the event of a car crash, you could be thrown through an improperly installed windshield and severely injured. I am good friends with a guy who owns his own windshield repair company, and I see and hear the horror stories, so I write to you from experience.

Leaking Body Seams

Body seams are the second major cause of water leaking in your car. Seams that weren't properly sealed at the factory, or seams that were broken open by a car accident, will usually cause the mystery water leak. Finding the point of entry is worth the struggle.

Once you find the seam that is leaking, I recommend using 3M Brushable Seam Sealer on the problem area. This is the same sealer automakers use in the factory to seal all seams in the body of the vehicle after they are welded. One reason I like to use this seam sealer is that it skims over in about 30 minutes, so you don't have to wait a long time between water tests. Nevertheless, if you can let the car sit overnight after sealing it, the sealer will adhere to the body seams completely, and you won't have a seam open again because of the body flexing before the sealer is completely dry.

Water-Testing Your Car for Leaks From the Outside

Finding the point of entry is the first step in keeping rainwater out of your car. This investigation is time-consuming, but something you can do yourself. You need to physically see where the water is coming into the car, not just where it is traveling along a panel or a seam. To test your car, pour water on it: start at a low point and work your way up to the roof. If you determine that water is leaking into the bottom of the windshield, there is no need to go any higher with the water test until after you've fixed this first low leak.

Leaks Into the Trunk

A foul, moldy smell in the trunk may result from water getting in around the taillights or the trunk lid. If you can identify these leaks, you can get them fixed.

Leaking Sunroof: Finding Clogged or Disconnected Sunroof Drains

Location of sunroof drains in tray

Location of sunroof drains in tray

Sunroof drain in the corner of the sunroof tray

Sunroof drain in the corner of the sunroof tray

Disconnected sunroof drain

Disconnected sunroof drain

Clogged sunroof drain

Clogged sunroof drain

Leaking Aftermarket Accessories

Poorly installed aftermarket accessories are another major cause of water leaking in your car. Anything from a sunroof to a roof rack system, if not installed properly with the right sealer, will cause a water leak in a car.

If you have a factory-installed sunroof, check the drains. Sunroofs leak! That's why a factory-installed sunroof has a built-in tray with four drains, one in each corner of the sunroof. Sometimes these drain tubes become disconnected or clogged and will cause water to leak into the car. Locating the drains and checking them for proper drainage can take some time because they are usually buried in fenders and body panels, but it's time well spent. A shortcut to locating the drains is to fill the sunroof tray with water and watch where it goes when it drains. It will usually spill out in the front and the rear of the rocker panels.

Evaporator drain location (on most vehicles)

Evaporator drain location (on most vehicles)

Leaks From Inside the Car

Some leaks into the passenger compartment happen when it hasn't even been raining; they involve fluids created by the car's cooling or heating systems.

Clogged Air Conditioner Drain

When air conditioners take humidity out of the air in the passenger compartment, they end up collecting a lot of water that has to drain out of the car. Water dripping out of the air conditioner drain onto the ground is totally normal; water dripping onto the floor of the car from the air conditioner is not. If you haven't had any rain, and you have water leaking onto the passenger's floor, check your air conditioner drain or evaporator drain; it may be clogged or disconnected. Debris gets sucked into the evaporator from outside and can occasionally clog the drain tube. A temporary quick fix for this problem is blowing compressed air into the drain tube located under the car, but eventually, you will have to remove the evaporator and clean out the debris.

Leaking Heater Core

Another possible cause of wet carpet, especially in the front of the car, when it hasn't been raining, is a leak from the heater core. Car heaters circulate coolant through the dashboard area to heat the car, and if the heater core springs a leak, coolant can drip onto the floor.

Let's Share Information

I hope this has given you some insight on water leaks and a few ideas on where to start looking. If you have a question about water leaking in a car, leave it in the comment box below, and I will answer it ASAP.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: I have water on the passenger floor of my 2011 Hyundai Sonata. Could this be a clogged drain in the sunroof?

Answer: More likely the drain on the evaporator is either clogged or knocked off. If that looks ok it could be a sunroof drain or a windshield gasket. Have you had your windshield replaced recently?

Question: Water leaks into my car from under the glove box. How do I fix this problem?

Answer: Water is leaking in from under your glove box because you either have an evaporator drain that is clogged, or you have some other leak. You'll need to find the point of entry by either water testing your vehicle, or try unclogging the evaporator drain by using a coat hanger or compressed air up the drain tube.

Question: I have a 2016 Ford Fiesta. I just got it brand new a year ago. This morning, I found the floor on the passenger side (behind the driver) soaked in around 5-7mm of water. I’m sure it didn’t rain yesterday but it rained hard two days before. The other side of the passenger, seats and the driver floor is dry. What could be causing this?

Answer: I recommend bringing it back to Ford; I think it may still be under warranty. There are a lot of things that can cause this, leaking body seams, missing door seals, tail light seals, sunroof drains, etc. I recommend checking the trunk for any signs of water as well.

Question: 99 Civic EX, leaks inside right rear side, where should I start?

Answer: Check the trunk first and see if there is any water anywhere in the trunk, even behind the wall panels. If the is water back there, check the rear sunroof drains and taillight gaskets.

Question: I have a leak in spare tire area in a 2008 Honda Fit. How do I fix it?

Answer: Check out this video, I found several leaks in the seam sealer near the roof run channels

Question: I can hear steady dripping overhead on the driver's side of my 2009 Lincoln MKX, but there is no water inside the vehicle. Where should I begin my search?

Answer: I recommend checking the sunroof first, find out if the drains are clogged.

Question: My trunk is soaked and there is condensation on the trunk lid. Today I noticed the back passenger seat is damp and the rug on that side as well. There doesn't appear to be a problem with the stripping around any part of the car and we also washed the car and nothing leaked. Any ideas?

Answer: It's possible the leak is from inside the trunk, have you checked the complete trunk area for standing water link in the spare tire well and under the trunk liner? Taillight lens gaskets are a very common place for water to enter the trunk, also if you have a sunroof, the rear drains usually exit the vehicle in the rear quarter panels behind the trunk wall liners.

Question: There is a visible waterfall from under glove box when turned left; continued to run at every turn as if sloshing out of some sort of tray or bucket? I turned floor vent on high (not a/c) and blower motor quit after 3 minutes, won't come back on in any mode?

Answer: Sounds like your AC evaporator is full of water because it's not draining. I recommend having someone blow some compressed air up the drain tube from under the car or use a coat hanger to fish out the debris clogging the drain.

Question: I have a Suzuki Wagon R. Near the front left door, close to the door, water comes in drops under the dashboard. What is the main issue?

Answer: Look under the dash with a flashlight and see if the water is coming in from up high like next to your windshield or low like where the carpet meets the kick panel. If you have a sunroof, I'd definitely check there.

Question: My 2007 Lincoln Towncar has twice had a pool of water in the back seat passenger side well. It appeared even though we had no rain two days before. The first time there had been showers, but not the day it was observed. Where could it be coming from?

Answer: I recommend checking the AC drain in the front passengers' side foot area. If the drain is clogged, water will leak under the carpet and find its way into the back seat floor area.

Question: How can water get in a nonmoving car?

Answer: Water can enter a vehicle in many areas like the windshield seal, back glass seal, door seals, body seams, tail light lens gaskets, etc... Pinpointing the point of entry is the most difficult part of diagnosing a water leak.

Question: There is water in the back passenger floorboard when it rains. I have checked the seals on front and back doors. I also made sure that the windows were up all the way, and checked the trunk, but no luck. I’m stumped?

Answer: Have you checked the front passenger carpet? When it's raining, people use there defog mode on the windshield. This uses the AC to remove moisture from inside the passenger compartment. If the AC drain (located on the front passenger floor near the firewall) is clogged, it will leak onto the front floor and flow into the back. So check the front carpet as well, and let me know what you find, thanks.

Question: The driver and passenger floor of my 2006 Grand Caravan is very wet. Where should I look for the source, and what would be the solution?

Answer: I would first look for the cause. Is it coming in from the rain or is the problem coming from the AC not draining? Has the windshield been replaced recently? Has the vehicle been in any major accidents?

Question: I have a 2001 Toyota RAV4. The driver side floor is soaking wet after the rain. How do I find and fix this issue?

Answer: I recommend pulling back the carpet and water testing it to see where the water is entering the vehicle. Water leaks will usually leave a trail or debris or rust so you can look for signs of this before you even water test.

Question: I have water leaking into the driver's side floor well of my 1990 Honda Civic EF hatch. It's not going into the back of the car at all or the passenger side footwell just the driver's side. What could it be? I know the window regulator is bad and won't roll up all the way unless I push it up, and this only happens when it rains. But, a puddle still collects even when I haven't driven the car. Where could the leak be coming from?

Answer: It's a good possibility that your windshield is leaking on that side of the vehicle and is leaking in from behind the dash. You'll need to pull back the carpet and inspect the floor for any trails of water leaking from above.

Question: There is water in my 2014 Ford Fusion driver and passenger floorboard and we know it's not the heater core. Could our AC drain be clogged?

Answer: Absolutely, I recommend checking the drain first. Try using a piece of wire like a coat hanger to clear the drain on your vehicle.

Question: After I spray water on my windshield or after I carwash it there's no leak inside my dashboard, but when I drive it and take a sharp turn some water leaks under my dash on the passenger side floor like there's a container overflowing. How can I find out from where the water is leaking?

Answer: It sounds to me like your air conditioner evaporator is not draining and is leaking water onto your passenger side floor. I recommend finding the AC evaporator drain and clearing it with a coat hanger or a piece of flexible wire.

Question: I have a 2010 Nissan Altima, and on my driver's side when it rains, it's always wet. I also hear water dripping in the back but can't seem to figure out where it is coming from. When I drive, I hear water from the back shifting, but I can't find where it is gathered. Where could the leak be?

Answer: I recommend checking the tail light gaskets, its a very common place to have a water leak. Check your trunk for water too, if the trunk is wet, the water may be creeping into the back seat as well under the carpet.

Question: I just swept the rubber mats in my 2011 Nissan Rogue and discovered they were wet as is the carpeting under the mat on the driver's side. Do you have any thoughts?

Answer: If you have been using the AC system, make sure the evaporator is draining under the vehicle when it's running. If you don't see any water draining, it's possible your AC drain is clogged. If you have a sunroof, make sure those drains are working as well by pouring water into the sunroof tray and watching it drain from all four corners near the wheels.

Question: Water is sitting in my car under the spare tire and on the back carpet. How do I fix this problem?

Answer: Have someone get in the trunk with a flashlight, water test the outside of the car and have the person in the trunk look for the leak.

Question: I have a 2012 Chrysler 200. I have noticed after car washes and rain my driver's side rest and front get flooded with 2" of water. What is it?

Answer: There is an obvious leak somewhere. You'll need to pinpoint the entry of the water. Have you ever been in an accident or had the windshield replaced? If so, this can certainly be the case.

Question: I discovered a large pool of water on the carpet floor in the front passenger and back seat on the same side. The other side is dry, and so is the floor on the driver side. I have followed your advice and poured water on the windshield while someone else was looking with a torch. Nothing. The carpet under the glove compartment is dry, and so is the trunk. A neighbor checked my water reservoir and no leak from there. Can you help, please?

Answer: Check the drain tube coming out of the bottom of the AC evaporator; it is usually located on the passenger's side of the vehicle where the passenger would rest their feet near the engine firewall.

Question: My daughter has a 2008 Nissan rogue and has had it for ten months, just recently it has water in the driver's floorboard and the back passenger floorboard behind the driver's seat, how do I find out where the water is coming from?

Answer: You'll need to pull the carpet back and dry under it. Check the trunk for any water in the spare tire well or anywhere else in the trunk. If the trunk is dry, check under the dash with a flashlight for any trails of water leaking down against the firewall, also look for rust stains or areas of the carpet higher than the floor that is wet, if there is, water test it in that area.

Question: I have a Ford Fiesta and I found that the back seat on the driver's side is wet. Why could this be?

Answer: First, check if there is water in the trunk. It could be an issue with the headliner, or maybe snow got onto your seat?

Question: My car leaks water from where you pull the handle to open the hood of the car what can it be ?

Answer: The most common leak would be the windshield gasket, but depending on the vehicle it could be something else.

Question: My daughter has a 2010 Ford Escape, and both front floorboards get wet now when it rains. This problem just started within the last couple of months. I don’t see any sign of water on the headliner and the windshield hasn’t been replaced. Do you have any ideas?

Answer: If you have been using the AC system, make sure the evaporator is draining under the vehicle when it's running. If you don't see any water draining, it's possible your AC drain is clogged. If you have a sunroof, make sure those drains are working as well by pouring water into the sunroof tray and watching it drain from all four corners near the wheels.

Question: I have a leak at my pillars, by the windshield. It happens more so on the passenger side and my floorboard on the passenger side is wet. What could be causing this?

Answer: If you have a sunroof the front drains may be clogged. If you don't have a sunroof, it's a good possibility the windshield gasket is leaking.

Question: My truck is leaking from the frame about 2/3 the way up the windshield on both sides. What could be causing this?

Answer: Most likely you'll need to have your windshield removed and resealed or replaced, the gasket must be compromised.

Question: I have water leaking in what looks like under the center engine compartment where the shifter is located in my 2006 Saturn Vue, 2.2. Is this possible?

Answer: Yes, anything is possible. If the leak smells sweet it may be a heater core leaking, or it's possible you have a water leak, maybe the evaporator drain is clogged, and water is starting to back up out of the floor vents? I recommend checking the evaporator drain first if the fluid leak is not a sweet smell.

Question: How can I find where the water is coming in my car? A pool of water forms on the carpet in front and back well of my Nissan Micra. We have checked all the places mentioned.

Answer: You'll need to pull back the carpet where the water is pooling, dry the floor with a towel, then water test the vehicle with a hose on the roof in the area the water is seen. You'll need to have a flashlight and watch to see where the water is streaming in.

Before you start, inspect the interior of the vehicle by running your hand on the areas of carpet that go up the sides of the vehicle to see if you feel any wet carpet that isn't at floor level. If you come across an area that is wet higher then floor level, start by water testing in that area.

Question: I have water on the driver's side of my car inside the door panel. What do I need to do to get rid of the water and how do I prevent more water from collecting in the future?

Answer: Your doors have drains in the bottom along the seam, locate the drains and clean them out so the water will drain properly. Doors are not sealed and it is normal for water to drain from them, but not puddle in them.

Question: I have a 2015 Chevy Traverse. I've had no accidents and have never replaced the windshield. There is no sun roof. It drips water when raining in the front middle towards window and by the control panel. Any ideas?

Answer: Most likely the windshield gasket is defective. Sometimes there can be a weak spot and it shows up over time from the body flexing.

Question: I have a 2006 Infiniti G35, and while driving, I felt small drops of water hitting my feet as I drove. I pulled over to find that there was water coming from the undercarriage inside of my car. What do you think that could? I always feel like a female that I have subjected to foolishness when it comes to getting my car worked on, and would at least like an idea when I walk in so that I am somewhat prepared when they assess the vehicle.

Answer: Your AC drain may be clogged causing water to pool up inside the HVAC system and drip or spray out onto your feet when the interior fan is on. If it is humid where you live and this sounds like a possibility, have the AC evaporator drain checked first.

Question: I have a Mercedes A Class 63 reg. (no sunroof) and water leaks inside and onto the carpet on the passenger side; the back is soaking wet. I took it to the garage, and they said it might be a blocked AC drain as the pollen filter was absolutely soaked. They cleared the debris, and then they did a water test, and the problem was sorted. A few weeks later the problem is back! Is it really blocked drains or something more serious?

Answer: Yes, it could be a blocked drain. Since the mechanic only temporarily cleared the drain, it's like pushing the hair back down the tub drain without removing it from the tub; it will flow back down the drain and will clog it again. You could keep clearing it with a coat hanger or have the evaporator removed and have it completely cleaned of debris, but that costs a few bucks. They will need to discharge the AC system and remove the evaporator box from behind the dash.

Question: I have a 2010 Cobalt and every time it rains, water gets in on the driver side right above where the diagnostic plug is and over the footrest next to the brake. What could be leaking?

Answer: Most likely the windshield or a body seam in the bulkhead area where you wipers rest.

Question: I have isolated the front driver side sunroof drain hose as the problem. I pour water in and some make it to the ground behind the tire, but it seems as though more ends up in the headliner at the corner of the windshield. Occasionally some will leak out of panel by the door near the gas release level. How do I fix this?

Answer: You'll need to lower the headliner in that corner and try to repair the leak, it will be tight and you may bend the headliner but you need to stop the leak asap.

Question: I have a 2014 Nissan Versa. Because of the cold/ice weather we have had, I noticed right above the driver's door that the ceiling was wet. Now if it rains heavy it continues to be wet. What can I do to fix it?

Answer: Call your local windshield repair shop and have them check the windshield gasket for a leak.

Question: Would a wet fuse box cause my car to not crank?

Answer: It depends on what got wet. If a relay shorted internally because of water, then yes. If the outer part of the fusebox got wet and nothing internally did, then most likely that is not your issue.

Question: Rain water leaks into my car from the sunroof. Where can I take it to for repairs?

Answer: I recommend you take it to your local automotive glass repair company, someone who replaces windshields may be able to help.

Question: My daughter broke off the top antenna of her car, and it got rained on. No water got in the passenger area of the car. She eventually had the antenna fixed, but how do we know if there's been damage and what should be done?

Answer: If water never entered the vehicle there should be no need to worry, outside antennas are made for the weather, even if they are broken.

Question: Every time it rains my floor gets wet on the driver's side. My husband broke the hood latch on my car and it hasn't been replaced. Also, my windshield got hail damaged during the storms in 2017, and I got my windshield replaced. My sunroof had a recall and work was done on it all in the same year. The glass company said the drain plug is clogged on the driver's side coming from the sunroof. What do you think could be the problem?

Answer: There are a lot of possibilities because you have had so many repairs that could cause a water leak, check out this video on how to check your sunroof drains.

Question: Our daughter's car started having water coming up from her front passenger floorboard. This is the first time this has happened. Do you know why?

Answer: Water usually flows down; I recommend checking the carpet up on the sides and up under the dash. A common leak is the Air Conditioner evaporator drain tube being disconnected or clogged; I recommend starting with checking the drain tube.

Question: I have water inside of the trunk liner whenever I wash my car. Where could that possibly be coming from?

Answer: If the water is on top of the trunk mat, then it is possible your back glass seal is leaking, or the trunk lid gasket is leaking. If the water is under the mat, it could be coming in from the taillight gaskets or a seam in the body. There are so many reasons for why water is entering a vehicle, so it's best to soak up the water with a towel and water test it with a dry trunk to see if the water is leaving a trail, then just follow the trail to the point of entry.

Question: Why is it that when I go through the car wash, my passenger window on my 2006 g35 Infiniti leaks?

Answer: You probably need a window run channel.

Question: I recently had cross bars installed that attach to the running bars on my Jeep Renegade. When I open my passenger side window after there's been rain, water leaks down into the car. Is that normal?

Answer: Yes, it is possible to have water dripping from the crossbars into a window. It might be worth investing in some window visors to help divert the water.

Question: I have a water leak in my trunk mainly from splits in the seam sealer. Can I apply new sealer to the old or do I have to fully remove, and do I need some type of primer before and/or after applying? Is wax/grease remover necessary when applying the sealer as well?

Answer: You can apply new sealer over the old seam sealer, I recommend cleaning it up with some rubbing alcohol or lacquer thinner just so it adheres better.

Question: What is the most common leak on a 2003 Honda Civic LX two-door?

Answer: An oil leaking from the valve cover gasket is most common.