Raindrops Keep Falling on Your Head

Well specifically, it wasn’t raindrops, but a good splash of water, and not my head, but my dear Stymistress’s. Warning: long post…

Her car is now approaching it’s 14th birthday. It’s still in fairly good nick (and very low mileage, given she doesn’t like driving unless absolutely necessary) but a recent cornering move resulted in an inpromtu dousing, and the amount of condensation inside didn’t look good either.

Being nearly 14 years old, it predates air-conditioning as standard, and has a sunroof. Not a cheap, nasty aftermarket one, but a factory-fitted electric one. You might at this point think the sunroof is leaking, but you’d be wrong: many people don’t appreciate that a lot of seals on a car are not designed to actually seal water, and this is the case here: water is meant to get past the glass panel, drop onto a channel below, and then drain out through a pipe. Many similar sunroofs are OEM’d for other marques, by Webasto.

On the Lupo there’s 4 drains. Two from the front, which exit at a grommet in the door pillar, covered by a cap which prises off:

A-pillar sunroof drain, covered by a plastic cap.

A-pillar sunroof drain, usually covered by a plastic cap. Always wondered what it was….

and two identical ones at the back, behind the rear lamp units. No photos of those, but they’re obvious, once you remove the lamp (1 screw, then slide outwards and back).

A quick look under the glass panel found a good bit of water. Blocked drains then. To avoid further unwanted wettings, I tried to probe the grommets- the official manual says this is the way to clear them, suggesting a speedo cable inner, but all it got me was no clearing, and pushing one inside the pillar, so I retrieved it, and pulled both off, leaving the drain tube hanging in the pillar, and a satisfying gurgle as the water drained. The grommets washed out OK, leaving a lot of mud…

Problem is, the drain hoses are only just long enough, so impossible to reconnect. The front ones are almost entirely inside the A-pillar, and the rear ones end in a void behind the lamps. As the sunroof was also sticking, time for the headlining to come out. This was a bastard of a job in some cars, but it’s surprisingly simple.

Start by removing the interior light and sunroof switch- the cover just prises out, then the assembly unscrews. Then unclip the headlining from the sunroof frame- slide back the moveable blind first. The manual says to use a special tool with the roof open from above, but I found that just pushing with fingers from inside released it. Unscrew the four grab handles after prising the caps out to get at the screws- there’s a slot to prise them.

Next, remove the 3 sunvisors (including the small one in the middle). They just unscrew, but leave behind these hooks:

Sunvisor retaining hook, with cap.

Sunvisor retaining hook, with cap.

Which are tricky, because the cap (loose in the photo) is a very tight fit, and hard to prise off. Then remove the C-pillar trims (behind the rear side windows)- they just pull off.

Once those are out, the panel drops forward and down, and can be removed. It’s glued at the extreme rear edge, but I’d already had this one out to replace the roof aerial- it just pulls free.

The drain tubes are now visible. They just pull off, giving enough slack to reconnect the front ends, and to ease the back drains out to get them off for cleaning:

Front drain tube.

Front drain tube.

Rear drain tube.

Rear drain tube.

Having checked the sunroof for any blinding faults and cleared the drains, I’m still left with a sticky sunroof which sounds noisy, with ominous grinding noises, but at least my better half won’t get drenched, merely having to sit in a car with that stripped-out rally feel.

The first obvious thing to try is lubrication (fmaarr). The manual gives dire warnings about using nothing but G-000-450-02 grease on the sliding bits, so I’ve got some, despite the obscene cost (seriously, it must be made from unicorn semen), but that doesn’t seem to have fixed it- the internal moving parts of the mechanism itself aren’t visible with the unit installed, and today is not a day to leave a gaping hole in the car roof. I do wonder if water has got in to the drive cables: The motor is free running, and, removed from the mechanism, runs correctly. Interestingly, operation of the roof doesn’t involve switches to sense position: there are sensors in the (complicated, electronic) motor unit that count the revolutions from a known starting point (PDF, 25k). It also senses a stuck roof, re-opening if it detects it (presumably via motor RPM), which means that the emergency handle is useful…

Off to ebay for a replacement mechanism from a breaker, as a new one will be doubtless made from unobtainium, wrapped in virgin unicorn hide, and have a proportionate cost.

We could, of course, just not use the sunroof, now it no longer lets water in, but I like things to work.

To follow: the entertainment of fitting it, and refitting the headlining.

2 Responses to “Raindrops Keep Falling on Your Head”

  1. species5618 Says:

    Cars seem to be playing a big part in my frustrations recently
    12 yr old freelander sunroof, no longer closes, once opened, without the aid of a long thin screwdriver, and a small attitude adjustment device (hammer)
    though I don’t seem to have any water issues, yet, action plan, remove fuse 😉

    Son’s Car (2000 Ka) need news Rack, never done a rack with PAS, so may be a garage job
    and that is not to mention the central locking fault, which disabled the electric boot release.

    and the wife’s car just had new front calliper, my first encounter with a ceased/ sticking calliper, but being the wife’s car, I opted NOT to beat it with a attitude adjustment device,
    got a garage to replaceit, supply and fir for only £30 more than I could get the part.
    but it will need new pads before MOT.

  2. stymaster Says:

    The Lupo has consistently cost next to nothing to run for some time, and, to be fair, I could just ignore the non-functioning sunroof, but I’m a little OCD about things working.

    My Leon has picked up a few bills of late: a DMF and wheel bearing lately, so I’m hoping for no major bills for a while.

    Racks are by no means an uncommon failure on the Ka.