How to Unplug a Sunroof Drain





Introduction: How to Unplug a Sunroof Drain

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Video tutorial on how to unplug a sunroof drain. Depending on where you live, sunroof drains may become plugged sooner than later. If you live in a treed area, it can happen more often as there is larger particles floating around in the air which would eventually plug the drains. These drains are normally feed through the roof pillars and exit somewhere underneath the vehicle. When a sunroof drain does become plugged, the common signs are either a wet headliner, water dripping from the headliner, wet roof pillar, a damp carpet or water pooling in the foot wells.

Tools/Supplies Needed:

  • soft wire or trimmer cord
  • air compressor or can of air
  • bottle or cup of water
  • vacuum clean
  • rubber hose

Step 1:

First you will need to open the sunroof as this is the easiest way to access the drains. I’ve already determined which drain is leaking and normally that can be done by having an idea where the water is leaking or gathering. We are looking for a hole which is at the base of the sunroof trim or frame. The drains normally continue down the roof or window posts, directing water flow to the underside of the vehicle. When cleaning the drain, it’s also a great idea to ensure there is no debris around the sunroof area which could worsen the clog or cause another clog.

Step 2:

First we can use an air compressor to blow out any debris. Here is have a small compressor with a regulator which can control the air pressure, so using the regulator, I like to keep the pressure at around 30psi. Next using a hose attached to the blow gun, push the hose in the drain and then allow the air to push out the clog.

Step 3:

If the air compressor does not work or you do not have access to one, use a wire. For this I have a roll of wire, this is stranded copper wire with an insulation. Slowly insert the wire, trimmer cord is also great for this if you have a roll laying around. The length of wire or cord depends on the run of the drain, ensure it’s at least the height of the vehicle. Feed the wire or cord in until it comes out the other side if you have a viewable drain exit. After that, remove the wire or cord.

Step 4:

Now test using a bottle of water, gradually drain the water around the sunroof drain, do not excessively dump as the drain is only able to remove a certain amount of water. As you can see the water is draining properly. If the problem persists, there may have been a drain you missed, a faulty seal, or faulty drain.

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    I was getting a shower and wet seat in my 1999 Subaru Outback Ltd. I tried clearing all the drains in my car but that didnt work. After pulling out the trim and roof lining and not finding any blockage Ive just sealed up my sunroof with gutter silicon. The problem was that the sunroof did not close fully and left a slight gap at the back when clossing. The silicon worked and there is no more leakage. I will never buy a car with a sunroof as they are useless and I have a rack and basket for camping and kayak.

    What worked for me was a length of insulated 2-conductor indoor house wiring cable. It is flexible enough to follow a gentle curve, but stiff enough to push through a bad clog. The drain hoses through the roof pillars should be at least 3/6" I.D. If available one could also try an electrician's steel fish line wire.

    2 replies

    OOPS! Just noticed that I typed 3/6" I.D. (must have been dirty glasses) Should have typed 3/8" I.D.

    Great tips, thank you for sharing! For this particular vehicle, right below the run drain opening, I takes a tighter turn so something stiffer may cause issues.

    Yep. Not something to expect considering sunroofs have seals too. You'd think manufacturers would outline it in the owner's manual as a preventative maintenance step.

    My SUV once had a leaky roof drain or so it seems. After a torrential rain, the foot mat at the driver's get waterlogged sometimes spilling over to the other side and backwards. I binged and got some instructions on using a thin wire to through the drain which is likely clogged. This I did with little success because it happened again. Weirdly, a bottle of water poured into the gutter drains well and this problem also does not occur at the car wash. I later realized that the problem is with where the car was packed - directly under the nozzle exit of a house roof rain collecting pipe. So several litres per minute of rain water gets dumped on the top of the car, much more than the drain is able to clear. So the water builds up and eventually overflows into the car.

    1 reply

    Thank you for sharing that info! Honestly I never would have even expected that. I guess it makes sense though considering most rains isn't literally a bucket like a gutter drain would be.