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Fixing a leaking sunroof (BMW x3, 2007)

Discussion in 'Car Repairs / Maintenance' started by Bluebirdnick, 16 Aug 2020.

  1. Bluebirdnick

    Bluebirdnick

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    Hi all

    I've got an old x3 which has a large panoramic sunroof. I rarely use the sunroof.

    It leaks. a lot. This is, apparently, very common for this model. As I understand it, the problem isn't so much that water gets through the seals and into the car; but that the pipes that drain the water away from the sunroof casette have perished and so water just floods into the car. It seems that there are 4 of these pipes (one in each corner), and so far only one has perished/broken. So in the boot on the drivers side, it fills up with water when it rains. And it is a lot of water - well over a litre in an hour or so in the rain yesterday. When we first had this issue, the problem was that the pipes were blocked. The garage cleared the pipes and it was fine for a year or so, but we've got the problem again and the garage tell me that the pipe/tube/whatever in that corner has almost certainly failed completely now. Apparently the water gets in through the entire sunroof i.e the seals around the fixed panel as well as the part that retracts. And it is not something we can really live with. The battery is in the boot and when I last checked it was sitting in a pool of water. And it also results in the electrics going bonkers - the boot, for example, sometimes refuses to open, and the rear windows open and close randomly.

    The BMW garage tells me that the cost of repair - which would involve stripping the car down to get to the pipes and replacing the entire sunroof casette - is well in excess of the value of the car- the parts alone are likely worth more than the car is. So that is not really an option.

    Any ideas? Here are my own thoughts on potential fixes. Note that I don't much care what it looks like, I just want to stop the leak so I can use the car for another year or so:

    1) Silicone. Lots of it, applied liberally from the inside, around the underside of the seals to cover the gap between the rubber and the metal body. I'd also open the sunroof, put silicone all over the inside of opening; and then close the sunroof again so that is squishes into the silicone. And then apply roof sealant from the top, around the seals.

    2) As above, but instead of the roof sealant, applying vinyl wrap over the entire roof, including the sunroof. (This was actually BMW's suggestion - but I've tried any number of vinyl wrapping places and none of them is willing to wrap over a sunroof)

    3) buy a wide roof box.

    4) replace entire roof with one without a sunroof.

    5) give up and buy a new car


    Any thoughts/suggestions? I can try DIYing the vinyl (I don't really care if it looks a bit rubbish, I just need to keep it going for another year or so). This seems to me to be the best idea, but as nobody will take it on I am having second thoughts.

    With options 1 and 2 I'd have to find a way to disconnect the buttons for opening the sunroof, just in case. I imgine that is a simple job.

    I wouldn't be capable of doing a DIY roof replacement, and I've not been able to find the part. My expectation is that this is an expensive fix, but I don't know much about cars (which is why I have a 2007 BMW x3 in the first place) so I could be wrong.

    Buying a roof box is not exactly ideal. We only do 8k miles a year but most of them are on the motorway and that extra drag is something I want to avoid.

    Any thoughts or suggestions welcome!
     
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  3. Burnerman

    Burnerman

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  4. freddiemercurystwin

    freddiemercurystwin

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    Hey John that was my first thought, some kind of tape, gotta be the way to go first. What about welding a sheet of metal over the whole lot?
     
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  5. Bluebirdnick

    Bluebirdnick

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    Just to be clear: presumably you are suggesting that I tape over the edge where the seals meet the bodywork on the outside? Any concerns that, because water was getting in, so air will get out and possibly cause it to bubble up and fail?

    I'm off to toolstation now to get some of this tape so will give it a go, but wanted to check what you were envisaging. Really appreciate the suggestions.
     
  6. Bluebirdnick

    Bluebirdnick

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    I'm back. They don't sell it in store. Can't seem to find it anywhere having searched B&Q, wickes, screwfix, homebase so - unless anyone knows wehre it is stocked - I'll have to order for delivery and do it next weekend.
     
  7. freddiemercurystwin

    freddiemercurystwin

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    Wilko sell it apparently, not sure if in store though. Or maybe that god awful place The Range.
     
    Last edited: 16 Aug 2020
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  8. just pumps

    just pumps

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    If it is only the one drain pipe that has failed would water flow away to one of the others if you blocked it from inside?
     
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  9. Bluebirdnick

    Bluebirdnick

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    Good question. My concern is that it might overload it, and cause issues elsewhere. Although as you say - if they are working, tehre is no problem.

    If so, then what - a bit of silicone or something just to block up that one pipe at the sunroof end?
     
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  11. just pumps

    just pumps

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    That`s what I was thinking, best to let it dry first though.
     
  12. Stivino

    Stivino

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    Often they get blocked up with little bits of vegetation and dirt. You can check if they are clear by opening the roof and carefully pouring water into the channel then, checking below the car to see if it if flowing.
     
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  13. Bluebirdnick

    Bluebirdnick

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    Thanks. The garage did that and said it was clear this time. It's a pity - it was a super-simple fix when we just had to unblock it!
     
  14. Nige F

    Nige F

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    Then they cleared it - or was that a different garage ? I covered a van roof with 600mm wide flashband -lapped @ the joins:ROFLMAO:
     
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  15. Burnerman

    Burnerman

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    Unfortunately the curvature of the roof means that all drains need to work.....collecting water just runs over the raised lip :(
    John :)

    Allow me to edit.....our local homebase seems to have plenty in stock?
    J.
     
  16. HERTS P&D

    HERTS P&D

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    Do you mean 'caravan' by any chance??

    :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:

    Andy
     
  17. Harry Bloomfield

    Harry Bloomfield

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    There maybe a joint to aid the original cars assembly, usually in the boot wings. Might that joint have parted, rather than the pipe having perished?
     
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