High tide in the car — 35 Comments

      • I know you are a Ford guy so you might like to hear this watery tale:  Many years ago they used to build Ford Sierras in the Cork plant from what were effectively kits ie the bits and pieces were shipped here to be assembled mainly for the Irish market. A few months in to production and a stock control guy arrives over from Dagenham. He walked the lines with the foremen taking notes and listening to feedback. He came to a big crate of rubber hoses and remarked "You are ok for drain hoses then I see?" To avoid looking stupid, no one wanted to ask him what they were for. Turns out they were the drain hoses to take water from the four corners of the moonroof and drain it to ground.  The boys never fitted them. Several months production of early Sierras were inflicted with chronic water leaks and no dealer could figure it out!

  1. At a guess, I'd say you should check the seals on your boot lid. Mind you, having said that, most cars have a channel around the opening which (in theory) takes the water away. Perhaps you've got dog hair blocking the channel? If not that, then it's probably getting in where the light clusters are. Take the lenses off and see if it looks wet and mouldy behind them. Not knowing what model car you have makes it a tad tricky to make an educated guess.

    • Ford Focus Hatchback.  I checked the seals and they seem to be fine.  The gutter is very deep though there was one spot where gunge [bits of trees and the like] had washed in and got stuck behind the hydraulic thingy hinge.  That might have been enough to cause a gutter overflow, but it doesn't quite explain the sheer volume of water involved.  Our latest storm has arrived so it's pitch dark, pissing down and howling a gale outside at the moment so I don't feel like investigating any further for the moment!

  2. Had two instances of flooding.  One was a damaged boot seal, the other, oddly, a defect in the petrol filler seal which allowed water to slip past.  Still don't know how it moved from the rather high-placed filler into the boot.

    Suggest you cover the car with a tarpaulin during the forthcoming storm.

    • I must check the petrol seal.  Hadn't thought of that.

      Too late for tarpaulin – the storm has arrived with a vengeance.  I don't have a tarpaulin anyway.

  3. By running your dehumidifier outdoors you are effecting the delicate climatic balance. You are there for solely responsible for global warming cooling change or something vaguely similar.  

  4. Hi GD, had the exact same with my Mondeo. I found out that the pipe feeding the rear window washer with water had come loose and it leaked into the boot. The spare was afloat in there. Hope this helps..





    • Ah!  Another thing to check tomorrow.  Though the amount of water in the boot would fill several windscreen washer bottles.  Definitely worth checking though.  Thanks.

      • And it would (probably) smell of alcohol – assuming, that is, you put winter screen wash additive in the bottle.

        • I had a quick look this morning.  Couldn't find the rear washer bottle! I don't know where it is or how the wash gets to the nozzle [no visible pipes] so I'll have to check further.

  5. Advice coming in thick and fast, GD!

    Another possibility is around the window glass itself. Now they glue them in, it's quite rare for them to spring a leak, but I have seen it happen when the panel has been distorted in a shunt or something. It's usually easy to check as many cars have that sort of felt covered plastic moulding interior panel, and that holds the moisture if it is adjacent to a leak. Just run your hand around the inside of the rear window to check for a damp patch.

    • The seal around the rear window seems sound enough.  There's no sign of any water higher up – a pity as I might have found my little lake a bit sooner.

      If nothing else, I have proved that my banger is watertight underneath!

    • Hah!  If I sold that car I would get a fraction of what it's worth.  It's eleven years old but has less than 30,000Km on the clock.  Apart from the odd little wobbler, it's as new.

  6. This reminds me of the old Morris Marina where the boot seal didn't seal. The factory 'modified' new cars with a drain tube just behind the rear wheel. My point is, just because your hatch seal looks/feels okay doesn't mean it can't leak if any panels are distorted or ill fitting – and they can be distorted straight from the factory and you would never know, since you can't see them once the hatch is closed and can't check.


    • There's a way round that – co-opt (ie force) a family member to get in the boot with a good torch, shut the lid, and then blast all around it with a hose. Or, in your case, a pressure washer – you see, I remember you complaining about poor mains water pressure in an earlier thread. 

      Oh, and probably a good idea to let the "spotter" out when you've done….

      • I'm ahead of you there.  I had already planned to stick Herself in the boot next time we go out.  I'd run through the car wash and she can check the seals with a torch.  I haven't told her yet though…..

    • Believe it or not – I never thought of checking the Interweb!  A few items there to follow up on.  Thanks!

  7. The first place i would check is the boot floor around the wheel turrets. You have proved that 'your banger is watertight underneath' only so far as the wheel well. This could be water thrown off the rear wheels, entering the boot through a gap between panels or even a tiny hole rotted into a corner somewhere. The panels are usually sealed with bitumen type sealant where they overlap but this stuff is well known for hardening and breaking away when rust in the joint is present. Strip all the carpet out and examine the metal floor thoroughly.

    • I checked the whole paneling and floor thoroughly – no sign of any leakage or corrosion.  It's remarkably clean [washed!] and pristine.

  8. Back in 80 or 81 I had a Datsun (Nissan) 140j with the same problem.By then the yoke was already prone to rust,so I stayed one step ahead of nature and drilled a hole in the boot.

  9. Last November, I had a similar experience with my Sh1troen, except the water was gathering in the driver’s footwell.

    Turns out the drain tubes were blocked. When that happens seemingly the water discharges internally and does not overflow externally as you would see on downpipes of a house.

    The logic of the design escapes me still.

    • That's often an issue with sunroofs.  The rubber "seal" round the glass doesn't do much in the way of sealing out water, nor is it really designed to.  There's usually a perimeter gutter pressed into the metal roof form, which drains into plastic hoses that typically pass down the pillars either side of the windscreen.  As these are only about 1/4" internal diameter they eventually bung up and the thing starts "leaking".  The truth is that it always "leaks" but in normal operation the water is diverted before it comes inside.  Not that this is much help for a boot problem, although the boot opening surround does sometimes also have drain holes outside the rubber strip.


      It's often surprising how much condensation can form inside the boot during cold weather, and never really dry out as the heated air usually doesn't circulate that far back.  I get this problem a lot as my boot's always full of stuff (often cardboard boxes etc.) and opening it even momentarily in bad weather means these get sodden ensuring a permanent high humidity in there.  Having said that, it's unlikely condensation could explain a couple of gallons!


      Another one which can be a nasty problem in bad weather is the "plenum chamber", i.e. the bit underneath the windscreen where the wiper motor and blower fan intake are located.  On a lot of cars the battery and brake servo are here too.  The chamber usually gets some water in but should have drain holes.  These are small and often block up.  Water in the footwell is often a result of this as it overflows into the blower ducts.  There is a known issue on some Audis (and probably VWs) where the chamber fills up, water ends up corroding the brake servo and getting inside, resulting in the brake pedal becoming locked solid and unresponsive.  It's worth checking the drain holes from time to time, the consequences of this could be much worse than just annoying.

    • Hah!  I tried to find a drain hole [thinking there might be one that's blocked] but short of drilling a hole myself there isn't one.

  10. If all else fails just drill a hole in the boot floor and in the rear passenger's footwell to let it out.

    We once had a severe problem with water inside the car, the rear passengers had to lift their feet when the car cornered to avoid the tidal wave!  We never did discover where it all came from.

  11. Here's couple things I found about the Ford Focus hatchback. Theyt haven't really changed mush over the years and it turns out that the problem your experiencing seems to be a common one.

    To quote (from to different comments from the same guy):

    My mother's 2007 Focus had a similar problem .It was fixed by a ford garage which involved fitting a new seal at the top of the rear hatch, near the plastic fitting that holds the centre brake light. She was told its a common fault as these seals a prone to leak as they age .Ford fixed it for about £30.


    The water had got into the spare wheel well and the sides next to the wheel arches ..If i remember correctly it was where the plastic spoiler at the top of the rear window joins the glass . The seal decayed and allowed some of the water washing off the roof to seep into the boot area .Ford dealers know about it as the one she spoke to had seen quite a few. Its a fairly cheap fix by just replacing the seal.


    This kind of thing is not always obvious. Had the same type of problem with an old Ford Escort hatchback, predecessor of the Focus. Replacing the top seal of the hatchback solved the problem as well. Also, if there's a drain in the boot floor it's usually in the form of an oval plate that held in place by some non-hardening sealer or at least it is in a real sedan "boot" rather than hatchback.

    Hope the tide goes out.


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