How-To: Fix sunroof drain leaks - Saturn ION RedLine Forums
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How-To: Fix sunroof drain leaks How-To: Fix sunroof drain leaks

edit: things have been moved around, new location of pictures is at and im too lazy to change the urls


This is for all the people that have gotten in they're car after a hard rain, only to find one of the seats and/or carpet soaking wet.

The most common cause of leaks in the Ion/cobalt is the sunroof. The sunroof has 4 drains, one on every corner. On each of these corners is a small hole, with a rubber tube attached to it. This rubber hose runs down the pillars to the outside of the vehicle. This allows any water that builds up in the sunroof tracks to drain easily and not flow or pour over into the vehicle.
Typically when you have a leak there are 2 problems. The most common is that one of the tubes has popped off. This is very easy to fix and we'll be covering this first today. The second most common is that one of the tubes is clogged. This typically happens because of dirt and grime has built up around the drain hole, and during a heavy rain all this grime gets washed down the hole and blocks it up.

The blue arrow is pointing to where the hole is. Notice all the crap built up around it? Were going to be taking care of this and securing the drain tubes.

You want to start by taking off the driver side A-pillar. It attached by 1 7mm bolt. Remove the plastic tab about halfway down the pillar and remove this bolt. Then pull on the top of the pillar and it should come loose.

Then remove the visor. There are 2 phillips head screws holding the left side on and 1 on the right.

Once you remove the visor you can lightly pull down on the headliner, but only pull on the corner your working on, you dont want to crease the headliner.

If your reading this, you probobly have a leak, and this is what you typically will see.

Just re-insert the tube. Then wrap 2 zipties around where the large piece of the tube connects and on the small piece like so.

If done correctly, you should be able to lightly tug on the tube and it wont slide out.
Now re-setup the headliner, re-install the visor, and install the a-pillar.

Now, unfortunately, I had already done this on the other 3 corners of the car, so I dont have pictures for you to follow, but the pass side and both the rear corners are just as easy to get to (easier I think because of my gauge pod ). Plus the rear uses the same size bolts and all.

The second part of this how-to covers clogged drain tubes. When repairing water leaks, most saturn techs do not do this part. I do it everytime. Getting shitty, nasty water backed up and pouring down on your nice seats would totally irritate me, especially if I had the problem fixed already, so I always make sure to do this part.

The bottom part of the drain tubes run down the a-pillar and out of the car through a grommet, pictured below.

Getting to it is not very easy. You have to remove the plastic trim that runs along the bottom of the door along the carpet, referred to by GM as the "carpet retainer". Once removed, pull the carpet in whatever corner your working in back, along with the sound deadening material. Next, reach up high along the inside edge, past the wiring harnesses and all, and pull the rubber insulator piece out. If your working on the driver side it will be on the left about half a foot up off the carpet. Its tucked into the frame. same on the right side. Once you pull that out, you should be able to reach into the hole where the insulator piece was and feel the drain hose. pull it out of the grommet, then pull the grommet out.

Next, take a pair of scissors or something sharp, and clip the end off like so.

This will allow any grime, dirt, and other random crap to drain out, instead of filling the tube up and causing a leak. Here's proof that this is the cause. This came out of the grommet when I removed it from the car and spilled on me. smells bad too :\

After clipping the grommet off, reach back up into the car and re-insert it into the hole in the frame.

I cannot stress this enough, DO NOT LET GO OF IT. Unless your made of rubber you will not be able to reach it again. You will have to buy a new one or come up with some other way of routing the drain hose. I lost one grommet and a pair of pliers before I realized how far down into the frame that hole reached. DO NOT LET GO OF THE GROMMET.
If you do, you could always make the drain tube longer so it's not draining onto the floor.

The rear is MUCH easier. Pull the carpet on either side away and you should see this.

Remove the grommet and pull the tube out, clip the end, and re-insert. Just like the front, but easy!

Now for the test! Get a bottle of water or something, and pour it into the drain holes in the sunroof, in each corner. Pour carefully! If you spill it will go in the car! If done correctly you should see this...

Behind the front wheels on the ground you should see water draining out, same with behind the rear wheels. When I did mine I could see quite a bit of crap coming out with it.

If your still experiencing a clog somewhere, find some pressurized air. Working in a shop this is easy for me to find, but you may want to try just pulling one of the drain tubes and blowing into the end of it. This should push whatever bit of crap is stuck in the tube out.
If that does not work, your last resort is replacing the tube all-together. But this should be a last ditch effort and should not be necessary.

Now enjoy! Hopefully this should cure all or most of your water leak woes!

I take no responsibility for anything you do.
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  #1 (permalink)  
cavingman on 07-16-2006, 06:53 PM
Forgot to mention, you should always go to the dealer first and let them do it. Thats what a warranty is for
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  #2 (permalink)  
cavingman on 03-13-2008, 04:05 PM
Updated location of how-to... im too lazy to change urls

found my backup and put it on

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  #3 (permalink)  
Dainslaif on 03-15-2008, 01:35 AM
I just did this, it's a great suggestion to do your fronts (and since the backs take 10 seconds, them too).

The fronts suck to get to, but mine had a tube full of dirt in them, so it was worth the time and effort.
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  #4 (permalink)  
augman67 on 08-02-2008, 02:48 PM
Thumbs up tubes

fronts are harder. particularly the passenger side. backs were easy. tested and water came out of all. took me an hour and i am a novice. saturn of west county wanted 265.00. how can that be
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  #5 (permalink)  
golden chicken on 09-11-2008, 07:13 AM
FRONT DRAIN TUBE ENDS ARE SIMPLE! undo the inner fender well lining near the rear of the front tire and look up inside the fender. you will see the end of the grommet sticking out. snip it with some diagonal cutters or whatever and you should be all set. no lost tools and no ripping up the carpet.
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  #6 (permalink)  
Blkss4dr on 05-02-2009, 09:46 AM
Yes I know it's an old thread..but, hey... I sure hope this is all that is wrong with my cobalt... Since the guys over at were no help... Great How To!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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  #7 (permalink)  
fridafreak on 10-14-2009, 03:06 PM
Thanks for the info! We have a leak that's flooded our passenger side on three different ocassions and the dealership hadn't caught it even though I paid the pretty penny to have them clean out the drains in the Spring. Apparently our culprit is the drain that goes out the exhaust pipe and that's not one of the drains they normally check when they service the other lines in the sunroof. And as for the warranty...the drains are considered hoses so they are not covered by the warranty (regular or extended).
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  #8 (permalink)  
stlredlinechick on 11-03-2009, 10:58 AM

Well I have hopefully fixed the sunroof leak problem, but someone has mentioned that with a leak that it may trigger the alarm. Lately when the car is sitting in the driveway off, it will give 10 short beeps on the horn then the alarm will kick in. Has anyone else experienced this problem? If so, what was the problem and how did you fix it? I hate talking to the dealership, they always treat me like I don't know anything and trying to get me to bring it in. I can't believe they were going to charge me $65 just to do a leak diagnostics!!!
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  #9 (permalink)  
briantrease on 03-20-2011, 01:48 PM
Broken URL link

Hi, this thread is great. I'd really love to see the photos though.

Looks like the link is no longer active:

Does anyone have an alternate link, or the actual photos?

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