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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 11-22-2011, 03:52 PM
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redbull713 redbull713 is offline
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Water leaking into car? E39 540i

Hey guys, just had a heavy rain and I noticed that the passenger side A-pillar liner was damp looking and there was a drop or two of water on the seat. Also the carpet is wet along the length of the door. Where is water leaking in from??? Anyone with any type of experience like this?
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  #2  
Old 11-22-2011, 04:32 PM
dtm888 dtm888 is offline
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If you search this forum for "wet rear floor" or "vapor barrier" you'll find a lot of useful info about this issue.

I don't know why you would have water dripping on your seats, but as far as the passenger floor, I would have to assume it is the vapor barrier not being sealed correctly. When I changed my passenger window regulator, I was having the same wet problem when we have heavy rain. (I live in Seattle, so it rains all the time)

Anyway, I searched under "vapor barrier", did the fix myself and since then, no more wet floor problems. Hope that helps.
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  #3  
Old 11-22-2011, 04:49 PM
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Trebbia Trebbia is offline
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Vapor barriers would soak the floor but I don't think they'd hit the seat or A pillar.

Do you have a sunroof leak?

Look in the stickies for "water" and you may find similar.
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  #4  
Old 11-22-2011, 05:53 PM
crazy4trains crazy4trains is offline
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This is not a vapor seal problem.

I'm having the same problem. Started today. Weather has been miserable with continuous, hard rains today.

Photo 1 shows the exterior trim and molding. there is a small tear in the trim (inside the circle). Could this be causing the problem?

Photo 2 shows to top of the A-pillar on the driver side. The moisture started where the top of the A-pillar trim meets the headliner and quickly moved south. The seals on the doors look good and there doesn't appear to be a clear path for water to get here from the door. I assume (know what happens when you assume) that the water is coming in around the windshield somehow. Anybody else have this problem and find a solution? I am concerned since I would think that this area could hold a lot of water prior to showing on the exterior of the trim.

Also, can I easily remove this piece of trim to inspect what is behind?

Thanks!!!!
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Last edited by crazy4trains; 11-22-2011 at 05:56 PM.
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  #5  
Old 11-22-2011, 06:12 PM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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Check your sunroof drain tubes. Just above where the A pillars meets the headliner there is a rubber tube that connects to the sunroof cassette. Chances are there is a leak around the tube.

Last edited by dvsgene; 12-02-2011 at 02:05 PM.
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  #6  
Old 11-22-2011, 06:16 PM
crazy4trains crazy4trains is offline
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Sunroof was the second place I was going to check.

Now the hard question: How can I remove the trim to check the tube?
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  #7  
Old 11-22-2011, 06:22 PM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazy4trains View Post
Sunroof was the second place I was going to check.

Now the hard question: How can I remove the trim to check the tube?
If you have the A Pillars Air bag ( HPS logo ) remove the HPS label hiding the T25 Torx screw underneath. Once the screw is removed, there is a clip the midway down the A Pillar holding it in place so pull the pillar outward towards the middle of the car.

The rest of the A pillar is inserted into the edge of the dash so once you remove the HPS plate covered screw and pulled the middle of the pillar away, pull away from the windshield to remove.

Last edited by dvsgene; 12-02-2011 at 02:04 PM.
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  #8  
Old 11-22-2011, 07:17 PM
crazy4trains crazy4trains is offline
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Thanks for the info. I will do this and report back any findings.

Do I need to disconnect the battery? If so, just the negative terminal or both? I'm mechanically capable but will admit I am electrically stupid!!!
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  #9  
Old 11-22-2011, 11:41 PM
make-it-easy make-it-easy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dvsgene View Post
If you have the A Pillars Air bag ( HPS logo ) remove the HPS label hiding the T25 Torx screw underneath. Once the screw is removed, there is a clip the midway down the A Pillar holding it in place so pull the pillar outward towards the middle of the car.

The rest of the A pillar is inserted into the edge of the dash so once you remove the HPS plate covered screw and pulled the middle of the pillar away, pull away from the windshield to remove.
What he said.
To find the approximate position of the clip, keep pushing on the trim cover inward, from top to the bottom. The spot with the clip won't "bend" inward easily. The clip holding the pillar is a metal bracket that goes on a top of a plastic support on the trim. Hard to explain and no pics available but try to pull the cover straight outward perpendicular to its plane. If the plastic support on the trim is broken, you wont be able to attach the metal bracket to it.

Also, when you put the pillar cover back, push the middle part gradually. The metal bracket doesn't have to go all the way into the slot. If it goes in too much, the middle part of the pillar cover will be pushed/bent inward too much. Just push it until the pillar is all flush and straight.
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  #10  
Old 11-24-2011, 12:36 AM
mrpumpk1n mrpumpk1n is offline
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im going with sunroof drain as well for this. my car has been doing this since the summer and after getting the entire car checked out, turns out to be the sunroof drain :-\. it only starts to leak in heavy rain for me so im sticking it out now with a car cover
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  #11  
Old 11-24-2011, 08:21 AM
crazy4trains crazy4trains is offline
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Hopefully will get time to check this out this weekend.

Does anybody know where the sunroof drain outlet is? Would also like to determine if it is clogged. Realoem shows an outlet hose but doesn't indicate where it goes.
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Last edited by crazy4trains; 11-24-2011 at 08:24 AM.
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  #12  
Old 11-24-2011, 08:36 AM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazy4trains View Post
Hopefully will get time to check this out this weekend.

Does anybody know where the sunroof drain outlet is? Would also like to determine if it is clogged. Realoem shows an outlet hose but doesn't indicate where it goes.
Outlet is located at the bottom of the car just inside the front jack point (on each side). Look around just inside that area and you will see a little rubber tube.

To test, open your sunroof, and slowly pour a cup of water at the front edge of the sunroof (you will see the drain hole at each corner) then look underneath for exit point.

Last edited by dvsgene; 11-24-2011 at 08:39 AM.
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  #13  
Old 11-24-2011, 08:41 AM
HaveTwoWagons HaveTwoWagons is offline
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My sunroof drains constantly plug on my E34 wagon and the simple fix is to occasionally blow them out with compressed air. If it's dry first add water before blowing them out so the water helps force any debris out.
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  #14  
Old 11-24-2011, 11:05 AM
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redbull713 redbull713 is offline
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Thank you all. I love this forum. I wanted to say that crazy4trains picture pretty much looks just like mine except like I said, there is water on the carpet along the door line. I will have to investigate this sunroof drain tube assembly. Will have to save for another day as it's Thanksgiving, and that is one thing I am not thankful for this year. lol.
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  #15  
Old 11-25-2011, 10:35 PM
crazy4trains crazy4trains is offline
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Ok, so I got time to remove the trim and check this out. Poured some water at the location of the red oval in the exterior photo. When I poured a little water it drained out onto the floor without dripping inside. When I poured a lot in trying to overwhelm the drain I was able to recreate the dripping on the inside. From the inside the water appear to be coming from the area in the red circle in the interior photo.

Problem is, it appears the source of the leak is above the headliner and not within reach with just the side trim removed.

Does anybody know how I can access the area (red circle, interior photo) without removing the headliner? If I could get to this junction I might be able to fix this problem.

Thanks!!!
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  #16  
Old 11-25-2011, 10:41 PM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazy4trains View Post

Does anybody know how I can access the area (red circle, interior photo) without removing the headliner? If I could get to this junction I might be able to fix this problem.

Thanks!!!
Unfortunately, unless you have extremely thin and highly flexible hands, that headliner MUST come off to access the drain tube connection to sunroof cassette.
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  #17  
Old 11-26-2011, 07:16 AM
crazy4trains crazy4trains is offline
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Does the entire headliner have to come off? If so, how?
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  #18  
Old 11-26-2011, 07:29 AM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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Does the entire headliner have to come off? If so, how?
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Last edited by dvsgene; 12-02-2011 at 02:06 PM.
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  #19  
Old 11-26-2011, 08:25 AM
crazy4trains crazy4trains is offline
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Thanks for all the information. As of now, headliner removal is not an option. Car will have to stay in the garage when there is a threat of rain.

I am considering other options:

The first is trying to "slip-line" the drain tube with a piece of lightweight tubing. The drain inlet within the sunroof recess is somewhat obscured by other parts. Do you know if some of these parts can be loosened or partially/completely removed to allow access to the drain inlet? I may then be able to slide a length of tubing inside the existing drain without (hopefully) reducing the drain capacity significantly.

The other option is to better seal the sunroof to minimize water getting into this area. If I can do this, the drain may work well enough to not leak. The drain does work, it just gets overwhelmed with large volumes of water.

Any thoughts or ideas would be beneficial. If I try either, I will take some photos and report back.
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  #20  
Old 11-26-2011, 08:37 AM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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Originally Posted by crazy4trains View Post

Any thoughts or ideas would be beneficial. If I try either, I will take some photos and report back.
You can try to remove just the parts AT THE ONE CORNER. For example, go back to the link on the headliner removal and remove just the sunvisor screws, the roof handles above the doors and try to pull down the corner wedge something in to give just enough space to get your hand in between. However, there is a chance you may bend or crease the headliner.

Frankly, dropping the headliner is only about 20 mins with about 2 dozen torx screws and 1/2 dozen clips all around. It is not hard at all.
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  #21  
Old 11-26-2011, 04:51 PM
crazy4trains crazy4trains is offline
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Had a few minutes this afternoon to tinker so I tried to partially remove the headliner. Removed the small screws from around the sunroof frame, the visor and vanity light and the grab handle above the door. I had already removed the a-pillar interior trim. There was a small black retainer under the visor clip (at the end opposite the visor hinge) that I could not remove after I removed the two torx screws and the visor clip. It actually appeared the headliner could be removed fairly easily, so I may go that route when i have more time.

A few (more) questions:

Will removing the headliner make it more susceptible to sagging? My take is that the headliner fabric is attached to a backer material. When the fabric separates from the backer, that is what causes the sagging. Is this correct?

What the heck do I do with the headliner if/when I remove it?

What will I likely be repairing/replacing in this drain system? Is there a junction box etc. with a part number or am I going to have to seal something or cobble something together?

Thanks again.
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