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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 12-30-2012, 12:21 AM
NZ BMW NZ BMW is offline
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Trying to track water, not sure if vapor barrier

Hi Team,

I've got a couple of questions about the rear door/vapor barrier seals and I'm not sure they've been answered based on a search of this forum and others.

Most people know that the vapor barrier is broken/compromised when they arrive at the car after heavy rain to find that there is a small pond in the back floor. I don't have this symptom.

Knowing there was a thunderstorm approaching and being sure that I had a vapor barrier issue I taped up my rear windows with some electrical insulation tape (it's what I had on hand). See below. I'm pretty sure I sealed the window fairly well and even after the storm the tape is still holding well. I did not tape up the rest of the door.

Anyway when I open the door after the storm I get a small splash of water from off the doorsill - and then some drains out of the door, looks to be from the drain hole. None of this is making its way into the cabin of the car. (Pictures below). It looks to my untrained eye that water may be getting caught between the inner seals (the ones on the door and car body which join) and the weather stripping/seal which is on the outer side of the door.

I thought the vapor barrier issue allows water to enter the car not simply hold it in the doorsill. Any ideas? The front doors have no water on the sills at all and don't drip water after a storm.

Image one: Tape - I thought this is where water enters/breaches the vapor barrier, is my water coming from somewhere else?


Image 2: wet doorsill - both the body of the car and the sill-plate are wet, but not further inside.


Image 3: underside of door - water between the two seals.

Last edited by NZ BMW; 12-30-2012 at 12:24 AM.
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  #2  
Old 12-30-2012, 09:20 AM
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Topaz540i Topaz540i is offline
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Mine does that too. It drips out from behind the door card but doesnt actually come past the painted part or the rocker. Im not sure if its just like this or the window tint guys messed it up.
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  #3  
Old 12-30-2012, 03:44 PM
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johnstern johnstern is offline
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The vapor barrier/door seal is a large, form fitting piece of flexible foam plastic that is sealed to the door frame by butyl tape. The stuff I have is made by 3M (part no. 051135 08612) and is a 3/8", 15' roll. You may want to buy the 1/4" diameter.

This black goo (we used to call it dum dum) is what seals the vapors barrier to the door frame. It is needed because water gets into the door and drains out the holes in the bottom of the door by design.

NZ BMW-If water is appearing inside the rubber door seals, the most likely cause is a break in the vapor barrier seal. Of course, there could be damage to the rubber door seals but you would see that right away. Even though you don't see it, water goes through your front doors too and drains out the bottom.

Topaz-Water should not be dripping out from behind the door cards. Looks like you're right-the tint guys messed it up. Reseal your vapor barrier before that water destroys your door cards.
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  #4  
Old 12-30-2012, 03:56 PM
JimLev JimLev is offline
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+1, had the same problem every time I washed the car. I finally pulled the door card off and found that the bottom of the vapor barrier had a few spots that came loose.
Dum Dum, we used that to seal the speakers to the boxes when I worked at Acoustic Research a bunch of years ago, although everybody called in monkey $hit back then.
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  #5  
Old 12-30-2012, 07:14 PM
NZ BMW NZ BMW is offline
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Not trying to start an argument here...

But,

The water appears to be draining out of the drain holes but it is getting trapped between the outer weather stripping and the inner seals (the one on the door and the car's body). No water is entering the cabin. It's all sitting, for want of a better term; on top of the sill plate.

I guess my point is that the splash of water which comes when I open the door shouldn't it be able to find its way to the outside? it does not seem to drain from the door cards or the inner side/whatever you want to call the side of the barrier where it should not be. It's like it drains through the drain holes and then has nowhere to go.

Meh, I'm going to open the thing up tomorrow and have a look anyway, I guess an easy way to check is to examine the barrier - fix it if there are any issues and then run the hose over it.

Thanks for the comments so far guys.
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  #6  
Old 12-31-2012, 04:06 PM
NZ BMW NZ BMW is offline
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I stand corrected - I popped both the back door cards off and there is evidence of water making its way into the cabin via the vapor barrier. Mine was actually in pretty good condition, with only some small parts coming away from the door. Looking at the right rear door, someone had been in there before to fix something - one of the screws on the airbag was actually lose... there was also smearings of whatever was used to seal the barrier outside the vapor barrier.

Based on this I just silicone'd the hell out of the areas that were lose - it will cure within 24 hours so then I will do a water test.
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Old 05-23-2013, 05:15 PM
Bennt771 Bennt771 is offline
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Results ??
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  #8  
Old 05-24-2013, 06:48 AM
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GSA1 GSA1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NZ BMW View Post
I stand corrected - I popped both the back door cards off and there is evidence of water making its way into the cabin via the vapor barrier. Mine was actually in pretty good condition, with only some small parts coming away from the door. Looking at the right rear door, someone had been in there before to fix something - one of the screws on the airbag was actually lose... there was also smearings of whatever was used to seal the barrier outside the vapor barrier.

Based on this I just silicone'd the hell out of the areas that were lose - it will cure within 24 hours so then I will do a water test.
The problem with silicone that cures is you may have a tough time getting it off again, if you need to do anything else in there in the future
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Old 05-24-2013, 10:19 AM
jygesq jygesq is offline
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it normal from water to drain from door through drain holes once door is opened.
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  #10  
Old 05-25-2013, 01:27 AM
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MikesE39 MikesE39 is offline
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Do you guys know how to get that rain water smell out of the car? and the bmw smell back.
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  #11  
Old 05-25-2013, 03:49 AM
NZ BMW NZ BMW is offline
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Originally Posted by Bennt771 View Post
Results ??
Watertight even in heavy rain.

I'm away for a week soon and I will be parking the car at the airport, so it better hold!

Last edited by NZ BMW; 05-25-2013 at 03:51 AM.
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  #12  
Old 05-25-2013, 04:56 AM
bmw528ia bmw528ia is offline
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Originally Posted by MikesE39 View Post
Do you guys know how to get that rain water smell out of the car? and the bmw smell back.
Aahhhhh..... That BMW smell.
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