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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 09-04-2019, 09:29 AM
ThomasWManson ThomasWManson is offline
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Cabin Leaking Water

My new-to-me 1999 528i Touring had water get into the passenger side yesterday during a torrential downpour, thankfully not quite Dorian. I found water on the rubber floor mat and the carpetting was soaked in the front and also in the back seat on the passenger side only. The car was sitting pretty level in the driveway at the time of the rain. When I bought the car (2 weeks ago) I noticed an accumulation of tree debris by the hood hinges but didn't think much of it (like blocking a drain passage?). I also noticed when inspecting the car for purchase that the plastic molding around the windshield was cracked and falling out.

I had a baseball cap sitting on the rubber floormat and it was also soaked, so I don't know if what leaked came down onto the cap or it just absorbed it from the floormat. The hat was sitting right under the glovebox.

I found the owners manual in the upper part of the glovebox last week and it has water damage to it so I think that may be a clue.
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  #2  
Old 09-04-2019, 02:00 PM
monkeyman_69 monkeyman_69 is offline
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Leaves and other debris near the hood hinge area can cause flooding in the brake booster (left side) and electrical area (right side) compartments. The debris clogs the drain holes below.
Water in the cabin on 1 side is likely a clogged sunroof drain, well discussed on this forum. It'll run down the A pillar and soak the front footwell. I don't believe it drips from the glove box, rather it exits along the side and below the glove box. A water damaged book in the glove box doesn't prove water was in the glove box. It could have gotten wet like your ball cap and tossed back in the glove box after it dried.
There are fuses in the ceiling of the glove box, and under the front passenger side footwell, so water in either area poses long term problems.
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Old 09-04-2019, 02:21 PM
528iAut 528iAut is offline
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You just have to investigate. Start with the sunroof drain, also take off the doorcard to make sure the vapor barrier is still sealed, check the two small drains at the underside of the door, front and rear with a small bbq skewer or something.
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Old 09-04-2019, 05:54 PM
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So quickest way to diagnose/fix this. Get the car on a lift and run compressed air through both sunroof drains from below.
Remove both passenger side door cards (instructions are on this forum through a search) and then examine the vapor barriers. Whether you find a leak or not on the vapor barriers, I have found it very easy to reseal them without even buying more of the 3M butyl "rope". Just heat the vapor barrier seal all around the perimeter with a hairdryer, then use a wallpaper seam roller and press as hard as you can to reseal the vapor barrier. Then reinstall the door cards.

BTW, whenever you open your doors after the car is in the rain, or a car wash, if you get a splash of water that has collected in the door jam, that is a sign of a leaking vapor barrier. Once enough water collects above the sill, it will then enter the car and settle on the carpet. That is a clue you need to reseal your vapor barriers. I just noticed this telltale sign from my right rear door after washing my car, and I knew exactly what I needed to do. Out came the hairdryer and wallpaper seam roller. I should be good for another 6 or 8 years.
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Old 09-07-2019, 06:09 AM
ThomasWManson ThomasWManson is offline
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Thanks for the tips. I had not thought about sunroof drains even though I had that exact problem happen on my old Mark IV Jetta.
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Old 09-07-2019, 02:58 PM
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when its raining.. if you open the door.. and look at the cile, you will see if the water is coming from the door.. its not suppose to be wet by the door jam inside at all

then the drain for the sunroof
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Old 09-09-2019, 01:04 PM
ThomasWManson ThomasWManson is offline
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To all who suspected SUNROOF DRAIN you were right! Looking under the car I could not tell where the drain tube exits. The driver side was draining OK so I poured water in there and saw it coming out multiple spots underneath. So I took a length of plastic-coated wire cable and fed it in from the top. I did not know where the drain actually was so I just poked around until the wire started going somewhere. I was expecting to see it come out below but it never did, it his some obstruction right at the bottom of the car. That was on the good draining drivers side. So I went to the obstructed side to repeat the procedure. I had previously poured water into that side and it had not drained. I poked the wire in and started feeding it and I quickly hit an obstruction, it wasn't much but as soon as I pushed a little the water started gurgling down the drain. Yea! I poured more water and ran my wire all the way to the bottom, and it did not come all the way through on this side either. So cross that problem off this list. Thanks for all your help. Tom

P.S. The inside of the glovebox is wet also. Prior to the fix - I was driving in a torrential downpour this morning wondering if I was going to get water on the floor. Sure enough I could see it gathering on the floormat. I also saw the top of the windsheild pillar getting wet - that was my clue that it was coming from the sunroof. The fabric on that pillar dries very quickly to hide the clue unlike the carpet that stays soaked.
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Old 09-09-2019, 01:34 PM
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Under the lift arms
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you need to get the car apart and dried out... put a dehumidifier in there if you can.. water is the end of these cars ...

also the fuse panel under the seat is now wet.. you need to take the passenger side seat out and dry that out and spray it with a insulating water spray
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