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My Touring is taking on water

Discussion in 'E46 (1999-2006)' started by mjweimer, Mar 4, 2008.

    • Member

    mjweimer

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    Group,

    This past Sunday I took advantage of the nice weather to clean up my '01 325iT and while vacuuming noticed that the drivers side footwell was very wet. I removed the side and under dash panels as well as the accelerator pedal and seat to gain access to the underside of the carpet.

    Needless to say it is quite difficult to lift the carpet up enough to have a look but I managed to wedge a few pieces of nylon in key areas to support the carpet up from the floorboard and dried up all of the standing water. I left the carpet in its elevated position to facilitate drying of the massive amount of foam attached to the underside and ran a fan for several hours. Some progress was made before the rains came. We had some incredible downpours today and when I came home from work immediately checked the car. Once again standing water on the floor. It seems to be collecting at the accelerator pedal area which is on a higher plane than the rest of the floorboard and running down from that point.

    This past fall I resealed the drivers door vapor barrier after having it off for some service work and I see no evidence of water dripping from the lower edge of the door panel. The cowl drains are free from debris and all of my hood seals in the general area are intact and in good shape. The windshield has never been replaced so I do not think this would be an issue either.

    I am not sure where else to look and removing the front carpet for further investigation (it is two pieces in this car) seems to be a bear due to the one piece design of the lower dash (sometimes I miss my E30 for the strangest reasons).

    A tech article on the BMP Design website suggests that cracked cowl trim at the bottom of the windshield will cause water to pool in the area of the microfilter and overflow into the interior.

    See: http://www.bmpdesign.com/technical/tech_tips/e46_cowl_seal_leak.php

    My trim is bowed away from the windshield in several areas and has some minor cracking but looking closely at this area I have a hard time believing this to be the problem.

    Anyone BTDT? Please save me from gutting half of the dash.

    Thanks,

    Matt
    • Member

    mjweimer

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    I should also point out that the car does not have a sunroof so there is no possibility of the drains being clogged.

    Forgot to mention that in my first post.

    Matt

    GregS_WI guest

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    I assume this won't help, but...

    I assume this won't help, but is there any problem with the heater core? Sounds like you have water though, not coolant.

    Good luck
    • Member

    mjweimer

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    Yep, fortunately it is only taking water and there is not a coolant leak. Coolant is a real bear to get out of carpets (BTDT on an old E30).

    After I wait out the weather a while longer I will be taking a hose to key areas to try and determine what is happening.

    Thanks,

    Matt
    • Member

    brosher

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    It is common for the bee stinger antenna's to leak. If you were parked on a slight downward slope water would head to the front of the car. Check in your battery compartment and the storage area on the opposite side for moisture. If that is the problem use some clear silicone to reseal the antenna.

    I did the same thing as this post illustrates and got rid of the useless BMW assist antenna.
    http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=330259
    • Member

    mjweimer

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    brosher,

    Thanks for the reply and the link. That is a really sweet factory solution for adding a sat. radio antenna.

    At this point I do not have water in the spare tire well or the battery compartment but while searching the net I have found many references to the roof mounted antennas leaking on Tourings. So once I get this other leak sorted I will be adding some sort of sealant as a precautionary measure.
    • Member

    330indy1

    Post Count: 675
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    wow, what a pain! ; hope it turns out OK

    keep us posted, brother....
    • Member

    mjweimer

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    Well...since someone is interested here is what I have found.

    The car now refuses to leak :confused:

    I removed all of the seats, door sill trim, B-pillar trim, center console, etc, etc. so the rear carpet could be removed and the front carpet lifted and supported to aid in drying.

    I then used a steady stream of water on various areas to try and reproduce the leak. No leaks using this method so I waited for a nice rainy day. Well we have had 4+ inches of rain over the past two days and the car is still dry.

    For this I am both happy and aggravated since the car obviously leaked at some point on the drivers side and flooded the footwells.

    Once the rain stops I will be checking all the lower body plugs to make sure they are tightly sealed and I will also be removing the drivers side wheel liner to see if there is any potential leak path in that area.

    If nothing is found in that search I will probably replace the drivers seat and drive it next time it rains.

    I am thinking now that the water may have been there a long time and could have come in through the once detached - now fixed vapor barrier on the drivers side door or the PO was overzealous cleaning the engine bay and got water into the interior by spraying the brake booster area. The brake booster area is vented to the inside of the car, which explains why it is so well sealed against the hood.

    A little bit of a long winded response but a lot of work has been done trying to troubleshot this crazy thing. I just can't wait to get it back together and drive it again!

    Matt
    • Member

    johnh

    Post Count: 59
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    I hope you're correct about the vapor barrier... old leak. However, it could be that you need to drive the car in the rain to be sure it's not leaking.
    • Member

    mjweimer

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    At this point that is the plan. Put just the drivers seat back in and drive it next time it rains.

    My friends are always impressed when I show up in a half gutted vehicle though by now they are kind of accustomed to this behavior :D

    snikwad guest

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    id bet money its your vapor barrier, mine on my passenger side are shot.

    Chad44 guest

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    sound to me like you may also want to be watching the wheel wells. If you got no water from the hose inside that's what i would think... my old jeep would get water on the floor coming in my wheel well(i removed the plastic cover inside the well)

    snikwad guest

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    strangest thing i noticed yesterday.
    i got back from the car wash, and my car was leaking a good amount of water from the underside, near the passenger side control arm but more from the floor. but inside was dry, so it wasnt the old vapor barrier from the door. never noticed that before. what is that from?
    • Member

    mjweimer

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    I plan to remove the wheel well liner on the drivers side to see if a body plug is loose or has fallen out.

    If it would only stop raining long enough to be able to work on the car...I need a bigger garage!!

    Matt

    • Member

    mjweimer

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    I think what you are seeing is the water that is draining from the cowl vent area and the top edge of the fenders where water flows to the edge of the cowl cover and drains.

    There are two large drains located at the bottom of the air intake (cowl vent) that keep water from entering the HVAC blower area. These dump water just above the back of the engine.

    The cowl cover (large black plastic piece covering the wiper area at the base of the windshield) channels water to each side near the top edge of the fender and then it drains out near the control arm bushing at the trailing edge of the fender liner as it wraps underneath the floorpan. You can take a hose and place it near the lower corner of the windshield and see how the water drains down from the area.

    I really wish I did not learn so much about water management on the E46....

    Matt

    snikwad guest

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    quite interesting cars we drive.
    • Member

    mjweimer

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    Agreed.

    Simple problems can turn quite complex on a modern car. I work for an automotive lighting manufacturer and you would not believe the technology that goes into headlights these days. What was once a simple lamp now must communicate via the main vehicle wiring bus to the general module, etc, etc, etc.

    It just adds to the challenge of the DIY mechanic which can be fun and maddening at the same time.

    Matt

    snikwad guest

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    this is why the E9x and others probably wont be mine ever. e46 and e39 may be as far as i go.
    • Member

    mjweimer

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    I don't think the newer cars are any harder to deal with mechanically than the previous generation if they give you the provision to service them. For example, the E9x differentials do not have an oil drain plug, yet use lightweight ball type bearings.

    My main concern is the reliability of certain electronic gadgets that seem to be a little out of control. The funky little arms that "hand" you the seatbelt in the E92 coupes comes to mind. I wonder how long those will last after 100k miles?

    Matt

    snikwad guest

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    See that ^
    Now why would bmw do that, so that less and less people DIY and the dealers get to charge a arm and a leg to flush when it inevitably does need one.
    Its almost as if bmw ag is a co-conspirator with the dealers and they're all out to get every dime they can from us.

    Leasing has never looked so appealing to me, because I damn sure don't want to get stuck with a off warranty modern bmw in a few years. I think that arm you mention will last maybe 70-80k miles before it decides to quit.
    No diff drain bolt, no dip stick, what's next, no brake fluid filler, no gas cap?
    Its crazy man.

    I'm going backwards from here on out, maybe another e46, then a e36 or e39 maybe, and definately, sooner or later a e30 maybe a e34. The 135 is tempting, as is the e92, but my thing is, if the vanos seals in the e46 can't handle the heat from the m52/4 for a few years, I'm just waiting to see how the turbo six will be doing in about 4 years and 100k miles.

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