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BMW X3 Leaking Sunroof

June 29, 2011

car year: 2005
car model: X3 3.0i
I have a 2005 BMW X3 that was delivered in December, 2004 and has the panoramic sunroof. I recently found a great deal of water in the boot area behind the right rear wheel well. I am told that X3s, especially earlier models had a sunroof water management problem and need to be cleaned periodically. I find a lot of general information on this subject but no details regarding where the drain tubes are located and where drains are located in the sunroof. There is some talk about routing them out using string trimmer line. Do you have any details regarding this problem and how to fix it?

Sunroof water leaks are, unfortunately, not uncommon on the earlier E83 X3 chassis (X3 through 2006). The leakage is typically due to clogged or pinched drain tubes and/or faulty sunroof cassette sealing. Evidence of the leakage can be water on the windshield, in the well behind the rear seat, in the rear corner wells and even coming through the headliner. BMW has a TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) on this; SI B 54 06 06. While there was a design change at 10/05, we are seeing issues with the later production units as well. BMW has not recognized this as a recall issue and if the vehicle is out of the original or CPO warranty (as many are), the best that can be hoped for is for the dealer to do a “good will” warranty.

What can the vehicle owner do? Inspect the sunroof drains. Look for the drains in the corners of the sunroof framework. If you pour water into the frame, it should readily run into and through the drains. The drained water should exit under the vehicle chassis in the general areas behind the front wheels and behind the rear wheels. Clean the drain openings with firm but flexible wire or pipe cleaners. You can blow compressed air (not high pressure) into the drains as well.

If you determine that you have drain problems that you cannot take care of on your own, a BMW dealer visit may be in order.

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Categories → X3 04-10 - E83

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