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BMW X3, SUV
#6 of 20 Leaking Sunroof Fix (workaround)
Aug 29, 2011 (11:51 am)
I have a 2004 X3 with 70k miles on it (although this fix will work on any leaking sunroof). I purchased this vehicle new (it was a program car). My X3 never lived outside (it had always been garaged) until I started spending extended periods of time with my fiancé two years ago (my work requires only an internet connection and an airport).
Once it lived outside, the car started leaking after every heavy rain (and when I say leaking, I mean all I needed was the koi to have a once worth $50k now worthless piece of…German engineering become an upscale pond using the floor of my vehicle). It has been in the shop numerous times since. Over the last two years, I’ve spent hundreds in having BMW blow out the panoramic sunroof drains (they eventually showed me how to do it) and hundreds more in replacing the driver’s door vapor seal. Nothing has resolved the leaking. So, I put on my closet engineer hat and came up with the following workaround. My fiance is an engineer and was impressed by the effectiveness of this workaround. (Not meaning to pat myself on the back, but desperate times leads to desperate measures.)
First, let me say that this workaround is 100% effective. It is also very inexpensive ($150.00), but it may not be All That for everyone.
What I did was find a location that installs 3M Paint Protector film, also known as the Invisible Bra. I've used the Invisible Bra product on all of my BMW’s so I had a company called Tint King install a sheet of the 3M Paint Protector film across the top of my car. (Actually, they installed two sheets with about a 1/4” overlap at the sunroof seam due to the size of the panoramic sunroof - as well as about 4" around the edge of the sunroof, totally sealing it from the elements. See pictures below.)
The film is completely see through (you would never know it was there) so you can open the shade and get full sun. You can also see out the sunroof as if you were looking through glass alone. You cannot, however, open the sunroof, which is why this workaround may not be for everyone. But, for me, that is more than acceptable.
I was lucky enough (or unlucky enough) to have tornadoes rip through the area - along with another round of torrential rains the tornadoes brought with them - the day after my install which allowed me to test my workaround. The car interior was completely dry.
I used Tint King (in London, Ontario – I am an American who spends much time in Canada, as my finace is Canadian. Tint King did a GREAT job and the car has not leaked during any of the subsequent rains, including the one that brought the tornadoes. There are Tint King locations throughout the US and Canada (I used Google). You seriously cannot tell the film is on the top of the car. It is crystal clear. (The film is also 100% removable should you desire to remove it at a future date.)
Sorry for the reflection of the car's interior. I snapped these with my cell phone right after installation and there's not much to see other than gray and blue sky.
Note that the remaining water from the installation has completely dissipated and the film is flat and perfectly installed. They couldn't initially squeegee out that bit of water due to the lip around the sunroof.
An Unconcerned BMW of North America:
When I called BMW of North America to ask them to help me out with drying the underside of the mats (IOW pay the labor to pull up the mats and dry the vehicle once and for all), they told me tough luck. I need to eat my German engineered crap sandwich and enjoy it. The cost for BMW to dry out the flooring under the mats is more than $600 which is all labor.
I was told that BMW is completely unaware of any leakage problem in their vehicles and it was my responsibility alone if I wanted to dry out the cabin floor. I tried to get some pages of a manual to show how to pull up the carpets so I could do it myself and was told to check YouTube (I couldn’t find one that applied…if anyone has some help/instructions for pulling up the front cabin carpeting it would be greatly appreciated.) I was told that there were no design problems causing leakage and too bad for me.
I told her I was a three time BMW owner (new 2001 X5, new 2004 X3, used 1999 318ti) and was looking to get a new car in the upcoming months and that I had a hard time justifying buying another BMW when I didn’t feel that they were standing behind their product in what is obviously, reading all the BMW boards, a design flaw. Enjoy my turd sandwich was the only response.
A couple of other things; the installed carpets show no sign of mold (something I won’t know fully until I can lift those carpets up). The BMW floor mats molded badly. Once I removed them, the smell immediately went away. I will not be replacing the BMW mats. I am going to solely replace my ancient WeatherTech rubber mats.
As an added bonus, the cabin is much quieter now that the 3M Paint Protector film is across the top of my car. It used to have more wind noise than I would like with the shade fully open. No more.
Lastly, my vehicle is older (though I am the only owner) so I probably have little leg to stand on in a class lawsuit, but I think that owner’s experiencing this disaster with their once worth tens of thousands of dollars but now worthless pieces of…German engineering should band together to get some kind of compensation. Seriously, who is going to purchase my or your leaking BMW disaster? In my eyes, this is unacceptable for a premium brand.
Now that I no longer have the leaks, I will keep this guy until it’s time for me to get a new car and then I will probably give it away to one of my friend’s kids or donate it to a good cause.
Sorry for the length of this post.
#7 of 20 Re: Leaking Sunroof Fix (workaround) [justjayna]
Aug 30, 2011 (12:40 pm)
Justjayna, Thanks for your post. Hopefully this information will be helpful for my garage and may be worth a trip to Quebec or another company that tints as you state.
#8 of 20 Re: Leaking Sunroof Fix (workaround) [justjayna]
Dec 29, 2011 (12:21 pm)
I've had the same problem with water leaking into the rear passenger floorboards of my 2004 BMW X3 over the last several years following a heavy rain/snow.
BMW of Arlington did attempt to repair the problem (replaced drains and interior carpeting and floor mats) and they even covered 100% of the costs (several thousand dollars) but the problem resumed within two month's time and has gradually gotten worse over the last two years. The moisture has created a mold and mildew problem (again) and I am worried about the potential health consequences of being exposed to this for prolonged periods of time. BMW was never able to identify the source of the leak and they tried several high-pressured water tests to no avail. But, it's clear to me that BMW will not be able to correctly fix the problem unless they do something akin to the solution that you've proposed.
One thing that I have recently noted is that there is a container in the rear (just inside the hatchback) on the right side of the car. This container seems to fill with water after it rains and the floorboard seems to be dry until this compartment becomes full. Has anyone else noticed this?
In good conscious, I can't trade this car in and pass this problem along to someone else. I bought this car used from Carmax and I feel that someone else just passed the problem along to me. I also plan to give the car to a friend or donate it once I'm ready for a new vehicle though I'm worried that the mold and mildew could create health issues with the next owner. Obviously, being unable to trade the vehicle in represents a loss of thousands of dollars to me and I would support a class action lawsuit. It sounds as if BMW has been made aware of this and has not taken the problem seriously, at best.
#10 of 20 Re: Leaking Sunroof Fix (workaround) [justjayna]
Jan 28, 2012 (7:00 pm)
How is the 3M paint protection film holding up? I have a leaky sunroof on my 2004 X3 and am considering your innovative solution. I certainly don't want to spend the $3500 or so I understand it costs to fix the sunroof, which will probably just start leaking again! Thanks in advance for the update on your car!
#11 of 20 Re: Leaking Sunroof Fix (workaround) [dmw8]
Jan 29, 2012 (8:32 pm)
It's holding up very well.
Remember that after you apply tge 3M film you can use the power shade screen but don't try to open the glass as you could damage the motor that powers the shade screen.
I'd do this again in a heartbeat! The car's been cleaned, dried, detailed and it's like it was when I got it. I'm very pleased.
FYI, my 3M invisible bra has been in place since I got the car and it's faded some (seven years, not too shabby) but if you keep your car for a long time, you may have to replace what you've put on the roof. Well worth a small investment for keeping perfectly clear like glass. You truly cannot see it on the car
#12 of 20 Endless X3 Problems
Jun 05, 2012 (9:13 pm)
Wifes 2011 X3 arrived with improperly installed rear master seal, leaking sunroof(4 attempts to repair including complete replacement by dealer. Still leaking), seat memory refuses to work after many computer reflash attempts, lights began flashing and horn going off (no security system of any kind), coolant leak, passenger side mirror stuck in down position after reverse, ad naseum...Service Manager awesome by saying car needs to be replaced and helping fight BMW in our Lemon Law and Warranty Claim. First two bmw's were awesome. This is our last! Guess that's what happens when assembled in the U.S.
#13 of 20 2008 X3 Sunroof "clunks"
Jul 16, 2012 (11:19 am)
I recently purchased a 2008 X3 with 28K miles ... I love it, drives great, very comfortable. BUT .... every time I open or close the door my sunroof "clunks" and makes it sound so cheap. Also, when I have my sunroof open all the way & doing highway driving it makes a terrible clunky sound ... like the wind is getting between the 2 glass panes & rattles then terribly. Any solutions to this ??? it just sounds terrible when opening & closing .... THANKS !
#14 of 20 Re: Endless X3 Problems [jmoney2702]
Jul 30, 2012 (4:14 pm)
hi, im having terrible issues with my 2011 x3 as well (to make a long story short, the DME was messed up, burnt up all my sensors and even after the replacement of the DME lights are STILL coming on) They dont want to do anything with the car. Let me know if you were successful so i can speak to the person you spoke/are speaking to.
#15 of 20 Re: Endless X3 Problems [ggm0481]
Jul 30, 2012 (6:05 pm)
1. Call BMWNA and work with them to resolve your issue. You must do this first.
2. If not resolved, sit down using Word or some WP program and write a detailed explanation of what happened. Use pics, list service dates/service details, warranty information, what BMWNA said/did, or what have you, to support your issue. Make sure it's perfect or near perfect (spelling, logical flow of thought, all your ducks in a row). Post with a way that BMW will know who you are (first (and last, if you're comfortable) name, service locations, etc.)
3. Post it on every BMW board you can locate.
4. Hope you have a strong case and BMW offers to resolve the issue (if so, they'll contact you via your BMWNA contact...they log all calls).