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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, let me start out by saying that I've googled the heck out of this. I've also read tons of threads on many sites (including this one). I'm still a little in the dark on how to fix. So please bear with me.

So, I bought my daughter her first (used) car. A 1999 new beetle. There's been a number of cosmetic things we've been fixing, and a few nights ago after a heavy rain, she noticed water behind the driver's seat.

No, it does NOT have a sun roof. I read tons of threads where the OP says they do not have a sunroof, and people post links to clean the sunroof drains.

So we tried many things to figure out where the leak is coming from, and it turns out when I run a remove the cowl from under the hood and run a hose down the drain, it leaks inside. I've heard the following:

* - That this is because the drain down into the wheel well is clogged, and I need to clean it.

* - That because its parked on an incline with the front end up (barely, maybe 3 inches) a design flaw in the drainage lets it spill over and never go near the drain.

So, I'm more than happy to determine which it is, or even if it is something else. Except I have no idea where the actual drain hose is. I've looked in the front fender well, and I've shined the flash light around under the hood, but beyond the horizontal hole in the metal, I don't know where the top of the drain hose is.

Locating that and trying to "snake it out" is what I consider my first step. Unfortunately, after everything I read, I was unable to find any reference on how to find this drain tube.

My daughter has bought a new carpet and its on the way, and we want to solve this issue before installing it.

Anyone with a pointer on how to find the drain tube, or even something else I can try would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!!
 

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The cowl is a FAMOUS problem area in these Beetles for water leaks.

There is only one way to fully clean out the cowl area and you need to do this. Often this needs to be done every 6-24 months depending on where the car is kept and how much debris from trees fills up in the cowl area.

You need to remove the windshield wipers at the plastic cowl in front of the windshield.

Then you need to remove the 3 front dash panels and then remove the access panel on either side of the car.

Once you do this you will start to get an idea how bad this cowl area is clogged with debris. You will also probably find a cabin air filter that was never changed. You may even fine one or more mouse nests build with the while insulation that is on the bottom of the 2 access panels.

You will need a vacuum cleaner, compressed air and a leaf blower to really clean up this mess! Then you will also use the garden hose at the end of the clean up.

I doubt the fender well drains will be clogged, there are a number of slit drains around the strut towers that you will find are clogged. These are easy to clean and as I recall there are a few drain back slots you can see front inside the car looking into the cowl area.

The dash is pretty easy to removed, you may need a 1/4" drive ratchet and some short Torx bits and maybe a Phillips bit to clear the windshield as I recall.

Also a wise idea to try and park the car on a flat or downhill rather than uphill. I have had to clean out my cowl 4-5 times and I had mice nest in the cowl when the car sat for a while while my daughter was off at college.

See these threads:

http://newbeetle.org/forums/new-beetle-convertible/128225-drain-cleaning.html

http://newbeetle.org/forums/new-beetle-convertible/32291-cabin-air-filter.html

http://newbeetle.org/forums/questions-issues-concerns-problems-new-beetle/137905-cabin-filter.html

http://newbeetle.org/forums/questio...etle/120361-floor-behind-driver-seat-wet.html
 

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I've parked on my driveway where the front is at least 6" higher than the rear with no problems. I am always careful to remove any debris from under the cowl as soon as I notice it. To keep the cowl clean I use a piece of 1/2" vinyl tubing stuck into the hose of a small shop-vac. Seal around the tubing so there is suction on the hose. The hose is small enough to reach through the openings in the cowl and suck up or pull out the pieces of debris.

Also, like jfoj says, remove both sides of the dashboard covers and remove all the debris you will find there. One side covers the cabin air filter, the other side the ECU.
 

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Given the cars age, I guarantee the cowl is a mess and needs a thorough cleaning.

Mouse nests, nuts, leaves, sticks, mulch, you name it. If the car has a cabin filter it is most likely original as well!!!

18 year old cars need lots of MAINTENANCE AND RESTORATION!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you everyone for the responses. You've been more straightforward and comprehensive than literal hours of internet searching.

I'll check out those reference threads to see if they have answers to the questions flowing through my mind before asking them here...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I just wanted to post again a quick thank you. My daughter and I took out the dash panels and yes, there was lots of debri in there clogging things up.

After a good cleaning, we're happy to report that we literally flooded the front with a hose (much more than we had when it was leaking) and we didnt get a single drop on the inside.

Great advice, and the links were perfect.
 

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Unfortunately this is really a "maintenance" item, probably need to clean the cowl area every few years, but if you try to keep up with it, often you can clean it from just under the hood by removing the wipers and plastic cowl cover.

Glad it worked out and you listened to what I had to offer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
So... seems I spoke too soon. We had another rain, which resulted in another puddle inside. So instead of leaving it to her, I went out with her and did some better testing.

And I found, that if I pour a 12 oz glass of water on the windshield on the drivers side, i get leakage into the cabin.

Let me post a picture here:



Ok.. that's the area under the dash after the cleaning (it was terrible).

The arrow on the left is the drain that looks more like an accidental hole than a designed drain.

The box that the questionmark is on. What is this? Could it be leaking under it?

And... the wires under the arrow on the right.. They're pretty wet. Could this be what's allowing the leak?

12 oz isnt alot of water. The leak is VERY little for this much water (I'd miss it without a flashlight shining watching for moisture). We have new carpet to put into the car, but don't want to until we've got this licked.

Any thoughts?

Rich
 

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That box under the ? is the ECU. I think it is just a solid panel underneath it.

Did you remove the windshield wipers and cowl cover and clean under there as well? That is where the little dams can happen that will send water into the cabin. If you did clean that, then maybe it is the seal around the windshield that is leaking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
That box under the ? is the ECU. I think it is just a solid panel underneath it.

Did you remove the windshield wipers and cowl cover and clean under there as well? That is where the little dams can happen that will send water into the cabin. If you did clean that, then maybe it is the seal around the windshield that is leaking.
Yeah, we did, but now I'm wanting another look under there. I guess we'll pull that back off again so I can get another peek.

And the test with the 12oz of water, I was able to make that happen by pouring that glass of water directly on to the cowl, so the windshield was not part of it...
 

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Been a while since I was under the dash like your picture shows.

The box is the ECU/ECM, there is a way to release it, but there is nothing but solid space under the ECU/ECM as I recall.

I think the arrow on the left may be your problem??

Notice the cable for the hood latch has a nice grommet around it and appears to be sealed up.

I may be wrong, but there are a few drain areas and what you are showing looks questionable unless this is a real drain that is clogged.

Might put a piece of wire or string trimmer down and see if you see it under the dash, if you do, this is NOT good!!!

You can use the hood release cable as a reference from under the dash. You will have to remove at least 1 hush panel.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Been a while since I was under the dash like your picture shows.

The box is the ECU/ECM, there is a way to release it, but there is nothing but solid space under the ECU/ECM as I recall.

I think the arrow on the left may be your problem??

Notice the cable for the hood latch has a nice grommet around it and appears to be sealed up.

I may be wrong, but there are a few drain areas and what you are showing looks questionable unless this is a real drain that is clogged.

Might put a piece of wire or string trimmer down and see if you see it under the dash, if you do, this is NOT good!!!

You can use the hood release cable as a reference from under the dash. You will have to remove at least 1 hush panel.
Thanks again for the assist. I'll try and check that out in the next couple of days (I usually get home work work well after dark). We've had this beetle basically disassembled for over a month now (for other parts being replaced, before we even knew about the leak) and would be nice to finish this off.

I'll let you know what we find once we have some daylight to get in there.

Rich
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Ok guys,

I'm back to request help with another issue (another thread), but figured I'd give you guys the 411 on what this was and how we eventually solved it.

So, the issue wasnt anything I've ever read online before. At the bottom of that "channel" (for lack of a better word) is a seam where the metal was apparently pressed together and left as waterproof. This was apparently good for a long time, but it was this seam that was leaking. After trying to seal it with a number of different sealants, what finally worked was a can of flex-seal. Cleaned inside real good, removed basically everything, and sprayed it good.

Turns out the issue was happening on both sides, so I had to basically seal the whole channel from one side of the car to the other. Doesn't leak a drop, now.

I hope that this helps someone else.

Rich
 
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