'03 Baja Water Leak

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Baja'03
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'03 Baja Water Leak

Post by Baja'03 »

Bought an '03 Baja and it was rough but I've been working on it for a few years now. Replaced the antenna, passenger mirror(lucked out and found an online company that had some Subaru remnants so got the exact color), repaired driver's leather seat, dash lights, headlights and so on. I've been chasing interior water leaks for awhile, apparently I've cleaned it up too much and washed out the grime that prevented/reduced some leaks. Have had wet floors in both the front and back. I've chased most of them down but still have a little one to figure out.

Here's what I've experienced with chasing the water leaks. Front driver's floor would get saturated and I investigated the online recommendations. Sunroof drains worked fine and the area in front of each front door, which is a great place for seedlings to grow, wasn't the cause( i cleaned out the dirt and seedlings just to be sure). Turned out it was the loose driver's side roof rail. Water would come in through a bolt hole and channel down the corner post and to the floor. Body shop tightened the rail back down and sealed the bolt holes. Back floor would still get damp and it turns out that the pass through panel/switchback seal had shrunk just a bit over 17 years. Water would leak through the panel to under the seat and then down onto the floor. I've added some weather stripping to the panel and I see no evidence(water trail on the panel) that it's still leaking other than the paper towels I placed under the panel are slightly damp on the far passenger corner under the switchback. The rubber edge at the base of the back window and attached to the bed liner has come a bit loose but I'm not so sure if water leaking around that strip would get inside. I've tried water testing areas with the garden hose and can't get it to leak but the rain sure seems to find a way in.

Does anyone have any ideas of how water might be getting in around that area? Any idea if the switchback is adjustable so that it fits tighter against the seal? Any hidden drain holes under the bed panels that might cause a leak? I've run out of ideas and would appreciate some feedback.
Thank you.
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Guacamole
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Re: '03 Baja Water Leak

Post by Guacamole »

So if I'm understanding your post correctly, it's leaking from somewhere around the switchback? Could be several things. The rubber seal around the rear window you mentioned is one, could be another bolt leaking under the roof rail, could even be the weather stripping under the bed trim.

Luckily both can still be bought new...
https://parts.subaru.com/a/Subaru_2003_ ... 15-01.html
https://parts.subaru.com/a/Subaru_2003_ ... 01-02.html
...at the price of an arm and a leg :?

My suggestion: grab some food coloring and pour some different colored water around where you think the problem areas are, and you should be able to trace it from there.
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Baja'03
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Re: '03 Baja Water Leak

Post by Baja'03 »

Guacamole,
Thank you for the reply and food coloring idea.

I checked the 3 bolts at the bottom of the liner threshold between the switchback and the bed. All 3 were tight but the one near the leak wasn’t holding the liner tightly. I pulled the bolts and shined an LED flashlight into the hole and the light shined through into the area that is getting damp. I cleaned the bolts and wrapped them in plumbers tape and the problem one tightened and is holding the liner like it should. Just need it to rain again to test it but I’m hopeful. I may need to add some new seals/gasket material under the liner and the bolts.
I’m planning to get the seal between the bottom of the window and top of the bed liner fixed as well but I don’t think it was meant to be water tight and am thinking there’s a separate seal at the bottom of the window that is covered by the liner.
I’ll post an update.

Thanks again.
Baja'03
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Re: '03 Baja Water Leak

Post by Baja'03 »

I investigated the adjust-ability of the switchback/pass-through and in the process of getting to the hinges I had to remove the Trim Panel Floor Assembly (it's the plastic panel behind the back seat and at the base of the switchback. part # 95077ae00aoa). I found 2 drains under the panel and both were clogged. Under the switchback panel there is a drip tray that diverts the water that leaks in around the switchback down to those 2 drains. If they are clogged the water likely travels to under the back seat and then down to the rear seat floor. Also discovered that the drip tray is several inches short on both sides so any water that leaks through the corners of the switchback will bypass the drip tray and drains and carry down to underneath the rear seat and floor(I think hitting the brakes while driving provides the inertia for the water to travel). I also found that the switchback appears to lack the adjustment functionality like the tailgate or hood so I can't make it fit tighter against the seal. As the seal still looks good(and the fact it's no longer made), I think adding additional weatherstrip is likely my best bet to stop the little bit of water that comes through.
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