3rd Gen 4Runner Water Leak

G-Cat

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* Edit: I do not like iPhones...cursor reset in title to add to "Bonehead", which I am.

Symptoms: whenever it rains, my 1998 4Runner smells terrible...embarrassingly so.

Research: after searching Mud and other 4Runner specific sites, I did all of the following:

1) filled a container with white vinegar, placed it in the P/S floorboard, ran AC on high (recirculation) for 30 minutes, left in Runner overnight.
2) sprayed Lysol into each vent, on each interior surface and then into intake vents (exterior/between windshield and hood) while AC on High/Fresh and then with heater on High/Fresh. Sprayed Lysol in recirculation intake with AC on High/Recirculation and again with heat on High/Recirculation

1 and 2 were done on the assumption that the AC system had mold/mildew in it. (A 1998 4Runner has no cabin filter...my truck has 268K miles)

3) sprayed all cloth/carpet/headliner with Febreeze

Truck smelled great! Until it rained, then it stank again.

Tested sunroof drains. Not clogged, not the source of water intrusion. They are located in the front corners of the sunroof and look like two holes...easy to find. Pour water down them and it flows through tubes in the A-Pillar (between the windshield and front doors) and exits out of holes in pinch-weld underneath A-Pillar. If they are clogged, water will back-up and leak through sunroof and into headliner. To unclog, run a semi-stiff wire down through them.

So then I just sat in the 4Runner and observed. I finally noticed staining on my headliner. It looked like the kind of stains you'd expect from water getting in-between the roof and the headliner. That's when I remembered that I had seen (during a car wash) some water come in through the rear PS seat-belt slot. That was several years ago and I attributed it to a PS quarter-window leak as this area had a past repair done when my dad backed out of the garage with the PS rear door open. (I realize that makes no sense, as the damage was to the door and b-pillar, but I am a bonehead). I could not replicate it, and it only happened in car washes (we lived near Dallas and had very infrequent rain).

The truck went back to my dad's possession for several years and was garage kept in Kansas. I bought it back when we moved to Georgia, but rarely drive it as I have a work car. It was no longer garaged and it rains here...a lot.

The smell started-up and, finally, I took the 5 seconds to take a look at the roof. There it was...a missing bolt on the port-installed roof rack. I placed a flashlight on it and watched the light flood into the Runner where I had dropped the headliner. What an idiot...that bolt has been missing for 5 years or so.

My plan is to replace the bolt and add some silicone. Then I need to drop the headliner (all but the 4 color-coded "buttons" holding the rear in place have been removed (grab handles, dome lights, rear-view mirror, sun visors etc.) and I need a special tool for those or I will likely break them. I will clean the area of the headliner that contacts the roof with (?? any ideas?) to kill the mold/mildew, then clean the other side and reinstall. I will finish with Febreeze and assume the lack of future water intrusion will eliminate the problem for good.

I am an imbecile for not checking the roof-rack first. Maybe my mistake will help someone out with early detection down the road.

I appreciate any feedback on the following:

1) best way to remove the "buttons" holding the headliner up in the cargo area and
2) best cleaner to use to kill mildew/mold knowing that I will only be able to insert my arm into the area needing cleaned as I see no need to completely drop/remove the headliner.

Thanks!
 
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jynx

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I have something similar happen to me earlier this year. My sunroof drains were slightly off, allowing some water to drain, but allowing some to run into the cabin. Bad jew-jew.

As far as how to kill the mold and dry things out I placed a small heater-fan in the truck blowing hot air into the space above the headliner for several hours to get it good and dry. Bleach is best for killing that stuff, but would likely stain. Heat and hot air will likely kill most of it off.
 

Pluton

 
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Here are my bonehead suggestions:
Why can't you go ahead and break the buttons and have new ones standing by for reassembly?
If it were possible, the best cure for the smell would be to wash the headliner, possibly using some aggressive fungo-poison. Diluted bleach, Lysol maybe?
I guess you'd need a large one of those cheap kiddie splash pools to contain the headliner while washing.
 

G-Cat

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Even with new buttons on stand-by, if I try to remove without the proper tool, I will gouge/scar my headliner, so...

I ran to O'Rielly's auto parts and bought a 5-piece interior trim tool kit. They are red plastic pieces and look like mini pry bars...$13 for the kit.

These worked well to pop the buttons out. Each button still broke (somewhat) but only one of them could not be re-used.

I dropped the headliner but did not remove it from the truck...mostly because I could not remove the two forward-most grab handles (stripped 2 screws trying!)

Once dropped, it was easy to see where the water had pooled and mold/mildew had grown.

I used Clorox Clean-up, a mop bucket of warm water and several rags to scrub these areas.

I let it dry and then reinstalled it.

I had already replaced the missing roof rack bolt (thanks Beno!).

Next, I will try a Simple Green cleaning of the interior-side of the headliner and call it good.
 

jynx

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I stripped the screws on my PS grab handle when working on mine, ended up cutting destroying my handle cutting the plastic away so I could dremel a slot in the head to get them out. Still need to call @Sam Stewart to get a new one ordered.
 
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I'm in a similar situation... mildew/mold smell that doesn't seem to be coming from the HVAC. I appreciate this thread because it gives me another place to look for water entering (which is my best guess as the source of my 4runner odor problem). I bought my 4Runner (98, SR5, 160k) less than a year ago and found that it had clogged sunroof drains with water-stains in the headliner around the sunroof. I've disassembled a bunch of interior components (carpet, seats, headliner, side panels) looking for the source... the interior is gutted and it STILL smells. What did the mold look like when you found it? Where was it?

I plan to look at the roof rack bolts and for additional water stains in the headliner. I'll also go through the HVAC fixes in case I'm wrong about that not being the source (since I'm starting to run out of things to consider).

My two cents on some of the other comments here:
- removing the front grab handles is tricky. I used an impact driver to remove the screws and was successful for 3 out of 4. I think I was careless and didn't apply enough force on the one that I stripped.
- you can completely remove the headliner (if you want) without removing the front grab handles. Once you've removed everything else, you can slide it back out of the vehicle with the grab handles in place.
- the red plastic trim removal tools are cheap and good. Not sure that any one brand would be better than others. I highly recommend them. With that said, I'm sure you'll still need to replace some of the fasteners. I had similar results for the four fasteners holding the center of the headliner.
- for killing mold, my plan has been to use a sporicide (similar to what's used in hospitals); it's been recommended to me as the best way to kill mold... I started with vinegar, now with sporicide... but I haven't had cleared up the smell, so I don't know if one is any better than the other.
 
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This is just a suggestion I would like to add, once you clean the mold source and fix the leak rent or buy an Ionic/ Ozone purifier and leave running inside the vehicle for few days this will remove the residual smell and and other source of mold in the car also check the rear drain tube on your sunroof I know you cleaned the front but the rear drain gets clogged too or get disconnected at times.
 

skeezix

 
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My two cents on some of the other comments here:
- removing the front grab handles is tricky. I used an impact driver to remove the screws and was successful for 3 out of 4. I think I was careless and didn't apply enough force on the one that I stripped.
I had the same problem. Those screws are attached using Locktite or something similar. I did manage to get the grab bar off of the passenger side, but because the steering wheel was in the way, I boogered the lower screw on the driver side. Then I used an easy-out to remove it, but I too am a "bonehead" and I broke the easy-out. My question is, did you remove the steering wheel in the process of removing the handle?
 

morganism

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For mildew and mold, mix some boric acid (roach powder, or friend making biodiesel), with some peroxide, at least 6%, and drop of soap, a squirt of vinegar. Then follow with a vinegar spray/rinse. Just peroxide or vinegar do okay, but following one with the other is 600% more effective. Mix of peroxide and boric only active about 3 hours.

Also, check the cold air intake ports, they fill with all kinds of deitrius, and clog up the drains further down from the front door drains, can cause rust probs too. You have to pull the cover over your windshield linkage, so you should plan on lubing that linkage when you do. A needle fitting on a grease gun is very helpful
 

G-Cat

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Fixed. 15-year-old and I dropped and removed the headliner. Found the tube to the P/S rear sunroof drain completely disconnected.
9B491830-3CE9-476F-AD21-FDEE1AB90D99.jpeg
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G-Cat

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Drove in for an oil change. Young man told me all about the advantage of the “K and M” air filter.
 

G-Cat

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Yeah...I provide the filter, choose the oil and then monitor their service. They bark out every step they take to include checking and double checking filter and plug...show me the dipstick etc.

New kid learning the up-sales pitch.
 

yotadude520

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Yeah...I provide the filter, choose the oil and then monitor their service. They bark out every step they take to include checking and double checking filter and plug...show me the dipstick etc.

New kid learning the up-sales pitch.
Sheesh, sounds like a PITA! It'd almost be easier just to do it yourself and call it a day and know it's done right.

And yeah sure sounds like it. Where can I get ahold of one of these K&M filters?
 
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