I have a 2003 Toyota RAV4 with the sports package. Two years ago, there was a water leak in the driver’s seat area — a lot of water. After several visits to two different repair places, they found that the sunroof was leaking, and they replaced it. I had no problems until recently. Now when slowing down or turning corners, there is a noise that sounds like water is sloshing around on the rooftop, even though there is nothing on the roof. How can we dry out the roof?
Get ready for another leak.
All sunroofs allow water to get into the sunroof well “inside” the roof. And because water inevitably gets in there, there are drains that are supposed to allow the water to flow out onto the ground. Your drains are plugged up — that’s why the water is sloshing around right over your head.
When enough of it builds up, you’ll step on the brakes one day, and a bucket of water will pour out of the overhead console and onto your head. So, one of your options would be to set up your phone to film you while you’re driving, because that will make an excellent YouTube video. Especially if you happen to be on your way to a wedding that day.
Alternatively, you could ask your mechanic to clean out your sunroof drains. Most cars have four drains. Two go down the A-pillar (at the sides of your windshield), and two go out the back. What we mechanics do is we’ll very slowly fill up that well around the sunroof with water. And we’ll see what happens. If it doesn’t drain out, we know the drains are plugged.
They get plugged over time by outdoor debris — leaves, pollen, dirt, bird droppings — that gets in there with rainwater, whether or not your sunroof is open. But they’re easy to clean out. We just blow them out with compressed air, which works well. Then we’ll do a post-op check with some water to verify that they’re draining well.
So ask your mechanic to give that a try. And by the way, that might have been what you needed last time, instead of a new sunroof.
I have a 2002 Lexus ES 300. The mechanic says that I have three cylinders misfiring in “bank 1.” I don’t know what to do. He sounds like he just wants money. He said it will be $90 an hour just to find out what’s making them misfire. The car is shaking, and the Check Engine light is blinking. What does it mean that cylinders are misfiring? And what is bank 1?
Bank One was the name of that ballpark in Phoenix before they changed the name to “The Bank That Ate Bank One Ballpark.”
Actually, in automotive terms, a bank is a set of cylinders. So, because you have a V-6 engine, you have two banks of three cylinders each. Those banks form a “V” shape. That’s why they call it, what? A V-6!
And “misfiring” just means that a cylinder is not firing every time it’s supposed to. Each cylinder in your engine is supposed to fire (that is, combust the fuel and air, and push the piston down) every other time the crankshaft turns. If a cylinder doesn’t fire every time it’s supposed to, it’s said to be misfiring. That makes the engine run rough and the car shake. And if you have three out of six cylinders that are badly misfiring, the car will barely run at all.
In this car, as in many cars, the engine is installed transversely (aka sideways), so bank 1 is the cylinder bank closest to the passenger compartment. That makes it hard to reach, and requires removing other parts to get at it.
So one possibility is that your spark plugs never got changed back there. Maybe you went in for a tune-up and some lazy mechanic had a hard time removing the pieces that are in the way of those plugs. He scraped his knuckles a few times, gave up, tossed the new spark plugs in his toolbox and said, “OK, pal, you’re all set.”
That would be a nice, easy solution. Those plugs should last 100,000 miles. But if the plugs in bank 1 have been in there for 150,000 miles, while the plugs in bank two were changed at some point, that could cause your misfiring.
It also could be the coils. Each cylinder has a coil that generates the spark needed for the cylinder to fire. Those can go bad, too.
Or you could have a crack in an intake manifold gasket, creating a big vacuum leak. That would cause very rough idling and misfiring. If it is a vacuum leak, those symptoms should disappear when you run the car at high speed. So if you can drive it on the highway with no misfiring and adequate power, that suggests a vacuum leak.
But if the Check Engine light is flashing, you need to take care of this right away. That flashing light is warning you that the catalytic converter is being damaged. Your injectors are working, sending fuel into the cylinders, but the fuel isn’t getting combusted. Instead, the unburned fuel is going right through the cylinders into the exhaust system, where it’s ruining your catalytic converter. And that’s many hundreds of dollars.
So if you don’t trust this particular mechanic, you need to find one you do trust. Someone needs to figure this out for you. You might check www.cartalk.com/mechanics-files. That’s a database of trusted and beloved mechanics, compiled by our own readers and radio listeners. You put in your ZIP code and read the love letters about shops in your area.
But don’t panic and freeze up. It’s going to cost you some money to diagnose and fix this, but not fixing it will cost you even more. Good luck.
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