E30 Passenger-Side
Water Leak

Prepared by VietSB
Modified 02.17.03
(Thanks to RichH for drying tip)

NOTE: Perform these steps at your own risk. All P/N's listed are a "best guess", so please double-check with your local dealer. These mods and repairs were performed on my US-Spec 1989 325i (12/88 prod date, M20/B25 engine) but there is no guarantee they will work on other E30's. These instructions are provided for entertainment purposes only!

BACKGROUND: Following a moderate rainstorm, I noticed my passenger-side front foot well was soaking wet. After determining it was rain water and not coolant (heater core leak), I got some quick help from the bimmer.org E30 board and learned it might be due to a common issue. The passenger-side exterior ventilation opening is prone to becoming clogged, allowing water to overflow into the cabin. The ventilation opening is under the black plastic grill immediately in front of the windshield. There's a drain spout on the firewall in the engine compartment that normally protects against overflow conditions, but is useless when clogged with debris.
1. Pop the hood and look at the end of the cylinder row towards the firewall/passenger cabin (see arrow in pic below). This picture is for a 6-cylinder engine compartment, but the 4-cylinder setup should be similar.

2. Locate the "Elephant Trunk" as it's called. A simple clockwise (I believe) twist will free it from the firewall. Inspect for debris and flush clean with water. Mine was completely clogged with pieces of leaves, mud, and even small pebbles. Reinstallation is the reverse, but still took me a number of tries to get it re-attached tightly. (Tip from marcus@work: "Put a little oil on the lip of the rubber hose and it'll go straight on.")

A word of warning. After solving the drain issue, the next task is to dry the carpet and underlying padding. This proved to be fairly difficult. Also check the rear passenger foot well, as the water spreads fairly quickly. RichH e-mailed me the following tip on quickly drying the carpet.

"I found a very effective way to dry the carpet is to use a shop vac. Remove the kick panel and lower door side trim and lift the carpet up. Lodge something in there to keep it lifted up. Get a shop vac and move the hose on the vac so it blows air. Put the outlet end of the hose under the lifted carpet and run the shop vac for an afternoon. If you put the vac in the car, crack the windows and sunroof, and close the door, the vac generates a bunch of heat and it dries very quickly."

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