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::: Golf GTi - Leak Prevention - Version 2 :::

Almost every Mk 2 we have seen has leaked in some way. The following article highlights the key cures for the more common leaks. It is presented in order of likelihood of occurrence. (Although this article is specific to the MK2 Golf, most of the points are relevant to other models too...) 

1. Phillips head screwdriver
2. Flat blade screwdriver 
3. Polythene Sheeting
4. Waterproof Sealant - 1 Tube
5. Replacement Grommets

1 Door Cards : 

Unless you have fixed this, your car will almost certainly leak through the door cards. Evidence of this would be watermarks around the lower part of the door cards and/or dampness on the cards, and water sitting ON the door seals when you open the doors. VW fitted very poor door membranes to the Mk2, which shrink with age. As a result they shrink away from the door and allow water that would normally run down the windows, through the door and out of the drain holes to drip onto the door cards and then get into the car. In torrential rain this can leave you with a large puddle over night. The solution is to replace the membranes!

We would not recommend using VAG replacements as they cost 25 per door and still require trimming to size. The following text details the alternative. Bear in mind if you have a four door then you will have to do twice as much work as those with just two doors. Prise the 'grab-handle' cover off with a flat blade screwdriver to expose the two screws that hold the handle to the door. Undo these and remove the handle. Remove the mirror adjustment knob and rubber boot, prise off the window winder cover and unscrew the window winder. Unscrew the door pin, and remove the door release surround. This is done by sliding the surround to one side. Then remove the four screws that hold the door card in place (two at each end) and remove the door card. It is retained by clips under the window so take care when pulling the card away from these. If your door card was damp we would recommend drying it out with a fan heater first as the dampness makes the card crumble and it's likely to disintegrate when you remove it. If you have speakers in the doors, these will need disconnecting as you remove the card. Once the card is off, the problem will be probably be apparent.

Remove the remnants of the old membrane and clean all the metal-work very thoroughly with white spirit to remove any dirt. Check the three drain holes located in the bottom of the door and un-block them if required. Clean any dirt out of the bottom of the door. The next stage must be done with meticulous care if you wish your car to remain dry. Cover all the gaps in the door metalwork with water proof duck tape. [if this sounds like a waste of tape, then you can fabricate a series of smaller 'inner membranes' using polythene - in the long run this is probably more time consuming however!] Take care to ensure that the tape is stuck down properly and that where the tape overlaps it is also stuck together properly. 

Next, take a Polythene sheet bag (B&Q bags are ideal and free if you ask nicely) and cut it to the size of the door. This will form the new membrane. Stick this down very carefully with duck tape having made holes for the handle, mirror adjusters etc. Use the tape to prevent any splits spreading where you have cut the sheet. Replace the door card and bits of trim and you will now have a watertight door! Refitting is the reversal of removal. If you plan to add central locking, speakers or sound deadening to the doors in the future ,we would advise that you do it whilst carrying out this repair!

2 Engine Bulkhead :

There are a multitude ofrubber grommets in the bulkhead and in the scuttle which perish with age and allow water into the car. Check the condition of these and replace them if they're perished or, as is so often the case, missing. If you can't afford new ones then cover the old ones with a large dollop of grease or equivalent. It may be messy but it will keep the water out.

Leaks from failed grommets in the scuttle will be exasperated by blockages of the scuttle 'drain-holes'. Check these for build ups of loose debris which can cause water to sit in the scuttle and permeate into the car. The holes are located on each side of the scuttle and lead into the wheel arches. Check particularly the throttle cable and clutch cable grommets, as the movement of these cables during everyday-use can damage the grommets.

The bonnet release cable is also a common cause of water ingress as water runs down this and into the foot well. Applying generous amounts of grease or waterproof sealant to the grommet will cure this. This is located on the very far right of the scuttle (Drivers side). It is especially important to cure any leaks associated with any of the cables as they cause water to drip onto the fuse box which can prove very expensive when the fuse box 'shorts out', not to mention dangerous.

3 Boot Leaks : 

Keeping the boot dry is especially important if you have any expensive ICE in the boot such as a sub. Water tends to get into the boot from the rear light clusters. If there is a crack in the lens of one of these, it will let water into the boot. The only solution is to replace the light cluster. This is often a good opportunity to upgrade to half tints or similar aftermarket items. The seals around the light clusters also perish/disintegrate with age and this will cause water to get in around the edges of the cluster. Remove the light unit by unclipping the bulb-holding assembly (there are squeeze clips on either side of the assembly) and then unscrewing the three retaining nuts that hold the cluster in place (the nuts are inside the boot). The cluster should now pull free and you will be able to see the state of the seal. You will often have to make another seal from either foam (for that factory look) or silicone sealant (for that I don't care too much I'm in a hurry look) and then refit the light unit.

Other points to watch for in the boot are the several holes which should be plugged with grommets, but 15 years after coming off the production line usually aren't. There is one on the inside of the boot on the left-hand side (behind the bumper) and several in the spare tyre well. If the grommets are missing then they will let water in and should be plugged. Universal grommets available from Halfords are ideal. 

Finally you will probably have a bit of water coming in around the tailgate lock as this is also sealed by a flimsy foam seal. You can try to replace the seal but chances are, the metal work is slightly rusty here (Mk 2 Achilles heel) and so a good seal will never be achieved. Welding and painting is the only solution but unless it's bad we wouldn't bother. The aerodynamics of the Mk 2 mean that it sucks dirt and water onto it's rump and it is this that causes certain parts of the tailgate, especially around holes, to go rusty.

4 Heater Matrix : 

This isn't strictly a leak but is a water-related problem. VW miss-specified the heater matrix in the Mk 2 golf. The result being that they have a tendency to burst under pressure. This causes water to leak into the heater box, forming a putrid sludge (which will begin to stink after a while) but will also mean that when you try to demist your windscreen with hot air, the hot air will just be steam which does nothing for visibility. 

VW did wise up to this problem and recalled every single Mk2 made to fit a safety valve to prevent the matrix bursting. Most Mk 2's will have had this done but those that haven't will be prone to heater matrix failure. You can tell if this has been doneby looking in the engine bay. On the gearbox side of the engine there are two rubber hoses, which go back through the bulkhead (to the heater matrix). 

If the mod has not been done then the hoses will be intact. If the mod has been carried out there will be a pressure valve inserted half way down one of them. The pipe will have been cut and secured to either end of the valve. If the mod has not been carried out it would be wise to take it to your VAG dealer and get them to do it, as it's free under the recall. Also should you find yourself replacing the heater matrix send the bill to VAG head office and they will reimburse you for it under the conditions of the recall. To change the heater matrix will require removal of the centre console and heater box etc and we would recommend referring to the Haynes manual for this. It is not a technical job but is very awkward and time consuming.

4 Sunroof : 

The main cause of a leaky sunroof is usually not the sunroof but the drain holes. When these get blocked water sits in the sunroof cavity and will then permeate through any seal whether it is intact or not. Open the sunroof and look into the cavity. On each side at the front of the rectangular cavity there are two holes which lead to drain tubes that run down the A-pillars and into the wheel arches. At the back of the sunroof cavity [torch required here] you will see two further holes at the extreme rear edges. These are 'drain holes', remove any lose debris that might be sitting anywherein the opening and then un-block the tubes with some flexible wire. This should cure the problem but if the leak persists then your seal is probably damaged and needs replacing. These only cost about 15 + VAT from VAG.

5 Miscellaneous : 

Yet another place the water gets into the MK2 Golf is via the rubber gasket on the plastic mesh leaf grill. This grill stops debris being sucked into the fresh-air intake of the heater and is located under the plastic scuttle tray under the bonnet. To fix this, remove the leaf grill and then clean both the paint and the rubber seal with white spirit, apply silicon sealant to the rubber and then replace the unit.

Other areas for leaks would include windscreen seals and rear 3qtr seals etc. Often if the windscreen has been replaced poorly it won't seal too well. If there are any rust spots around the seal then these will let water past and into the car which will make the rust spot worse and you get an ever decreasing circle which begs the question which came first? The rust or the leak? If the leak is caused by a rust spot then the only long term solution is to remove the glass, get rid of the rust and re spray but for a short term fix we would recommend a sealant. One in particular which has proved useful is "seek and seal". This is very runny and finds even the smallest leaks such as cracks in a perished seal. 

If the car has been leaking then it will need drying out but you may find that the smell will linger. This comes from the sound deadening under the carpet which, when wet, rots. The only way to eliminate the smell is to remove the sound deadening and replace it. You could try a magic tree but as these smell gross we wouldn't recommend it. Also, the rotten sound deadening will never dry fully and so leaving it there could lead to a rusty floor pan and this we assure you is not desirable.

NB: If you are using IE, this page is printable...

Disclaimer : Matey-Matey accept no responsibility for any of the information contained within this document or the accuracy thereof. It is intended as a helpful guide and is solely based on personal experience. The authors also wish to stress that the methods highlighted are centred around personal opinion and there may be other equally credible ways of performing this conversion.

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