April, with its famous showers, is just around the corner, which means that a lot of people are about to discover that their car leaks. If you're among them, you may be able to save some hard-earned money by fixing the leaks yourself.
To check properly for leaks, you'll need an assistant, a hose and an orderly approach.
First situate the assistant, or observer, Insidethe car so he or she can see where the water's getting in. That's means taking up the carpeting if the leak is in the floor or removing interior panels if it's in a door-whatever it takes for the observer to have a clear view of the sheet metal. After the obsever to have a clear view of the sheet metal.
After the observer is comfortably situated, start spraying with te hose at the SIbottomSN of the area where the leak is occurring, and slowly work wyour way upward. Use about a three or four-inch stream of water penetrate and to give the observer time to locate its point of entry.
On the doors, windshield and windows spray across the bottom first, then up one side, then the other side and finally across the top.
Suppose your observer finds that water's coming in at a small hole or crack in the sheet metal--say in a seam where two panels join. There are a couple of good ways to fill the hole.
One is to use epoxy,particular the ribbon epoxy that you knead together with your fingers. It's best here because it doesn't run. You can find it in hardware and autoparts stores.
Another way is with a silicone sealant that comes in a tube. I've used such sealants many times, and they work beautifully, sealing glass,rubber,metal,wood,vinyls and most plastics quickly. And it stays permanently flexible. This is also the only kind of stripping to use where metal and glass come together.
Before applying either epoxy or silicone sealant, you must make sure you jhave a clean, dry surface. Both will adhere to painted surfaces,but neitherwill stick to a dirty surface. Soap and water will usually do the trick, but if the dirt is oily use detergent or solvent to clean it off.
If the water is coming past weatherstripping in a door because it's come unbonded at that spot, you can bond it back to te metal again with a weatherstripping cement-but this is verysticky stuff, so be careful about getting it on your fingers. It's hard to get off--you have to use a solvent that's rough on the skin.
If the weatherstripping around a door or trunk lid is cracked or brittle, or has a piece missing, you can buy a new strip at a dealer's parts department.
If you have older car, and water's coming in through a rusted part of the sheet metal--and if the hole is reasonably small--you may be able to repair it with one of the do-it-yourself body kits avalable in many auto-parts and hardware store. The kits comes with instructions.