Sunroof drains on your XC90 seem like such simple, reliable pieces of engineering. Rubber tubes carry any water that seeps past the sunroof seal down through a channel that runs inside, down the A-pillar (next to the windshield), into the body of the car and out to the ground. When the XC90 sunroof drain system works, it works. When it fails, it can spell disaster for the interior of your car. I’ve read enough posts to know that ensuring your drains are working well is the the thing to do – especially if you haven’t done it yet, or if it’s been a while since you’ve inspected them.
Flash forward (or back, I guess) to my XC90 a few weeks ago. I had just cleaned the outside, polished the headlights and finished the windows when my A-pillar cover caught my eyes. The cover has been consistently rolling back off its adhesive for some time. It’s not so unsightly that I can’t sleep at night, but I had been devising a plan to tackle the situation for some time. In this case, I just wanted to take off the A-pillar cover and see it up-close and determine if my plan had a chance of working.
That WAS my plan, until I noticed my sunroof drain. Specifically, the point where the drain tube entered the grommet that then enters the A-pillar. It was disconnected. More like ajar. Either way, it wasn’t how it should have been. Check out the pic:
Now, I’ve never had water in my footwell on either side and the only reason I had not inspected the drains up until this coincidental opportunity is because on my CarFax report, it clearly states that the sunroof drains had been inspected and serviced. Looking back, that was some time ago and it’s my own fault for not investigating this sooner.
I guess you could say it’s a miracle I never had water in the footwell of my XC90. I don’t believe in miracles, so I just count myself as lucky. It could also be partly because my sunroof seals very well and I actually wax the seal area to help repel water.
It looks like, over time, the rubber hose had shrunk, and pulled away from the secured grommet. Of course, I wanted to inspect the grommet as well, so I gently pried that out of the A-pillar. And the grommet broke. It was brittle, dried out and just a mess. As you can see:
Did I mention that the forecast called for rain? Yeah. And the rain clouds were overhead. So I had to act fast. Logic told me to inspect the other side as well to see if the same thing was happening. I did. The grommet wasn’t as bad but the hose was definitely not inserted into the grommet, however it looked like any water that came down the tube would be “poured” into the grommet – by nothing more than sheer luck.
Time to fix the XC90 sunroof drain tube grommets
Or, just get rid of them because they suck and are too expensive to replace.
So, at this point, I had two inoperative XC90 sunroof drain tubes that, if filled with water, would leak into my footwell and flood my Volvo SUV. Not on my watch. I headed to Lowe’s grabbed some clear tubing and solved the problem.
I could have spent time finding the appropriate tube connector and ensuring the same inside diameter was maintained so that there was no flow restriction, but that would have taken too long. I cut a ½ inch piece of the drain tube off and brought it into Lowe’s looking for a clear tube whose outside diameter would fit the inside diameter of the drain hose. Mission accomplished. I found some clear tubing that was a tight enough fit that I didn’t have to work about gluing or otherwise ensuring that the new, clear tube would remain inside the old tube. I cut a 7-inch length for each side, inserted one end into the drain tube and the other end into the A-pillar.
I opened the sunroof and did some testing by pouring water into the pan and checking inside the XC90 to make sure it wasn’t leaking inside the car. Thankfully, my repair held. It was an easy fix and all I needed was some clear tubing that fit inside the diameter of the existing tubing. The inside diameter of the clear tubing won’t restrict the flow of water enough to cause you any worry.
While you’re there with the A-pillar cover off, make sure your drain hose is, in fact, cleared of any debris. Any blockages usually form at the grommet which you’ll probably break if you pull out. You’ve been warned.
Here’s the way in:
- Take a small (tiny is better) flathead screwdriver and pop off the two covers on the A-pillar cover handles.
- Loosed and remove the two 10mm bolts that hold the cover in place.
- Pull the top of the cover out first, the lift out the bottom. You’ll see where there’s a yellow “guide” that helps the two fit together properly.
- With the cover removed, you can easily see the drain tube and the grommet.
Be prepared for the reality of destroying the grommet if you remove it. Once this happens, you have no choice but to repair. You may also want to seal the tube into the hole the grommet went into. Use some silicone or similar.
That’s it. If you aren’t sure if your XC90 sunroof drains are holding up, there’s only one way to do it. Go check. Don’t wait for a miracle. Or for someone else to do it.