Q: I recently noticed my 1998 Camry’s boot floor is wet, and just today I started smelling mildew in the cabin. There is a plug under the spare, but I assume the water is coming from somewhere else. Any suggestions?
A: Over time, some of the drainage channels in vehicles get clogged or seals start to fail. Then water begins collecting inside the body. Because you’ve got water in the boot, the obvious place to start is the weather seals around the bootlid. After years of opening and closing, the seals may be breaking down and letting in water. Look for deterioration or cracks in the rubber, or a buildup of leaves that might be letting water through. Some water flows down the tray under the bootlid, so inspect the seals around the taillights to see if something is amiss there as well.
You might also poke around for unnoticed corrosion that could have made a hole in the floor and is letting water in. Wheel wells and rocker panels are common problem spots. A less obvious point of entry is the boot vent in the wheel wells. These black plastic parts let air pass into and out of the boot easily. They have movable fins that can get gummed up and stuck open, letting water spray from the back tyres into the boot cavity. Hopefully, the smell is coming from the boot, but it’s probably a good idea to feel the seats and carpets in the cabin to make sure they aren’t wet.
After you’ve found and repaired the source of the leak, clean all the carpets thoroughly to make sure mould and mildew is taken care of.
By Ben Wodjdyla