What To Do If You Left Sunroof Open In The Rain

Sunroofs are not so common these days compared to air conditioners. But many people still fancy them for various reasons. This could be the extra lighting it provides to the cabin, improving airflow and ventilation, especially during the summer heat, and well, kids do enjoy sticking out their hands just to feel the blast of air. Another take on the sunroof is that it makes the car appear more spacious than it actually is. This could simply be our mind-playing tricks, but on many forums, users agree that when the sunroof is opened, the car does feel more spacious.

One user commented, “I drive a car with a sunroof, and whenever I close it, I feel like my car becomes smaller.” This observation may be subjective, but there is no denying that sunroofs do offer a scenic experience. This can be seen in the aesthetic appearance of the Tesla Model S, which is adorned with a panoramic sunroof. As of 2012, Tesla made it possible for users to open and close the sunroof at will, but this feature was removed in 2018. 

All you have now is a glass roof that is completely sealed shut, but hey, it still looks stunning because it provides an impressive view. So, let’s say Tesla managed to solve some of the problems associated with having a sunroof by installing a permanent glass roof. But not everyone owns a Tesla, and many cars are still being manufactured with sunroofs. In this article, we will take a look at one of the most common mistakes people make, and that is leaving the sunroof open in the rain.

What would happen if I left my sunroof open in the rain?

Okay, so you left your sunroof open in the rain; why do you have to worry so much? Well…..a lot of things can go wrong. Rainwater can cause so much damage to your car. Some of the damages are immediately obvious, while others take some time. Let’s take a look at what could go wrong!

raining through car sunroof

Rusting of metallic components

Despite the increasing application of polymer in designing modern cars, many interior components are still made of metals that are susceptible to rust. Parts like the brake and accelerator pads, tether anchors and latches, seat belt hooks, mechanical components of the car seat that are used for adjusting the seat positions, as well as the mechanism that enables the windows to roll up and down, can get rusty. However, you’d have to repeatedly leave your sunroof open in the rain before seeing any significant damage from rust. But the second damage can happen at an instance, and that’s:

Electrical faults

Modern cars have several electrical components that could become faulty if exposed to rainwater. The dashboard can be said to be the most sensitive to electrical damage. This is because it houses most of the car’s electrical components, like the ignition switch, temperature control, indicator lights, electric gauges, and the car control screen. Other parts, like the window and lock control switches on the door handle, can get damaged as well.

Molds on leather upholstery and bad odor from damp seats 

Another part of the car that could get damaged by the rain is the leather upholstery on the car seats. These materials can absorb water, and depending on how bad it is, you may need to wait a couple of days before they become completely dry. Molds can start to grow out on damp car seats, and the odor can be very offensive but not as bad as seeing your tight-looking leather covering stretched out and saggy. So the mistake has been made, and there is no need to “cry over spilled milk” what do you do about this? Here are some steps you can take.

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What to do if you left the sunroof open in the rain

1. Close the sunroof

If you left the sunroof open in the rain, then you need to act fast. The first thing to do is to close the sunroof before proceeding with further steps. There are two major reasons for this, one, to prevent more rain from entering the car and secondly, to check if the electrical system is still functioning. If the electrical system has been damaged, then you’d have to find a nearby shelter. 

2. Do not start the car

Yes, I know this contradicts the first step but hear me out. The first thing to do is to close the sunroof, but first, you must assess the situation. By this, I mean considering how long the sunroof has been left open in the rain. The longer the time, the more rain must have entered the car, and the higher the chances of your car developing an electrical fault. So again, you must consider this before starting your car. If the sunroof has been opened just briefly, then it is still safe to start the car and close the sunroof. 

3. Check for electrical damage

If the sunroof has been left open under the rain for a while, then it is safe to assume that they could be electrical damage. However, with the turned car off, it may be challenging to know this. At the same time, you shouldn’t turn on the car until you’ve verified the assumption. One way to do this is by checking the dashboard. A foggy touchscreen or gauge is an indication that water has entered the system. So you should take extra precautions. 

4. Remove Seats if possible for better access and deodorize using 

The car seats will absorb most of the rainwater, and it needs to be removed and dried thoroughly before being replaced. The warm temperature in the car, combined with dampness, will cause molds and mildew to grow on the seats. This can also happen if the seats are not properly dried. Before drying the seats, you should deodorize them. To do this, sprinkle baking soda on the seats and leave it there for a few hours or, if possible, overnight for better results. After that, you can then wash it off before drying the seats. With this, you will get rid of both stains and odor. 

5. Use a wet/dry Vacuum cleaner 

You should vacuum the car seats before and after washing them with baking soda solution. In the first instance, you need a dry vacuum to remove dirt, dust, and debris that might have collected on the seats over time. The second vacuuming is done to remove moisture and any residue of the cleaning agent that may have been absorbed.

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6. Use towels to soak up surface water and then deodorize the carpets 

Depending on how long the sunroof had been open in the rain, there’s likely going to be a pool of water on the car floor.  You need to get the water out as quickly as possible. Stagnant pools of water such as this can cause the car floor to rust or even cause the carpets to give off a bad odor. In this case, the odor is somewhat of an imminent threat compared to the rust. Cleaning the carpets can be more challenging than the seats and a lot more complicated if you want to remove them. 

So you might just want to leave them in there. However, if you want to do a good job, it’s much easier to get the seats out of the way. After that, you can mop the carpet using towels to get rid of excess water. Pour a solution of baking soda on the carpet and leave for a few hours or overnight before brushing the carpet to get rid of the stains and odor. Using a towel, mop out the excess washing solution before drying with a wet vacuum. 

7. Increase ventilation by leaving doors and windows open

You can only get so much done with a dry vacuum. A much better way of ensuring that your car’s interior is thoroughly dry is by providing more ventilation. Leaving the doors or windows open for a while will provide the much-needed ventilation needed to dry the car and prevent humidity which would otherwise cause bad odor and mold formation. 

8. Use a fan or dehumidifier 

If natural ventilation isn’t cutting it for you, then you can speed things up using a fan or a dehumidifier. Unlike the fan, you don’t need to keep the windows or doors open when using the dehumidifier. The dehumidifier works by absorbing the moisture in the air. Place a handheld dehumidifier in the back seat of the car, turn it on, roll up the windows, shut the doors and let it go to work. This is one of the faster ways you can get your car dry.

9. Replace the cabin air filter

After performing the steps above, there’s just one last thing left for you to do: replace the cabin air filter if your car has one. The cabin air filter keeps the air within the car fresh by filtering out dust, dirt, and other pollutants that can cause an allergic reaction if inhaled. If wet or damp, this filter will create more problems than it solves by becoming a magnet for mold.

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In Summary

Mistakes do happen, and you don’t need to beat yourself up if you left the sunroof open in the rain. This can be very inconvenient, and worst still, it could damage your car. You can follow the ten steps outlined in this article to get your car back in order. Remember, timing is important. The more you delay, the worst the damage could get and you don’t want that.