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If the passenger floor of your RAV4 is wet – here is the fix

The RAV4 seems to have more than its share of wet passenger floors. Here is how to troubleshoot the issue.


We recently had a reader write in asking for help with a RAV4 with a wet passenger floor. Like many RAV4 owners, GB’s RAV4 was repeatedly getting wet on the passenger side. We took some time to research the issue and found that it is a common complaint on prior generation RAV4s. Some of the complaints are specific to the RAV4, but most are not. Here is what you can try if you don’t have a trusted local mechanic or dealer you work with.

Sunroofs Leak Onto Floors
One of the first new cars I bought was a Honda Accord. The floor was wet after the first rain. I was furious. Two trips to the dealer resulted in all of the door gaskets being changed. It did not help. The leak was coming in from above. It turns out that sunroofs are not waterproof. They have a drain system around their perimeter under the glass. The drains connect to tubes that run down the A-pillars and then are supposed to drain out onto the ground by dripping in between the body panels and the inner chassis (for lack of a better term). My Honda came from the factory with the tube sticking out into the interior. It was eventually discovered – by me. The total time to repair was less than 5 min.

A few years later I had another newish vehicle of a different brand (Subaru). Again, wet passenger floor. This time the tube was plugged with leaves and debris. That stuff can get in the drains when you drive with the roof open and then when it gets wet it becomes pasty. I learned to use a thin wire to poke it gently and pull out what I could until the drain was clear. Other folks have used shop-vacs or compressed air to remove or pass the blockage. A related issue is when the holes at the bottom of the body get clogged up. Poke them with a wire to clear them. Based on our research the RAV4s with wet floors are usually, but not always, clogged sunroof drains or drain outlets.

Trim Cracks Cause Leaks
Other RAV4 owners found that the body trim surrounding their windshield or even the fender panel had degraded and failed, allowing water to seep in during heavy rain. They proved this by using a hose to put water on the areas one at a time while having another person look for the leaks. This takes time to troubleshoot. Our research indicated this is the second most common form of trouble. Depending upon how good the condition of your RAV4 is, you may want to let a body-shop or mechanic fix this. It is easy to make a mess of body trim if it is your first attempt. There are special tools required, and you will need parts from Toyota. We have heard of a technical service bulletin for these seal issues, so ask your dealer to check.

If your RAV4 is an old beater, clear silicone caulking is always an option. Use an Exacto knife or similar to make the degraded area a bit larger. Save yourself some time and use surgical gloves when you work with it and tape around the work area. It makes cleanup much easier.

HVAC (Air Conditioning) Causes Wet Floors
The third cause of these problems can be your vehicle’s heating and cooling system, and this is not unique to the RAV4. All automotive AC systems manage condensation. The system is designed to channel the condensate away from the cabin. If you notice the water after the AC has been on (but it has not rained), this is a problem to have your mechanic troubleshoot. It usually means a cracked plastic part needs replacing. Related to this is a heating element leak. If you smell a sweet smell, it could be the heating line is damaged. The sweet smell is your anti-freeze (coolant). Not usually a DIY fix, but at least it is a very clear diagnosis.

Why Does the RAV4 Have This Problem?
Why do RAV4s seem to have more than their share of problems? Perhaps because the RAV4 as a model outsold entire car brands during its long run. It still does. In July, the RAV4’s 27,000 vehicles sold were more than Buick (21K) and Cadillac (14K), and close to the total sales of Mazda in America (27K). The RAV4 sold in huge numbers, for many years. There are popular forums on which to complain, and those complaints begin to look like a Toyota conspiracy. The internet amplifies any problem on popular models so that they seem like they have a higher rate of occurance. In my experience, with two vehicles having leaked, neither of which was a Toyota, I can say with confidence that RAV4 owners are not alone.

Related Stories: RAV 4 Named Best Pre-Owned Vehicle


Mark Day (not verified)    August 13, 2015 - 11:44PM

Good info...thanks. If the carpet has been wet (soaking) it should be lifted to check the floorboard for rusting - they've been known to rust through. If not through, dry the carpet and treat the rust.

John Goreham    August 14, 2015 - 8:28AM

This comment submitted by George Balbona was misplaced, so we have restored it here::
- Hurray. But when you own a 2013 RAV4 that has an indoor swimming pool on the passenger floor well within warranty and less than 2 years old, Toyota air dries your car with a fan and tells you that it every is fine. The car is "operating as designed" even though the black sound-proofing foam attached to my floorboard is dry rotting and my carpet padding is discolored and compressed and doomed to mold. I live in Atlanta. The dealership I bought it from claimed that the water was caused by a clogged Sunroof Drainage Tube and that the water ran down the A-Pillar; however, when I took it to another Toyota dealership and they popped off the molding directly below the A-Pillar the padding behind it was "bone dry" (Service Manager's words not mine) and the padding underneath the Glove Compartment was DAMP. How can water running down the A-Pillar make a 90º turn? Lets say it did run down the A-Pillar. Guess what's in there? A Takata Curtain Airbag! What's the one thing you CANNOT do with these airbags? Get them wet. Where is the monumental recall centered in the US? In the Southeast (where I live), because it is HOT and HUMID. You need look no further than the RAV4 Owner's Manual and it warns of the potential of electrical fires if you get liquids in the car. But somehow my car is a special snowflake and is "operating as designed!!!" I want to have a look at those designs and have a few words with the RAV4 Genie while I'm at it. What is my wish? I wish I NEVER purchased a 2013 RAV4!!!! Toyota is just super responsive and concerned about their customers BTW. Toyota of North America and the NCDS DECLINED to repair my vehicle. Because you know when a house gets flooded they just air dry it with a fan and say everything is fine. They don't rip out the carpets and gut the dry wall.

Dyan (not verified)    July 4, 2022 - 3:40PM

In reply to by John Goreham

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Anita (not verified)    March 13, 2017 - 5:00PM

I'm with George Balbona. I wish I NEVER purchased a 2008 RAV4!!!! my passenger floorboard was like a swimming pool of water splashing around after a hard rain. I have a list of recalls a mile long never the mind the issues I had to fix myself. 3 driver side visors replaced to name a few. My sympathy to you. I think I'm going for the Hyundai Santa Fe

Jim A (not verified)    June 6, 2018 - 10:02PM

The cause of many passenger side "leaks", esp when it hasn't rained in days, is that the AC unit condensate drain hose is plugged up. Plenty of info on other sites.

Plnorton (not verified)    August 3, 2018 - 11:15PM

Our 2015 Rav 4 limited has leaked three times. The first time we caught it before it started pooling, the second time we had a swimming pool on the passenger side and took it to the Toyota dealer and was informed that the warranty did not cover this because the drains were clogged which was our fault because we have no garage and trees. They unclogged the drains, dried it out and we paid. Henceforth we had them check the drains every spring and fall and that seemed to work for about a year. Changed to another Toyota dealer closer to us and the first thing we told them besides do the check- up was to be sure to check the drains. 2 months later, after a hard rain, another swimming pool. Again, they dried it out and offered to show us how to do it ourselves if it happened again. When they popped off the trim and lifted the carpet, and there was still standing water under the padding in both the front and the back on the right side! We have since learned that this has been a problem for Toyota Rav 4s and Corollas. As a side note, we have had 5 cars (Accord, Explorer, 4 Runner, Highlander and the Rav 4) with sunroofs parked in the same spot and only one leaked... the Rav 4! I like the car but it has become an expensive, inconvenient headache. Looking for a new car that won’t be a Toyota.

Janet urwin (not verified)    December 12, 2018 - 12:48AM

In reply to by Plnorton (not verified)

I have a 2015 Rav 4 with a sunroof. My passenger front floor leaks when it rains. I brought the car to the dealer and they unplugged my drains.
I went away on vacation for three weeks and left my rav4 in my driveway and came back and found my Rav4 windows steamed up, and all my floors soaked wet. My seats were wet.I brought it back to the dealer and they told me it was my fault this happened because I left my car in the driveway for three weeks in the driveway and the drains got plugged. Toyota informed me that my car was totaled because it was full of mold. They gave me an estimate of $17,000 to replace all my seats and carpeting and get rid of the black mold out of my car. Toyota told me I couldn't drive my car anymore until they did all this expensive work because I could get sick from the black mold in my rav4.

Jeff (not verified)    January 4, 2019 - 7:26PM

In reply to by Janet urwin (not verified)

Here’s my fun.
15 Rav4 drivers side leak. Noticed leak after driving in pouring rain for 5 hours and parked overnight with continued rain next to Atlantic Ocean. Didn’t notice much leaking since that.
The rotten smell became unbearable.
I used week wack line to clear drivers side drain
and it’s so bad I I’m replacing the carpet myself.
I ran water down drain hole and confirmed water is drain from under the door.
I ripped out drivers side carpet and found a pond.
Carpet about $500-600.
Of course in process of checking remaining drain holes and either replacing sunroof gasket or cleaning it.

I would rather put buckets around in car and drive with no carpet than drive it
with rotting smelly nasty sickening carpet!!

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In reply to by Plnorton (not verified)

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JJVW (not verified)    January 7, 2019 - 2:55PM

This had happened to the VW and a class-action lawsuit was won against VW of America for faulty sunroofs. They had to fix almost all the vehicles, replace headliners, carpeting, door upholstery and seats. My 2012 Rav4 is having the same issue and is in the shop at this moment. Since I know what a leaky sunroof can do to the interior, I am paying to have it repaired. Wish there was a class-action already in works for Toyota faulty sunroofs. I did not want a sunroof in the first place but was told I had to get it if I wanted the GPS. I will never buy another vehicle with a sunroof again!!!

Tami (not verified)    January 14, 2019 - 9:23PM

I have a 2006 Toyota Rav4 that has had so many 'front passenger ponds' that I am sure the floorboard will be rotting out soon. I have taken it to the dealer when this issue first came up within just a few years of purchase, and was told it was condensation from the AC - even though I told them the AC had not been on (middle of winter) and it appeared to happen from the rain. I have had different 'diagnosis' including 'unable to determine' the cause.
The carpet stinks horrendously each time it happens and I am really sick of the issue. It seems Toyota is unable to resolve the issue.....
Well, today is the beginning of an 8-day storm, so guess who's going to have another pond in her car....sigh, I'm not a happy camper : (

Sandy Burfeind (not verified)    April 30, 2019 - 7:58PM

I have had a water problem since I bought thr 2015 rav 4 dealer told me to buy mud flaps but still have the problem

Debra (not verified)    November 30, 2022 - 8:25AM

In reply to by Sandy Burfeind (not verified)

Everyone having problems with the Toyota RAV4 has to report the issue , or it never gets to the recall or anywhere! I believe it’s the Department of national safety recall. NHTSA 1-888 327-4236. If no one complains it doesn’t get a recall!

John (not verified)    July 23, 2019 - 11:16AM

2013 RAV4 Pond in passenger side floor board all the time smells Toyota pretends it does not happen or it is somehow my fault and they want me to pay for problem.

B. Dumlao (not verified)    August 3, 2019 - 12:13AM

Some of the 2006-12 RAV4 had a defective passenger side windshield cowl cover installed. It was actually missing a water diverter that should have been molded into the underside of the cover. Without this diverter water running down the windshield would go under the cover and straight into the air intake for the cabin. Depending on the slope the car is parked more or less water will pour into the intake. Sometimes the water would just stay in there and eveporate. But if the seals degrade it'll start leaking on to the floor.

DW (not verified)    September 21, 2019 - 4:20PM

Toyota engineers are the dumbest bastards on the planet. Being a mechanical engineer myself and having built many machines and other devices, I can safely say they are idiots at their best. I have fixed many faults and poor designs in Machining centers and othe mechanical devices. The Rav4 is the worst I have seen yet. My wife has a 2013 and it is a piece of shit, we were going to buy a Jeep and our daughter liked the Rav4, our daughter is not an engineer. Will NEVER buy another Toyota product EVER!!

Pamela M Hobbs (not verified)    November 6, 2019 - 3:48PM

I bought a used 2016 RAV 4. (I had a new 1996 2 door RAV 4 for over 10+ years and never had one single problem. In addition, the 2nd owner of that vehicle still drives it and hasn't had an issue either except it does lead oil now.) However, my 2016 RAV 4 leaks water only to the driver's floor board. My car stinks!!!!!
My husband is going to be checking the drains, etc. We bought an extended warranty as well as a warranty for all cloth in car. Will either of those 1) fix what is wrong and/or 2) change out the carpet if it and the padding are ruined?

M. Savage (not verified)    March 28, 2020 - 10:32PM

The first inkling I got of any problem was early this past winter when I was driving our 2016 RAV 4 Hybrid home in a rainstorm and water began pouring into the car on the drivers side--seemingly through the windshield! I got soaked and spooked as well. I made it home, parked and the next day there was a puddle on the front drivers side floor. Of course I checked the windshield and the moon roof, both seemed okay. I used a shop vac on the puddle and dried up the interior as best I could. Today it rained hard, the car was parked outside and again, another puddle. The wet carpet is bad enough, I'm worried about what's happening under it. What a mess. We paid nearly 40K for this car and its extended warranty, but really, my hopes of Toyota taking any kind of responsibility for any of this are low...

Naol Reta (not verified)    June 13, 2020 - 10:09PM

In reply to by M. Savage (not verified)

I have a 2008 Rav4 I didn't have any issues for almost 7 years, then All of the sudden, I start seeing puddle of water on the passanger side. I didn't even bothered to take to a mechanic/service center because I know what they are going to say for a car of that old. Although the car was driven for 7years, it was in a mint condition and still is since I have also 535i of same year. With the Rav4, I have found 2 problems. Perhaps 3.
The first is through time, the prastic seal at the bottom of the front windsheild tend to degrade through time and seal detaches from the wind sheild letting water in to the cabin behind the glove box compartment. I easily sealed it with silcon and worked well for many years until a month ago when the crack widened again.
The 2nd case I found wctually during summer, there is an air inlet coverd with plastic sheild but have a gap on the passangerside (at least on my model. Debries got in to AC system and clogged the drain pipe which is located on the middle corner of passanged side where passanger side left foot rests. The condesate from AC system was backed up and the container was so full ly start spilling over to the driver side. I could easily hear water swaying side to side and making sound as if someone is swimming in a pool specially when I make turns. I took the passanger floor apart, removed carpet, pad, and the foam, opened the holes on the foor and disconnected the black plastic drain pipe from the bottom of the condensate container, tugged in the blogged outlet and removed the debries. It seemed as if I opened a dam. Problem solved. The 3rd case is there is a chance minimal amount of water would seep in through air inlet on passager side specially during heavy rain or if the cover is detached for any reason.
I hope this helps.

debbie sayers (not verified)    July 12, 2020 - 10:50PM

My 2007 Rav 4 was leaking water inside of my car after I had my transmission 2019. I'm not sure if there is any connection. The air conditioner does work. But the water pours onto the floor. this year, I will be contacting a mechanic this week. I put a container on the passenger side floor to catch the water.

SAH (not verified)    December 6, 2020 - 4:40PM

My 2013 RAV4 Limited has water leakage on the right rear passenger's floor board. No rain, just noticed some magazines were soaking wet as well as the carpet. Tried drying it & removing the drain cap underneath the car. Some of the water drained out, but the next morning the floor was soaking wet again. Not sure of the cause. Any suggestions?

MJP^ (not verified)    January 2, 2021 - 3:59PM

In reply to by SAH (not verified)

I have figured out part of the problem. It is a design flaw with the sunroof drains. They are routed with very flimsy drain hose through the window frames and down int the frame rail of the car. If you pull off the front left and right kick panels it will expose a junction box for the electrical cannon plugs. If you pull that away far enough by releasing the clips you will see an access opening with a block of foam rubber in it. that foam rubber is very thick an pinches the drain hose up against a structural ridge on the body of the car. This causes the hose to collapse over time. the minute the smallest amount of dirt or debris gets in, it will re-clog. This is a manufacturers design flaw but if you take it to them they will say it is a clogged drain and it's not covered

Sharon Sander (not verified)    September 10, 2021 - 11:33PM

I recently bought a 2015 Rav4 with a sunroof from a "friend" and every time it rains water comes inside the A pillars and the floorboard get wet. I did some research and found out that debris get into an area below the windshield wiper through a gap in the driver side windshield wiper assembly. I investigated and found so many leaves, dirt and other debris that it filled a small trash can. Thought that might have fixed the problem but we just had a big rain here in Rockledge, FL and the car was parked outside. Guess what? Both floor matts are wet! I have had this car Since March 2021, not long, and wish I had never bought it! It! It is has major design flaws and is a lemon!! Thank goodness I kept my 2010 Scion, it's the best car I ever had!!