1998 Volkswagen Jetta with Body (rust) and Sensor problem

I have a 1998 Volkswagen Jetta that has some rust emerging on the roof, in the front of the car along the top of the windshield, where the roof meets the windshield. This is present on both the driver side and the passenger side of the car. Water spots are starting to appear on my headliner in the same spot on the inside of the car (near the sun visors). I’m not concerned about cosmetics with this car, so what is the quick permanent fix to keep rainwater out of the inside of the car?

Also, the check engine light is on in the car, but as I live in California, and must get the car Smog Checked, have done so, and the mechanics are baffled as to why it is on. They can turn it on, but once the sensors cycle through, the check engine light goes back on presumably without problem.

Let me know what you think! Thanks for any advice!

I don’t know about that leak, but as for the CEL (check engine light) is just a kid in class waving her hand trying to get you attention because she has the answer. You need to have the codes read. Some places will read them for FREE. Try Autozone or Advanced Auto Parts. Get the exact code (like P0123) not just their translation into English and post it back here. If that does not get it, you may need to find a mechanic that has a VAGCOM, which is a VW specific reader and that should be able to give you the answer as to why the light comes on.

Jettas/VWs are notorious for having the check engine light on. Autozone and others don’t have the right reader for VWs unfortunately. I once saw an aftermarket VW shirt that said, “My check engine light has been on since 1995” My son’s Jetta had an aftermarket exhaust on it, and it caused constant problems. Supposedly the sensors are very sensitive. I think my son finally had it checked out at the VW garage (big $$) and reset, but it still kept coming on. He finally just removed the fuse for the light, but I wouldn’t really suggest that. Come inspection time, we went to an aftermarket type dealer and they passed the car with the check engine light on, because they knew that was the problem and that the car was ok. We’d never buy another VW. You might find more information on some of the sites/forums dedicated to VWs. Good Luck.

I’m the author of this original request for information, and I really appreciate the responses so quickly. You all are awesome. However, I admit that my main concern here is with the rusted out portions of my roof. There isn’t a significant leak . . . yet. That’s only a matter of time though. Hopefully there are some body-work guys out there with a good home remedy. Thanks again for pointing me in the right direction on this one.


That type of rust across the top is the beginning of the end. You could take it to a proper body shop, and spend a few thousand on body work and new paint. However I have used transparent silicon sealer with some success. Costs $10 per cartridge.

The engine light is competently explained by other posters.

When conducting an “end of life” program, you do all that is necessary to keep the car safe, and just enough to keep it legal. The rest is a matter of doing all the cheap things like oil & filter changes, monitoring and changing other fluids. At this time you will become a welcome visitor to “recycling yards” since it does not pay to buy new trim and other parts.

Good luck!

It sounds like rust has progressed to the point where you have actual holes in the roof. There is no good solution. Buy a roll of transparent packaging tape and use it to cover the rust holes. Wash and dry the immediate area first so that the tape will stick. It won’t cure or even slow down the rust, but it should keep the water out for a quite a while. I once made trim stripes out of black contact paper. After three winters, it became a little fuzzy at the edges but was otherwise in good shape. The big thing you need to worry about is structural rust that makes the car unsafe to drive.