Water in and mold growing in '05 Jetta TDI

My daughter was gone for week on a college field trip in the Olympic National Forest, Washington. Her car was parked outside in one of the school parking lots in Olympia, WA. When she returned she discovered there was water in her car, on the passenger side floor, and mold growing on the cloth seats. This was not the first time she’d seen water in the car though. The first time she thought perhaps she’d spilled water from her water bottle or left a window down or the sunroof may have not been closed all the way. But this time, she knew for sure the car was all closed up and had been dry priopr to her leaving. We bought the car used, a year and a half ago, as her high school graduation gift. After a day or two of rain (btw, we live in Colorado and the car was bought and lived here until this past September) I noticed this “wet dog” smell. I read up on it and thought perhaps it was water in the evaporator drain. Checked that and it was dry. We changed the cabin filter anyway, but still the smell remained. Then I bought some cans of ozone fog through a local auto detailer. I went through 4 cans of it in a year to clear the stink of mildew. But now, I’ve learned the water could be coming from clogged sunroof drains. That’s an easy fix. However, it’s the mold I’m really concerned about. I’m wondering if I should call a flood restoration company, an auto detailer, a body shop or who to get all the mold removed. I’m also concerned about the electrical systems. Water and mold can affect them too, right?

The car has obviously become an environmental hazard. There are detailed disposal procedures for dealing with this, including but not limited to vacuum bagging, shrink-wrapping and transporting to an approved hazardous material disposal area…

When the carpet gets soaked, the padding beneath it gets soaked, too, and the padding holds water like a sponge. Maybe better than a sponge. Even if the carpet surface feels dry the padding underneath can contain quite a bit of water.

This is where the “wet dog” smell often comes from. The carpet prevents the water in the padding from evaporating and mold and mildew start to grow.

After you find and stop the leak you will have to lift the carpet edge and remove the padding from underneath so it can dry outside. I’ve had to do this in a couple of cars that have leaked, and I’m always amazed at how wet the padding is.

There isn’t a shop vac on the planet that can extract the water from beneath the carpet, so don’t believe anyone who claims vacuuming will work. It will not remove all of the water.

After you get rid of the water standard upholstery cleaner should be sufficient to clean the carpet and seat fabrics.

As to finding the source of the leak, I don’t know if my experience with a 2004 Passat will be of any help, but ours had the drain holes in front of the windshield blocked by debris and water got in via the fresh air intake. A design flaw if there ever was one since the holes were too small and had to be enlarged. You may want to look on the web and see of other Jetta owners have had similar problems.

I’m Wondering If You Should Call Your Insurance Company.
"I’m wondering if I should call a flood restoration company, an auto detailer, a body shop or who to get all the mold removed. "

My GM Service Manual says that cotton backed carpeting shoud be replaced when it gets soaked, but foam backed carpeting can be dried.

My brother-in-law had mushrooms growing right out of the carpeting in a car he had several years ago.


Wild! I wonder if they were edible 'shrooms or magic, hehe!

My daughter said she had something green sprouting on her carpet too, likely a sunflower seed. Reminds me of the hysterically funny VW Bug we saw in Vancouver, BC a couple years back that had grass growing inside, as well as tons of other things in and on it. The Ultimate Green Machine!

If we are going to spend some major bucks on its anyway, might as well make it distinctively hers and give it a custom paint job with many top coats (like the Mercedes used to get). Seems the local evergreen tree sap is eating through the paint’s top coat too so it’s makes sense to do it up again.

Yep; we’re calling it the “hazardous waste site”. So we’ll treat it like one.

Uh! I’ll have to check those, and all the drains on my '05 Passat too. VW in Olympia said they insert hard plastic straws into the sunroof drains that don’t collapse, and they inform their customers about regularly flushing them. This keeps them free flowing, They use a warm soapy solution to dissolve the mud and debris. I think some Simple Green and hot water would do it. So many things to maintain on VWs I never had issues like these on my Subaru Outback. but then in Colorado I might not.