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Water in Back Seat Advice - no moon roof and not the door seal

Hi All,

Recently my 2013 Hyundai Elantra was subject to a hit and run. It is a new car with less than 2000 miles on it since October 2013. There was 9K in damage, most of which pertained to the back driver’s side and the axle. Bumper, quarter panel, trunk floor, axle, wheel bearings, and two rims had to be replaced. Plus incidentals like tail lights and such. Because this is a new car, I received all new parts as a replacement. When the car was returned to me, the back seat kept getting wet in the rain. After taking back to the shop twice, they finally diagnosed a small hole in the seal in a seam of the quarter panel area—something must have happened when putting everything back together. The door is fine and there is no moon / sun roof on the vehicle. I do not completely understand what this means. I know some basics about cars, but not to this level of detail. I searched by topic area and couldn’t find anything that was related to this type of reason for water in the car.

Have the following questions:

  1. Can someone explain how a small hole in a quarter panel area would cause water to get into the back seat (on seat and floor)?
  2. What would be good things to watch out for post-fix?
  3. It is still a bit damp and rainy here, so I can’t open the windows for things to dry out. Would have been nice for the collision center to dry the seats. How can I make sure mold/mildew won’t develop?


To check for a leak have somebody hose down the suspected area with water. Use a flashlight in the car, the light will reflect off any water getting in.

To dry out the car, if it’s safe, leave the engine running with the heater on full blast and the windows cracked. I have vent visors on most of my cars, my favorites are the Weathertech Side window Deflectors.

I can leave the windows cracked and not worry about rain getting the car.

Ironically, I just found the front passenger floor mat and carpet soaked on Dad’s 2003 Taurus I’m working on for my daughter. On inspection it looks like water is getting through the door seal near the side view mirror. I noticed some water stains on the door panel near the mirror. To dry the carpet I placed a thick towel on the carpet and weighed it down to soak up the water and I left the windows cracked to air out the mustiness.

Ed B.

I’m assuming it’s a door seal or rear window seal. I would hose it down as noted above, while someone is inside looking for the leak. The window seal was broken during the accident and not repaired. The door may not be shutting tightly against the body. Things may not be repaired correctly and all lined up.

It could be anywhere, water likes to go downhill, It could even be a bad trunk seal.

If the body shop found the leak, and it is due to a faulty repair, they should fix and dry everything. You should not have to do anything. A hole in the quarter panel can leak and make a mess in the interior. The factory quarter panel reaches up to the roof line. A quarter panel patch can go up to the bottom of the windows. Any leak here will fall down to the seats and floor.

Call your insurance company, that is why you pay them.

Wheel splash is a likely cause. As you drive through water the tire hurls water at the car body with great force.

Thanks everyone. As I posted, the collision shop did find the leak after I complained about water twice. They said it was in the quarter panel area. They did fix it, but did not dry out the car. It seems to have dried out now. Hasn’t rained in a few days, so I’ll have to keep an eye out for water to make sure it was fixed properly.

Thanks to Barkeydog and BustedKnuckles for explaining how the water may have gotten into the car. The trunk floor did have to be replaced as well, so both scenarios make sense.

Oh, the joys of collision repair. I am just glad it could be fixed. My car was hit when parked, and hit with enough force to propel it forward 5 feet.

Count your blessings, my wife’s van was pushed up to a landscaping boulder by the rear end of a fed ex truck, after 3 under warranty repairs for trans leaking traded it in. It was so bad 1 qt trans fluid every fillup, and it all ended up on the rear end and window!