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Experts say little-known sunroof problem is costing drivers

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If you have a car with a sunroof, you may have a problem you can’t see. It could also cost you hundreds to thousands of dollars to repair.

You probably only think about your sunroof on beautiful days, when you open it while driving. Maybe your sunroof again becomes front of mind on rainy days, as you’re concerned about whether you left it open.

What many people aren't thinking about is the sunroof’s drainage system, which can become clogged.

We went to experts to find out just how big of problem it is, and found many drivers never check their sunroof drain systems because they don't know they exist.

Cliff Hudson, owner of Hudson's Import Services as been in the auto repair and maintenance business for decades. He's made repairs on cars damaged because sunroof drains weren't a concern. He said in some cases there's no mention in the owner's manual. In other cases, he said car owners claim the dealership never mentioned it.

Hudson showed us that a proper sunroof drain system will collect stray water and drip it from the bottom of the car. If your drain system becomes clogged, water builds in drain lines, can find places to pool and can damage the interior of your car.

"If the water overfills the catch basin because the drainage is clogged, then it often is leaking in behind the headliner and trim panels," Hudson said.

Recently Hudson serviced one of the worst cases he's ever seen. The driver brought in her car, and in addition to the damage, there were maggots living and breeding under the carpet in the back seat. It was the spot where the woman's kids sit. While it sounds tragic, it wasn't the result of flood damage from one of our recent storms. Hudson said it was a result of accumulation after clogged drains and normal rain storms.

Hudson Imports recommends that drivers have their sunroof drains checked once a year.

Here are some other warning signs from Cliff Hudson that your drain may be clogged:

1, If you see wetness on the inside of your windows when your car has been closed up

2. If you hear sloshing like water in the car when you are driving down the road

3. If you smell any unusual aroma like mold or mildew

4. If you notice carpet in the car is damp to the touch for any length of time after you know it should have dried

** We do want to point out that experts say debris can get into your sunroof drain whether the sunroof is open or closed.

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