Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Seat Leon Leaking Door Seals Repair Guide

Leaking SEAT Leon 1M and Toledo doors? Welcome to the club. If there's a problem with wet carpets it's usually because of the VAG group's decision to seal the door inner carrier (which holds the window mechanism, locks, speakers etc.) with a foam strip. These foam strips eventually break down near the speakers and allow water to run inside. A few cars were recalled but most will suffer this issue eventually. VAG changed over to butyl rubber sealant as a result of this, and it's this that we'll be resealing the doors with.

There are two ways of tackling the problem, one is bodging it and the other is doing it properly which only takes a little longer. Here's how to do it properly. Overall the job is very easy and will take maybe 1/2 an hour per door, less time once you know how it's done.


Before you even think about tackling this, get onto eBay and buy the following items.

1. Search for "pry tools", the iPod/mobile/laptop opening variety. Buy some that look like this...



2. Buy some "Golf trim clips", there is every chance you will bust a couple unless you are very lucky. These are the ones you need...



3. Search for "butyl sealant strip". I bought the 6mm round stuff - 8m roll, enough for all four doors, and not too thick to be a problem when reassembling the door's inner carrier. Cheaper than the VAG branded stuff at £7.49, delivered. Looks like...



Once the postman's delivered your bits, get the following tools together. Large Philips screwdriver, T20 Torx, sharp knife, plastic pry tool, and a 10mm socket. A flat-head screwdriver and a pair of wire cutters may also come in very handy...



While the job can be done solo an able-bodied assistant will make certain tasks much easier. Assistance while disconnecting/reconnecting the door-card electrics is highly recommended. Having someone around to hold the roll of butyl sealant while you feed it in will also be a huge help.




Step 1. Remove the grab-handle cover. This is why you bought the pry tools! While you could just use a screwdriver instead of the pry tools you will most likely chew up the handle plastic while trying to pop the cover off. The pry tools do the job without totally knackering the cover. Start at the lowest point of the handle (upper side) with the pry tool and wiggle it until you have about 1mm of gap. Repeat on the lower side, then back to the upper and keep wiggling until the cover pops free...



Pull the trim from the lowest point...



And finally pull on the opener so you can get the handle cover off...



Step 2. Remove the door card. Before proceeding, wind the window down all the way. The front door has 2x T20 Torx screws at the bottom which need removing (none on the rear doors). The grab-handles are secured by two large Philips screws (arrowed)...




Now pull on the door card from the bottom. If you do it slowly and firmly then trim retaining clip casualties should be kept to a minimum. Once all the clips have popped free you will be able to lift the card slightly and move it clear of the door frame. Have an assistant hold the card while you disconnect the various wire connectors. All the connectors have one or two squeezy retaining clips. Don't be hasty and you'll have them off in no time. The door opener is fairly simply to unhook - pull on the cable outer, away from the handle, and lift it over the plastic bracket. Once you have all connectors off you should see this...





Step 3. Loosen the carrier plate. Take your 10mm socket and remove all the 10mm bolts except the two that are arrowed below. These two remaining bolts should be wound out nearly all the way, allowing you good access to the rear of the carrier without completely removing it. You could remove these last two bolts but your assistant would then have to hold the carrier while you fit the sealant strip - but you really need your assistant to hold the roll of sealant so leave the bolts in position...

Front door...



Rear door...



Now you need to break any seal between the door frame and the carrier. The best way to do this is with the large flat-head screwdriver you hopefully have ready, resting on a towel so you don't kill any paint...



Here's where my seals disintegrated, seem to be very common failure areas. Affected areas are between the arrows...

Front door...



Rear door...



Now the carrier is loosened, get to work on that seal and show SEAT how it should have been done in the first place! Start wherever you like and pull the old seal off slowly. I made an exception on the rear doors as I couldn't get as much clearance behind the carrier as I wanted and so left some of the seal in place. The next step will show what I left in place. It's adhesive backed but will come off cleanly if you are lucky. I wasn't, and was left with a few inches-worth of rotten seal on each door that had to be scraped off. I used my trusty T20 to get into the channel where the worst of the remaining rotten seal (and brown gunk) was hiding. You don't need to get the surfaces surgically clean but they do need to be dry and free of as much of the old seal and gunk as possible.


Step 4. Fitting the new seal. See the pics below. I started where I did on the front door (arrowed) due to the electric window wiring loom getting in the way. It seemed like a good starting point and worked well for me. Slowly feed the butyl sealant strip into where the old seal lived.

Front door...



As mentioned in step 3 I didn't replace the whole seal on the rear doors due to access. Here's what I did replace...



Step 4. Put it all back together. Self explanatory really. Replace any trim retaining clips that broke. Here's where I used the wire cutters to grip and wiggle free any snapped clips or clips that came off the door cards and could be reused…




And after all that, only one bust clip per door. Not bad going!



Once you've done one side the other will be a piece of cake. I'd read many online guides of varying complexity and clarity but still wasn't sure how difficult it was really going to be. Some guides suggested a need to remove windows glass or the carrier plate itself, but it's really not necessary. As it is, the job isn't difficult at all. All four doors can easily be done in an afternoon once you have everything prepared. One final note about the butyl sealant strip, it's pretty sticky stuff (even more so when warm) and it's much easier to handle when it's cold. For anybody reading this in the summer, stick your sealant in the fridge before you need it.

Main dealers will charge hundreds to replace all four door carrier seals. Following these steps my Leon is now bone dry, all for under a tenner :)

Footnote: five years later on and my doors are all still water-tight. Follow this guide and yours will be too :)

25 comments:

  1. Thank you!!! I have had leaky doors in my Seat Leon 1.6 S for months and my garage wanted £250 per door, great instructions and easy to follow. You have really helped me with this guide :) Muchos Thanks dude.

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  2. Great guide,gonna have a go at this tomorrow

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  3. Fantastic walkthrough guide on how to fix a very common problem. I feel comfortable to go and do this myself now rather than taking it to a garage and pay stupid amount of money.

    Thanks a bunch :-D

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  4. How does the water get in? If you have stopped the water escaping into the car surely the water will still be coming in?

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  5. I wondered that too Mark. In short, I think the outer seal is dyfunctional which leads to inner seal faliure. Fixing inner seals should keep water from seeping into car although the other issue still exists but is kept at bay by new seals. Well thats my theory! I was quoted £104 per door for modification plus more for the replacement of door seals. Going to tackle the back doors tomorrow and front door seals took a couple of hours, and I'm happy with the results :-)

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  9. Brilliant guide, did mine last weekend. Worth also checking for any water leaks from the speaker mounts. Mine had water drips so I removed speakers, scraped off SEAT's foam gasket and re-installed with more of the butyl sealing strip.

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  10. Thank you so much for this. Would never have attempted to take car doors apart without this fantastic guide, but we now have a dry car. Brilliant!

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  11. Excellent guide, just did all 4 doors in a morning on my own. Can't fault it! Thanks dubsteve

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  13. Thanks so much this actually works!! But now im wondering where does all the water go, if not through the old place and into the car? :/

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  14. Theres little drain holes at the bottom of each door :) thats where the water will be coming out now. Thanks a bunch i bought the sealant now i have to get at it

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  15. Would it do any harm to drill extra holes in the bottom of the doors to allow for extra drainage?

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    Replies
    1. As long as you treat the metal to prevent it from rusting, I can't see a problem with that. It is likely to have been designed as a wet zone and the inner seals are just not up to the job. Reducing the amount of water building up behind the inner seals should help.

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  17. Could anybody tell me how many "Golf trim clips" there are on one door?

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  20. Thank you. This guide was the best, the one I was looking for years.
    Funny that now my car is 15 years old with over 100k on clock, now I find the guide that fixed an issue I had meaning to do but the garage cost prevented me, I finally have a dry car! No more scraping frost on the inside.
    The one and only problem I came across was the locking knob that pops up, had moved during the fix and now doesn't pop up when t he car is unlocked, but no drama, the lock works perfectly anyway.
    Thanks again.

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