Leak in my 2003 Saturn L200 - any ideas? (pictures)

aprilflower71January 19, 2008

Hi all! I have a mystery for anyone brave enough to try. I just purchased this car used from a Kia dealership 3 days ago. We test drove it, no problem. I drove it to work Thursday and Friday, no problem(5 miles each day). Drove 75 miles to a wedding today, and on the way back noticed that my front floorboards were wet (both sides). DH nosed around inside with a flashlight, popped off the panel to the center console, and found the below pics taken from the passenger side floorboard. There is a sponge wedged directly underneath whatever is leaking/sweating, and there was a (now sopping wet) towel shoved into the space as well.

My suspicious side is thinking that the dealership did this, as the towel is very white and clean and does not smell of mold or old water (as I would suspect it would if it had been there long term). I'm thinking they put it there to sop up the water for the test drive and for several days after, hoping we wouldn't notice until it was too late. Why *would* we think to check there on the test drive, if there was no reason to? LOL!

We just hung up with our salesman, who assured us that it would be fixed at THEIR expense (we did get a 60d/2k mile 50/50 warranty, but as far as I'm concerned this was gross negligence and/or purposefully misleading). So now that I *really* don't trust them, I'm hoping someone knows what this is, so that I can make sure they fix the correct thing and are telling me the truth about what they are fixing.

Any takers??

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You bought a 2003 Saturn, so it is a used car and was probably turned on a trade. The former owner may have added the stuffing knowing that it would last long enough to get through the trade-in process. It was hidden well enough so that the dealer's mechanic did not see it during his once-over safety inspection.

It could well be that it was the former owner who passed a rotten egg to both you and the dealer. The dealer has agreed to fix the problem at his expense. This is more than you'd get from many places since the car likely was sold "as is". However, you did get a warrenty, but I don't know what was covered in your warranty. Many warranties on used cars would cover only the engine and drive train.

I know that one would like to believe that the dealer would have found all such problems like this one, and tried to pass this one along, but they are not clairvoyant, and probably missed this one. For example, did you dectect it during your test drives and visual inspection?

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 3:46AM
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Jem is of course correct, if the dealer, or it's employee's had been aware of "the towel" they would have dealt with it prior to the sale. Worst case, they simply would have wholesaled the car away if they could have then judged the repair cost would adversely efect their profit margin, and or their ability to sell this car.

Your suspicious side has wrongly accused the dealer and it's people here. FWIW, they deserve an apology.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 1:47PM
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Whoa...Down guys. What a SAID was that my suspicious side was thinking it was them...I never ONCE said I told them of my suspicions, so I really don't think I owe anyone an apology. That was my first gut reaction upon finding the sponge and towel. Truly what would you expect someone with very little knowledge about cars to think when presented with this scenario??? I do feel it was gross negligence and absolutely purposefully misleading, but I'm willing to concede that it may have been on the part of the previous owner. We'll never know though, will we? The salesman was called, the facts were presented, and he stated they would pay for the repair. Period. You're assuming a lot if you think we ranted and raved and accused, IMO.

The purpose of my post was to see if anyone knew what the problem could be, so that I could be assured that they were fixing the correct thing and not just telling me what I wanted to hear. Yes, this has happened in the past and I would love to be able to have a little bit of knowledge before speaking to the service manager. So if anyone has any information about what could be wrong with it, I'd love to hear it. And I certainly apologize to anyone here who was offended by my apparent inexperience.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 8:24PM
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First thing is to wet your fingers with the towel and see if the dampness is slippery. If it is the reason would be a leaking heater core. On a car of the vintage you have the usual reason is failure by the previous owner to spend money on annoying routine maintence, like coolant flushes.

If it is not slippery the most likely reason would be a leaking windshield.


    Bookmark   January 21, 2008 at 2:08AM
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Actually "I" havent assumed anything, I am simply giving you a perspective that you don't presently have, at least you didn't have when you first posted.

As far as "the leak" you have not told us if it is engine coolant, or simply water. The photo appears to be the tubes for the heater core which are not normally visible so easily. Now comes the hard part. Unless the Kia dealership has a former Saturn technician on staff, then they really don't have any first hand information about your car at all. It's quite possible that one of the line technicians never even saw your car at all if it didn't present any symptoms which would have gotten anyones attention.

The wetness in the photo can be condensation from the water evaporating and then condensing back to a liquid when it contacts the plenum, or the leak could be from above that area. Investigation will be required. It's quite likely this may even get sublet back to a Saturn dealership by the Kia one.

You say in your last post that you want to make sure the problem is solved and communication to that extent is what is important. I agree fully. That's why the first step is to make sure you don't go in with false assumptions. Stick to the facts, and the symptoms you have found. Then let them do their job.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2008 at 9:56AM
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Did the dealer take care of the problem Aprilflower?Just curious if he did the customer right or gave some lame reason why that was not covered on his warranty?

    Bookmark   January 24, 2008 at 12:50AM
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Hi there, Johndeere, thanks for the concern.

They did fix it, at no cost. It ended up being a clogged drain in the HVAC system. They cleared the clog, flushed the system, and all is right with the world. Only thing is they did not vacuum up any of the water (though they'd told me they would) but I'm just so grateful it's fixed I'm not going to quibble. I've got 2 tubs of damp-rid working in there now, and it seems to be getting up *most* of the water, just a bit of dampness is left.

Thanks again :-)


    Bookmark   January 24, 2008 at 7:44PM
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