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2018 Forester Limited
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello - New here. My wife's forester recently started leaking from under the glove compartment. We've only noticed in in the last few days. We just had the first rain in many months but this was even the day before it rained. I will note a few things. I changed the cabin air filter a few months ago and changed the wipers on Monday. Probably completely unrelated but wanted to note that.
The pictures are from about an hour ago. No rain in 24+ hours but there were still active drips. I dont think its from the rain as it was wet there before it rained this weekend. We thought it was a leaky bottle at first. One of the pictures shows what the leak looks like the other my wife says "it where it comes from" I am at work and wont be able to take a look until later this afternoon.

Has anyone experienced this before? Does anything stand out from the pictures? Any advice. Car is out of warranty and do not want to pay just for it to be looked at. I want to see if there is a quick fix I can do at home.

Any help would greatly be appreciated.
Water Water resources Automotive tire Rectangle Road surface
Hood Automotive tire Automotive lighting Bumper Eyewear
 

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in front of the windshield between the rear of the hood and bottom of window is the cowl. There are usually 1 or more water drains. Its common if they get clogged it overflows under the dash of many vehicles. look at your cowl section and see if you can remove it use a shop vac for any debris. Its also not uncommon for windshield seals/adheasive to go bad and water runs down too. Dry the area and get inside with a flashlight and have someone gently run water from a garden hose over the top of the vehicle and see if you can find the entry point of water and go from there.
 

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Sahuarita, AZ 2018 Forester Limited
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Is it water or coolant? Coolant will be slightly slippery between the fingers and smell sweet. If coolant it is probably a leak at the heater core.
 

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2018 Forester Limited
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6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
@ForesterBill My wife is sure it is water. No smell doesn’t feel sticky or slippery.

in front of the windshield between the rear of the hood and bottom of window is the cowl. There are usually 1 or more water drains. Its common if they get clogged it overflows under the dash of many vehicles. look at your cowl section and see if you can remove it use a shop vac for any debris. Its also not uncommon for windshield seals/adheasive to go bad and water runs down too. Dry the area and get inside with a flashlight and have someone gently run water from a garden hose over the top of the vehicle and see if you can find the entry point of water and go from there.
I will check the drains when I get home. Hopefully it’s a quick and easy fix.
 

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2018 Forester Limited
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Update: I poured about two cups of water down the front windshield and confirmed the water drained down behind both front tires without issue.
Currently testing the AC full blast to see if that causes anything.
 

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2018 Forester Limited
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Update 2. I’m not able to replicate the issue. I poured even more water. Non goes inside. I did notice more drains from the driver side. Is that normal?

Ialso took the car for a 5+ min drive with the AC going full blast. And nothing.
 

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2018 Forester 6MT
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73 Posts
I'm not sure where it is on the Forester, but on some older/other cars, sometimes the sunroof drain comes down around the same place as the A/C drain. If they get clogged up, it can cause water to appear in unexpected places.
 
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2010 X Limited, 2.5L NA, 4AT. Purchased as the second owner in 2020 with ~126K miles.
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777 Posts
How does an ac drain get clogged?
Running with a cabin filter lets dust collect. The temperature and humidity within the evaporator housing is perfect for mold and mildew growth. This explains the selling of products to clean evaporator coils.

You can check if the drain hose is plugged by dripping under the car or you can simply blow low pressure air into the tube.
 

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2008 LL Bean (4EAT)
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Algae grows in the condensate drain pan under the evaporator coil. It plugs the drain hose and water backs up in the pan until it leaks out.
There are aerosol cans with tubes that spray a disinfectant down the ductwork onto the coil, or up through the pan's drain hose.
I have used Klima Clean:
 

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2018 Forester XT Premium
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163 Posts
If the cabin air filter is wet, it is probably coming through the cowl where fresh air should enter. The vent is directly above the cabin air filter. If the plastic cowl assembly (engine bay) is removed, you can see the top of the filter inside the passenger compartment.
 

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2015 Forester 2.5 Premium CVT
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1,478 Posts
As @ShadeTreeSubie suggests, might be coming in from the HVAC outside air intake under the cowl. Here are a couple of pics of my wife's 2015 with the cowl removed. The second shot is zoomed in, and you can see the top of the HVAC filter through the opening.

Motor vehicle Hood Automotive tire Automotive exterior Bumper


Hood Automotive lighting Bumper Automotive design Vehicle door


Here's my thread where I removed the cowl to fix a different problem. There are a couple of links that may be helpful for removing the cowl:

('14-'18) - 2015 - Washer fluid hose -...

Mike
 

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2019 Subaru Forester
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8 Posts
If you have confirmed its not a blocked cowl drain as per your test, it definitely sounds like a blocked AC drain. You'll need to run the car for longer than 5 mins, as it may be a partial blockage that drains slowly but gets overwhelmed after a longer period of operation.

First thing to check is drive the car with AC on for 20-30 mins, then park somewhere on a flat clean surface and turn the engine off. If the AC drain is not blocked a pool of water should form on the ground under the drain, probably just inside one of the front wheels (not sure which side the drain is on).

If there's no puddle, it is probably blocked. The drain opening will be somewhere on the engine bulkhead - someone on here will know (had to clear the drain on my '99 Alfa Romeo recently, and they are all usually in a broadly similar location). Usually will have a rubber nub on it, and probably contains an elbow joint. It will probably be tricky, but get a long stiff cable tie (or something similar) and poke it up into the opening, and manipulate it til it goes in a fair way. If you're lucky, you'll unclog it. But be prepared for it to take a long time with lots of swearing and scraped knuckles.
 

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2015 Forester Premium
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574 Posts
I had this in a newish 2015. It was under warranty. They blew some air up the AC drain, all better.
I try and keep the small tree crud from piling up around the wipers and the small drain holes.

mine dripped onto the mat just like your pic. From the back of the glovebox some place.
 

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2015 Forester 2.5i Limited CVT
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1,785 Posts
@subatron
How difficult was it removing the cowl?
I used some black rtv the last time I removed my cowl to fix a small gap. The next time, I may use a small strip of VHB double sided tape. The silicone makes a mess.

I bought new oem clips for the cowl. They break so easily. Cleaning out accumulated leaves around wiper arm holes.
 

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as a former Subaru mechanic, many times the AC drain hose would clog from bits of leaves or whatever.
that drain water would back up and cause the passenger floor to be soaked.
easy fix was to blow compressed air into the hose and watch few gallons of water pour out.
 
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