Sigh. Cars never go for very long without developing a mysterious little problem needing to be fixed! It's a water leak this time.
And for the second time, too. Last October, only days before setting off for the north Cotswolds, I discovered that I had a damp front passenger footwell. It was quite obvious where the water was dripping down from. I quickly consulted the Volvo dealer, who looked at the evidence and confirmed that the seal on the upper edge of the windscreen had failed. You could easily push the top edge of the windscreen away from the bodywork. Blimey!
For the sake of a clean, sleek appearance, windscreens no longer have rubber surrounds. They are directly bonded to the metal bodywork with a special type of sealant. If that metal-sealant-glass sandwich fails at any point, a water leak will follow. Think of glue getting brittle with time, as it well might after a few cycles of winter freezing and summer heating. All done for styling reasons.
I'd need a new seal, or, as was usually the solution, a completely new windscreen. Well, I didn't mind. The original windscreen had, since 2010, taken a few inevitable knocks from falling acorns, and little stones thrown up from road resurfacing works. You could say it was OK for the annual MOT, but nevertheless somewhat battle-scarred. Who knows, perhaps the latest knocks from windblown twigs in the country lanes of North Devon only one month before - some of them substantial - had fatally weakened or broken the seal.
It would be an insurance job: I'd simply pay the £125 insurance policy excess. Fair enough. Not a lot for having a brand-new windscreen!
I was put onto the dealer's preferred subcontractor for windscreen work. I'd get the work done faster by dealing with them direct. Within two days they had sourced a new windscreen and had come out to my home. I watched them do the work. It looked like a proper job to me. Everything worked fine afterwards, meaning the various sensors that fired rays through the windscreen at lane markings, and the car in front, were functioning as they should. Within three days I was towing the caravan up to Broadway, and it was atrociously wet all the way - a stern test. But Fiona remained perfectly dry. And during the two months since that windscreen replacement, Fiona has endured several torrential rainstorms with nary a sign of a water leak.
But this morning, after a night's rain, the passenger footwell carpet was damp once again.
I called out the windscreen people. We had a very careful inspection. The windscreen was firmly attached to the car, and therefore the seal could be regarded as fully intact. But the front passenger door seal was suspect. It looked fine: but it wasn't seated against the metalwork quite as snugly as it should be, and maybe, when the door was closed, there was a little gap for water to get in. Do rubber seals warp with time? Maybe. Other possibilities mentioned on the Internet were blockages in the bodywork rainwater drainage, and a choked condensation drain in the air-conditioning unit.
It didn't look a difficult job for the dealer to replace the rubber door seals, but it would be an unwelcome expense. I decided to look into that 'blocked rainwater drain' idea first - this weekend if it's dry - conducting a few experiments with a water jug to see what actually happens when water is poured steadily onto the windscreen.
Let's hope I find out something useful, and avoid the expense of new door seals!
And if those aren't the right solution, it's back to the windscreen. (I wonder whether a smear of dark bathroom sealant all round the windscreen would be the low-tech but effective fix? Could I do that neatly?)