What was GM thinking?

Solution: Blue Caulk on ‘Gutter’ and a Serving Tray

GM designed Buick Regal – 1999 model year – and every time it rains, it pours … INTO MY PASSENGER FLOOR BOARD.

It has driven me mad – in fact with recent crazy-storms one night, it poured so much that I literally had 2 inches of standing water when I opened my car the next morning – sitting there on the passenger floor board smiling up at me. Not good.

I finally did a search and found I was not alone – here, here, and most helpfully here. And you know what the cause of it was? Bad design.

Someone did not do a thorough job on their FMEA (Failure Mode and Effects Analysis … another one of those Industry Speak terms) or because of other factors counted it a risk worth taking. Directly under the windshield, GM placed an air vent and cabin filter which is directly above the blower motor that sits above the passenger side floor board. So, if the drain for the cowl (the area directly below the windshield wipers) gets plugged OR the small gutter seal gets moved around that ‘redirects water away from the air vent’ – water runs freely into the cabin of the car. It stinks … literally. Doing the FMEA, I would have scored it an 8 in Severity (Customer very dissatisfied), 3 in Occurrence (I guess .1%), and 7 in Detection (The problem is not tested for on the manufacturing floor and hard to test for since it involves time working the gutter loose) – which gives us a Risk Priority Number of 168. Anything over a hundred is generally considered ‘important to fix’. Oops.

But no worries GM, you have bigger fish to fry, and after getting a little creative, tried my ‘Appalachian Engineering’ to this puzzle that apparently applies to Buick Regal, Buick Century, and Pontiac Grand Am from ’95, ’96, ’97, ’98, ’99, ’00, ’01, and ’02. I came up with the above solution – using none other than a throwaway plastic food serving tray and RTV gasket maker. The serving tray I cut up into an extra ‘shield’ to fit above the air filter.

See the video below for some more details on my personal experience. Better instructions on how to remove the cowl are here from an air filter manufacturer.

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