Best "temporary" repair tape for auto bodies?

I just bought an older car with a sunroof and suspect it might leak, or might start to leak if left outside in The Cold Rain and Snow. :wink: I want to seal it up with tape (on the exterior) until the summer when I can properly address the problem.

My go-to is Duct Tape, but it leaves a nasty residue. I also use the Post Office Priority Mail tape (I know, send me to prison) and it seems to stick well to metal and not leave too much mess when removed. Clear packing tape is pretty good, too, but doesn’t hold up to weather too long.

What is the Mystery “Helicopter Tape” they always talk about on Formula One? I always assumed it was just Duct Tape.

Any better (cheap) options? Car is white. Maybe a vinyl? Where would I get it?


What cleans up post office tape residue off a white car without messing up the paint? :wink:

It raining buckets right now, so I put the buggy in the garage since the sunroof is looking kinda suspect today. When you slam the door, it kinda “puffs up”. That can’t be a good seal. But the Big Dog wants back in, so I gotta seal it one way or another.

Thanks! Hope to hear from Rick, Greasy, Barbarian, Willys, jz and the regular cast of car nuts…

Can a Mod fix that to “temporary”, please? Jeez, I need to stop drinking…

Try smearing wax around the leaky area. Should hold till spring and will do no permanent damage. I recommend carnuba wax for use on the exterior of cars.

I don’t thing Duct Tape, or any other tape, would leave a residue impervious to Goo Gone.

Good idea! But I’m afraid the wax will gum up the mechanism. It needs work, or maybe just some Tri-Flow to make it open/close better. I used a product called, “Seal’N’Peel” (I think it was a DAP brand) on another car that ended up being permanent. I don’t think I have any left, and if I do, it gotta be 15 years old! Anyway, it was like a silicone goo that set up but would peel away when dry. I imagine it was expensive. (I got a whole box free long ago)

I just want to keep it as clean as possible for a little while.

Ahh, but what does Goo Gone do to automotive finish? Glossy white!?!

I should just fix it right now. What a stupid thread!

I suspect this is going to be one of those pick 2 out of 3 dilemmas. You’re not going to find a solution that’s: waterproof, windproof enough to drive, and won’t cause permanent damage.

Short of doing something drastic like actually fixing it, your best bet is likely to just throw a tarp over it when you’re not driving. You can get a really small one and close it in the doors to hold it in place so it’s not too much of a nuisance. Maybe keep a towel in the car when you’re driving. If it’s one of the pop-up sunroofs you might even be able to use the latch to hold the towel in place. It’s not gonna win you any beauty contests, but at least it won’t risk any permanent damage like duct taping on the paint.

Was thinking about aluminum tape. Also a solvent for removal, perhaps WD-40, I do not think that would damage the paint, but test in a inconspicuous area first.

Clear silicon maybe, it would be harder to remove, but hopefully it will peal off when ready.

It may be possible that the adhesive of some tapes could also act as a solvent however. It would take longer but it will have lots of time to do it’s thing.

How old is this “older car”?

In the 1960’s through the 1980’s, car manufacturers tried to make sunroofs (and moonroofs) leak-proof. It turned out to be a lot harder than it sounds, which is why you don’t see many cars these days from that era with sunroofs (they have rusted away). My observations (being an owner of two 1990’s vehicles with sunroofs) is they are designed to leak, but a controlled leak and the leaking water is drained away before it has a chance to enter the vehicle. On one of these vehicles, I started to get water inside and I discovered that the drain holes had become clogged. I used a long plastic zip-tie (like the cops use for handcuffs) to poke down the holes (one on each side of the car) and carefully poured water down them to clear them. Fixed the leaks, and I didn’t have to replace any of the seals!

Would some type of caulking work? I had a couple tough spots around the rear window and door of a much older wagon that I basically treated with tun and tile white caulk. It had to be redone once a year or so but as a temporary it could be a good call for you.

While it’s a bit tedious to remove duct tape residue, it can be removed by various products that won’t harm the finish (lighter fluid, creme-type hand cleaner, brake parts cleaner, etc.). It has the advantage of being easy to apply and generally being very effective. It’s also available in white, though few places carry that color in stock.

i’ve used it on baked-on painted metal with no harm.

I suggest you move to where those rainy winds don’t blow…

Moderator Note


1988 BMW. I don’t consider it “old”, but I know most Dopers would.

I suspect it is designed like you observe, with some kind of drain system in place. There is no evidence of any water getting in the interior now, and I’m pretty sure the guy I bought it from kept it outside because his garage was chock full of stuff.

During the test drive, I pushed the button (electric) to see if it opened, and it did, but it was a bitch to get closed completely again. When you shut the door, the air pressure makes it “pop” or move slightly. I can’t imagine that would be a water tight seal.

Looks like the rain is done for a little while. I think I’ll open it fully, lube it up and check it out. Just hope I can get it closed again! :smiley:

Thanks everybody!

Thanks! Now I can start drinkin’ again! :smiley:

I’ve used Goo Gone on car paint to get off duct tape residue. Paint was fine.

If you want to seal it up, you can go to a body shop and see if they’ll do it. They have rolls of clear plastic just for waterproofing vehicles with holes in them.

It may not be leaking, air pressure causing the sunroof to pop a little isn’t abnormal for a car of that age. Here is a pic of a front drain, yours are probably similar. You can pour water in the track and watch the water go down the hole unless it’s clogged. There will be a couple drains in the back too, but you may not be able to see them. You can still pour water in that direction and see if it disappears or pools up. If it pools up, it’ll fill the track then leak into the interior. That just means the drains are clogged. You can fix clogged drains if you have an air compressor by blowing air into the drain until leaves and bugs and gunk comes out, usually in the wheel well, and water starts flowing again.

If they’re not clogged, you should be ok even if the sunroof is leaking. I say should, anything is possible.

As a bit of a cautionary tale, I have had duct tape pull the paint right off a car before. However, that particular car was a victim of the the late-80’s GM paint syndrome so the paint was likely not long for this world anyways.

Nice pic! I’ll check that out.

I’m with ya. I’ve ruled out Duct Tape. Late 80’s Fords also have shit paint.

I might be freakin’ out over nothing. No evidence of a leak inside. Probably has a drain somewhere like previous posters noted.

Straight Dope is fuckin’ awesome!

Would gaffer tape be a good solution for places you may normally use duct tape? It’s a good bit more expensive, but it doesn’t leave a residue.