Taillight leaks

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The tail lights and quarter panel windows are notorious for leaking water into the rear hatch area. The result is usually rust underneath the tool kit foam, and rust and in some cases complete holes in the spare tire well. My quarter panel windows were solid but my lights did leak into the back, causing those two areas to rust.

I bought a can of Rubberized Undercoating from Home Depot. You could use rubberized undercoating, truck bed lining, or pretty much anything that would provide a tough defense against more water seeping into the infected metal. I used a wire wheel brush on my drill and a vacuum to remove all the loose rust, then sprayed several copious layers of the undercoating. I took the time beforehand to mask off the rest of the car and sprayed outside as well. Here are the results.

Now that the rust had been taken care of, I turned to the taillights to close off the source of the leaks. I neglected to take pictures of the process because it was messy and I didn’t want to get "50-year epoxy" on my camera. I bought the epoxy in a large tube (think construction site) at Home Depot. It is clear and is supposed to seal and not yellow or age. The actual taillight removal will differ depending on the year of your Z (84-86 v 87-89) but both have a black, tar-like gasket that is very difficult to remove. I spent a solid hour or so trying to remove as much of the old gasket as possible.

Once the old gasket was removed, I applied a layer of the epoxy around the edge of the taillights and pressed it into place. WARNING: If you use epoxy as I did, the taillight assembly will no longer be easily removable. It doesn’t affect changing the bulbs or any routine tasks, but if you break the taillight unit and want to replace it, you’ll have to fight the epoxy. A solution to this is to use a tape-style seal, but I have no experience with that.

I have not had any water leak into my car since I sealed the taillights.

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