Honda Ridgeline
2017-2021

Water in Bed Leaking Under Rear Cabin Carpet

2nd Generation Ridgelines May Leak Water into the Cab

I bought my Ridgeline from SF Honda on April 1, 2021. It is a January 2021 build, from the factory in Alabama. I'm a big fan of the car/truck, but found a major problem.

Reading about the potential cabin leaks on Ridgeline Owner's Club, I was certain it had to be a fluke. The current informal poll says about 22%+ of owners can recreate the water intrusion issue pretty easily, noticing significant moisture underneath the rear carpet of the 2nd Generation (2017-2021) Ridgelines.

So one weekend when I had some extra time, I tried the water hose experiment, and found that I too had a leaky Ridgeline! I decided to document my attempts at fixing this issue, and this site is a way of documenting it so that others can benefit (22% of Ridgeline Owners apparently).

How to Recreate the Issue

Park automobile facing downhill

You can see my level reads 5.2 degrees, alongside bubble level.

Remove rear door sill trim , prop up rear carpet so you can see underneath.

Spray the rear of the truck (as if you were rinsing it), along bed join, along window areas, for 5 minutes.

Water sneaks behind the rear seats, and drips down underneath the rear carpet.

But the rear carpet is lined with foam so you may never notice the leak, but the stink (and the mold and rust) will be there!

Here's a look underneath: "Seams" like a design flaw on the G2 Ridgelines? These are seams from the factory, with nothing to prevent water intrusion!

My Personal Leak

Parked my 2021 Ridgeline on a downhill grade (7.6%), and sprayed water into the bed, along the rear window, as if I were rinsing the rear of the vehicle.

Another Owner Test

Park the Ridgeline facing downhill, spray water into the rear window, into the bed so that it pools in the front. Simulating a rainstorm while parked on a hill.

One More Owner's Ridgeline

Another owner experiencing the same after doing their own experiment.

Fix Diary
As my dealer works with me to figure out what's going on, I'll document the steps here. Thank you SF Honda!

Attempt #1: August 23, 2021

August 23, 2021
Just some loose vents?

Dealer Service Advisor was very helpful, and Tech seemed to grasp the problem. At first it seemed like I had dodged a bullet, as maybe there were loose vent assemblies on the back wall, and some loose bolts. So after a few days to let things settle, I retried my testing.

August 30, 2021
Post Fix Testing

Recreated the test by parking the car on a downhill grade, spraying the rear window and bed wall with low/medium spray (above). Made sure to point water along seam lines (window, bed wall with floor), and the problem now appears even worse. I found water leaking on both driver and passenger sides, the video above documents the driver side, looking underneath the rear seat carpet.

Attempt #2: August 30, 2021

Had a chance to test for leaks at different nose-down attitudes. Spraying down the rear bed with a 3.5 degree downward tilt (as measured using the top of the bed sides) did not result in a leak. However, after repositioning the truck so that it read 6.0 degrees, and spraying in the same manner, a leak manifested itself: appearing to come out of the vertical seams nearest the cab vents. It seems very finicky: an exact incline is needed for water to flow in such a manner that intrudes the cab. Could only get water to come through the passenger side, but could see how it could run down a channel to the driver's side, once it has penetrated the cab.

The image to the left is not my actual automobile, but an image capture from this clip on YouTube, in which the owner has removed his bed walls to install exciters in the walls. But I've circled where we saw droplets of water coming through the interior.

It's interesting how the unibody construction of the Ridgeline necessitates multiple panels to construct the rear "cab" wall (left). Note the difference in design versus the Tacoma (right).

Multiple pieces of sheetmetal go into constructing the rear of the "cab" wall, therefore requiring sealant on all those joints.

Tacomas have other water/rust problems to deal with, but their back walls are a solid sheet. Probably because the cab is itself a single unit, versus a unibody truck where the rear cab wall is essentially a cross member.

Follow-up to Attempt #2: September 8, 2021

Identified Location of Droplets

The dealer called to say that the car was moved to a bodyshop for further repair. After consulting with Honda, the directive was given to seal the location of the leak with 3M Body Sealant. There was some confusion on whether this particular sealant could be legally shipped to California(?), but some sealant was eventually sourced.

Sealing that Location

As you can see, the location was sealed from the inside of the cab. I was a little concerned about this at first (shouldn't it be sealed outside?), but then noticed all the other sealant on the inside, from the factory.

After getting the "truck" back, I recreated the same test on my same block (6 degrees downward tilt), and could not get it to leak anymore. The design does depend on this sealant, however: is this a common dependency in automobiles? I will continue to monitor the situation, and the big test will be bringing it through a carwash for the first time. Wish me luck!

Potential Fixes (Dealer and Individual) by Ridgeline Owners

Really hoping this leak is fixable. One 2020 owner had his Ridgeline in the shop for 85 days until it was fixed. Some other experiences below.

Potential Weak Seams

An individual owner took it upon themselves to tape up the areas

What one dealer did to seal up the leak

A Note on Patience and Understanding

Realizing that we're going through a worldwide pandemic, we should temper and be understanding of potential lapses in manufacturing. However, this issue seems to plague 2nd generation Honda Ridgelines from 2017 through 2021. Should this issue have been found in 2017, 2018? Why has nothing been done about it? How come there are no Service Bulletins highlighting what is a potential design flaw in the 2nd Generation Ridgeline?

The Honda Ridgeline is often derided as "Not a Real Truck". But for owners that seek out a Honda Ridgeline, most of them love what it has to offer: comfort, a 5-foot bed, and 80% the interior space of a "Real Truck" (ie F-150). I don't need to go offroad, nor do I need to haul more than 5000 lbs. I like what the Ridgeline uniquely has to offer, which makes these leaks even more of a bummer.

But I think it's reasonable to expect an interior to remain dry! And not have water inside the cabin, and within seams, where if it sits in freezing temperatures, may cause damage to the frame once the moisture freezes. This truck will do winter duty in heavy rain and snow.

This material on this site is not meant in any animosity against Honda, nor my local dealer. But rather a documented history of trying to correct this problem, and hopefully it helps others as well.

Contact me at masked209-ridgeline@yahoo.com.

A special thank you to the Ridgeline Owner's Club Forums for the information and media referenced on this site.