Rust Never Sleeps -- Questions About Rust Problems

Karen_SKaren_S Member Posts: 5,092
This topic is for posting questions about Ferrous
Oxide, aka Rust, a menace to cars old and new.


  • rustyspiderrustyspider Member Posts: 2
    my 74 spider has serious rust on the front frame rails. Can they be replaced? Has anyone done it? How much - in NJ?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Not sure what you mean by "serious" rusty, but if you have actual perforations (holes) in the frame rails, I suspect the car is not worth fixing unless the rust is isolated to perhaps one or two small spots.

    Best thing to do would be to lift the car at a body shop and do a very careful evaluation of how bad and how extensive the rust actually is. Anything structural that has been attacked would be a serious problem for a car that doesn't have a very high retail value at this time.

    You might be better off selling what you have and shopping for a cleaner Alfa. The 70s models can be had at a very reasonable price right now.
  • early74bearly74b Member Posts: 34
    ... my body shop. Long story short, my wife's '97 Gr Caravan was backed into just over the driver's side back wheel well about 3 years ago. Appeared minor, a neighbor kid owned up to it, paid for the repair (< $400) which has looked fine since fixed until recently. Now water apparently has gotten behind the wheel well and has rusted the inner wheel well area (only noticed because I saw some paint chips falling off). The van has 73K miles and a few very minor scratches and dents (besides this rusted area) so seeing this rust wanted to get it fixed so it didn't get worse ... problem is the body shop (same shop as before) won't guarantee this kind of repair because this area (the outer skin and inner well) is normally welded from the factory and they can't replicate this process to assure it won't rust again! I was going to check another shop but I've used this shop in the past on a few misshaps (hail damage, etc.); they always stand by their work and they've always made me a happy customer ... is it time to unload the van before it gets any worse?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    WEll let's see, you are putting on about 12K miles a year on this van, so if you got it repaired, even without a guarantee, and it lasted 3 more years that would put you at about 110K in a 9 year old car which wouldn't be worth very much anyway. So, I guess if the repair isn't too expensive, have them do the best they can with "arresting" the rust. There are coatings and sealers which should be able to keep the water out, even if you have to goop it up a bit every now and then from the inside.
  • early74bearly74b Member Posts: 34
    I've heard of rust preventative coating (actually owned an old MGB a number of years ago, in the damp UK they used a product called Waxoyl as an undercoating). My question was more on have you heard of this related to rust repair ... the repair would be $500 but my thinking is that if we had a bad winter (here in the Midwest) with a lot of cold, snowy weather with lots & lots of salt on the roads that come spring the rust would show its ugly face again and basically I'd be throwing good money after bad. I figure the van is worth between $4500 & $5500 on a trade now and your right in that in another 3 years it wouldn't be worth much ... ideally I would like the repair to last that long but no guarantee bothers me. We don't want to be one of those "rust buckets" we see on the road but I'm not foolish enough to think this will ever be a "classic" worth totally restoring (like that old MGB)!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Unfortunately American body shops aren't very good at dealing with rust. In the UK they know how to handle it, but in the USA they are afraid of it.

    Best way to fix it it cut it out. It's the only "sure thing" (famous last words).

    Has this rust perforated the metal? Can you stick your fingers in the holes? How bad is it?
  • early74bearly74b Member Posts: 34
    The rust damage appears to be limited to the outer underside "lip" (about 4 to 6 inches) of the wheel well and there are definitely rust holes through it. The inner fender doesn't show any rust damage (still has that factory undercoating). What's odd is that it appears just the outer "skin" (the painted side) has rotted away from the inner fender. The body shop estimate calls for about a day & half of body work and paint work in which I would think they will cut away as you say the rusted portion rather than just bondo over it.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Oh, covering over it is a waste of time. IF they cut it out and then treated the metal it would probably work on the part that they treated. The problem is whether or not there are other parts inside there which one cannot see or treat.
  • early74bearly74b Member Posts: 34
    Quote: "Oh, covering over it is a waste of time. IF they cut it out and then treated the metal it would probably work on the part that they treated. The problem is whether or not there are other parts inside there which one cannot see or treat."

    Yes, I agree; I've seen bondo jobs that barely last a season before you see bubbles, etc. and even worse damage coming through. It's not a pretty sight! I'll be watching this area more closely and keep the road salt off it for now. Wife is undecided on fix and keep versus getting something new ... Chicago Auto Show is in early Feb so we'll do a wait and see for now ... thanks!
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    .. then you only have yourself to blame.

    you can do some things to stretch the time between repairs... clean to metal between the fender and liner, and spray it down good with cold galvanizing (i.e. LPS galvanizing spray)... cut out ALL the pinholed metal, put a skim coat of bondo on the back as well... use acid primer on both sides if you are equipped with spraygun and supplied-air facemask... and spraying rustproofing in the fender afterwards.

    but any repair that isn't made by getting down to clean shining metal, roughing it up, and then applying new metal by welding or bondo and fiberglass mat is going to fail within a year.
  • early74bearly74b Member Posts: 34
    After being somewhat apathetic to ANY replacement for the van the wife wants it fixed now ... its funny (but not really) but she just got a parking lot induced door bang (it was high on the car so she's assuming it was from a big SUV) while out doing xmas shopping. Doesn't appear to go into metal but I'm buffing it out to see. Her point is that A) she needs something new that will resist incidents like this (body cladding or impact resistant panels) OR B) the van now looks like a POS so people aren't careful while next to it! She's obviously joking with me either way but I do plan to check with the body shop on what prep work they plan to do ... as I've said earlier these guys are good but they aren't called to do rust repair work like this much ... again the good after bad comment earlier. Most folks will either live with it or unload it before it gets worse.
  • bigfurbigfur Member Posts: 649
    Good luck finding any shop in the US that will warrant rust repair. In the four years i did auto body i never heard of one shop anywhere that would give rust a warranty
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    the ABS "no-dent" panels on saturns have their issues as well, notably they expand and contract more than steel, so they have very large panel gaps between adjacent bodywork.

    it is very easy to prevent rust, which is the oxidation of steel catalyzed by hydrogen. don't ever let water get to it. not ever.

    and on an individual car, handmade and never subjected to wear, stress, thermal crazing of the paint, abrasion, or airborne deterioration of the coatings, you might just make a fine museum piece for the cost of a space shuttle.

    on the street? ain't gonna happen.
  • morehpmorehp Member Posts: 30
    My folks' 1993 Camry is in excellent shape but for a small spot of rust right at the bottom rear corner of the driver's door (where my dad opened the door into some sort of obstacle and then neglected to touch up the paint).

    Starting at that corner there is about a 1 to 1.5 inch radius of bubbling paint. This is on the outside surface. There does not appear to be any perforation and the inside surface of the metal is unmolested.

    I'm wondering if this can be repaired by grinding away the rust and then just repainting the small spot. I'd rather not have the whole door repainted if I can avoid it.

    Thanks for any help you can provide.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    you have almost certainly rust through the corner of the door. every pinprick of rust needs to be removed, and then the structural needs of the door as well as the cosmetic ones need to be addressed.

    pay special attention to the fact that rain water is supposed to enter the door, and is supposed to exit by drain holes in the bottom and often right near the back corner. because that complicates things greatly.

    now, is it possible to fix the door? maybe. once the trim panel is removed, and possibly electrical stuff removed from teh door if any goes down there, it might be clean enough to permit grinding out all the rust, and welding in clean metal. you may need to cold-galvanize the area as well. then the inside and outside need to be de-painted, solid primer like acid bonding stuff applied, then paint primer if needed for that chemistry of paint, and final paint.

    it's a lot of work. much better to always touch up dings when they happen, even if you end up with a pimply appearance on the car. if it ever gets ugly enough, you can pay somebody to sand out the imperfections and topcoat it with new paint and clearcoat.


    a lot of folks will buy a salvage door and install it instead if the appearance of an 11-year old car is that important.
  • redrosedayredroseday Member Posts: 1
    I'm looking at a used GTS and surprised to see rust on it. Would that indicate it has rust underneath? The brakes look exposed. Is that normal?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    You mean rust on the brake rotors? That's no big deal. Means the car has been sitting around, that's all.

    If you mean body rust that flakes off with your fingernail, that's a big problem.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    unlike drum brakes, the calipers on disk brakes sit on either side of the drive shaft's brake target, called a rotor. they squeeze in from both sides. for cooling purposes, you don't put shields over this stuff. and if you have pretty wheels with cutouts or spokes, you will see a (generally somewhat) rusty caliper with these THINGS overhead and to the side.

    it's a feature, not a bug. they work great. rejoice in seeing them.
  • corvettecorvette Member Posts: 10,185
    Here is a pic of the crap body repair that was done on my Altima, less than a year ago. The paint cracked in this area and I'm now seeing some rust staining around it. It will be re-repaired at another shop. I assume it is only superficial at this point. Should I plan on keeping it after it's fixed, or will it come back no matter what?


    Yes, that's overspray and sanding dust on the rubber boot going into the door. Don't get me started!
  • jjcccjjccc Member Posts: 2
    A good friend just gave me a 93 Subaru. Great car but, wind shield leaks a bit at the top and the rust appears to be commencing an atttack on the roof. I'm trying to figue out how to fix it on a very limited budget. I'm wondering if I can just sand it down and put a layer of fiberglass over it. Or if I need to take out the windshield to get at what's beneath. I don't know a welder to patch it up if there were holes under the windshield. And, although I could probably get the windshield out and then back in again, I've only seen it done once. What do you think?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Oh I wouldn't take the windshield out if there's a lot of rust around may never fit back in again. I'd just goop it up with a LATEX caulk (much less messy and you can work it into the cracks and wash it up with water before it cures). Now if you want the car to "look nice", that's going to be expensive, and the car isn't worth it.
  • jjcccjjccc Member Posts: 2
    Ok, I have some "Siliconized Acrylic Latex Caulk" and I imagine, I can get enough of that in all of the visible cracks enough to stop any leaks. But, with the rust is already seems to be working it's way through the roof and, I'm wondering if there's any way that I can at least freeze the rust where it's at. I read on this other site, about someone who uses a "black asphault fiber roof tar" after wire brushing and cleaning up the area really well. ( about 1/3 of the way down the page).
    You think it would be worth a shot? The metal already seems thin by the rust spot. When I tap on it with my finger it sounds more tinny there. What do you think?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Well maybe you could pop the windshield trim piece off, then treat the rust with a de-rusting agent like this one:,8510,4682-161382-178597-33- 872-147485-custom-item,00.html

    Then once the rust is chemically made neutral, I suppose you could just bondo over it, sand it and prime it. That might last a year or two. I'm just worried that if you pop the windshield and the frame is weak with rust that you might not get it back in again very easily.

    I'd kind of have to see it, how bad it is first.
  • prairiestyleprairiestyle Member Posts: 5

    Has anyone had good/bad experience with electronic rust proofing? Picking up a new Ford Freestyle later this week and dealership is offering this as part of an after-market protection package along with undercoating, fabric guard, etc ... I'm in the Canadian Prairies where road salt is as ubiquitous as flooding - so rust is a real concern.

    Can't find much about the company (which to some degree is pretty telling) although they've been around for over a decade - Canadian Auto Preservation (CAP) Inc and their product is called Final Coat. Cannot find many consumer reviews/reports on these types of devices - which I view as a negative (if it's so good, why is it a secret when the tech has been around for many years?)

    This company has a few patent applications in various countries and their product is backed/insured by Royal Sun Alliance (a top global insurer) - both of which I count as positives.

    Thanks in advance.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Well, how much it is? What's the guarantee? And why is the guarantee any better than the rust out guarantee the manfacturer of the truck gives you?
  • prairiestyleprairiestyle Member Posts: 5
    The List price is $900 CDN. I lost interest at that point, but after checking a bit further, I found that similar electronic device themselves retail for about $200 US. Then you start to layer on the other "standard" protection products (paint sealant, undercoating, fabric protector), plus the insurance component - which is why I'm guessing they quote such an expensive price. Haven't tested the ability to negotiate down.

    I'm still looking for the details on the specifics of the coverage for this package. I'll re-reply if/when I get those. I thought I heard the dealer use the phrase "lifetime" - but not placing any stock in that unless I see it on the warranty certificate.

    They claim the functional difference is that it stops rust from "the inside cavity". The general technical difference is it uses electronics rather than "liquids", so they claim it doesn't suffer from typical concerns of improper application of protectant, voiding factory warranties, having to re-apply/re-treat.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    It may in fact work I don't know...I wondering if it's similar to corrosion protection systems on boats....but really it comes down to what do you get for what you pay? What's the warranty if it doesn't work is what I'd want to know.
  • corvettecorvette Member Posts: 10,185
    I read somewhere (I think it was on Google Groups) that it works on bridges but not on cars. I'd pass. In Canada, I think I'd go with a waxy coating like the Krown stuff (Cosmoline?) for long-term rust protection.
  • prairiestyleprairiestyle Member Posts: 5
    C - thanks for pointing me at google. Lots more discussion there and it's helping me make a decision (which is to decline their offer - unless the company shows me some compelling insurance/warranty info).
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    When in doubt, stay out, or take a pass, which is what your previous message seems to imply. I'm just seconding your inclination here.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    sounds like a shuck -- be sure they are using transistorized electronic rust proofing instead of the tube version, the 90 volt batteries the tubes need are getting hard to find and expensive.

    the automaker did electrostatic plating of the body with metallized primer when they made it. you aren't going to be able to stick anything else there anyway. that's how I'm sure this dealer is jiving you. someplace in a lockbox royal sun alliance insurance has an actuarial study that says they aren't going to have to pay out on this. they aren't going to have one that says this works.

    you will do better having the undercarraige washed regularly at the car wash during snow/salt season. and don't park in a heated garage, you're better off leaving the crud frozen until you thaw it and flush it away with clean water at the wash.

    sounds like they are systematically plating your credit card on these ;)
  • upononeuponone Member Posts: 4
    What are people's opinions on buying a car from a rust-prone state? i.e. MN, Upper East Coast etc. I'm looking at a 2001 BMW M3 from MN, NY, and NJ but I'm hesitant to buy something from there because I'll have a greater chance for rust down the road. Should I be overly concerned?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    You'd want to lift the car and examine it carefully at least.
  • wscottmullenwscottmullen Member Posts: 1
    i have a 1985 camaro and i've just moved from texas to massachusetts. i've heard stories that the winter weather creates a lot of rust underneath the car. if this is true, is there anyway to prevent it from happening? thanks.
  • tigercat21tigercat21 Member Posts: 28
    Yes it will rust under your car and other parts of car also. It will also cause emergency brake cables to seize and brake lines to rust along with gas lines and gasoline tanks. Most peeps will pull a classic car off the roads in the northeast, the winter with the salt on the roads is brutal.

    Peeps that keep nice cars on the road must wash undercarrage often. I knew a guy who coated the whole underneath of his car with a mixture of oil and grease. It was messy to apply but i got to admit it worked. A product called Fluid Film is something i've had good luck with also. It sort of congeals and sticks to metal and fights rust very well. You have to shop around for it though. Brake shops around here carry it.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    There are car washes that also wash under your car....not a bad idea. I don't know that you can "prevent" all rust for all time, but you can at least minimize it. If you can wash under a lot and garage your car, you've got a lot better chance. Usually rust forms at some "collection point" where moisture and salt get trapped, and it's really hard to catch all these places with undercoating.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    the corvettes and miatas go under cover in the garage shortly before the snow flies for most drivers, and the 85 chevys come out. that's the best way to treat a fine car. frequent undercarraige washes, undercoating, and a wax job so thick you can't see the color of the car are the ways the rest of us deal with it. don't leave those parking lot scratches unpainted before winter. which reminds me, I have to get some rust-oleum primer and get after the trailer hitch this weekend.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    rust-oleum isn't very good paint. Get some marine paint and treat yourself to a new experience.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    The '95 model is the last generation Camaro, so don't worry, because it came from the factory with excellent rust protection. Of course, washing, including the underside, about twice a month, once the streets are salted, will further control the rust. However, these aren't rust prone cars. Further, as Shifty mentioned, it would be good to garage it, but if you can't, it will hold up just fine. I guess what I'm saying is take reasonable care of your Camaro and enjoy it instead of worrying about it.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Yeah GM finally got smart with the F bodies and started using things like aluminized hot waxes, etc. to plug up all the rust traps on those cars.
  • dwilliams2dwilliams2 Member Posts: 1
    I use Fluid Film all the time. They've got a dealer locator on their web site:
    It's worth finding.
  • pgilbertpgilbert Member Posts: 23
    I am considering buying a 91 Cutlass Ciera (3.3 litre engine) that looks fine, except for a potential corrosion problem at the towers that anchor the front struts. The rust is underway, but not too ugly at present. Has anyone with a Ciera ever had a tower rust out and fail completely?? I did have just that experience one time with a former car (Dodge Colt), resulting in the strut popping up against the hood!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Oh that's a bad place to have rust. Is it actually just surface rust or is it already flaking, pitting or holed? You might have a body shop lift the car and look around. I hope this car is like REAL cheap.
  • pgilbertpgilbert Member Posts: 23
    Thanks for the input - I will get the professional inspection. Problem is, it appears that it's only the one location (at the towers) that is the concern - the car is immaculate on the exterior - with original 1991 paint job! But of course, the underside is the bit that counts.

    I believe they now use 99% salt to 1% sand on the roads in Manitoba! Believe it or not, last winter they did a pilot project spraying concentrated brine on a section of the Trans-Canada Hwy and may proceed to expand the practice as it was so 'successful'!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Well look at it this way...rust can't get to the top of the towers without having also touched the bottom and elsewhere. The issue here is structural safety not cosmetics, and a body shop I think is the best judge of whether the car has been compromised or not structurally.
  • pgilbertpgilbert Member Posts: 23
    Precisely. I accepted the vendor's offer to do an inspection with the vehicle on a hoist and will get it to a body shop if necessary.
  • safouanesafouane Member Posts: 1
    I have major rust all over the edge between the roof and the glass wind shield, the workshop is concerned as removing the windshield could break, he is advising the use of chemical material that is supposed to "consume" the rust and fill in the hole gaps, then paint.

    Issue, he's got no chemicals, any heard of this treatment and can advise manufacturer?

    Thanks. safouane
  • ivan5ivan5 Member Posts: 2
    not sure if this "rust" thread is still active, but I have one for you... I just bought a 1991 4runner for $500. Runs strong enough, but it's a total rust bucket. The owner just had the brakelines replaced due to rust, so they're OK. It's all through the undercarriage, but as far as I can tell there are no holes in the actual frame, just some flaking. My question is this: is this thing actually dangerous to drive? I only use it on the rare occasion when I need 4WD (camping etc, maybe 20 times a year). I'll happily drive it until it crumbles unless it is actually dangerous. Could some major piece of the suspension or frame actually fall apart on the freeway? Thanks
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Well no one can say without a thorough inspection. If the rust has weakened some point where the suspension attaches, you're damn right it's dangerous. That would include such things as shock towers, steering box mounts and rear axle mounts. Rule of thumb, if you can jam a sharp awl into the rust and it penetrates, and this rust is near a suspension mounting point, you have a problem.
  • ivan5ivan5 Member Posts: 2
    thanks for the reply... The mechanics who looked at it were vague about the safety piece. They said it was "more or less" safe, but I couldn't nail them down. Would a body shop be better equipped to tell me? Do they do that kind of thing (i.e. inspect for rust damage)? It looks like the shock towers are a little flakey, which make me nervous. thanks again
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