2002 Buick LeSabre - Rusted beyond repair?

The unibody of my 2002 LaSabre, with only 70,000 miles. Has severe underbody rust damage and my knowledgeable garage mechanic pal said it’s unsafe to drive. Can it be repaired or is it fatal? It seem like such low mileage for such major rust damage.

Do you trust him if not get a second opinion from another shop. It would seem fatal to me.

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Mileage has nothing to do with rust when it gets started it keeps growing and is almost imposable to get rid of without a very major expense.


Fata l for both the vehicle and you. It might be repaired but doubtful it would be less expensive to buy a new vehicle .


I live in Minnesota.

We know when a vehicle has too much underside rust to be unsafe.

So, where you live may look like major rust, but where I live just means removing hardware will be harder.

Can you post images of this rust?


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Where in MN?

Don’t know, I can’t see it from here.

Rust damage is not directly related to odometer mileage, but elapsed time is related to rust damage. Depending on where you live, 20 years can be more than enough time for major rust damage to take place.

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Grew up in MN, had a car with thoroughly rusted out floor, fortunately a body on frame vehicle. In FL since 1977, common to see rusted out 2-3 year old cars whom owners lived near the ocean.

Can you open or close the doors smoothly? The main reason I trashed my 1992 Buick Century is the door locks didn’t align properly with the body-mounted catches. There was chaffing between the mating parts when closing the doors. That was an indication the body was sagging in the middle.

I have a friend who used to own an older Jeep Cherokee. It made it to 500,000 miles so can’t knock it but its time had come when he got rid of it! It was burning oil like mad and he would wait for the oil light to come on before adding. I think he just gave up on the thing once I realized how bad of shape it was in. Again, you can’t knock the old 4.0 engine these used to have.

You could have fallen through the floor because of all the rust. It was impossible to align before the unibody was so compromised so he just bought the cheapest used tires, knowing it would just eat them within a few short months. It leaked gas if he filled it beyond halfway. The doors were hard to close because the body was sagging and you could feel the flex when going over bumps. I don’t remember all the things that were wrong when he got rid of it but I think the list was longer than I mentioned. Either way, he got a lot of miles out of this thing but its time had come and he didn’t even bother with a safety inspection when it was due. He went and bought a new car and was happy to trade this scrap heap in for $500.

I helped him change a starter once as I am a lot smaller than him and fit under the car easier. The starter was easy but I remember seeing the rust all throughout the underside and wondered how it didn’t break in half.

This thing lived most of its life in Chicago where salt must be used quite a lot during the winter.

Here is another good one. I remember seeing this several years back and the pictures were impressive. The link appears to have expired but here is the basic summary that gives you the idea. The Pinto was considered to be unsafe when new but this one takes the cake! How Was Anyone Driving This Ridiculously Unsafe Car On The Highway?

Well it should sure be looked at again by a body or frame shop to know the full extent of the damage but I have had cars in Minnesota many years old without extreme damage. So yeah, second opinion.

If there is damage, forget fixing it. I have some rocker panel rust to deal with. Talked to a body shop and everyone is months behind and don’t want to touch rust like this. He told me his friend had rockers replaced on his truck for $5500. So sharpening my welding skills. Never intended to keep the car this long.

So just depends on how bad it is.

@cwatkin 's post on the questionable Pinto reminds me of the car some of us Explorer scouts (teenagers) made on a whim. The idea was to make a dune-buggy from a junker, but never got that far. Many body parts missing, but drivetrain ok, driver and rear seats only, no roof, doors, or windshield. 3 scouts sit on back seat holding gas tank in their laps, hose running to fuel pump on engine … driver drives. We only drove it at a nearby quarry, but still very dangerous. Of course as teenagers we didn’t fully consider the danger part. Somehow we survived.