2011 Lexus RX350 pre-owned certified chassis rust corrosion

I have no experience in car repair or maintenance. I bought this 2011 Lexus RX350 pre-owned certified car and find there are lots of rust and corrosion underneath the car, some rust eat away superficial metal and the bolts head are all rusted. The outside and interior are all like new (dealer reconditioned). my question is do I need to do some preventive measure to prevent further deterioration? How and who can do it? Is this acceptable as pre-owned certified car? Do dealer only do the superficial make up to sell the car? Thanks

Is it certified by Lexus? Is it a 2011 or a 2001?

Where is the car from? A car that new should not be showing the level of corrosion you describe.

If what you’re saying is true, then it sounds like it might have been involved in a flood.

WHo was the car certified by? Your beef would be with them.


“Certified” can mean very different things, depending on who is doing the certifying.
If this car (which is apparently either 2 years old or 12 years old, depending on which part of the OP’s post that you look at) was certified by the manufacturer, the buyer may have legal recourse.

On the other hand, if it was “certified” by Honest Achmed’s Used Car Emporium, there may not be any legal solution to the problem.


Do you live in the rust belt?

There is surface rust . . . what I would call oxidation

And there is frame rot

Which category does your car fall under?

My local Lexus dealer bought this two year old(2011) car from auction ( may be lease car), then they check mechanic condition, then sell as Lexus pre-own certified. The car was from Ohio. rust on surface including muffler et al, there is rust on the metal surface and eat away some surface metal.

The carfax they showed me indicate no accident. Should I contact Lexus? The dealer send me the certification documents, indicate all mechanic sound, but no checklist for chassis rust et al. Do not know what is my right is, who should I complain to, this car still under manufacture’s warranty. Dealer will let Lexus inspect this car, however, Lexus only come to dealer once month. I will not available that day. Any other suggestions?

Here’s the Lexus factory warranty: This warranty covers repair or replacement of any original body panel that develops perforation from corrosion (rust-through), subject to the exceptions listed in the Basic Warranty page. The Corrosion Perforation Warranty coverage is for 72 months, regardless of mileage.

The CPO warranty: It is valid for three years or 100,000 total vehicle miles from your date of purchase, whichever comes first.

So it’s good for another 3 years or so. I’d have a body shop inspect it.

It sounds like a hurricane Sandy car.

These cars are being sold all over the country.


About all you can do is meet with the regional rep (the guy who comes around every month) and go from there.

It would not surprise me if some stonewalling does not occur as they may claim the rust is superficial; which it might well be and considered normal for the age and being from Ohio.

You might consider having a reputable body shop examine the rust and make a determination whether it’s bad enough to worry about or not. If it’s bad, at least the body shop opinion would provide something to back you up.

Two year old Lexus cars generally not sold at dealer auctions…Auctions are how dealers unload cars they don’t want to sell themselves…The word “certified” becomes meaningless when applied to a used car, especially one that has been run through an auction…I would get the complete Carfax report (not just the summary) and read it carefully. Where and when was it first titled? How many times has the title been transferred? How far away from the selling dealer was the auction house? Out of state? Too bad car makers don’t paint the bottom of their cars as nicely as they paint the top-sides…

If you want all the title information available on your SUV, check here:


It costs $4.95, and it could be the best 5 bucks you ever spent.

Rust on the muffler and rust on the surface metal underneath, perfectly normal in the rust belt. I had a 2002 town and Country that I sold to my granddaughter last winter. The steering rack was replaced 3 years ago. I just got a call from Florida, the hard lines that are part of the new rack have rusted through.

Depends where the vehicle spent its life.

My 2007 Acura MDX purchased 4yrs/82k miles old pretty cheaply(less than trade in) thru friend of friend I found latter was parked about 50’ off Atlantic ocean in Cape Ann, MA. It has a bit more corrosion than usual for a vehicle/esp underneath that is 6yrs/108k miles old. Especially at some body work done.

From Carfax 01/2011 registered as personal lease car the title issued. 12/2012 dealer inventory, 12/2012 purchase report. dealer took the title whilr it was in inventory.6/2013 listed as dealer car sold at auction

A 2011 car driven in Ohio, means 2 and possibly 3 winters of driving on salted and treated roads. If the car was a daily driver and frequently exposed to road salt the kind of rust the OP describes is pretty standard stuff.

Perhaps that is why the car was sold at 'auction" which does raise some questions? It seems unusual for this type of car to end up at auction, perhaps it was a repo? Or, a stolen and recovered car the the original owner rejected?

At this point IF the car is in an area that doesn’t experience winter salting of the roads the OP might consider a rust treatment. Toyota is treating Sequoia’s to prevent frame rust damage under extended warranty, so they have a method and perhaps they can quote the OP a price. If Ziebart is still around that is a comprehensive rust treatment. What the OP needs to understand is you have the “stop” the rust before covering it up with a coating that prevents more rusting. If you don’t do it right, you just seal in the rusting parts and that can make things worse.

I don’t think Lexus has any liability here, but perhaps the selling dealer can be held accountable if the “certification” documents mentions anything about inspection for rust damage.

A photo might be helpful to determine how much rust actually exists. A 3-year old vehicle should have barely any rust, even if driven in rust belt states. The exception being if it was a fleet or rental vehicle that never got the underside washed, or a flood vehicle as others have said.

My 2006 vehicle has barely any noticeable rust on anything underneath, and I live in a rust belt state. It is important to wash the underside of the vehicle, especially after driving on those days when the roads are wet slush.

@tester worded it well:

It sounds like a hurricane Sandy car.
These cars are being sold all over the country.

I have to agree with @Tester as well. Hurricane Katrina vehicles “flooded” the southeast and other parts of the country for years. The FEMA temporary trailers (they look like campers but have mobile home connectors for water/sewage and electricity) are still causing problems in the RV world.

I’m afraid I have to agree with @Caddyman

When I was working at the Benz dealer, the lease returns usually became the next crop of CPO cars, that is, the certified pre-owned cars

Even the ones that had too many miles too qualify, or had cheap tires mounted, were usually sold as “regular” pre-owned cars at the same dealer that took them in on trade

The ones that went to the auction were:

Too old
Very high mileage
Looked beat up
Bad title
Accident cars . . . including those that had been "repaired"
Mechanical problems