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6th Generation Honda Civic - Two Questions

My 1998 Civic DX coupe has 220,000 miles on the odometer, and for those of you who don’t know, I plan to keep it until it hits 300,000 miles.

Issue #1 - About a month ago, I was doing a brake job on the front end, and I noticed the rubber boots covering the steering linkage are not completely sealed, like CV boots are. They don’t look torn. In fact, I can’t tell if they were ever completely sealed. Does anyone know if the steering linkage boots are supposed to be sealed? I am not having any steering issues, and it doesn’t look like the linkage has lost any lubricant.

Issue #2 - Several years ago, I noticed an indentation on the roof of the car. It was about 1/8" deep, and looked like someone came down on the roof with an ice pick or some other sharp pointed object, but I hope it was just road debris. When I found it, I was touching up the car, and there was a tiny bit of rust inside the indentation. I put a dab of rust converter/primer in there, and after it dried, I applied some touch-up paint. However, there was still a slight indentation, so water collected, and the spot has begun to rust. Originally, my plan was to sand out the spot, prime, and paint again, but I was also thinking of flattening the spot this time. I have a tube of metal filler at home, but it came from the hardware store, not the auto parts store, so I am not sure it is the best thing to fill the hole with. At the auto parts store, I can get body filler in what looks like a block of putty. I’d like to address it this weekend, or at least some time before the hole rusts completely through and makes a hole in the roof. I also need to prepare in case there is a hole there after I am done sanding. What filler would you use if there is a hole, and what filler would you use if it is just an indentation?

#1. the inner tie rods are booted. The outers are not on our Acura. Just so we’re clear: you’re talking about the part that comes out of the steering rack that threads onto a threaded end and is locked with a nut, right?

#2. Is it truly a hole now? You can’t properly fill that with anything other than steel. You may be able to use body glue (some body people like that stuff) in lieu of welding a patch panel in.
Filler will eventually just crack and fall out if the dent is deeper than a millimeter or maybe two. If it isn’t a hole, the proper way to fix that is to bump it equal with the rest of the roof by putting a dolly under the dent on the inside and carefully nursing the edges of that dent on the outside with a body hammer. That’s called “off dolly work” and it may pop right out that way. It takes practice. Google the technique before you commit.
Then, when the dent is near gone, apply a little filler where needed. You would need to get under your roofliner, which is not fun.
There are stud guns you can get that ‘weld’ a stud onto the the indented area. It is really handy for areas you can’t get behind. You then attach a slide hammer to the stud to carefully nudge it out. If that area is rusty so a bit thinner, you do run the risk of burning right through it, though.

#1, I didn’t take that close a look at all the linkage. It’s just something I noticed, so I don’t know if it’s the inner or outer tie rods, but I am thinking they are the inner ones. Are the boots on your inner tie rods fully sealed, or do they just kind of lay on top of the linkage?

#2, It’s not a hole yet, but once I start sanding, you never know. The body of my Civic appears to be flimsy aluminum, or very thin steel. I thought about enlisting the help of a welder, but I am looking for a simple cheap DIY solution, and if that doesn’t work, I will take more drastic measures. Perhaps I could try to flatten it out with a hammer from the inside. I guess I will know more when I start working on it.

For a cheap $5 hackjob (worthy of a 98 Civic)
Why not just crazy glue a small square of sheet metal onto the hole, after sanding/priming?

Yeah, try to flatten it with a hammer from the inside. Don’t be too tempted to bang it in from the inside, though - that will just reverse the dent to the outside and likely stretch the metal.
Instead, put a bit of pressure on it from the inside and carefully tap the outside edges, nursing it to come up. Using a straight edge, you should be able to see it come level with the rest of the roof.
Don’t use a big claw hammer to get this done. Hammers could have indent from where you hit nails so they aren’t flat and you will see that in the finish. While not a great set, this will probably do okay:

Those larger chunks of metal are dollies. That’s the part you put under the dent on the inside. You basically pick the best matching contour. The hammers are slightly rounded on the edges so as long as you hit the metal straight on, it won’t mar the surface up.
If you have an old piece of sheet metal like a fender or trunklid, practice on that first, trying to undent something. It is somewhat of an art.

@RemcoW, thank you for the tips.

I have a very small brass hammer I found in my grandmother’s tool box when she passed away, and that is what I’ve used for other amateur body work.

I’ll let you know how it turns out. Thanks again for the ideas.

That may work. You want the hammer to be nice and flat with slightly rounded edges so you don’t ‘donkey hoof’ the steel. Snap some pictures when you’re done!
This boat has sailed in your case but sometimes, if the dent is fresh and the paint isn’t damaged, dent just pop back, requiring no filler or paint. It is in that case a good idea to put some masking tape around the areas where you intend to hit it with a hammer.

Crazygluing steel to a body is how I might fix a BMW, Econobox, after I decide to not use duck tape and sheetrock compound, like they do in Munich.


I finally got around to doing the body work, and you were right that a gentle touch would be required. I thought I was being careful, but the metal is dimpled. I should have cut a hole in the head liner before I started tapping it with a hammer. Still, my main goal is to prevent rust and not have a hole in the roof, and I manged to get it pretty flat.

I’d post pictures, but it ain’t pretty. Besides, my phone can’t upload pics to the internet, so I’d have to drag out my old digital camera.

By the time I pounded the metal flat, there were a couple very small holes where it had rusted all the way through. Fortunately, the “Liquid Metal” metal filler seems to have worked well. I gave it 24 hours to cure, and it is as hard as the rest of the metal. I sanded it down nice and smooth this evening, cleaned it, and put a coat of primer on it. After that’s had 24 hours to dry, I’ll top it off with some red spray paint tomorrow.

I know you didn’t like the idea of using metal filler, but I’ve used it on my motorcycle in a couple hackish jobs, and it’s worked pretty well. I am confident it will work well in this application, and if it doesn’t, I can always try something else.

Look at the bright side- it’s a '98 Civic with 220K. It’s not like you are working on a Shelby Cobra.
You want to prevent rust and leaks and have it look good- you are there. Good job.

Mayday beat me to the keyboard. You are looking to get only 80K miles from the patch. Even if you have to re-do it after 40K, sounds like it’s no big deal.

Bumping metal can be quite a trick, especially on large panels like roofs. Once it has stretched, you can shrink it with this metal disk that mounts on a grinder. The heat the friction generates can selectively shrink a section and helps you get rid of ‘oilcanning’ large panels are prone to. You can’t shrink and stretch with impunity, though. It is a lot of work and takes lots of practice.
From the sound of it, you got it back pretty straight. Using some filler and body glue isn’t bad. In reality, welding a new panel in to fill that hole could have bent that roof like a pretzel if was allowed to overheat so some body glue was likely a very good choice.

You set out to do what you wanted to do: make the car whole again.
Can’t ask for much more. Good job.

For A Nice Finished Look And To Seal The Deal You Can Apply A Romney - Ryan Sticker Over The Patch. By Tomorrow Morning It Should Be Good For 4 Years. Correction, Make That 8 Years.


CSA–For your sake, I really hope that you are not placing too large a bet on your prediction, as the odds are very heavily against you.

May the best man win!

VDCdriver–Thanks, But You’reToo Late. I’m All In !


Oh well.
Incidentally, it is nice to see you back in this forum.
You were missed for the extended period when you were not posting.

Thanks ! I Missed You Guys, Too. I Would Sometimes Pop On And Read Your Discussions, But Couldn’t Respond. I Was In A Virtual/Cyber “Coma” For Just About A Year.


Oh, CSA, thank you for giving me a chance to gloat after the Etch-a-Sketch candidate gets beaten like a redheaded stepchild!

Ouch !


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