92' car safe?

My 92’ Laser (Mitsusbishi Eclipse rebadged)…is in almost like new condition in appearance ( 90 day wax routine since new, garaged) only 123k miles.
The car is reliable , usually 2 repairs a year. I had it undercoated when new , as well as the body panels (rust bucket belt).
Recently, while pulling out of a parking lot (about to get on highway)…the left Mcpherson strut broke down and the left front end collapsed on the tire. I was shocked to see the strut was rusted through with a twist break. I had both struts replaced. My mechanic says the car is safe…but use it only as
a city car. Parts are hard to get. My concern is the car really safe ? If the strut had broken on the highway, most likely I would of lost control of the car correct ?..and if the strut was that corroded… what else has internal corrosion? Opinions? Would you drive this car? Other than that I love the car , you feel
like you are in a jet cockpit when driving it, connected to the road unlike any new car I have test driven.

You can always get a second opinion, but I would trust the mechanic, a rephrase would be unsafe at highway speeds, for me that would be an indicator it is time to move on.

Me thinks you need to drive different new cars.
It must be hard to drive a 92 foot car around.

It seems to me that if one suspension mount is rusted through, the other 3 might not be far behind. Have those checked and the entire underside, for that matter. If the car can be made structurally would for a reasonable price, get it done. Otherwise, don’t drive too fast.

Well I put 530,000 on my 89 Buick on the highway and I’m still kicking. Changing your own oil gives you the chance to crawl around underneath to take a look at the condition of the car. You need to keep an eye on things a little for older cars. If you don’t want to or can’t, them maybe it would be better to upgrade a little.

Did you replace all the struts or only the one?

One problem with your strategy is the undercoating. Undercoating can hold moisture against the metal and hide the subsequent corrosion/rust. You need a complete inspection and if it is unsafe for the highway, it is unsafe period.

If it was undercoated when brand new, then moisture/salt should never have had a chance to get “under” the undercoating. Ask my 54 year old MGA how that works. I agree with the suggestion that you have it completely inspected for any structural degradation due to rust. It can sneak into some areas that you might not expect.

See http://community.cartalk.com/discussion/2306040/i-have-never-seen-this-much-rust-on-a-nine-year-old-car/p1

If a mechanic has given it a thorough inspection while up on a lift, I’d think he could see if there was significant rust/corrosion. So it’s probably as safe as it was in '92. More recent cars will be safer, of course.

@texases quote from OP

My mechanic says the car is safe…but use it only as
a city car.

Yeah, what’s that mean? It’ll fall apart, but you’ll be close to home?

If any additional metal removal and welding is required, I think I’d sell it for a parts car.

Just because a strut spring fails and breaks doesn’t make the vehicle unsafe. I’ve seen this happen on all kinds of vehicles. Some newer than yours.

What usually happens is the strut wears out to the point where it loses it’s dampening effect. Now the spring is required to oscillate at different rate than it was designed to. If allowed to continue long enough the spring will fatigue and fail.

I had one customer have strut spring fail while driving on the freeway. Only in this case the broken coil slashed the sidewall of the tire.

If I recall correctly this was on a 2000 Grand AM?

If the mechanic had the car on a lift, and thought there was a problem of safety with the structure of the vehicle, he probably wouldn’t have installed new strut assemblies.

I know I wouldn’t have.


I think some people use the term undercoating when they mean rustproofing. Undercoating was dropped from use long before 92 because it hardened , cracked, and trapped moisture and salt.

Nothing helps forever around here but rustproofing does definitely extend the life of our cars.

@“oldtimer 11”

I have several spray cans in my garage that say rubberized undercoating

And I guarantee you they’re much newer than 1992

And they’re not off-brand, either

Maybe it’s a regional thing . . . ?

yes, that quote “My mechanic says the car is safe…but use it only as a city car” tells me you need a new mechanic.

Either the car is safe at any legal speed, or it’s unsafe and needs to be repaired. There is no “in-between”. City speeds can be 40 MPH, and a suspension part breaking at that speed can kill someone.

Just as with another post here today about seemingly nice looking cars harboring hidded problems…
Have your …seemingly safe car…checked UNDERneath for rust and corrosion in key areas like strut towers, a-arm mounts, spring seats, and overall frame/unibody structural integrity.
Clean and polished cars can easily fool you.

My mechanic says the car is safe…but use it only as a city car.

Many people don’t trust old vehicles for long distance travel, this may have nothing to due with the safety of the vehicle. An old Mitsubishi with a Plymouth decal on the back would not be viewed as a good traveling car by most. This car may be just fine for the next five years but we can’t see the condition to be able to call it unsafe.

Remember the guy several months back with the 1988 Corolla . . . at least I think it was 1988

Anyways, he claimed the engine was in excellent mechanical shape

But the body was literally rotted away

He posted pictures, and everywhere you looked, you could “see daylight” . . . !

It looked like the car’s integrity was equivalent to rice crispies . . .


“use it as a city car” He went on the say that long distance highway driving puts a lot stress on a car that age…and is more prone to break down…and in a remote region, the mechanics may not be familiar with that old of a car and parts are hard to get (regardless, where you are).

I worked with a guy that had an old Subaru wagon

He claimed it was a great car, but he wouldn’t trust it on a long trip

If that is so, then it’s probably not such a great car, after all . . .