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Body work worth it or not

I have a 2001 MDX, 161,000 miles. Engine well cared for, every 3000 mile oil change, timing belt changed. Rust on the body that is really starting to show. Problem is that the steering wheel makes a clicking sound every now and then when the wheel is turned. Also the rear end makes a clunk noise and we tried to have the rear bar replaced but it is frozen, unable to get it off. Should I do the body work or not? I would love to keep the car for another 100,000. Estimate on the body work was +/- 400

If the $400 helps you want to keep it another 100k it is worth every single penny. You will get far more return on that $400 than replacing the vehicle now.

It is wonderful you have taken good care of the engine.

However a real weak spot with Honda/Acura in these years is automatic transmissions. If you have not serviced it in the last 50k or ever this vehicle is coming up on an expensive repair.

$400 Worth Of Body Work Isn’t Much Body Work. Was The Rust Caused By The Paint Being Chipped ? If The Rust Is Coming Through The Body Metal Then I’d Question The Integrity Of The Unibody and its frame members.

Has the underside been thoroughly inspected for rust damage or isn’t this even an issue ?

I’d find out what’s making a clicking noise in the steering before deciding anything. Has the front suspension and steering been inspected recently ? It could be anything from strut bearing / mounts to who knows ?

What “rear bar” won’t come off ? Is it a stabilizer bar that needs new bushings ? Are you trying to do the work yourself ?

“Body work worth it or not” depends on some variables that we don’t have access to. Please elaborate a little. $400 isn’t much for body work, but I’d get estimates on the mechanicals first.


From what I am hearing - I would vote no. Rust tends to be everywhere rather than where you first notice it. If the vehicle is not a classic car, rust is the harbinger of the end.

I am stunned by a $400 estimate for body work. That won’t buy you much. My daughter put a dimple on a plastic bumper cover in the church parking lot - $700. I put a crease that I could cover with my hand in the door of my neighbor’s 10-year-old dodge pickup while backing out one foggy morning. Cost me $2400 and we got four estimates.

There is only a little rust on the car, rear passenger by the door, but it is starting to bubble. The rear bar is the stabilizer. The mechaninc says it is fine but he tried to replace it but couldn’t get it off. The underside has not been fully looked at, that is a good idea. The front suspension has had parts replaced, bearing, sway bars, but I have not had someone else look at it, just my mechanic. The automatic transmission, what do you mean by service. I have followed acura’s guide for all services since I purchased the vehicle. The auto body shop I use did a great job on a bumper I needed done for less than a 1000. He is local and I have seen his work with accidents. He did cover himself and say that once the rust starts I can’t promise that it won’t come back. That is a little scary. The rust is not affecting the cars integrity at this point. It is the front part of the passenger rear wheelwell. Thanks so much for your replys. Should I go to the dealership and have them inspect the car? My mechanic is a Honda, Acura specialist and I have had him for a number of years.

You Could Have It Safety Inspected Underneath, Both Unibody And Mechanical Components, Including The Clicking Steering / Suspension. It Doesn’t Have To Be Done By A Dealer.

Fix safety related items first. If / when it’s deemed safe to drive then go ahead with the paint work. The body man / painter is correct to tell you that the rust could (will) come back. By the time that happens you’ll probably have some new bubbles in other locations.

Paint it. Drive it. Enjoy it. Save up for the day when rust finally wins and you need to replace your old friend.

Every car I’ve replaced has been killed by rust, not wear.


Can you let me know what you decided? I have almost the exact same question, same mileage, and same occasional ticking sound (but on a Honda). I would also love to keep this car going. Hope whatever you decided worked out for you, and thanks.

[i] If you have not serviced it in the last 50k or ever this vehicle is coming up on an expensive repair.[/i] 

Maybe. Certainly the lack of maintenance will increase the likelihood of a problem. However with luck you might still make it, but I would start by doing a transmission fluid change along with cleaning the filter. [Note: Not a flush, a change.] Far too many people wait until there are signs of a problem and then do the maintenance, but by then it is too late.

Generally the owner’s manual of a car gives good advice about maintenance, but AT fluid changes seem to be left out most of the time.