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Dodge Caravan Drivers Side Wheel Well Rust

Hello. My 05 Caravan is in excellent shape with only 40k miles and noticed rust and paint bubbles only on the lower front side of the rear wheel well (drivers side). I live in Pa and wash the car after snow storms. Of course the car is out of rust warranty and the dealer said they can repair it but they do not know what causes it. I have seen this exact problem on other caravans and I have been told it is were the two pieces of metal are joined together, the wheel well seam, which causes the problem. We sealed the seam last fall with silicon when it was just paint bubbles and now it has gotten worse. My thinking is either we need to go back and look at the seam again as we only sealed the section that looked open or there is a leak from somewhere else in the van - the gas cap area or the area on the frame when the door is open is suspect to me. Basically I am asking if there is anywhere else I should look for this leak besides the wheel well seam?

Thank you.

By the time you see the paint bubbles, it’s too late, rust had already eaten through the metal and nothing you did to seal the seam could then stop it. Take it to a body shop and see what they say to repair it.

Once the car is driven through anything that can corrode, sealing the seam becomes pointless because all you’re doing is locking the corrosive compounds inside the seal where they can’t be flushed out.

The only thing to do now is to strip the paint from the affected area so that you can see where the rust ends, and then cut out that section of metal and weld in a patch panel. Note that this patch panel will rust again because it’s unlikely that the body shop will put an e-coat on before they paint it.

I would certainly be talking to Chrysler corporate and explaining that rusting after only 6 years is unacceptable, especially since you’re aware that this is a common problem on Chrysler products, and that you’re going to have a very hard time justifying ever buying a Chrysler product again if you can only expect to get 6 years out of them.

After all, I have an 18 year old Toyota and a 20 year old Honda that have no rust. It’s not unreasonable to expect a 6 year old Chrysler to be rust free.

Thanks for your reply. I actually went to Chrysler’s body shop ($750) and a private body shop ($500) and Chrysler said they could repair it there was no guarantee it would not come back - as they have done repairs and it has re-occurred on vehicles they repaired they said. Seem like it is the seam. I’ll check back with the private body shop on the warranty they could provide. Thanks again.

I wouldn’t necessarily blame Chrysler as being the only one prone to rust. We had a 5 year old Subaru come into the shop (car from MN) and I placed the can of soda I was sipping on at the time on top of the left front tire - through the gaping rust eaten hole in the top of the front fender. I could flatten my hand completely out with splayed fingers and place the entire hand through there without touching metal. The other side was also badly rotten; just not as bad.

A few years ago I passed 2 truckloads of used SUVs and pickup (also from MN judging by the plates) on the interstate here in OK and every single one of them looked like new from about halfway up. From the top of the wheel wells on down they were eaten up beyond belief with rust and these vehicles were a mixed bag; few Chevys, few Fords, couple of Nissans and Toyotas, etc.

The OP is washing the car after snowstorms but what does that mean? Washing the exterior only or does it entail actually getting up underneath the vehicle?

Thanks for your input. I plan to either take it to the private repair shop or repair it myself using your suggestions as I just need this vehicle a couple of years to get the kids back and forth to college. I actually talked to Chrysler previously and they said it was the seam and that I was out of warranty, my letter and picture of the problem area was reviewed by the big guy at Chrysler himself with “no” as the answer - I have a 8 year old Honda with no rust. Looks like a common problem to me as I see other caravans on the road and in parking lots with the same exact problem. Seems like all car rust warranties are about 5 years now so I’ll be checking any new or used cars purchased in the future for paint bubbles or any rust before they go out of warranty. Thanks again.

I actually power washed the top and underneath the vehicle after snow storms and most likely aggravated the problem due to the open seam. Chrysler has a definite defect in my opinion and lucky for them it starts rusting the rear wheel well after the 5 year rust warranty. If I did not see multiple caravans in my area with the same problem I would think it was an isolated issue.

I paid less for this full featured Caravan than the competition, at the time I bought the van, so even paying $500 for this repair I am still way ahead on this van (which is in excellent shape).

I actually WOULD blame Chrysler. The description was that the same pattern was observed in several other vehicles of similar vintage. I had a 1990 that had a lift-gate rust pattern that I saw in many others. There is a hood paint issue in some other years. I don’t know whether it is a design issue (e.g. a design which causes the salt to collect in a particular corner that does not wash out well) or a manufacturing issue (e.g. the frame that held the body during painting, etc.), but I believe that it’s one of the above and not a coincidence.