Is this rust an issue on a used car? Need to know if I should buy

I’m in the market for a new car and looking to buy used. A used Prius is ideal and I found a 2005 Prius for sale by the second owner of the car. He has all the paperwork in order and is asking well within my price range. It seems like a great deal.

My only real concern are some rust spots. Would a rusty hole on the side bottom by the wheel be enough to make you reconsider buying the car? I don’t care much about aesthetics.

There is some rust underneath as well. I feel like these photos are taken so close they sort of blow the rust issue out of proportion.

I’d really like to buy this car, but have to know first what kind of issues might this rust cause down the line? What can I do to prevent it from rusting further?


I would back away from this car as rust is like an iceberg what small part you can see there is a whole lot more that you can’t see also rust takes no time off it is always growing.


I think this car is too rusted to be considered. There is a certain appeal for many people for a Toyota Prius, but like any other make, a rusted undercarriage is impossible no matter what the make. I think you would be wise to pass this one up.


I think the rust is excessive, and that it will be impossible to raise the car using a floor jack as a result. And of course, rust never sleeps. It gets worse as time progresses.

You didn’t say how much money they are asking for this car. If they are asking $2000 or less, and it has decent tires and will pass emissions, it might make sense to buy, knowing that this will be a short-term vehicle, which will likely only last another 1-2 years. More than that? Try to contain your laughter as you walk away from the “deal”.


The first picture shows normal underbody rust, the next picture shows damage to the paint or water trapped in the rocker panel.

This is not a concern for a 16 year old hybrid. Hybrid vehicles have many hybrid specific parts that can be very expensive to replace, this is why the resale value of old hybrid vehicles is very low.

Agree with @Nevada_545

As long as this car is considered short term transportation… 2 to 5 years max… the rust isn’t an issue, especially if the car is cheap.

Underbody looks pretty good, the hole on the rocker panel could be fixed if you want to but it will return. Likely other spots will appear, too. Rust is whack-a-mole, fix one and another spot pops up.

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I would suggest that you have a full inspection by a body shop. I don’t know about your area, but in some areas this would not pass inspection.
Carefully evaluate what price reduction the rust has caused. Is it enough to justify the repairs, or the shorter life span? And get a CarFax to learn about what area this car was driven when it got cancer.

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You are not looking at a NEW car. You are looking at an old Hybrid that might need a big battery soon with rust . I know used vehicle prices are out of sight right now but I would pass on this .

And as others say you will not stop the rust .


Stay away from this rust bucket. It wouldn’t pass state inspection in NH.

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They are asking $2500. Too much for this particular car?

New to me.

Battery has been replaced recently.

That’s what I was thinking. It’s 16 years old. Some rust is to be expected. Is the rust in places that are very problematic?

Which one ? It has 2 . One is very expensive .

I did order a carfax and everything is in order. Everything the seller said is true according to the carfax report.

The car passed inspection earlier this year and is up to date on registration and repairs. Battery has been replaced recently.

If I could drive it for 3-5 years, it seems worth it for $2500. Especially considering the savings on gas.

Both. The expensive hybrid battery and the small one. I saw the receipt for the battery replacement and other maintenance that has been done.

Yes, the structural integrity of the car is compromised. It belongs in the junkyard, not your driveway.


If you live in the area where the rust formed, the local body shops should be familiar with rusty Priuses and would do a thorough inspection. If there is no true structural issues, buy a big can of Bondo.

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Thanks everyone. I’m going to pass on this car. I appreciate all of your input!

Smart move.

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Knowing that the batteries have been replaced makes it a little more enticing.

Still, I think I’d rather have a 16 year old economy car with a regular old gas engine instead of a 16 year old hybrid. Just too many things that could fail. The extra gas savings wouldn’t be worth the risk, to me anyway.