Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Need help urgently

Hi All,

I own a 99 ford contour se. 83,000 original miles on it. couple of days ago I noticed a rumble in the rear, right passenger area. Sounded like a can or bottle rolling around in the trunk. My mechanic put it up on the lift and was so stunned he called me at home to come look at it. Turns out the the rear sub-frame was so rusted and broken half of the right side had broken off from the body of the car. The amount of rust was unbelievable. it was covering the whole area including the fuel lines. My mechanic had never seen anything like it. He said it was like the rear end of the car was sitting in salt water for a while. Which is crazy because I am the original owner and don’t even go to the beach. My mechanic told me the chances of fixing it are 50/50, plus depending on the extent of the damage it will cost me boku bucks. I contacted the dealer & the Ford 800 # and they all told me there was no recalls and their corrosion coverage only covers the first five years of ownership. In short, I’m SOL. Has anyone encountered such a problem? It just bothering me because there was virtually no rust in the front part of the car. Any thoughts would be much appreciated. I need a new car and was thinking of the Ford Fusion, however, I sorta feel reluctant and unwilling to give them my money again. Can anyone recommend a reliable, well-made sedan for under $20?

I’m desperate. Thanks you very much. Ban

A friend had a Contour that rusted in the same area. This is caused from the road spray from the rear tire that accumulates on the components in this area. We also had to replace the fuel lines because of this.


Sorry to hear this. I very much doubt the same kind of problem would exist on a Fusion, but I understand your reluctance about Ford. There are lots of good new cars for under $20k. Hyundai and Kia have several, and you should be able to find a Civic (about the size of your Contour) or Corolla, maybe a base Accord or Camry. Malibu would be another good choice. I’m sure there are others. Get a copy of the Consumer Reports buyers guide, check out the options.

Rust is one item that sends many vehicles to the recycler. Ultimately,it seems to hit all makes that are in areas where calcium chloride (road salt) is used. Some cars seem to resist rust better than others. One thing that doesn’t help is dealer or after market rust proofing. IMHO this seems to accelerate the rusting process because the moisture gets trapped between the undercarriage of the car and the rust proof material. Did your Contour get this treatment? My first wife’s father bought a new Ford truck in 1969 and immediately took it to a national chain that “rust proofs” vehicles. That vehicle rusted worse than any vehicle I ever saw and only after four years. Don’t get your replacement “rust-proofed”. The factory does a good job of this these days. The Ford Fusion is probably no worse nor any better than any other car as far as rust is concerned.
We run our cars through a car wash often during the winter months. As soon as we get a thaw, we go to a car wash that sprays the undercarriage. I know our vehicles will get dirty again quickly, but we do it to flush away the road salt.

One thing that doesn’t help is dealer or after market rust proofing.

Completely disagree with this…IF DONE PROPERLY…It does wonders. I’ve personally witnessed how well it works. The spray-one rust proofing does an EXCELLENT job in preventing rust. Salt and water can’t penetrate to the metal.

The catch…is…IT MUST BE DONE PROPERLY. That’s where MOST fail. Most of the rust proofing companies rush the cars through and it’s never 100%. It’s best to do it yourself.

It SHOULDN’T be needed today…but I guess on some cars it still is.

Appling a material to the undercarriage of a vehicle is not rust proofing. That’s called undercoating, and is usually done to reduce road noise. Rust proofing is when the cavities of the body are treated with a material that seals the inner panels. Such as the inside of the doors, quarter panels, and fenders.


Today, highway departments use chemical warfare to burn the snow and ice off roadways. The chemicals used are all highly corrosive and if you drive during “winter driving conditions” after 10 years, this is the kind of thing you can expect…Removing road salt from the under-carriage of automobiles is very difficult and most car-washes don’t even touch this area.

Perhaps the “dip tank” was down for maintenance the day your car was built. Today’s cars are much better protected against this sort of damage, but they are not built to last forever…

Appling a material to the undercarriage of a vehicle is not rust proofing.

Correct…You can get rust-proofing kits from most auto-parts. They come with an assortment of wands and a sprayer. The material must be applied inside the doors and inner fenders. I’ve also removed the carpeting and applied it. Also recommend the hood and trunk lid. I also have done the complete inside of a trunk…especially the well where the spare tire sits. Have to be very careful of not blocking any water drain holes.

If done properly it’ll take a person who knows what they’re doing 2-3 hours…MINIMUM to do it right. But when it’s done it’s very very difficult for rust to form.