Repair or ditch? help please!

I bought a 2002 honda accord from a relative two years ago. I’ve had nothing but problems with it since then due to rust. The car came from syracuse, ny, so the winters have been long and the exposure to salt has been excessive. Since I bought it, I have had to replace the following: gas tank, brakes (they were fused together due to rust) and the back end exhaust system (was warned I’ll have to do the front at some point as well, which will be about $1200). Yesterday I found out that it didn’t pass inspection for the state I am living in, and I will have to replace the hood because of a rust spot. They checked for hoods from junkyards but couldn’t find any, and the cost of a new one will be $730.

At this point I’ve put more money into it than I bought it for. I was told the engine and transmission are good, and that the car drives well. Any advice about whether it’s time to get rid of the car or keep it would be really REALLY appreciated. I’m lost! Every time there’s a new repair I tell myself that the next one will be the last one I’ll do. Thousands of dollars in repair later… I still have it.

Any thoughts? thanks…

It wouldn;t pass inspection because of a rust spot on the hood? Must be one heck of a rust spot! Or one really tough inspector.

Tell me about this rust spot. Will a repair such as a layer of fiberglass and a paint can overspray work?

What state has this kind of inspection? Sounds sketchy? Rust in the frame, or rust holes in the floorboards perhaps; but a rust spot on the hood?

nope, wouldn’t pass maryland inspection. i’m wondering if it was a tough inspector, too.

as for the spot, they said it was big enough and that it was a problem, and that there was enough rust on the underside that it needs to be completely replaced. i asked about just fixing the spot and they said no : (

You asked repair or ditch, right? Ditch. Common advice on this URL, and by the brothers themselves, is when rust gets serious it’s time to move on, if you can at all financially. Too much risk of serious problems when rust is that bad.

I’ve heard of tiny dents and rust spots causing a failed inspection in Germany, but never in the USA. I’d start with a second opinion.

I’m starting to suspect that your mechanic might be taking you as a rube.

“I’m starting to suspect that your mechanic might be taking you as a rube.”

Sadly, MD safety inspections have always been suspect. Mostly, people just put up with it. MD safety inspections occur only when the vehicle changes hands or someone just moves into the state. soy, did you just move to MD?

You can fix most anything on a car for a price except rust. Once rust gets a foot hold, its tough to deal with. You can get a hood though from so it can pass inspection, then trade it in.

Maryland safety inspection (for vehicles 10,000 lb or less GVWR) does include a few things you might consider weird, but thy are all pretty much safety related:

Steering system; Wheel alignment; Suspension; Brake system; Wheels / tires; Fuel system; Exhaust system; Bumpers; Fenders; Lights; Electrical system; Mirrors; Glazing (windows); Wipers; Hood / catches; Door handle latches; Floor / trunk pans; Speedometer / odometer; Driver seat; Safety belts; Motor mounts; Gear shift indicator; Universal and CV (constant velocity) joints; Emissions equipment

I once had to replace a side reflector on a car to pass. “Must have all the original safety equipment,” I was told. (That was another successful trip to Savemor salvage yard.)

Inspections are done by private licensed mechanics/shops. The State does enough spot checking to keep them honest.

Nothing in that list seems weird to me. But then, nothing in that list says anything about surface rust on non-structural body parts either.

Does a street legal car really need a hood? I remember the hot rod group from the 1950s driving 1932 Ford coupes with a souped up engine and no hoods so that they could show off the engine and it was street legal. Our neighbor used to remove the side panels of the butterfly hinged hood on his 1936 Chevrolet in the summer so that it would run cooler. I don’t see where a rusted hood would make it dangerous to drive. Rust on the undercarriage is something else, however.

Rust is unfortunately CANCER for automobiles…and there really is no cure. If the cancer has spread into deep areas NOTHING you do will stop or reverse it short of stripping the vehicle down to the frame and dipping in acid…even then that will just show you how far gone it is. There is not much you can do if the rust is as severe as you say except drive it till she doesnt pass inspection any longer and get as much use out of her as possible.

Even in the rust belt cars dont have to rust out like this…frequent rinsing after salt encounters vastly improves your chances…It should have been better maintained that it was with regular and thorough washing of the vehicle.

Sorry for the bad news but try to figure out how long you can drive it Cancer has no cure in Uni-body vehicles

Do a search on 2002 Accord hood prices. You get a range of $231-$300, from a variety of on line body parts stores. While I don’t quite understand the necessity to replace vs repair with fiberglass and bondo, but I don’t see why you or a trusted body shop couldn’t order it and get this done. Painting is optional since the ones I saw were primered. I don’t think the replacement would take more than two hours to install and adjust.

thanks everyone for the input - I have an update:

when I went to pick up my car they had it up on the lift (I decided to hold off on repairs until I could figure out what to do…) they showed me all sorts of rust-related problems on the underside of the car, including: sub frame rusting, backing plates rusted/broken/missing, coils rusting, brake line leaking (how did THIS pass inspection? strange…) and other various rust problem spots. They also mentioned that the exhaust smelled strange when backing the car up. Anyway, two mechanics at the shop recommended that I go ahead and get rid of the car. I’m thinking this will probably be best, as much as I love it. They said that the sub frame would cost $1k just for the labor. They did find a place that could replace/paint the hood for much cheaper, but at this point, with all the rust going on (that will only get worse), I think they might be right.

The transmission and engine are in great condition, so I’m hoping to get at least a little bit out of the old girl.

Thanks again for the help.

Maybe you could find another Accord body that needs an engine and transmission and do a transplant.