Rust is a four letter word

My 1997 vehicle really began displaying rust damage this past spring. I know that this was a process which took place over the past twelve years of Minneapolis winter weather. With the current value of the car I can’t be putting huge amounts of money into it. It has 130,000 miles and still runs well. Any ideas as to what I can do that won’t break the bank?

You should have a pro body shop look it over but since the vehicle is 13 years old and has a MN history behind it, odds are the rust is far worse than what you see on the outside.

This means there is no cheap or economically feasible shortcuts to repair it.

A six-letter word for rust is cancer and justifiably so. The problem is sure to be worse than it appears and prohibitively expensive to repair. There are only two reasons to spend the fortune it takes to repair a rusty car. One is that the result will be a valuable collector car. The other is that the car has sentimental value for you.

Unless it is important to you to drive a pretty car, I suggest you keep it until the rust becomes so bad that the car is no longer structurally sound. Ask your mechanic to keep an eye on the rust and to let you know when the car is no longer safe to drive.

Any ideas as to what I can do that won’t break the bank?

Considering the year, make, model and miles the most cost effective thing to do would be to do nothing. You will not increase the value of the vehicle at all by repairing the rust. Just let it go.

I agree with the replies thus far.

We’re getting rid of our 1996 Plymouth Grand Voyager minivan because of rust. Mechanically it runs fine, but the rust was getting too troublesome to keep up with. In addition to all the visible body rot (filled with bondo), I’ve replaced rusted brakes lines, rusted power steering lines, gas tank straps, and some I’m forgetting.

Every repair on a rusted component turns into a major job, because everything you touch around it crumbles during disassembly. If I had to pay for these repairs the labor costs would have been prohibitive.

I’m not one for getting rid of old cars, but my wife convinced me the time I was spending keeping our rust-heap going wasn’t worth it. I finally realized she’s right.

I am going to assume that you are very attached to this little car. And, when someone develops a sentimental attachment to a car, he/she may be tempted to do things that defy economic logic.

In this case, IF the car was in extraordinarily good condition, it might have a book value of ~$2,000.
In this case, the rust damage gives it a probable book value of only a few hundred bucks.

For every bit of visible rust that you see, there is even more rust damage lurking below the surface that is not visible to the naked eye. (Think…“tip of the iceberg”)

The Geo Metro was…I will try to be kind here…not exactly overbuilt to begin with. Since it was designed to be inexpensive to purchase and to have high fuel economy, it was built with the lightest, cheapest structure possible. That light, cheap structure has likely not fared very well after years of northern climate rust damage to the chassis.

So, yes, this can be fixed.
No, it cannot be fixed thoroughly and correctly without “breaking the bank”.

And, it would just seem logical to ask yourself how much money it would be worthwhile to “invest” in this car at this point. If you have a sentimental attachment to it, then there is likely no limit to how much you would want to spend. But, since you do not want to spend a lot of money on it, I suggest that you begin saving your money and begin searching for a replacement vehicle, as this would be far more practical than the thousands of dollars that would be necessary to really deal with the rust issues of this car.