Rust on 2008 Toyota Corolla

I just noticed 2 rust spots on the back quarter panel in front of the wheel well on my Corolla. Then I looked on the other side, and found rust in the exact same spot. It looks like the rust is near some bolts that are holding on (what looks like) a small plastic mud flap (sorry, I’m not really sure if that is the correct technical name). Anyway, is that normal to have rust in the same spot on both sides, or is it defective? This is the only car I’ve ever purchased new so I was planning on keeping it, like, FOREVER. I think I’ve taken pretty good care of it so I plan to have it fixed. Just wondering if I should bring it to Toyota.

Are you asking if Toyota will fix it free ( NO ) or if you should use a Toyota body shop ? Sorry but rust happens.

Check the drain holes under the rockers and the drains of the doors. Look for rust around the fender. These are first places rust occurs in these cars. You may ask, why check these places if the rust is elsewhere near a bolt. The answer is, it will help tell you if the rust around the bolt is from the inside or outside. If it’s around a bolt only, it may have been applied too tightly and cracked the paint. Remove the nolt and check the metal for integrity with a small blade screw driver. Of it is solid, and appears to have started on the out side, and there is no rust elsewhere, sand prime and paint. If it it isn’t and the rust is coming from inside and the screw driver goes through the metal. …the car is on it’s way to being a rust bucket.

…cars are made to rust. It takes little effort to make them rust free and it takes very little effort on an owner’s part to prevent rust from starting. Both the owners and the car makers are at fault.

Dag presented an excellent post, however you might start by asking any reputable body shop for an assessment. The big question will be whether it’s started on the outside or the inside. Body shop estimates are generally free.

I would suggest you ask around about a good body shop and have that shop look at your Toyota. The shop could be an independent or part of a new car dealer. Our local Buick dealer has a very good body shop as does our Chrysler dealer. Our Toyota dealer does not do body repairs.

Body work is very expensive. Rust prevention is very cheap, but can really only be done effective by the owner. Why ? Because he is the only one who will pay attention to detail. It’s his car. You pay someone else, they take the money and run. No one is interested in preventing rust in your car but you. Body shops want to repair it after rust starts and mechanics just don’t care…it’s not their job.

A reputable shop can IMHO do a better job than a newbie, but many don’t repair rust… because it can be an ultimately losing battle. Also because they realize that the customer may not realize the possibility that the damage might be greater than it appears. Customers who don’t understand this can react pretty poorly.

But at least they could tell you whether it’s surface rust or the beginning of body rot.

What part of the country do you live in? If it’s in the Rust Belt or some other area that is heavy into road salt, rust can certainly occur on a car even younger than yours.

I was thinkin’ perhaps on the coast in the south.
When I was on Guam back in the early '70s cars there would rust so fast you could almost hear it happening. The combination of high heat, extreme humidity, salt spray, and the rainy season was unbelievable.

I never got to go to Guam although I came very close. I sold my old car to a friend who was there to use as a “Guam bomb” during his assignment there. I kept his vehicle in my garage for him until he got back.

SMBBody shop estimates are generally free.

Exactly. Here in our area, many body personnel actually use rust preventative measures on their own. When going in for the estimate, ask them what you can do on your own to prevent this from reoccurring. It is easy but is a yearly commitment. Rust can be halted, dead in it’s tracks in areas you can get to, if you are willing to do it.

Wow, thank you to everyone for all the great information! I didn’t think Toyota would fix/pay for anything, I just wanted to know if mirror-image rust was a sign of a bigger problem.

Good ideas above. Suggest to get this early rust taken care of by a good body shop. Or at least have a good body shop take a look. Less expensive to do it now than later.

Some potential preventatives going forward. When you wash your Corolla, you should at least hose it off once a week, make sure to wash out the wheel well areas too. All four wheels. I once lived in a place where they put salt on the roads in winter, and I’d wash out the wheel wells of my truck after every snow storm. Doing that can help prevent rust forming in that area. And suggest to apply a coat of wax to your Corolla twice a year.

What you might be seeing are the J-nuts starting to rust where those mud flaps are attached to the wheel wells.

These J-nuts are used all over the body of the vehicle to attach trim pieces. They’re used to hold license plates to plastic bumper covers among other things.

Try removing the screws from the mud flaps to expose the J-nuts. If they’re rusted out go to a local ACE hardware store and purchase new replacement J-nuts.


I alwalys wondered what those little clips were called. J-nuts you say? That’s a good thing to know. Thanks @Tester .

It depends upon where you live and whether you live in a heavily salted area how you deal with rust. If you live in one of these areas, washing helps, but helps, not only on the out side, but the water in washing will run into the doors fender wheels and rocker panels and help wash out the accumulated salt from splashing that found it’s way inside the body panels which it always does. This occurs in the lowest part s of the car and on the inside and you never get all of it out. Rust then starts first around the welds as any metal coating like galvanization is compromised during the assembly process.

Unless your car is aluminum or stainless steel, it will rust in the areas. Spraying biodegradable oil into these cavities once every year or two, STOPS rusting any where you are able to treat. That is the only effective way of dealing with rust…it’s cheap, anyone can do it and it works. Washing alone is not an effective way of dealing with rust from the inside in the rust belt. Nore is waxing. Nothing you do only on the outside will work in the rust belt. If rust is on the outside around a bolt or clip that is normally unseen, after sanding painting and priming the area, coat the area with wheel bearing grease before reassembling. You know it works because many who work in body shops in the rust belt, do it to their own cars.