Rusted Seats?

I just bought a used 1999 Honda Civic with 94000 miles. Before putting my money down, I had this trepidation because the car seems too good to be true. It runs and drives like a dream. The body is almost perfect. Everything about the car is just what I was looking for except…

When I did the under body examination, I also looked under the seats and I noticed that the metal under the seats was rusty. I called my mechanic who said to watch out… it could be a flood car. Check to see where it came from.

So I Carfaxed it (a new verb?) and the Carfax was clean. The seller, a “reputable” dealer, assured me that the car had not been in any kind of flood and that he was almost ashamed to be selling it for as little as he was. As my kind sister sayd, I took the bait hook line and sinker.

The good news is that he gave me a 30 day guarantee, and he said he’d buy it back if I didn’t want it. The bad news is that I want it. I plan to take it to a mechanic to have it inspected.

My question is, could anything but water damage cause rust under the seats? And if so, is it bad enough to get rid of THE PERFECT CAR?


How is the undercarriage of the car? Also where are you/where is the car from? I have seen cars that have a rust from vehicles kept in garages that were very damp.

The entire interior of my sister’s car was rusted on the inside because she didn’t believe in knocking the snow and slush off of her shoes before she got in the car. She basically brought in a ton of water and salt, making for a super rust prone environment. We live in NE Ohio by the way.

If the car is nice, and it checks out at your mechanic’s, by all means keep it. The dealer can get into a lot of trouble falsifying documentation on a car. If the place has been around for some time and is not a “fly by night” operation, I would guess that the risk is generally low. That being said, I would still have your mechanic check it out if you have any doubts.

The car was purchased in Omaha, but it is from Illinois, so I suppose the moisture/salt thing could be true. The hood latch is broken… there is a weird dent in the drivers side door… they seem to have massaged it out. I mean, it’s 9 years old, so I should expect some stuff. I just hate the idea of something going wrong and then POOOF! You’re screwed.

I dunno. Sounds pretty normal for me in Minnesota. The springs are plain steel with no coating or paint. After 9 years, I would certainly expect a coating of rust from moisture in the air. If it were a flood car, I would expect evidence of mold in the seat pad adjacent to the spring.

You can pull the seats out and inspect under the carpet for mold and rust. Also pull a door panel off and look for evidence of a water mark. Also look behind panels in the trunk for high water marks.

When you say the metal under the seats, do you mean the floor of the car is rusty - or the metals parts of the seat itself (e.g. the springs and seat mounts)?

If you’re talking about the metal bits of the seat itself, I’d be somewhat surprised if they didn’t have some amount of surface rust.

On the other hand, a rusty floor under the seats would be really strange - even for a car from a wintery area since the snow & ice & salt don’t generally pile up and sit under the seat. If it is the floor I would probably use some of my 30 days trying to find out more about the vehicle. Start with an inspection of the carpet. Is it new? If so, be suspicious (i.e. someone could still sell the car cheap after paying to replace the carpet?). If it is old, inspect it closely for signs of possible water damage or overly intensive forms of cleaning.

I don’t really know the general take on the trustworthiness of Carfax. I used it the last time I bought used, but it doesn’t tell you everything. It only tells you about stuff that has been put through the databases it searches (I think the primary data base is just DMV records). There is a lot that it doesn’t tell you. Check the locales in IL where its been registered. Any rivers nearby?

Is it just surface rust or heavy corroded rust, flaky, etc. Surface rust is normal. The part to be afraid of is his “I’m ashamed to be selling it for so cheap” boloney. Thats a buch of !#!@#!@#$@#$.

I know. I was caught up in the moment and in hindsight I feel like a jackass. But it is surface rust. The carpet is all original and the underbody is in amazing shape.