Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Rusted Subframe Replacement

Took my car in because I thought the tie rod popped off again since it has twice before, but as it turns out, the subframe was so corroded from the salt and snow up in MI that a bolt that connects the tie rod (I think) went right through it. So…to replace the subframe, if I can find one used around $250 ( that’s what’s been coming up online), the body shop said it would be $6-800 total for all repairs and parts. This is a 2002 Dodge Neon with around 75,000 miles on it, so the engine is fine. I was hoping to make it last until the summer when then I can use money from my internship (I’m a grad student, meaning, I am broke) and get a new car. I checked online for what this car would sell for if it wasn’t broken and privately it’d be around $3700, to a dealer, $2500. The owner of the body shop said his “go to guy” would only pay $300. So, what would you suggest I do? Have the repairs done and sell later? Sell now and deduct the price of the repairs? I know very little about cars and given that I am a girl going into a body shop, I pretty much expect them to try to take advantage.

$3700 - That’s awfully high for a 10yo Neon.

I’d get it fixed if I were you. Not too many people are going to even look at a vehicle that doesn’t run…And Neon’s are NOT considered very popular.

From what you said I would fix it ONLY IF and this is the big if. Will the repair be safe. That means no rust were the sub frame mounts. You cant replace the car for $800. So as long as the car will be safe,fix it.

It would help if you can post a pic of the rusted area and were the sub frame mounts. I should be able to tell you from the pics if you should fix it.

Maybe the lower control arm bracket is the failing piece. If so a close inspection of the entire floor and chassis is in order.

Rod Knox is right - single parts don’t rust by themselves, you need to have the car checked out to see what else is rusted and unsafe.

Maybe you can locate a 10 year old Neon that has a bad engine but not the rust problem and revive it with the engine from your Neon. The price of a 10 year old Neon with a bad engine should be under the $600 low cost for fixing what you have.

The metal piece that is rusted out is pretty thick metal. I’d really wonder about what else is rusted out? Replacing a sub frame means a lot of parts are taken off and put back on. With all the rust some of said parts are going to be rusted in place and may not be useable once they are taken apart as they might break or require a torch just in the process of taking everything apart.

Sorry to say this but this car might now be a junker and not worth putting any more money or time into it. Don’t start this repair unless you have more money to fix other problems that come up, or the shop gives you a firm price no matter what happens during the course of the job.

Cars don’t last forever and rust in critical parts is a car “killer”. This one might be at the end of its road.

How does a tie rod pop off, and twice before? Loss of a tie rod would mean an uncontrollable wheel on the broken side.

My vote is also with Rod Knox on the severe rust issue and in spite of what you read on-line there is no way on Earth a 9 year old Neon that is being devoured by rust weevils is worth anywhere near 2500 dollars. Maybe 500 bucks and that’s to someone who wanted it.

With this kind of rust and this tie rod thing it may be time to send it to the crusher. One thing you should not do is take any road trips in it and avoid high speed highway driving. This car is a potential death trap from the sound of it.

I think I agree it is the end of the line on this one. Cars can be fixed indefinately except for rust. If the rust is this extensive, the rest of it is not far behind. Cut your losses. Its painful, but for the best.

Back in the early 1960s, the late Tom McCahill published a book titled “What You Should Know About Cars”. In purchasing a cheap used car, he would only worry about rust or frame damage. Used or rebuilt engines, if needed, were not all that expensive. Rust was practically incurable, and a bent frame was imporssible. With unitized construction today, extensive rust pretty well totals a car.
My brother had a 1971 Datsun pickup and the frame rusted through and broke. The engine was still great, however. He fournd another Datsun truck of the same vintage with a blown engine. He bought the second truck for very little and swapped his engine into that truck. When the frame of the second Datsun was ready to give out, the engine was still going strong. However, he gave up at this point and bought a newer truck.
I think you only have two choices: Find a Neon with a bad engine but a rust free body and install your engine in that Neon; or 2) start over with a newer vehicle.

It’s been over a month and I’m sure you have it all figured out by now, but in case you haven’t; an old dodge like that probably has a catalytic converter worth between 200 and 600 bucks. In my area you can get another 200-300 bucks to scrap the rest of the car and they’ll even come tow it away for you.

No , it has been 8 years