Rusty Death Wish

Just thought I would mention a car I saw on the way home this evening while I was sitting at a traffic light. Some young guy pulled up on my right in the cross-traffic lane to make a left in front of me. The car was a roughly 2000 model 4-Door Honda Accord and it had Minnesota plates. The entire lower 10" of the front fender, the entire sill plate, both doors, and the rear quarter was gone due to rust. My first thought was that gravity and barometric pressure was the only thing holding what was left together.

As he turned in front of me I could see his foot working the clutch pedal…

How that abomination made it to Oklahoma without crumbling into powder on the highway is beyond me.

Those rusted vehicles that prowl the highway are an abomination. I also have a strong dislike for vehicles that smoke so bad that they interfere with traffic.

What can I say? I’ll bet it gets mighty cold in there in the winter.

You wonder with all those holes and exposed wiring…how much is really working. It is safer from car thieves,

At least his legs get good circulation, due to the holes in the sheet metal . . .

I was in the lane next to one of these on a stop & go road today, a really, really rotted out Subie with a clearly bad muffler (or exhaust rot… or both), bad boingy-boingy shocks, and every single unsafe visual detail I can think of. I think it had Vermont plates, but I could be mistaken. Vermont has an annual safety inspection (33 states do not), and how this car passed is beyond me to figure out.

Rust is normally not a huge problem around here although we do see some rust belt or ocean property cars now and then that are badly rotted out.

That Honda today was the worst case of rust I’ve seen in my lifetime and it amazes me that the floor pan hasn’t buckled on it. Yet. On the plus side, it sounded pretty good and didn’t smoke…

Possibly spent some time in seawater? (Hurricane survivor.)

Much worse than the Honda Crx my Aunt used to own, it spent a few years living in the Mass/NH/Maine area as well as living close to the ocean on the west coast. The rear hatch frame was basically rusted and hanging down. Pull a loose piece of trim and the bodywork comes with (we could see the outside of one of the wheel wells. She would have gone for 300,000 miles if it weren’t for the rust issues.

had Minnesota plates

That explains it. People in that region are used to seeing cars like that. I grew up in that general area and I always get a chuckle out of people posting rust questions here where it looks like surface flash and they’re concerned about it. Naturally, it was much worse during the 70s and 80s and rust prevention measures are far better nowadays. But severe rust is a fact of life in that area…not saying it’s a wise idea to drive one in that shape just saying it’s not as much of a shocker for someone more accustomed to the challenges of living there… :wink:

I learned about the dangers of a rusted car back in 1955. The country shop where my dad had his car fixed was owned by a mechanic. He had a 1942 Pontiac that really looked good. However, one time when we went to the shop, it was up on blocks and had parts stripped from it. I asked about the car and the mechanic said that the floorboard had rusted out and was dangerous to drive. He decided it was time to sell the car for parts I learned from him when buying a used car to pull up the floor mats and check for rust.
Tom McCahill in his book “What You Should Know About Cars”, published around 1960 gave this advice for checking out an old clunker: “I check for one thing–rust. Engines are cheap compared to body work. However, dealing with a bent or rusted frame is impossible”.

However, dealing with a bent or rusted frame is impossible".

Impossible? hardly. Difficult? absolutely. To further qualify that last bit, it’s not particularly challenging to do the actual repair of the frame, the difficulty is in gaining access to do the repair. The real question is one of economics rather than technical hurdles to overcome, especially for a classic body on frame construction.

I do agree with the statement that engines are cheap compared to foundation or body issues. People tend to assume that if the body looks good from the outside, that the rest is equally good shape. Bad assumption.

He also left out a major thing to check for- sure there’s no visible rust but what about body filler? I’ve seen countless “refurbished” rides that were loaded with filler. Filler can hide many sins. Still, even loaded up but done well, it can last a long time but I still prefer metal. Done wrong…

Vermont has an annual safety inspection (33 states do not), and how this car passed is beyond me to figure out.

Many years ago in NY…rust was NOT part of safety inspection unless it compromised the frame. Body rust didn’t fail an inspection. Now with vehicles not rusting out as quickly…they started inspecting for rust.

Tom Cahill was right then and his observations are right now. The body is the single most valuable component. Trade in values reflect that with every dealer. They don’t want to mess with rusted cars but will easily consider cars for decent trade in with some mechanical problems and a good solid body. What might cost you $1000 for a complete brake job front and rear on a car with a body in excellent shape, is an absolute keeper. Give them a car with excellent mechanics and rust holes, they laugh at you; everyone of them. They make much of their profits on used cars and they know what will sell, what has value and what doesn’t sell and has less value. That’s why I laugh at guys doing 2500 mile oil changes on cars they don’t maintain for rust protection in areas of high exposure to salt.

I cannot agree that it has to be “a fact of life anywhere in the US”. It’s just a fact of life if you choose to do nothing about it.

Having grown up in Ohio before double side galvanized steel in cars, I have seen and owned more than my fair share of rusty cars. We used to say a Chevy Vega was DELIVERED with rust, no extra charge! Body-on-frame cars were delivered with no paint or undercoat on any part of the underside. Any car 4 years old or so had a rust spot somewhere on the body. By 8 years there was sure to be rust-through. My 1964 Pontiac Tempest had rust holes on all 4 fenders, the lower rear window channel, floor and trunk in 1976. It was a body-on-frame car with the body mounts trying their best to rot off. I fixed the holes, painted the car and drove it for 5 years. Our 1972 Datsun (Nissan) became a Flintstone-mobile when my wife put her feet through the drivers floor. Fiberglas mat and resin with a little extra hardener fixed it in 25 degree weather. Patched all the body holes on this unibody car, painted it and drove it for 6 years! A buddy’s Toyota broke the rusted-through front framerails at the firewall on its way to the junkyard. If rusted cars were inspected out of the Ohio population, none of my high-school and most college friends would have had a car.

Body panel rust is from the inside and painting frames and undercoating does absolutely nothing for the rust described here. Yes, it will help the frame, a little, but body panel rust is from rain water and splashing from puddles with that finds it’s way via windows, fender wells and sills into rocker panels and front and rear doors and front and rear quarters. It starts from the inside and no amount of under coating has any affect what so ever. Considering all the fixing work you did, spraying oil into access holes to the inside seems where it starts in places you can’t see, completely arrests rust in those areas. The same approach can be used with frames.

@dagosa, I am VERY familiar with what you describe! Patching fist-sized fender holes in the old-school cars with a little (maybe) paint on the inner panel and plugged drain holes. My first new car was Ziebarted in an attempt to prevent rust. (I say attempt…) Frames were allowed to rust 'cause no one ever looked at them except mechanics. In the 80’s, cars were built with one-side galvanized panels and weld-thru seam sealers, and that helped a lot. 2 side galvanized came later in the 80’s. Water control was much better, trap-less guttering and flush windows helped, too. I rarely see rusted-through cars anymore unless they are very old or very abused.

Stated doing it (rust prevention) 35 years ago and never looked back. I feel differently about newer cars then most others. Though they have improved because of rust perforation mandates, it’s only marginally so and good in the worst areas for just 6 years. That 's why I still treat the 2013 and the 2004 cars I have. I want no rust come trade in time what so ever, even if it isn’t a safety factor when I drive them. I want the option of giving a rust free car to my grand children too. It is easily worth hundreds to a thousand or much more. Rust through is less seen because like my cars, they use plastic cladding to hide it. Underneath is still the same metal that I still treat.

At ten to 15 years, IMHO, you will still see in high rust areas of the country rusted out 2014 models. You see them now in 2003 models back when they bragged about their improvement. And yet, Toyota still within the last ten tears, had frame rust problems. They do marginal fixes just to get the models in high rust areas past the warranty marks. They are “well” engineered not to be too good. It will continue albeit slower. BTW, saw a 2005 4Runner with a rusted rear window frame…so really, nothing has changed. I started oiling the upper tailgate area with gate inverted after I saw that !

@ Mustangman,I have a neighbor from Ohio,he gave me the lowdown on the rusted out cars from that area,continued dampness and a lot of salt used on the roads,he told me,now as Dag sez cars are marginally better,but I guarentee if we would treat our cars like Dagosa does we wouldnt have rust problems-Kevin

You’ll actually see quite a few of them up here. Especially pickups and full framed vans. They’ll last a lot longer than a unibody when they start rusting like that. I knew one guy that had one of the last years of the original Dodge Dart, and that thing was bad. But he was, how shall we say it, “frugal.” and just couldn’t bring himself to let go of a car that still ran decently. One day, he drove over some railroad tracks, and the car sagged dramatically in the middle. He nursed it home, admitted defeat, and called the junkyard.