Rusty subframe 2001 Honda Accord

My brother in Pittsburgh reports that his Accord has a rusty subframe. I am hoping this is a familiar problem to someone here who can advise about the success and cost of repairing it. Unfortunately, I am not near enough to go see it or to take pictures, so generic advice would be appreciated. Is this a routine body-shop fix?

Depends on how rusty?


1 Like

Can he provide pictures? Probably not easy if he doesn’t have access to a lift.

The solution is to replace the subframe with a new one either from honda or an aftermarket collision repair subframe.

Rust never sleeps…and there is always more than meets the eye.

1 Like

The bigger question to me is not just the rusty subframe but the amount of rust on the floor pan, strut towers, etc it is attached to.
If the rust is anything like the picture Tester posted then it might be time to retire that car before someone ends up as a traffic statistic.


Does anyone have enough experience to estimate a repair cost for a replacement of the subframe? To add to the uncertainty in this decision, I am recalling that this car was in a major accident in about 2008, and I have no idea what was replaced and what was just straightened. I am the guy the family calls when they have a car question, and my brother is definitely not the kind of guy who will climb under the car and take a picture. He would rather read a book.

And then, there is the obvious question:
How much does the OP want to pay to “extend” the life of a car that is already 21 years old?

1 Like

Rust was a common problem on Japanese cars of that era, in that region (freeze, salt, thaw, repeat) but it’s impossible to tell how bad it is without getting under the car so ask your mechanic to take a look and follow their advice.

As Mustangman and VDC observed it’s seldom worthwhile to repair but if your brother is lucky he may be able to safely get another year or two out of the Accord before it’s off to the scrapper.


Update: by googling online, I have learned that the rust problem is not the usual salt issue. Honda had a bad design so that the AC condensate dripped onto the subframe. Even low mileage Florida cars rusted there. Honda was asked to issue a voluntary recall, but refused. Honda wants $1350 for the part, and quoted $500 for the install. That is, they are sticking it to the customer. It appears that other people are selling refurbs for $250 - $700. I am wondering whether Honda has a secret warranty just for those who actually have a failure.

NHTSA has 22 complaints for this just on the 2001 model, starting in 2012. Despite the complaints there is not an ongoing investigation at NHTSA. If they don’t have a recall on it now, they never will IMO. This is like the fuel line leak on every Cobalt built. We had two Cobalts and both had the leak about ten years after manufacture. NHTSA even has an ongoing investigation, started 2 years ago. Too many years have gone by for either of these conditions to warrant a recall.


At 21 years of age, the op’s relative’s Honda has certainly earned its trip to the scrapyard.

1 Like

It appears that I can get a refurb part plus install for $1000. For its first 15 years, the car was driven by our mother until she was 99. The rust problem is not systemic, but instead is highly localized. The other items it needs are normal maintenance, but possibly enough of them that the total is more than the car is worth. That is why we are trying to be careful to get best estimates.

You’ll also need a steering alignment, after installing that subframe

I appreciate your optimism but in any 21 year old car corrosion and degradation of plastic/rubber parts becomes a concern.

If you like the car and it still meets your needs, $1,000 in repairs that will extend it’s life for a year plus isn’t outrageous as long as you understand that other components are nearing the end of their useful life and will need to be replaced

I agree. That is why the car is getting a careful inspection. It is driven very few miles per year, which helps the decision.

A car that is driven “very few miles per year” is being worn out more quickly than a car driven for 15,000 highway miles per year.

1 Like

That’s fine but you need to understand that anything Plastic or Rubber degrades with time, not mileage. Rubber strut seals, window seals, hoses and Plastic guides, connectors, wire insulators, fittings, etc. that would crack/break at a touch.

Assuming that everything else is working fine and the rust isn’t fatal, you may be able to get a few more years out of the car with minimal repairs but regardless of mileage you should anticipate ongoing and significant future repairs.