Sturctural/metal fatigue

My car is an '06, is structural/metal fatigue something that could be a safety issue? I love my car and it has pretty low mileage for it’s age (130k) but I’ve been told that despite the fact that it’s mechanically sound it can still be unsafe due to the metal being old and fatigued. It doesn’t really seem old enough for that to be an issue to me but I can’t find a whole lot of information online about it. Any suggestions or resources for info?

Retired automotive engineer here… stop worrying about it. It is not a problem.

For proof, the average age of cars on the road is 11 years… average… so many are 20 plus years old with 200, 300, 400,000 miles and more.

I don’t know who is telling you these things but they have no idea the design stresses cars and trucks are designed to.


Thanks for the insight! It didn’t seem reasonable to me but I didn’t have the background or knowledge to argue the fact lol

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To add to what Mustangman said, there are unibody cars built in the 1950s still fully roadworthy.


This is the cracked frame on a 2010 Ram diesel.


Metal fatigue does and can occur anywhere on a vehicle.

Where it occurs depends if it’s dangerous.


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Did someone find a crack in your vehicles structure?

Nope, it’s actually at the mechanics now. I wanted to have it looked over before we took it on a trip soon.

Interesting, good to know!

If you live in an area where they salt the roads, the vehicle might warrant inspection for rust. Otherwise, I’d motor on. I have two 2005’s, no salt hence little rust, and I’m not concerned.


I have a 2004 body on frame truck with 142K that has seen tons of salt. No issues.

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Failure from other than rust is VERY rare.


Unless you have been playing Joie Chitwwod with the car, this isn’t an issue. Is someone trying to convince you to sell them your car for a ridiculously low price?

Living in a salt belt region I know structural damage can be done on a car this age. But depending on the car, when and how driven and maintained can effect the amount of deteriation
Some cars deteriate at 15 years and some don’t show problems until 25 or even 30 years. You are doing everything you need to in order to prevent any structural failures. Having the car inspected as you are doing is great. The only thing you may be doing wrong is worrying about it as much as you are unless there are visible signs of deteriation. If your mechanic gives you a green light, you should be good to go. You could find a good independent mechanic to do your oil changes. Make sure they at least do a quick visual for potential problems. A good mechanic does a quick safety check during every oil change. This is an advantage of oil changes by a mechanic rather than a quick oil change change.

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Car is 15 yrs old. Rust usually is first visible in wheel openings due to paint damage from flung road debris. Paint is chipped and rust starts. It’s not structural. If you live in Ohio, ny, Michigan it’s common. California? Not so much.

No, my mom just hates my car, she doesn’t think it’s safe for a 6 hour road trip. I really have no intention of getting rid of it, so I was looking for some info to give her.

It’s more for my mom, I think it’s fine but she’s convinced it’s an unsafe car. I just picked it up from the mechanic, they said there was a little rust on the rocker arms but other than that it’s in decent shape. Thanks!

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A lot of older folks beleive that your cars should not be kept for more than 100,000 miles or 6 to 10 years because cars from their era didn’t last much more than that. That is obsolete thinking.

BTW, we all can see each reply you make so you don’t need to reply to each of us individually.


Will your mom pay for a rental for your trip?

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Rental now could be $600/ day.

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I am not an engineer, but I agree with the people here who think there is not a problem of fatigue unless a mechanic saw something.

I do have other concerns about older cars. One is that newer cars have more safety equipment, both for detecting and reacting to emergencies or situations.

The other is, and maybe someone with actual knowledge can reassure me, I do not know how long air bag inflators last in the real world. When does the explosive lose its ability to expand? They are apparently very expensive to replace, so people do not do that usually if they have not been triggered.