By on December 23, 2014

Rust. Shutterstock user Sirinn3249

Stefan writes:

Sajeev, I recently had a conversation with my cousin in Wisconsin. He claimed that cars assembled in North America are more rust prone than cars assembled in Japan or other oriental countries. Apparently his observation was based on several cars in our extended family: An elderly Dodge Durango and a not-so-elderly Honda Odyssey with the traditional clapped-out transmission.

I have never seen any statistics to support these ideas and really don’t recall reading suchlike statements in the TTAC in the past. That older American cars rust more than newer Japanese, and vice versa, seems natural and I recall seeing many old Japanese cars with severe corrosion damage, but what is the truth in this matter? Over to you and the B & B!

Stefan (’97 Fat Panther without a speck of rust)

Sajeev answers:

This is pure Internet Troll Bait, but whatever…I’ll bite.

Cars made in Japan used to be inadequate for use in the American Rust Belt, back in the 1970s.  That’s history, as Japan wised up and eventually made the vehicles that would dominate the marketplace in every American market they compete in. (well, except trucks #murica)

The only modern cars that I’ve seen (and I live in Houston) or heard to be chronically rusty are Mazdas from the last decade.  Discussed here, here and here. Oh, and the Toyota Tacoma, witnessed by the massive recall.  One person mentioned a Ford Focus, and that’s about it.

And in this most unscientific sampling, only the Mazda is not made in North America.  So your cousin is wrong.

Dead Wrong: USA, USA, USA!!!

Off to you, Best and Brightest.

[Image: Shutterstock user Sirinn3249]

Send your queries to [email protected]com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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184 Comments on “Piston Slap: American Rust vs. Japanese Rust?...”


  • avatar

    Oriental, really???

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      Why is “Oriental” forbidden now? What makes it evil?

      • 0 avatar
        carguy67

        PC.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          The term “oriental” is an archaic term which refers to the continent of “Asia”.

          It makes the speaker sound like he’s never talked to “an oriental” before — and, therefore, doesn’t get out into the real world very much.

          P.S. The term may be more loaded on the west coast, which has a longer and more complicated history of immigration from East Asia than the middle American college town where I live.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Sounds arbitrary. Makes no sense.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Maybe it doesn’t sound arbitrary to Asians, so I’ll defer to them

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            “Oriental” was the term used back when people had no idea about anything to do with Asian culture, had been exposed to wartime propaganda, and feared that a yellow horde would overrun the West and make everyone bow to some emperor or other.

            Accordingly, it took on a pejorative cast, and today people hear it as pejorative toward Asians. Terms can become pejorative in a very real way for reasons unrelated to their etymology. The knowing use of such a pejorative term is an insult exactly because the term is pejorative, not because of where the term originated. It’s a sign that the speaker is spiteful toward the group he’s describing. It’s not just “PC,” it’s a question of intent.

            I agree that it’s not nearly as strong applied to things rather than people, but it still sounds old-fashioned and uncomfortable.

          • 0 avatar
            CriticalMass

            The proper anthropological term for East Asians is Mongoloid. Oriental, as mentioned by others, is a convention that originated as far back as the Romans if I am correct. Orient has long meant “East” and came to mean “Far East” as well over time. I personally don’t see how being an oriental is different from being an occidental meaning “Western”. Again, it is simply a convention and not intended in general usage to be an insult. I can say “human” with such venom that it would indeed be an insult but human does not then become an unutterable word in polite company.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Thank you Critical Mass, for some facts.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        “Things” are Oriental like rugs and vases, “people” are Asian

        – PC Handbook

        • 0 avatar

          +1

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          Silly and ridiculous

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            I agree, that’s why changing what we refer to a group of people is so much easier then running the risk of offending them. Why would anyone want to do that over a word?

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Sounds like people are literally being taught to be offended

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            People are falling all over themselves to either be offended, avoid offense, or trap and righteously indict offense-givers. There is no logic to this except victim-seeking and sensitivity preening.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Where I’m from falling all over ourselves not to offend is often referred to as good manners

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Agreed. So is not walking around with a chip on your shoulder waiting for an opportunity to pounce on someone for an orthodoxy violation.

            This is nutty. No one can define either term or explain why anyone should be offended except by choice because professor Higgins taught them to take umbrage.

            I’m just calling bullsht. The educational elite have created a minefield. People feel better if they are victims or their righteous defenders.

          • 0 avatar
            THEEVILDRSIN

            I guess as silly and ridiculous as calling African Americans “Negro” nowadays.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            What is the correct term this week?

          • 0 avatar
            Roader

            “I guess as silly and ridiculous as calling African Americans “Negro” nowadays.”

            Very similar, and a similar double standard, oriental/occidental, blah blah blah.

            It’s similar to Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) referring to tea party members as “white crackers” whereas any congress critter would be lynched by the media if he referred to a similar African-American political group, say the NAACP, as “black niggers.”

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            Great, perceptive comments, perfectly articulated, Landcrusher.

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            Gotdammit! I meant THELAINE.

            I see you and Landcrusher as part of the A-Team here, sorry for the brain spaz.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The bigots are easy to spot — they’re the ones who believe that they’re entitled to label everyone else, while those who they are labeling have no say-so in the matter.

          • 0 avatar
            hybridkiller

            Personally, I enjoyed “the TTAC” much more than the oriental thing.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            “The bigots are easy to spot — they’re the ones who believe that they’re entitled to label everyone else, while those who they are labeling have no say-so in the matter.”

            In this conversation you can only mean Charlie Rangel.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Charlie Rangel earned a Bronze Star in Korea. Why is the right wing always “swift-boating” military heroes? You have to wonder.

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            A certain Austrian corporal who later became famous for his vocal performances was also a highly decorated military hero.

          • 0 avatar
            Roader

            “Charlie Rangel earned a Bronze Star in Korea. Why is the right wing always “swift-boating” military heroes?”

            Yeah, like Obama’s campaign ad mocking McCain because he doesn’t use email.

            Thing is, McCain can’t use email because he can’t use a keyboard because the Vietcong hung him up by his wrists for days at a time and fu^ked up his shoulders.

            Right wing my ass. McCain can’t operate a keyboard, can’t tie his shoes, can’t comb his own hair. For his service he received the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star and Navy Commendation Medal. Yet a silly assed, Harvard frat boy makes fun of him because of his injuries.

          • 0 avatar
            jrmason

            Speaking of McCain,I read an article a few weeks ago that Ernest Brace passed away at the beginning of the month. For those who don’t know, Ernest spent more than 7 years of hard time as a POW in Vietnam. He survived through some horrendous times.
            RIP Ernest

        • 0 avatar
          Signal11

          @critical mass

          “Mongoloid” is a deprecated term in physical anthropology for several reasons, not including which that it’s considered derogatory along the same vein as the reason why we don’t use the term “Negroid.” Show me a serious, mainstream publication of the last 30 years that uses these terms outside of the historical sense. You can’t, because these are no longer acceptable terms in the discourse. There are too many pejorative connotations of these word.

          Likewise, “Oriental” as a way to describe people or peoples (as opposed to objects) are no longer considered acceptable in polite society.

          While Oriental is a bit more of an edge case, I challenge any an every one of you who decry “PC” any time you feel like you’ve lost the pulse of culture in mainstream America to walk around a black neighborhood calling people Negroes, then tell them they’re overly sensitive and shouldn’t be so quickly offended. None of you will because none of you A.) have the balls for it and/or B.) realize that there is something inherently offensive about some words used.

          • 0 avatar
            hybridkiller

            I believe I have a new TTAC hero, and it’s Signal11.

          • 0 avatar
            CriticalMass

            Whenever someone wants to ram an idea down your throat they ask rhetorical questions and then provide the answers. It usually indicates that their argument can’t stand full discussion so they move to curtail discussion by being adamant. Look, my point earlier was that any term can be used as a pejorative depending on its use. Yes, mongoloid “may” have negative connotations for instance, as could oriental or occidental, but it depends on how it is used. As for modernity I refer you to a decent dictionary.

          • 0 avatar
            hybridkiller

            “What is the correct term this week?”

            Thanks for the laugh – not sure, but I get outside of my livingroom enough to know it damn sure ain’t “negro”.

      • 0 avatar
        energetik9

        Oriental is a slang term. This is not new. It’s in the same category as Redskin.

      • 0 avatar
        April

        It’s because others (in this case people from west) decided without any feedback to throw narrow-minded, pejorative terms that stereotype a group or race of people. Usually because the are either exploiting or dehumanizing said group of people.

        • 0 avatar
          petezeiss

          “in this case people from west”

          You haven’t hung out with people from non-western cultures much, have you? Everybody in the whole world derides, stereotypes and laughs at everybody else.

          It’s fun, cheap and can be enjoyed in a hut or a highrise.

        • 0 avatar
          hybridkiller

          In my mind it says something definitive about a person’s humanity (or lack thereof) when their need to defend/justify/whatever this connotative-vs-denotative manifesto comes at the risk of causing more hate and mistrust in the world.
          The only people with any right to lecture others on being too easily offended and overly PC are the ones who have actually suffered from prejudice and persecution.
          And before you go there, merely being asked to consider the feelings of other human beings is not persecution.

    • 0 avatar
      Occam

      I’ve always thought of Oriental as meaning “Near East, i.e. Middle East and Asia Minor. Oriental rugs (Persian), Orient Express (to Istanbul), Oriental Jews (from the Middle East), Oriental (Middle Eastern) spices, etc.

      British English is different – Oriental is exclusively east Asia, and “Asian” is taken to mean South/Central Asia (India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, etc.)

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I think it depends on the car not the engineering country of origin. Thomas and the plight of the rusty Windstar are well documented on these pages. Everyone who lives in the “rust belt” probably has their own rust horror story, it’s just the way it is

    • 0 avatar
      energetik9

      I think paint technology and manufacturers processes also play a role. I’m no expert, but I remember being on a BMW factory tour in SC and they were discussing the multi-stage treatment and paint process and how it compared to other manufacturers. It may have all been BS to impress the visitors, I don’t know; but it made sense. I also believe that no car is exempt from rust. I just moved to the Chicago area from DC. When driving out, right around Indiana, it was noticeable how many cars had rust. And my wife wonders why I’m out washing my car in 35 degree days with a jacket on.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Taking an active roll in rust prevention is certainly better then whining about it. I seal all joints and weld points with a rust inhibitor and get my car washed several times a week during “peak salt” So far it seems to work, so I’ll stick with that plan

  • avatar
    PonchoIndian

    Don’t forget the Tundra and it’s frame replacement issues along with the Tacoma.

    It seems like the Japanese cars have finally caught up to the US cars in rust protection. I’m just starting to see rusty Accords in the 2003-2007 body style up here in the rust belt, which is pretty much in line with the rest of the (minimally cared for) daily drivers we have up here in that age group.

    eh, what do I know.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Right around the backs of the rear fenders, where the moisture collects between there and the tops of the bumpers as they wrap around the s*des? Classic Honda!

      Haven’t seen the fender rust on the 7th-Gens yet, but some of the earliest ones seem to be getting into their third-or-so owners, and the clapped-out-ness which goes along with.

  • avatar
    raph

    I notice Mopar vehicles during the time of Cerberus ownership seem the most rust prone of any modern auto manufacturer.

    Which seems weird considering most if not all vehicles since the 90’s at least have galvanized panels.

    My first Mustang (1991) after falling into probject car status sat under a tarp front end body panels removed and no windsheld for years and had very little surface Ruston the unpainted areas.

    Before that some paint had flaked off a rocker panel and had no rust even when I sold the car.

    A buddy of mine used to work at an import stealership and he preferred domesticly built Japanese cars because they hadn’t sat on the docks or aboard a ship exposed to sea air.

    Due diligence I suppose when looking for a car and it’s ability to prevent rust but this all reminds me of when I used to hawk Michelin tires and a guy came in and asked to purchase a set of tires only made in France as he considered those to be the best and Michelin tires produced in America to be the worst.

    I told him the process was largely automated to remove as error as possible and they come from all over the world.

    He matter of factly told me ” I don’t give a damn. The machines are made in America so the tires are crap compared to the French tires.” and out the door he went in search of his french only tires.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Surely rust of the vicious variety ended when car manufacturers discovered double- sided galvanized tin. My recollection is that Audi were first about 1986 on the 5000. The 4000 never got it, but subsequent 90s did. The rest of the Germans swiftly followed.

    In the US, double-sided galvanized was regarded as frippery, so at first Big Three cars got single-sided galvanized in the early 1990s.

    The Japanese, showing the innate conservatism of their early tractor-engined, cart-leaf sprung Toyotas, didn’t trust double-sided galvanized for years, preferring to let their ’90s mass-market cars melt into metaphoric piles of iron oxide. Camrys and Cressidas of the 90s, no matter how overbuilt in the conventional sense, didn’t last long enough for their durability charms to be felt, except out west. Hondas were even worse – the 2002 Accord was the first that didn’t disappear when you turned your back. And the pool of Honda rust engineers stationed in Dartmouth. NS for over a decade went home. The answer had been discovered! Double-sided galvanized tin. Apparently,the art of observation, i.e. US and European cars no longer rusting, escaped the eagle eye of the Honda engineers. No, they discovered it entirely independently back in the research labs in Japan.

    Mazda discovered the same truth even later, making tentative first steps with single-sided galvanized (look, the Protege dissolved from the unprotected inside).

    Thus we have reached the present day, when even the cheapest vehicle sports the technical digital age of double-sided galvanized sheet metal, finally matching the longevity of garbage cans made that way in the 1950s.

  • avatar
    highrpm

    Here in the Detroit suburbs, I see a trend for cars that seem too young to be rusting. Early 2000s Benzes and Sprinter cargo vans. Not Japanese. Both are Daimler family vehicles, and it’s obvious that company skimped on zinc coating or something on a whole generation of their product.

    The only “Japanese” cars I see with rust here are the Protege5 wagons.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Good point about Sprinters, they’re notorious. There’s a very good reason they tend to corrode all over and early. Thin paint.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      The Germans tried to use more environmentally friendly rust-proofing, paint, and seam sealing materials back around the turn of the century. Obviously, they did not work nearly as well as the nasty old stuff. All better now, it would seem. I certainly don’t ever expect any significant rust with my ’11 BMW. My ’90s Volvos were completely rust free even after 15+ years in New England and 200K+.

      Historically here in Maine, it was that Japanese cars rusted out by far the worst, with Italian and French cars being close runners up. Then American cars, then the Germans and Swedes. Japanese cars rusted so badly they never got that reputation for reliability that they have in much of the rest of the country – they just have a reputation for being cheap and rusty. My folks 1980 Subaru hatch failed inspection for rust when it was not yet 3 years old, as an example. Volvos and Saabs cost more, but they also generally lasted a whole lot longer too.

      I still see 5yo Japanese cars with visible rust here today. Not major, but visible surface rust. I have a friend who will be junking a 12 or so year old Civic because it is rusted out beyond fixing economically. Not uncommon here.

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    Cars used to be inadequate for use in the American Rust Belt, back in the 1970s.

    FTFY.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Really, like early ’70s Plymouth Volare’/Dodge Aspens that disintegrated after 3 years

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      The only 70’s cars I’ve seen hold up to the rust bet well are Mavericks, but even then thats in the minority.

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        I mentioned reading the book “The World’s Worst Cars”; under the Ford Maverick, they state:

        “Ford dropped a blooper with the original Maverick. The floorpan had so many dirt and water traps that it was inevitable rust would eventually take hold, particularly as the cars left the factory with hardly any underseal.”

        But nearly every car they list had rust problems accroding to them; so I question how good their facts are compared to reality.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          The Mavericks I’ve experienced were pretty well kept, one being garaged most of its life and the other similar story.

          Though, there was a nasty third one that caught fire soon after purchase, just the engine. Body was 40% bondo.

          They’re mediocre cars imo, basically Falcons without the charismatic styling, and cheaper interiors that aren’t far off what you’d get in an 80’s Vic.

          They’re more dated than bad, certainly better than a Mustang II.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    OK…then there is my 2002 Trailblazer.
    So rusted under and around the wheels the brake dust guards could not be prevented from making rubbing noises.
    When on a lift, repair tech always commented that the car must have come from the north!
    The car was housed around the Chicago area where the winter roads are whitened not by snow, but salt…for a month after the last snow.
    During those long, unrelenting zero days we could not get into car washes due to them being shuttered by the cold.
    Everybody’s cars were salt white.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Why were the car washes closed?
      Up here in the Great White North car washes generally get far more use during the winter and I don’t remember them closing due to the temperature. Even the open bay style self serve washes.

      As for American cars versus Japanese cars. Yes Mazdas still have a reputation for rusting out. Hondas did 3 decades ago. But Ford lost a class action lawsuit, the famous ‘rusty Ford’ case about their cars manufactured in the early to mid 70’s prematurely rusting. Which is why you have not seen any LTD’s, Country Squires etc around these parts for about 30 years.

      • 0 avatar
        WaftableTorque

        I had always hated the wand washes. There was always a spot I missed, and I hated having a dripping wet car just because I was too cheap to use an automated touchless car wash.

        I’ve since come around since discovering a technique to get the car dry and spotless. It comes down to a silicon or rubber squeegee to wipe the windows and horizontal surfaces of water, and then using a bath sized microfiber terry cloth towel (and it needs to be microfiber, not cotton) to absorb all the water and wipe off any dirt. Work from the top down, and finish with the rims. Finish with a detailing spray if you’re an*l. Total drying time 5 minutes tops. The towel needs to be laundered before the next use.

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        because the doors could not open and close from the water freezing. Plus the exits were so full of frozen water nobody could exit.
        I have no idea where you live of how they would solve this, but when the weather reads a steady 5 above of zero…few car washes are open.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Where I live the concrete pads underneath the washes are heated,no ice build-up. They’re also quite cozy inside making them an ideal spot to do a little maintenance along with the wash

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Where I live the concrete pads underneath the washes are heated, no ice build-up. They’re also quite cozy ins1de making them an ideal spot to do a little maintenance along with the wash

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          The Greater Toronto Area but I have used winter car washes as far north as Sudbury where -40 (at that point its basically the same in Fahrenheit as in Celsius) temperatures are not unknown.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Surely rust of the vicious variety ended when car manufacturers discovered double-s*ded galvanized tin. My recollection is that Audi were first about 1986 on the 5000. The 4000 never got it, but subsequent 90s did. The rest of the Germans swiftly followed.

    In the US, double-s*ded galvanized was regarded as frippery, so at first Big Three cars got single-sided galvanized in the early 1990s.

    The Japanese, showing the innate conservatism of their early tractor-engined, cart-leaf sprung Toyota years, didn’t trust double-s*ded galvanized for years, preferring to let their ’90s mass-market cars melt into piles of iron oxide by using tried-and-true regular tin. Camrys and Cressidas of the 90s, no matter how overbuilt in the conventional sense, didn’t last long enough for their durability charms to be felt, except out west.

    Hondas were even worse – the 2002 Accord was the first that didn’t disappear when you turned your back. And the pool of Honda rust engineers stationed in Dartmouth. NS for over a decade went home. The answer had been discovered! Double-s*ded galvanized tin. Apparently, the obsolete art of keen observation, i.e. US and European cars no longer rusting, escaped the eagle eye of the Honda engineers. No, they discovered the holy grail entirely independently back in the research labs in Japan. The squad of 200 mile per day housewives cavorting in Hondas on the highways of Nova Scotia for extra pocket money was dissolved instead.

    Mazda discovered the same truth even later, making tentative first steps with single-sided galvanized (look, the Protege dissolved from the unprotected inside).

    Thus we have reached the present day, when even the cheapest vehicle sports the technical digital age marvel of double-s*ded galvanized sheet metal, finally matching the longevity of garbage cans made that way since before the 1950s.

  • avatar
    MrGrieves

    If I recall, Ford had some rust issues with Windstar (?) minivans not too long ago? The dealer was instituting a half-ass fix by welding over the rusted body portion with a plate, then bolting up components to that plate?

    Also BMW had some issues in the early 2000’s with 3-series sedans rear subframe mounts corroding, which could cause the subframe to pull away from the body.

    But I think in general cars are substantially more rust-resistant now. Can’t generalize to country of origin.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam Hell Jr

      Concur. The most recent-model vehicles I’ve seen with significant rust (in Toledo) are Daimler-era Chryslers, notably Pacificas and a 300 or two. I’ve noticed some last-gasp Olds and Pontiac products succumbing early, but there are a LOT of Aleros and G5s on the roads here so that could just be a sampling of poor maintenance. Same with the previous-gen Focus. And, yes, a Ford-era Mazda now and again. Especially the Tribute.

      Honorable mention for crappy paint use to late-model Honda and inexpensive Toyotas, though. Rust, no. Paint chips like birdshot wounds, you betcha.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Actually saw a *** Ciera *** the other day with no more than surface rust on it in the Jackman/Laskey area of Toledo, IIRC.

        Honda paint’s improved a little, but it’s still rather thin. Paint-protection film is a wise investment if buying one new.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      BMWs issue had nothing to do with rust. The subframe mount area was simply not up to the loads, especially on cars driven “enthusiastically”. That area would then crack apart.

      Despite Windstars reputation for rusting, neither of them that my Grandparents had ever had rust issues. Everything else failed on them, but they didn’t rust in the 5 years they had each of them.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    By far the biggest offenders for early body corrosion formation are Mazdas, the worst being the Japan built models. So Wisconsin cousin’s assertion is incorrect.

    Other makes and models have their quirks that can cause them to corrode faster in certain prone areas, but Mazdas consistently corrode quickly in the typical areas of the quarter panels, rockers and fenders.

    Other than that example however, there isn’t much difference America vs. Japan as various corrosion protection processes applied at the plant are nearly universal.

    • 0 avatar
      zamoti

      Owner of a rusty 07 hiroshima built cx9 to say that, yes they still rusted early.
      The whole car is a bit fragile though what with. Dead transfer case, early worn ball joints, clackity duratec 35 and slow/sloppy transmission.

      I like my Mazdas, but this one has been the least favorite (maybe except for the Probe).

  • avatar
    LeadHead

    In my experience, most Toyota Cars (trucks/SUVs are another story) have been extremely rust resistant for over two decades now. Much more so than American cars.

    Honda cars are close, followed Nissan.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    I haven’t seen any rust on my 5 yo scoobs but the paint is definitely shit. I had chips driving them home from the dealer.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Meh, it depends on the timeframe and the manufacturer and the user not the “country of origin”.

    Rustiest vehicle I ever had was a 1982 Chevy Celebrity but everything rusted back in those days. 2nd rustiest was a 1987 Cutlass Supreme that got the dreaded frame rot.

    Uncle Mac’s mid 80s Subaru Loyale wagon turned to red dust. Dad’s 1992 Bonneville seemed impervious on the other hand.

    When I lived in MI I saw plenty of rusty vehicles depending on how often and how fast you drove down the many stone/dirt roads in the area.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Here in the Toledo area (a little north of your hometown, IIRC), the GM As and Js circa ’82-’88 or so would disintegrate within ten or fifteen years. (The later ones held up better.) My Dad only kept his ’86 Century for four years, but even then, I recall a bubble or two forming on the trunk and around the doors (even after having had some stealership “rustproofing” applied)! My second car, a 1984 Sunbird hatch, was on its way to base elements by the time I handed it down to my brother, and he traded it on his first new car, a ’95 Integra.

      Then there was my 1978 Cutlass Salon (inherited from an aunt, and already a hooptie from neglect in 1988) whose doors both rotted, along with the rear fenders. (It met its ultimate demise when its subsequent owner caromed it weirdly off a cliff, and the fuel line dropped out due to rot.) Oddly, my parents’ 1980 Cutlass Sedan and 1983 Regal Custom Sedans didn’t show any rot in the frames, and only maybe a little surface rust here and there when they were traded (though the Olds’ driver door had a good-sized bubble, IIRC, at the end.)

      Then my folks started down their parade of Hondas: my Dad’s Accords have all been flawless from day one to trade-in, my Mom’s 1990 Civic’s left-rear bumper was hanging in space, it’s mounts having rusted away, and her current 2007 will have a couple areas of surface rust in the rear fenders (what else?) fixed this spring; car’s not driven that much, so it’ll be good.

      My 1994 Civic had some telltale signs of rust on the fenders, and even my 2000 Accord had a bubble on the left side, same place. My 2006 Accord was as rust-free as the day I drove it home when I traded it for my present 2013 Accord Touring.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Say what you want about VW but they do a very good job on their cars in regards to rust, you really do not see rusty VW’s on the road.

    • 0 avatar
      jrmason

      My wife’s 01 Beetle TDI which is her daily commuter of 100 miles of freeway driving looks better underneath than our 08 Mountaineer. Its got 1/3 of the miles of the Beetle and only gets driven when we go somewhere as a family. The Mountaineer gets washed regularly at the car wash with the under body wash option and is garaged kept, the Beetle sits outside, gets heavy exposure to the salt and almost never sees a carwash. It amazes me how clean it is.

    • 0 avatar
      Fordson

      This is true. I live in the Buffalo area and I have never seen for example a B5 Passat with a rust hole in it. And those go back to 1998. I owned a 2000, sold it 2010 with 162,000 miles, all in this area of the country, no rust to speak of on it.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      The easy joke here is that VWs don’t last long enough to rust.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Do you see any old VWs on the road, though?

      I haven’t seen a 2001 Jetta in quite some time, but I see lots of other cars from the early 2000s.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        MKIV VWs are all over the place here in Maine. I do see rusty ones now and again, but evidently not rusty enough to fail inspection. You can have surface rust, but no holes. What are GONE are the MKIII VWs – those rusted like crazy. But the newest of those cars are 15 now, so no big surprise. There is not much of anything 15 years old and Japanese left around here either.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Plenty of MkIVs in Northwest Ohio, and not a speck on ’em!

        Yes, apparently rustproofing is one thing VW did right with these!

  • avatar

    Having grown up in Upstate New York, I saw plenty of rust on both sides of the Pacific. Both my 1973 and 1976 Dodge Dart lost their rear frames, and the front K-member on the 1976. My 1989 and 1991 Toyota Camry rusted out the spare tire wells, rear strut mounts, and all four fenders. My 1993 Jeep Wrangler lost its right rear quarter and cracked the frame there, but that may have been more for off-road abuse than anything else. I don’t recall having issues with my 1988 Chevy S-10 Blazer, 1994 Toyota Corolla, or 2005 Toyota RAV4.

    Then, of course, came the Toyota recalls, rusted-out frames, spare tire mounts, fuel tank straps. When I was working at Toyota during that time, someone joked that “The Germans invented rust, and the Japanese went ahead and perfected it.”

  • avatar
    jrmason

    I was a die hard Toyota owner before Toyota was ever really popular, and they did indeed crumble in short order here in the rust belt. Even up to the early 90s models (pick ups and 4runners) were notorious. I could easily get 300k out of a truck but it would take 2-3 bed swaps and at least one cab swap to get there. Also had to jack many frames back up and plate the weak spots and weld them up. The area right behind the cab was a guaranteed weak link at some point. I got pretty good swapping bodies on those trucks, a bed was a quick afternoon project and the cab swap could be done in a day with an assistant if there was no frame work involved. There almost always was though, and it was a good time to needle gun the frame and give it a good coat of epoxy to hold off the inevitable.

    • 0 avatar
      FractureCritical

      it’s scarily common to see an older Toyota pick up in the northeast with the bed rubbing on the back of the cab. the frames rust out quite regularly.

      I have to take a tetanus shot just to change the oil on my 2002 Tacoma.

      but it still runs like new, so go fig.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      That truck sounds like Washington’s hatchet- replaced the head twice and the handle three times, still going strong. ;)

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    It’s a crapshoot. All it takes is a misstep in assembly, and you have an area not sealed, not coated, or traps water.

    I’ve had to pull all the plastic plugs from my xB to let the gallons of saltwater out from behind the back wheels. The rubber door seals on the Taurus X had to be trimmed at the bottom to do the same.

    Those Mazdaspeeds always get the “Why is this here…Ohhhhhh.” award at the junkyards.

    The latest one I’m hearing is Chevy Cruze disintegrating behind the back wheel and arches.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Another good reason to buy a vehicle late in the model cycle. You can see what rusts easily and what doesn’t

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      Interesting about the Cruze, I’ll have to keep an eye out for those.

      A good way to see what cars are rust prone is to go to the dealers that have wholesale lots where they put the trades that are too effed to be sold at the regular used lot. Those cars are usually pretty neglected so if a car is going to rust, you’ll see it at the wholesale lot.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      It’s not just the Cruze, and no, this is not 10 minutes of GM hate spurred by my disgust of all things recent Cadillac (vehicles & management).

      Look at all the verified cases of everything from current Chevy/GMC pickups to Chevy Cruzes to Chevy Equinoxes developing rust essentially while still new on dealer lots on suspension & underbody metal (crossmembers & frame rails) components.

      And it’s not just happening in the north. There is either class action litigation in process or pending in Florida and other places south for said rust underneath GMC/Chevy pickups.

      GM, in many respects, is “going Chinese” faster than most other automakers in terms of cutting corners in production methods and use of low quality raw & finished materials.

      • 0 avatar
        nickoo

        Can confirm. My father bought a late model low mileage GM truck a few years back, (2005 model in about 2007) and although it was only a few years old at the time, the rust in the under-body and frame was completely unacceptable. It looked like nothing more than a single coat of thin black paint had been put on it and there were major rust spots all throughout the frame. He ended up selling it as fast as he could once he found out how bad it was and took a loss on the whole ordeal.

        I guess buyer beware, but a car company that goes backwards and cheapens out on things like rust protection isn’t a company I would want to buy a product from. I hear the current dodge trucks are still pretty bad too, at least there’s the new ford aluminum trucks, let’s hope they apply proper paint coatings to the steel parts!

      • 0 avatar
        THEEVILDRSIN

        Or “going oriental” apparently

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      My Dodge Dakota is rusting at the very tops of the wheel wells where they are welded to the pickup bed. I live in Florida thus no salt on the roads, but I pickup saltwater at the boat ramp all the time. Its taken over 12 years but the paint is bubbling up and metal is starting to flake off. My ’89 Prelude had a dime size area of rust around the sunroof that I easily sanded off and fixed myself.

      • 0 avatar
        Occam

        My wife has a ’07 Versa. She has always been of the mind of, “If it’s running, it’s fine.” I went over the car and touched up some rock chips, and noticed that the ones on the hood that are down to bare metal never have an issue, but the ones on the rocker panels and fenders would have little spots of reddish-brown. I scraped it out with an Xacto knife to bare metal and touched up the paint.

        The car has been out of Texas once, and that was only for a drive to Florida and back.

  • avatar
    brettc

    Here in Maine where they use a mix of salt and sand (but mostly sand whenever possible because it’s cheaper) I see a mix of rusty Mazdas and rusty Dodge trucks like recent and older Dodge RAMs. I see the occasional rusty old GM still on the road, but that’s mostly it. But by far the most common rust bucket is a Mazda, and it’s usually a Protege/3 of some sort.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I owned a 2002 Protégé 5. I drove it for 120k miles in Michigan for approximately 5 years. During that time I never had any rust issues with the car. I will concede though that just about every one I see on the road today is rusty around wheel wells and trunk lid. My contender for rust issues is 90’s, early 2000’s VW’s. Doesn’t seem like a rust through issue, but edges of body panels seem to go quickly on them.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Rust has NO brand loyalties. Hondas rust, so do Nissans and Toyotas. GM cars, and trucks rust. I’ve lived my whole life in the heart of rust country. My brother is a scrap dealer. He buys scraps, not wrecks. Anywhere from 10 to 15 year old cars cross his scales everyday.

    Rust is the common killer. If rust get a hold of a BMW, it becomes cost prohibitive to repair. Rust will eat a 12 year Impala, the rockers will, go first. Then either brake and fuel lines go. When the Sub frame rots of the body, its done. A Nissan hard body had about a ten year lifespan here in Southern Ontario. The loader operator has to be carefull picking up any Toyota truck. The frame will bend in half. My friend was looking at a 2010 Escalade last spring. We went underneath with a flash light. Surface rust everywhere. With out an intervention, the body on that SLADE will be toast in 7 -8 years. My buddy offered 7k less then they wanted. The dealer was willing to drop 4k. We walked. We may have been old guys, but we have seen just too many nice vehicles, turning into garbage.

    If you live here you have two choices. You either drill holes, and lay a liberal application of an oil based inhibitor yearly. Or you park your vehicle in a garage for 4 or 5 months.

    I know, all the Euro crowd here is going to rant about how wonderful German engineering is.. The rusty VWs and BMW’s and Mercs I see everyday tell a different story.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      “We may have been old guys, but we have seen just too many nice vehicles, turning into garbage.”

      Who knows better about rust then “old guys”?

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Jaeger

      People talk about the rust resistance of VW/Audi and BMW mostly because there is significant truth to it. It’s true that in Canada rust will eventually claim them, too, but they tend to resist it significantly better and longer. I don’t just mean the surface rust on body panels that is so visible on Mazdas, but the difference in condition of all of the underbody fasteners between Mazda and the Germans is remarkable.

      Any attempt to do maintenance on a Mazda past six years old in Canada is a constant battle of broken bolts and massive persuasion to separate rusted parts. A totally different experience on the German cars until they are at least fifteen years old.

      I’ll grant that the Detroit big three and Honda/Toyota Nissan are very similar in terms of rust resistance – mostly pretty good by now. Some evidence suggests the Koreans have recently caught up to the middle of the pack, but I’m still not convinced.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    There’s a bit of lore about the early Chevy Malibu’s (when GM switched to the small front wheel drive versions,) that they were prone to rot in certain panels only because the car was built with steel from Japan and steel from the U.S. Depending on who you asked, the rusty panels were the ones from Japan, and then someone else who’s bias was in the other direction would claim it was the U.S. steel. And then there was a third story that the rust was due to dissimilar metals. Me? Never saw any rusty Malibu’s.
    The bottom line on this is everything rots, if it isn’t salt and other noxious chemicals its UV, sunlight, smog, tree sap, bugs, birds, rodents, hail, stones kicked up by passing trucks, vandalism, or just some nit wit with a shopping cart. And if it isn’t any of those things some part of your car will still be crumbling before your eyes because you touched it too many times and the oils in your hands reacted with the material, or simply that its old or should have been made differently; and if you decide to hide your car in climate controlled museum where it’s completely safe and everyone can enjoy it, a sink hole can swallow it and everything else around it in seconds.
    Now that I’ve cheered everyone up about manmade things,
    Merry Christmas.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Glad that you mentioned the Malibu. I never really noticed the 5th generation Malibu 1997-2003 that much (although I did own one) until recently when I started to realize just how many are still on the road as daily drivers and/or winter beaters. It seems that they have held up very well, particularly when compared to their stepbrother the Pontiac Grand Am.

      Yet the vast majority of these Malibus have a rust streak/hole/spot directly under their gas cap.

      This can’t just be because all these owners overfill or spray their car when refueling can it?

      Then is it because of the area/nation of origin of this panel?

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Well, Merry F*cking Christmas to you too… Now all you kids get your rust buckets off my lawn, Bah!

      lol

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    This is a non conversion. Why would anyone be stupid enough to point fingers at a whole nation and childishly accuse them of making rust buckets. It’s School yard finger pointing.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    It’s better to burn out than it is to rust

    Hey hey, my my

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    It really blows my mind that car manufacturers struggled so long with rust issues even up to the 2000’s. Of all the engineering challenges with modern automobile manufacturing, you would think that issue would have been solved decades ago.

    I’m sure much of it was planned obsolescence when the Big 3 ruled the planet, but that was generations ago.

  • avatar
    Roader

    My mom’s ’01 Corolla w/68K miles is rotting out behind the rear wheel wells. Chicago winters are long and cold.

    • 0 avatar
      focus-ed

      I put 2000 Kia Sephia out of its misery last summer (shortly after renewing registration and insurance with the intent to keep it for one more season as winter beater). I didn’t like the way brakes worked so tested it on an empty road (less than 40mph, gradually depressing the pedal with increased force). Brakes did not lock that time but – I only found it after closer inspection later on – the driver side stabilizer bar link ball joint on the control arm disintegrated with an odd crunchy noise (I did not see way to replace it due to rust all over the mount). It could have been worse if this was real emergency. At that point I realized that lifespan of modern cars in our region is limited by rust and not the drive-train (though having manual transmission is surely less to worry about).
      Oh yeah, the top “slice” of the control arm on that Kia was crumbled as well and so were passenger side rockers, heavy rust on fenders, hood, trunk and rusted through side of trunk floor. Makes me suspicious of every every Kia (there were other issues with it that left bad memories). I’ve seen similar rust issues on Mazdas owned by family members (impacted my buying decision when shopping for a spare vehicle to replace the late Kia).

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Every manufacturer’s rustproofing has improved over the years.

    My wife had a 1965 Corvair. By the time we sent it to the junk yard, it had rust holes everywhere. Since then, we have had mostly Japanese cars. A 1978 Datsun was the worst. The fenders showed rust after less than five years. By the time we gave up on it, the wheel wells were two inches larger than stock. After ten years, a 1987 Honda Civic had a rust hole behind the driver’s door.

    I had a 1984 RX-7 that I kept as a summer only car for fifteen years until I lost interest in it and needed a year round commuter car. After five winters, areas with chipped paint showed rust stains but there weren’t any holes. After sixteen winters, our 1998 Subaru is showing significant rust low down ahead of the front doors and I had to replace some corroded suspension parts.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    The real culprit here is salt. Where I live they dump an ungodly amount on the roads each year. I cringe when I see salt trucks make 3 and 4 passes on the same road in a short amount of time. I know it’s a necessary evil, but do they have to use so much?

    • 0 avatar
      focus-ed

      I’d argue with the necessary evil part. Sometimes there’s more salt than snow, seems like a waste in my opinion. The same happens on parking lots (why, really no need on slow speed areas) and sidewalks. Sometimes I get an impression that maintenance people do it just to leave proof of work (and then they have to replace burned grass, job security?). Same applies to snow plow operators wrecking roads at the slightest sight of the snow.

  • avatar
    George B

    I’ve wondered if one could combine parts from salt damaged and heat damaged junkyard cars to make a functional car. Here in Texas cars go to the junkyard with no rust, milky peeling clear coat, a worn out A/C compressor, and a failing automatic transmission. Too bad transmissions from the cooler salt belt can’t be swapped into a rust-free heat damaged car to make a beater.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    This is one of the reasons that I skipped out on a ’99 Vic cop car, absolutely little to any rust protection underneath, no mud-flaps, no inner fender bits. I’ve heard some police forces complain about having to combat rust on these.

    I’d love to point and say that Japanese cars are the worst as far as rust goes, but out of all the cars I’ve owned the most rusty would have to be a 1990 Plymouth Horizon, it was so bad that a simple tire kick would shave off bits of metal.

    Its really more of a matter of maintenance and care, though I’m still going to knock Japanese models for their cheap paint in the 90’s, same goes for General Motors and Chrysler.

    The most rust FREE would be my Florida Volvo 240, they knew a thing or two about coating and anti-corrosion by then, their paint was really good at that point too. Less so with when 850 showed up.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Panthers have plastic inner fenders up front that do keep the crap from stacking up on the inner fender lip. The 03 up have next to no fender lip thanks to the Marauder so they shouldn’t trap much muck up there.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        I guess that stuff got knocked out on the car I saw, it was an ex-cop car.

        I’ll throw the older Panthers a bone here, for every clean vintage MarquisVic I see theres an older B-Body that either has its trunk rusting out, outer plastic rotting, or paint wear, even the “Whales” rust bad, aero-Panthers seen rustproof. Any semi-decent B-Bodys get donked while Panthers just get driven.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          The front inner fenders are what the air cleaner, fuse box and a lot of other things are mounted to so they aren’t going to get knocked out and the car still be on the road. Out here cars don’t rust but there still aren’t an B’s whether box or whale still on the road. Panthers on the other hand are everywhere including lots of boxes. It seem like I see at least 2 or 3 boxes out on the road every week.

  • avatar
    calgarytek

    Looking at the picture of that 3, there’s absolutely no seam sealer on any of the joints. Those are just welds that have been painted over.

    Honda’s are notorious for rear quarter panel rust. That’s probably about the only area they’ll go before the rest of the car implodes. Absolutely no seam sealer/sealant/splash guard to protect the area. No issues in the front and even if the front quarters go, they’re easy to replace.

  • avatar
    Numbers_Matching

    Common rust sightings for me:
    – GMT 800 pickups rear wheel arches after about 8 years on the road.
    – GMT 900 pickups rear wheel arches just starting to bubble
    – Ford F series ’94+ rear wheel arches completely rotted out.
    (the rear wheel arches on most late model pick-ups seem to be really bad for trapping moisture)
    – Mazda CX9 rear hatch (mine) small bubbles on hatch (really thin steel BTW)

    Most rust resistant vehicle I’ve had while living in the rust belt?
    ’98 VW GTI VR6 – Hencho in Mexico…

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    My 03 Silverado extended cab basey has significant rust along the bottom of the cab and quarter-sized rust bubbles around the wheel arches on the bed.

    I’ve heard this is a common issue. Then again, I see numerous Silverados of similar vintage and its a coin toss as to whether or not rust (in the same areas) is present.

    Runs like a top (always has) and hasn’t had a good wash or vacuum in about 4 years. So I suppose I’m not complaining.

    And God dog, if I have to see another rusty C-Class Merc running around, I will have to abolish the brand from my household altogether!

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    When I was looking for a used minivan earlier this summer, I looked at many 2005-2007 Dodge/Chrysler minivans. Most of the 2005s had perforating rear wheel well rust. The 2006s had noticeable rust in the same place, and the 2007s had slight rust. I looked at Honda Odysseys from the same period with no significant visible rust.

    • 0 avatar
      Grant404

      I know what you mean. Back in ’07 I was looking to buy a clean, loaded-up minivan to replace our faithful but tired 165k mile ’94 version. The newest loaded-up low-to-average mileage T&C Limiteds that were within my budget were ’01 models (equivalent year/mileage Odysseys were out of my range even with fewer options), so over a period of weeks I scoured the listings and went to look at several ’01 T&Cs.

      We live in an area that gets moderate snow and salt, so when looking to buy a used vehicle I’m very careful to get underneath and check for corrosion. Although none of the ’01s I looked at had body perforation (yet), it was disheartening seeing how rusty the undersides were on otherwise clean, low-to-reasonable mileage (70k and below) six year old vehicles.

      Rather than settle for a potential rust bucket, I decided to start looking online for ’01s for sale in Florida, and much to my surprise, I found prices to be in line with vehicles up here. I ended up flying down to a dealer in Sarasota and buying an ’01 T&C Limited that had a clean Carfax showing it to have always been a Fla vehicle. The difference underneath was amazing compared to any of the northern vehicles I had seen.

      Going on eight years later I still have it in my garage, fourteen years old and just turned a gentle 100k miles. It has always been just an occasional, fair weather use-only, special purpose vehicle for me, so it’s still never seen salt or snow and seldom even rain, and it still looks new top and bottom. To me, it was very much worth spending $100 for airfare and the price of driving home to get one that had never suffered through northern winters. I regularly see examples on the streets up here that are only six or so years old and already have body panel perforation.

      That being said, the rustiest vehicle I have ever owned was a 1979 Toyota that I bought used for just a few hundred bucks in about 1987. By the time I retired it around 1990 it still ran ok, but was more rust than metal.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Rust? What’s rust?

    – From the almost totally salt-free Pacific Northwest, where even old Mazdas aren’t rusting

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Drive your car into the Pacific up to your wheel wells, let it sit there for a week, then you’ll understand

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      Nope, no rust in the PNW, just that ungodly greenish mix of evergreen pollen and mold that all old cars get coated with until it becomes patina. Eve n if they tried to salt here on those occasions when snow sticks, the perpetual drizzle would just rinse it away the next week.

  • avatar
    lightbulb

    I live in New England and I see many early to mid 00’s Chrysler vehicles with severe rust issues much more than any other manufacture. My own personal experience is with a 2004 Jeep Liberty that all four doors completely rusted out around the bottom, then around the rear window and the rear suspension control arms also had to be replaced under recall because of rust issues. I still see plenty of Liberty’s, and Dodge’s with severe rust around the doors and on the fenders that are less than 10 years old. I do not see that many GM, Ford’s or Toyota’s from the time period that have severe rust, at most some spots around the wheel wells or on the metal bumper. In the end all vehicles will rust in this region just some worse than others.

  • avatar
    JohnnyFirebird

    Lessee, as a used car manager in a rust-prone area, the worst offenders seem to be:

    Mazda Tributes (1st gen, pre-facelift)
    Ford Focus (Horrible 2nd facelift version)
    MKIV VW Golfs and Jettas
    2006-2007 VW Passat sedans and wagons
    2006-2007 VW Jetta
    1995-2003 Volvo S40
    Sunfire / Cavaliers
    Mazda5
    Mazda3. All of them. Every one. Even a 2nd generation 2010 I had in my lot was starting to rust on the tailgate.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @ Johnny Firebird…..How refreshing to see an observation from the “real” world. One not tainted by GM hate.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnnyFirebird

        Well, I did mention the Cavaliers and Sunfires. And the Cobalt has other long term issues other than rust, they quite literally fall apart after six years, things you don’t see on other cars. But the other GMs I have had in inventory haven’t been bad.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Interesting that the 1st gen Escape isn’t on that list. They roll off the same assembly line as the Tribute and the body shell isn’t set to get one badge or another until it makes it out of the body shop and to the paint/assembly lines.

    • 0 avatar
      focus-ed

      I guess I’m lucky. My 2002 Focus may not be entirely rust free but considering the beating it’s taken it’s hard to believe. Done little to no rust proofing until last 2, 3 years (better late than never;). I “blame” the plastic rocker panels and “yolk” paint. Now I wish it came with plastic panel/deflectors under the engine – last year’s salt surely showed up on the brake lines attached to the firewall – biggest worry at this point.

  • avatar
    whynotaztec

    I had a Boston area body shop for several years until just recently. What I saw:
    Turn of the century Mercedes sedans – absolute junk
    Dodge pickups – horrible bedsides up to 05 and perhaps later
    Ditto ford pickups
    Buick century and regal rockers – 2000 ish
    Ovoid Taurus – doglegs
    Other regular customers were black Mitsubishi paint recall vehicles. Far worse however is any black accord or civic from late nineties right up to 07 as far as I saw. They all had crows feet on the hood trunk and roof. Hard to see except under shop lights……unless you try to paint it.

  • avatar
    EAF

    The city agency I work for owns a fleet of Prius, Volts and Fusions. The mechanics tell me that out of the aforementioned, the Fusions are sufferring from the worst cases of rust. They have also been the least reliable. :(

    Based on my personal experience, Nissan’s develop rust very early on.

    • 0 avatar
      Roader

      In the east, yeah. In the west my ’00 Frontier doesn’t have a speck of rust on it. I just sold my ’88 F-250 and it was absolutely solid steel with zero rust. It seems to me that someone looking to buy an older used car would be ahead spending $100 on O/W airfare and four days in a $40/night Motel6 to buy a car in the rust-free west. If he had the time, anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        And this would be why I bought my ’01 Range Rover in San Antonio and drove it back to Maine. I’ll take a little sunburn on the roof and a shiny frame to pristine paint and rusty everything underneath any day.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      That is interesting as the govt fleets around here sell about half of their Prius as “non fuctioning/needs main battery”. At the most recent county auction they had a shipping container full of Prius battery cores. 8 pallets with 8-10 batteries per pallet. Most of the county govt around here have been replacing their Pruis with CMax. I do see a fair number of fed Fusion Hybrids, can’t say I’ve seen any govt Volts.

      • 0 avatar
        EAF

        This is very interesting Scout, may I ask which city you reside in?

        The term they use here is “condemned.” A Prius is condemned when the cost of the repair work needed is greater than the residual value of the car. Other than those Prius’ involved in collisions, I don’t believe ANY have been condemned to date. Rather impressive, I would estimate the fleet to be over 100 cars. HIGHLY abused and neglected fleet I may add.

        Not a single C-Max, I think they’re leaning towards replacing the Prius fleet with Ecoboost Escapes.

  • avatar
    whynotaztec

    I owned a body shop in the Boston area until just recently. Some of the repeat offenders I observed in no particular order:
    – circa 2000 mercedes sedans – just junk
    – dodge ram pickups – rear wheel openings, right up to at least 2005
    – ford pickups – ditto
    – circa 2000 century and regal – rockers gone
    – ovoid taurus/sable – doglegs
    – various gm gas cap area -sedans
    – circa 05 mustang alum hood corrosion, same with tailgates on expedition/navigator
    Not rust but worst defect I observed in terms of sheer numbers: late nineties through 2006 or so accords and civics – clear coat peel followed by crows feet on the hood, roof, and trunk. almost all black cars and some dark greens. almost impossible to fix. i even saw it on the hood of an 07 civic si – disgraceful.

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    Is my ’02 Tribute a Mazda or a Ford? It’s not shown any rust on the rocker panels, just beginning patches under the rear doors. I’ve been doing my best to keep it from spreading by not parking indoors and encouraging the melt-freeze cycle that contributes to rust. Also I don’t drive much during the winter.

  • avatar
    Numbers_Matching

    IMHO: the undisputed champion of perforated rust prevention: W124 Series E-Class – the oldest versions are now 29 years old (!) – the youngest are now 20. I have seen some with significant surface rust from paint chips, but NEVER perforated. These were still using the robust steel thickness and coating strategy developed by MB through the 70’s.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Not even close. My w124 wagon from FL had rot under the rear windows on each side, and up here in Maine the sills rot out of them, starting around the drains and jack holes. Not to say they were BAD, but they were not perfect, and not as good as similar year Volvo 7/940s. MUCH better than the W123s though. And much, much, much better than the next generation or two that got the new environmentally friendly paint and undercoating.

      The world champion non-rusters for old European cars are 80’s-90’s Audis. Shame they have so many OTHER dilemmas, because they just don’t rust at all body-wise. I’d say Volvo 940s to ’94 are a close second, ’95s got some of that new environmentally friendly undercoating and are not as good. And of course, there are a ton more ’90s Volvos still on the road. 20+ years old and still everywhere around here.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    Around Toledo, it used to be Toyota trucks, and the Vegas/Monzas/pick your clones that used to be the really fast rusters, with the Toyota trucks being way worse than anything else I can think of. A neighbor bought a new Toyota truck, I think it was an ’85, and I’ve never seen anything that hadn’t been burned rust like it did. It was kind of a lighter blue, and the rust first showed up as darker spots along that insanely badly done seam those trucks had. After only a couple years, the bed had holes bigger than my fist, and the cab was going too, but more slowly. The bed was replaced with this weird railroad tie and green treated lumber flatbed thing that outlasted the cab. When the top of the windshield rotted out, it was gone, replaced by one of the boxy F150’s from the early 1990’s. The F150 lasted a long time, and was only replaced a couple of years ago by a stripped Chevy Silverado W/T. The F150 hadn’t died of rust, it died due to a spun bearing and slipping transmission. It had rust in the usual spots, but wasn’t even close to being scrapped due to rust. My former, and later on, a friend’s 1988 S-10 Blazer died in 2012, after almost 500K miles on the original short block due to the windshield/roof area rotting out. I see quite a few of them still running around, so I think a messed up windshield replacement after it was stolen the first of two times might have had some part in it’s rusting so badly in that area. He bought one of the first GMC Envoys and it’s still going strong on it’s second engine. The original was running fine when his wife ignored the oil light coming on and kept driving it. A bad oil leak caused by a rock or something that hit the pan and cracked it, causing it to leak. She ignored the huge spot on the driveway and in her parking spot at work, until the lack of oil caused the engine to seize. Needless to say, she received some intense, uh, education, about not driving it with the oil light on.

  • avatar
    DrGastro997

    ….and Japan doesn’t use salt on their roads and highways, even in northern Japan.

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