Piston Slap: American Rust Vs. Japanese Rust?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
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piston slap american rust vs japanese rust

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 )

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 sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.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.

Sajeev Mehta
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  • Nrd515 Nrd515 on Dec 26, 2014

    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.

  • DrGastro997 DrGastro997 on Dec 30, 2014

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

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  • George Hughes What ever happened to the American can-do attitude. I know what, it was coopted by the fossil fuel industry in their effort to protect their racket.
  • 28-Cars-Later "But Assemblyman Phil Ting, the San Franciscan Democrat who wrote the electric school bus legislation, says this is all about the health and wellbeing of Golden State residents. In addition to the normal air pollution stemming from exhaust gasses, he believes children are being exposed to additional carcinogens by just being on a diesel bus."Phil is into real estate, he doesn't know jack sh!t about science or medicine and if media were real it would politely remind him his opinions are not qualified... if it were real. Another question if media were real is why is a very experienced real estate advisor and former tax assessor writing legislation on school busses? If you read the rest of his bio after 2014, his expertise seems to be applied but he gets into more and more things he's not qualified to speak to or legislate on - this isn't to say he isn't capable of doing more but just two years ago Communism™ kept reminding me Dr. Fauxi knew more about medicine than I did and I should die or something. So Uncle Phil just gets a pass with his unqualified opinions?Ting began his career as a real estate  financial adviser at  Arthur Andersen and  CBRE. He also previously served as the executive director of the  Asian Law Caucus, as the president of the Bay Area Assessors Association, and on the board of  Equality California. [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Ting#cite_note-auto-1][1][/url][h3][/h3]In 2005, Ting was appointed San Francisco Assessor-Recorder in 2005 by Mayor  Gavin Newsom, becoming San Francisco’s highest-ranking  Chinese-American official at the time. He was then elected to the post in November 2005, garnering 58 percent of the vote.Ting was re-elected Assessor-Recorder in 2006 and 2010During his first term in the Assembly, Ting authored a law that helped set into motion the transformation of Piers 30-32 into what would become  Chase Center the home of the  Golden State Warriorshttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Ting
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