body work?

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The vehicle is a 2001 Chrysler Neon with 176,000 kilometers / 110,000 miles on it. It has been driven since new in an area where the roads get plastered with salt during the winter. It is in good shape mechanically with excellent oil analysis results. The body is in pretty good shape considering it is a daily driver. The issue now is that at the driver side rear fender area where the bumper attaches to the fender about 3 - 4 paint bubbles have appeared this spring. One of the bubbles appears to have a small perforation in the paint with a tiny streak of rust to it. Before this there has always been one tiny spot there but I always thought it was a paint defect... well now we know it was more than that. My dilemma and questions... -I plan on keeping the car at least 2 - 3 more years. -There is one other small visible area of rust developing along the outside lower driver's door... very small spot. -Should I get that fender bubble sport repaired or at this stage should I leave the cosmetic alone and take care of only the mechanical? That is what I'm wrestling with at this stage... I see other areas of small rust... such as that spot on the lower driver's door... also spots on the inside of the doors. Nothing has developed too serious yet... except for those bubbles on the fender. I suspect at this stage fighting the rust is a losing battle but I hate the idea of running around with holes in that rear fender if I don't do anything with it. Any words of wisdom on this?
 
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Personally, I think its a losing battle that isn't worth fighting at this stage. You won't be able to get rid of it; and if you do, it will be expensive. What you could try, however, is try to stop the rust where it is now - get the car rust checked. Yeah, it cost $100 or so, but it will slow the rust down so tht it doesn't become a real eyesore or structural issue for the next 3-4 years. Just my thoughts...
 
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I don't think it's worth paying someone to fix one spot of cancer on a car when you know it is starting in multiple other places. Turning it into a project and doing some home repair, that would make sense. Several rust removal, eating, stopping, treating methods have been discussed in the past on BITOG.
 

Paul56

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Okay, then I was not too far off with my thoughts. The paint still shines on this vehicle and it still looks great. I've been going over the vehicle for the past couple of years... I don't believe the rust issue is extensive or serious at this point. The most serious issue is that fender... which most folks would say is nothing. I can get a treatment from Krown for $100. I feel a little silly going in for that now... but if it will slow the rust it might be worth it. Thanks for the comments guy.
 
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The car is well worth maintaining. Compare the preventative and fixing costs to getting a new one. Get a pro for the inside and underneath stuff. It's up to you about the bodywork. Given enough time and mistakes, anyone can do good bodywork.
 
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Fix it. Who cares if it's "just a neon" or you "just need a couple more years"? Worth taking care of. Rust really is cancer, you have to get it early and completely to keep it from spreading.
 

Paul56

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I went to the best body shop in town this morning for an estimate. Prices quoted below are in Canadian dollars. -Bubble spot on the rear driver side fender: $475 -Small perforation at outside bottom rear of driver door: $325 Repairs will consist of cutting out the bad metal, replacing with new metal and refinishing. Compared to purchasing new car this seems cheap; however, after a while the repairs start to add up. I may go ahead with this repair. Then get the exhaust looked at which has developed a serious rattle. After that... just regular maintenance and drive it. I was considering replacing both O2 sensors as well but there are no symptoms at this time that would warrant that... simply a proactive replacement on my part.
 
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Your "exhaust rattle" may be nothing more than a worn out muffler. They can develop rattles internally once the guts start rusting out. Could also be a bad hanger. Usually you can check for a hanger problem by trying to shake the exhaust pipe (when cool of course!). If the hanger/s are secure, more than likely it's a worn out muffler.
 
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 Originally Posted By: eljefino
Fix it. Who cares if it's "just a neon" or you "just need a couple more years"? Worth taking care of. Rust really is cancer, you have to get it early and completely to keep it from spreading.
Exactly. An in law whom I do care about and respect says about my '00 cavalier: "Just let it rust. who cares?" I responded "I do. I don't have the funds to replace anything soon or even later, so I have to deal with the rust as best I can." I don't have the abilities, but am waiting for the decent warmer July weather to come along and also a few more vacation hours so I can take a week off to deal with the problem best I can without having to rush and possibly drive the car while the "fixings" dry.
 
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 Originally Posted By: Paul56
I went to the best body shop in town this morning for an estimate. Prices quoted below are in Canadian dollars. -Bubble spot on the rear driver side fender: $475 -Small perforation at outside bottom rear of driver door: $325 Repairs will consist of cutting out the bad metal, replacing with new metal and refinishing. Compared to purchasing new car this seems cheap; however, after a while the repairs start to add up. I may go ahead with this repair. Then get the exhaust looked at which has developed a serious rattle. After that... just regular maintenance and drive it. I was considering replacing both O2 sensors as well but there are no symptoms at this time that would warrant that... simply a proactive replacement on my part.
I'm sorry, but spending $800 to fix small, inconsequential rust spots, that will just re-appear elsewhere on a 8-year old car is foolish. Do try to get rid of the rust yourself, or at least 'coat it' so it will stop where it is, but spending good money on this kind of patch work is a rip-off, and the bodyshops know it.
 
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I agree. Unless this is a classic, or you plan on repainting the ENTIRE thing, I'd say skip it. If you're doing the bodywork yourself, well that's another story as there's only about twenty dollars of material per job. Avoid touching the O2 sensors. If they're working, leave them in, you'll curse yourself if you snap one in a manifold!
 
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If it is just the fender I'd let it go. If it really gets bad and ends up rusting through, you can just bolt on a new fender if you need to. I'd worry more about the under body and subframe.
 
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Just like others said I would not spend 800 dollars on this repair. The body shop will most likely sand the area and put bondo in it (rust will re-appear next year, guaranteed), they will not cut and weld new sheet metal. What I would do, and it worked on my previous car 95 accord (was 9 years old when I had it), which are notorious for rear fender rust, buy a can of Rust Cure or Rust Check (I prefer Rust Cure as it is thicker when it dries) at CT. This stuff is nice and runny when being sprayed, but dries to a nice thick oily paste that will withstand washing effects in the fender well. Spray it on the inside of the fender, and where the bumper meets the fender, be generous. The can is pretty big and lasted me for about two years, I sprayed before and after winter, after two years the paint was bubbling a little but the rust did not go through. So in your situation it would definitely slow down the rust without the need of spraying the whole car.
 
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Paul56

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Well guys... 5 of you say no to the body shop repair; while 3 say to get it fixed. $800 to fix a tiny spot on the door and 3 bubble spots along the lower fender seems like a lot. That same $800 will go a long way into a repair to keep the vehicle going mechanically. I thought perhaps the estimator would have made me a package deal for doing everything all at once but no such luck... individual quotes for everything I mentioned. As a result I'm not left with a great feeling... that and the possibility they will just fill with bondo rather than weld in new metal. I will only know what they do unless I'm there watching or I discover 6 months down the road the problem reappearing. I had this happen to me years ago where they said they would replace the metal... but stuffed it with bondo. Might as well left it alone and kept the rusty parts oiled to slow down the process. The vehicle is in A-1 condition mechanically right now... and that is really what I care most about at this point. The corrosion/rust is a very long ways away from making the vehicle unsafe.
 
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I'm with mechtech on this. It comes down to how much you cherish/value this Neon. If you can afford it, get it done professionally is always my advice. BTW, my 96 Neon just went in for paint/body work. Cost me over a grand but I dont mind these things since it does'nt carry a monthly payment with it. Plus it aint stock so it's one of my toys ;\)
 
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its rusting thru from the back and will only get worse, i doubt the car is worth much more than the estimate to fix the rust
 
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Paul, You made a good choice. As you said, the rust is a long ways from becoming a real issue - it is really just cosmetic at this point. But do treat it to see if you can slow it down. I've had good luck with 'rust converter' paint, that turns surface rust to a rough, black finish, but the spot doesn't rust anymore. Easy to get at C-T.
 

Paul56

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I see Neon's of this vintage & mileage going for ~$4,000 up here right now. I paid $2,500 for it 2 years ago and decided based on the oil analysis results that it was worth putting a few dollars into to get the maintenance & mechanical into A-1 condition. That has pretty much been accomplished at this point. The body is in reasonable shape for a daily driver. To the untrained eye viewing it they would say "what rust? I see no rust"... so that is what shape the body is in right now. I see the tiny spot on the door and bubbles on the fender because I've been going over the vehicle regularly for 2 years. I'm leaving well enough alone with the body at this point. I am considering checking inside the trunk to see how close to the bubble area on the fender I can get from the inside... and perhaps spraying the heck out of the area from the inside with WD-40. The hope is that will work its way down into the problem area and slow things down. Will do the same with the driver's and other doors. This vehicle may have seen its last salty winter because as I speak an immigration lawyer is working on my work visa so I can join the company I work for over in San Antonio, Texas. I know... I'm going through a lot of trouble and a long ways to slow down the rusting process... but the Neon is worth it.
 
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I agree with the others that the cost/benefit to repair the rust on a Neon in the rust belt area is money down the drain. The Krown treatment for only $100 dollars might be a good consideration if you trust them to get the interior crannies. There are better products out there than WD 40 as a diy treatment. Fluid Film is one that comes to mind. Search the forum for other products. http://www.fluid-film.com/
 
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The car is not worth the $800 the body shop wants. I would repair it myself and touch it up, then spray the back of the area with something like Amsoil HD metal protector. You will be repairing small spots like this all the time once rust sets in. You can keep it at bay, by repairing it and spraying the back side with a metal protector. I've kept many work vans going a long time doing it this way. JMO
 
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