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Thread: Used cars and salt damage: how bad can it be?

  1. #1
    Labcoatguy's Avatar
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    Used cars and salt damage: how bad can it be?

    I'm facing the possibility of having to buy a daily driver car in Boston, and I may not have time to go to Florida and buy one from near my parents. If I'm looking at a ~10-year old car, say a Nissan Maxima of that age, how bad would the rust damage be? I was under the impression that rust-proofing really took off after the mid-90s and that it shouldn't be a worry, but obviously it's still dangerous. What say you, residents of the northeast?

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    Really depends on the car and the owner, if you can see the underbody then you should know right away how bad it is. One way of knowing if its already got semi-catastrophic holes is if on colder days the windows fog up on the inside.

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    Ik ben niet alleen lekker met kaas! NooDle's Avatar
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    depends on the type of car, age and how well/bad the owner took care of it.

    Also, windows fogging up may not be a sign of holes, my old Golf used to do that and it was very rust free. I think it may have had something to do with bad rubber seals around the doors or something

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    The Deported Spectre's Avatar
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    Windows fogging up on the inside can also be a malfunctioning climate control system, a cold but humid climate, or a leaky heater core.
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    Or simply damp air leaking in through the air vents

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    It should be fairly easy to tell whether the car is rusting badly or not. From what I understand you are only going to be using it as a daily beater so as long as you aren't spending a whole lot of money on it and the rust isn't so bad that the paint is bubbling over a larger portion of the body or you can't stick your fingers through holes in the body panels or you don't run the risk of falling through the floor pans when driving some rust should be ok. It's not like you're buying a car to restore to pristine order, it's just transportation. You may be worried about appearance but as long as its solid it would be ok by my philosophy.

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    He who drives a Buick Punisher Bass's Avatar
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    Well my car is over 10 years old and despite being on salted roads and bad winters for that entire time, the underside is spotless. When I had it up on a rack a few months ago I saw that the undercoating has kept things totally rust free. So if you're buying a car above the ohio river valley I'd give the understide a visual inspection to see how things have held up.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Punisher Bass View Post
    Well my car is over 10 years old and despite being on salted roads and bad winters for that entire time, the underside is spotless. When I had it up on a rack a few months ago I saw that the undercoating has kept things totally rust free. So if you're buying a car above the ohio river valley I'd give the understide a visual inspection to see how things have held up.
    But yours is an indestructible Buick

    I'd have to say that you need to go on case by case basis. A girl from my auto club got an 89 (I think it's an 89 it's definetly an S13) 240sx that was barely driven and always garaged and it is absolutely mint, there is no rust on it whatsoever. So just check out w/e you end up getting and see if there is any rust.

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    GM_IV's Avatar
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    It is indeed owner to owner basis, there was actually a 2007 Dodge Caravan in my branch's fleet that began to rust on the outside. Crash damage that isn't fixed properly will rust pretty quickly, I've seen a 2000-2003 gen Maxima rust worse than my 1986 Cressida(before I got a shop to replace my fenders) just due to the fact it was in an accident and the repairs were a rush job. A common thing that happens in the Cressida community is an elderly owner who never drives in winter or even much at all, decides to sell their car basically brand new condition for a car 15+ years old in places that are known for cars corroding to death.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GM_IV View Post
    It is indeed owner to owner basis, there was actually a 2007 Dodge Caravan in my branch's fleet that began to rust on the outside. Crash damage that isn't fixed properly will rust pretty quickly
    Last summer, my family's van was set on fire by someone in the middle of the night. On the outside, it hadn't appeared to have any rust on it, but after the firemen had pried the hood open to cut the battery cables, the paint they had broken turned out to have quite a bit of rust behind it, even though it hadn't had any signs of deformation beforehand.

    Also, the shock towers on my friend's van rusted to the point that a good pothole could probably take out the suspension.

  11. #11
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    I don't think you've got too much to worry about if you're only looking at 10 year old cars. Even my car has more rust on the exterior than in the floors. If you get the car checked out by a mechanic (and you should) ask for him to take a good look at the floors too.

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    How bad can it be? Oh, I'd say about this bad...

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    I had a car that was so rusty that my work collegues called it Mr Crusty after all the rust cure and ISOPON I'd put on the motor. Pretty expert at filling holes with 'alli' bridge and isopon is Cobol74.
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  14. #14
    sonza68's Avatar
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    As others have said, it depends on the car. My '95 Lincoln has some very minor rust underneath (CO, MO and IL car), but nothing of concern at this point. My parents' '93 Aerostar, however, is a rust bucket.
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    Jay
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    Ten year old Maximas hold up pretty well; they are entry level luxury cars, so the paint is laid on evenly.

    And I think that rust proofing is bad for a car; the person who applies it may unknowingly plug up drain holes. Best thing with any car is to, at bare minimum, take it through the automated car wash once a month during the summer, once a week in the winter, and use paint cleaner / polish / wax once a year, preferably in Autumn. Thats it. If you want to wash and wax it more, have at it.
    Last edited by Jay; August 20th, 2008 at 11:49 PM.
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    Previously known as epp_b Top Geek's Avatar
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    My dad bought 2000 Maxima from the east coast. It had been rust-proofed from the factory, and there's not a single spot on it yet.

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    Jay
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    Quote Originally Posted by epp_b View Post
    My dad bought 2000 Maxima from the east coast. It had been rust-proofed from the factory, and there's not a single spot on it yet.
    I guess I should have clarified. Rustproofing after the car was assembled, like rustproofing done at a dealer, may be detrimental.
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    I maximas. 4th gens rock. let me know if you need info on parts n' stuff. i have some stock 03 SE springs that might work
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    Jay
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    Quote Originally Posted by Serj View Post
    I maximas. 4th gens rock. let me know if you need info on parts n' stuff. i have some stock 03 SE springs that might work
    Another way to differentiate Maximas:

    J30: 1989-1993
    A32B: 1994-1999
    A33B: 2000-2003
    A34: 2004-2007
    A35: 2009-
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    An older Maxima would be a solid choice. My 2000 Nissan Altima has seen 4 Northeastern winters with heavy use and there is minor rust underneath it. I did paint the front a-arms with rustoleum tho and its holding up well.
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