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When Is Too Much Rust On Sub Frame No Longer Worth Repairing?

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Dear fellow Taurus owners:

For almost 14 years I own a 2001 Taurus SE Wagon (after owning its 1989 predecessor for 12 years / 450000 km's). Besides a few of the most common problems discussed in the forum here, I had never any big problem with my Taurus, that now has only 175000 Km's but has always been parked outside (Ontario). During a recent road side repair (it was just the replacement of the crank sensor), the non-Ford Garage mechanic told me, that heavy rust might compromise structural stability. The rest of the car is in great shape. It had been rust treated until 2011 in a 2 year cycle. The plastic panels beneath the doors prevent the view of eventual rust buildup. However, he was more concerned about the two bushing sub-frame mount arms in which underside he could push in holes with the finger... Totally scared, I went to my Ford dealership to which I went for the last 26 years, asking them to tell me what exactly is going on. The mechanic told me, that I could safely drive, perhaps through the winter, but by next spring I should look for a new car. According to him, the top of theses arms are not rotten as badly, otherwise he'd declared the car unsafe. He also stated, that while its possible to change the sub frame, it may not be worth it due to the age and general state of the car. Although I am ready to move on, I am kind of fond of this so well running vehicle, that is no longer manufactured. Is there any objective indicator that can definitely tell, that any further fixing is just a waste of money? I am thinking of getting a third opinion. Obviously, sooner or later the time will come to retire it for good...

 

Any suggestions?

 

Thanks

Lutz

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Find out what the cost will be. You'd have to source a new subframe from the Southern US or elsewhere that does not have the same rust/salt issues.

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Dear fellow Taurus owners:

For almost 14 years I own a 2001 Taurus SE Wagon (after owning its 1989 predecessor for 12 years / 450000 km's). Besides a few of the most common problems discussed in the forum here, I had never any big problem with my Taurus, that now has only 175000 Km's but has always been parked outside (Ontario). During a recent road side repair (it was just the replacement of the crank sensor), the non-Ford Garage mechanic told me, that heavy rust might compromise structural stability. The rest of the car is in great shape. It had been rust treated until 2011 in a 2 year cycle. The plastic panels beneath the doors prevent the view of eventual rust buildup. However, he was more concerned about the two bushing sub-frame mount arms in which underside he could push in holes with the finger... Totally scared, I went to my Ford dealership to which I went for the last 26 years, asking them to tell me what exactly is going on. The mechanic told me, that I could safely drive, perhaps through the winter, but by next spring I should look for a new car. According to him, the top of theses arms are not rotten as badly, otherwise he'd declared the car unsafe. He also stated, that while its possible to change the sub frame, it may not be worth it due to the age and general state of the car. Although I am ready to move on, I am kind of fond of this so well running vehicle, that is no longer manufactured. Is there any objective indicator that can definitely tell, that any further fixing is just a waste of money? I am thinking of getting a third opinion. Obviously, sooner or later the time will come to retire it for good...

 

Any suggestions?

 

Thanks

Lutz

See pic, I hosed out the inside and let it dry. Wire brushed and it did not look too bad so I spayed it with some rust coating.

Then jacked the car up with the jack under the sub right in front of the bolt, and there was no give at all.

 

-chart-

 

-

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Hi chart,

thanks, that's how mine looks like on the passenger side, the rust hole is not as close to the eye. As well, mine seems stable for the moment as well, but for how long? What do you think will be early signs of breakage before total failure? I am just scared that it might cause an accident when e.g. the whole arm breaks off without warning...

 

Regards

Lutz

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Hi chart,

thanks, that's how mine looks like on the passenger side, the rust hole is not as close to the eye. As well, mine seems stable for the moment as well, but for how long? What do you think will be early signs of breakage before total failure? I am just scared that it might cause an accident when e.g. the whole arm breaks off without warning...

 

Regards

Lutz

 

Hi chart,

thanks, that's how mine looks like on the passenger side, the rust hole is not as close to the eye. As well, mine seems stable for the moment as well, but for how long? What do you think will be early signs of breakage before total failure? I am just scared that it might cause an accident when e.g. the whole arm breaks off without warning...

 

Regards

Lutz

That round hole with the second arrow is supposed to be there. Has loose rust in it and when I hosed it out it was OK.

After cleaning and drying, I sprayed it with some rust preventer stuff inside. I used Loctite "Extend Rust Neutralizer" on the outside.

 

When I jacked up the weight of the car, about where the round hole is in the bottom, no sign of deflection.

 

Also realize that bolt that holds the sub to the car is 11mm = ~.425" before rust. It looks like the rusted sub is still stronger than that bolt. And my rusted bolt found when I replaced mine had maybe 25% of it's strength left. That is the sleeping fail, unseen weakness. I have been to the JY many times, never saw a failed sub. Have seen broken sub bolts. I replaced all 4 of mine with off the ground pickups at the JY. There were some really good ones. Likely were not OEM or maybe a Southern car. Pickup bolts are free with any purchase at our Pick A Part.

 

Going to pick a part today to see if I can pickup up a LCA pas side. Long story.

 

-chart-

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Mine is a 1999 and also lives in Ontario. When not in use, it is stored in the garage for the last 7 years though. I've had major issues with holes in the front floorboards due to rust. The sub frame looks fairly good, but I've decided that next spring is for 100% sure (maybe summer if I decide to buy new) the end of the line. I just want to get one more year of saving up money as the car essentially costs nothing but gas to operate. Insurance is also dirt cheap because I just have liability. 

 

When I fixed the holes, I sprayed some of that rubber undercoating stuff on the really rusty spots. Hopefully that will protect it somewhat? Who knows.

 

Like you, I love my car too but its time has definitely come. It's been starting really smooth lately too which really makes it harder, haha.

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I just had a chat with my Ford mechanic friend. An original new Ford sub frame is in the $1000 range + 8 hours labor + whatever breaks or is being discovered to be fixed while changing the sub frame. I think that's more than the blue-book value of the car. He said that the inner rocker panels are ok, but the outer ones under the doors are pretty much gone. He couldn't give an estimate on fixing that, which would probably almost be a body "re-build". I guess I will have to bite the bullet and get it retired eventually...

 

Greetings

Lutz

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Get a westcoast or sowthwest subframe which will be rust free and good as new for you. It will cost a lot less then the $1k.

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I wouldn't use book value as my gauge anyway. What is it worth to you, not what it might be worth to someone else when assessing repairs.

 

Don't repair it, and it isn't worth book value when you get rid of it. If you scrap it and you need a replacement vehicle, what will that cost you? At least the book value you are applying for something comparable?

 

If you like the car, and all else is good, "buy it" for the cost of repairs.

 

My 2 cents.

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I just had a chat with my Ford mechanic friend. An original new Ford sub frame is in the $1000 range + 8 hours labor + whatever breaks or is being discovered to be fixed while changing the sub frame. I think that's more than the blue-book value of the car. He said that the inner rocker panels are ok, but the outer ones under the doors are pretty much gone. He couldn't give an estimate on fixing that, which would probably almost be a body "re-build". I guess I will have to bite the bullet and get it retired eventually...

 

Greetings

Lutz

To each their own but, I really need my wagon. '01 rusty, bottom of the doors, rockers mostly gone, filled with expanding foam so the covers stay on. Bought '03 exact same, Sable LS Prem, same engine, same wheels, same color. $4K and I think I can get $3K for my old one. One I just got, wintered in FL, summer in NJ. Far from rust. 30K less miles. I should get 6-8 years of rust free work out of this one. Old one on consignment, maybe only get $2K but that is OK.

 

I saw one at the JY today, you could drop a steering wheel through the floor pan hole.

Oh yes, I live in the RUST BELT>

-chart-

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Jeff, you are absolutely right. Repair costs surely play a decision role but also the sentimental value about good (or bad) past experiences you had with the vehicle. I am just looking for some kind of metric to justify a new car, that I don't really want at this time, as weird as that sounds... Common sense tells, that you can't have a car forever (rare exceptions for car gurus who can rebuild everything may apply). Even if you love your car almost as much as your wife, at some point you have to part from it, so better make it short and less painful? Most people here say: "The car doesn't owe you anything, get a new one...". With opening this topic I was hoping to come to a quicker general decision but that is still in the open I guess.

 

Thank you guys

Lutz

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Off to the crusher I say.

 

My last car I got lucky... Was involved in a minor accident (I wasn't at fault) which pretty much sealed the fate of it. Went straight to the junk yard. Got a nice cheque from the person who caused the accident and I put it towards my current car! I didn't have to "make the decision" to get rid of it, it was made for me.

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Unless you can find a group of guys or a Craigslist/Kijiji mechanic to swap a non-salted subframe out (surely there's a nice condition junkyard one around), you can replace it quite easily.  Heck I know what to do and how to do it, and had I a lift in Ontario, I'd say swing by and let's get it done.  But not possible...

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Unless you can find a group of guys or a Craigslist/Kijiji mechanic to swap a non-salted subframe out (surely there's a nice condition junkyard one around), you can replace it quite easily.  Heck I know what to do and how to do it, and had I a lift in Ontario, I'd say swing by and let's get it done.  But not possible...

Sub Frame at local pic a part = $50. Selection on the ground.

 

-chart-

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Changing it only requires a jack(or 2), jack stands, sockets, many wood blocks, engine support bar, pry bar, and a helper. Support engine, raise car on blocks and jackstands, make sure car can't move(parking brake, wheel chocks, etc.), tie up steering rack, support subframe with jacks, remove fasteners, lower subframe, installation is reverse of removal. Use pry bar to align with holes in frame. Don't go under car without jackstands, don't go under subframe only supported with jacks. Whether it's worth the effort is up to you. Also, treat new subframe with anti-rust to prevent future failure!

Edited by 2000_Gold_Taurus

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In a way it's nice the mechanic told you, but in a way it sucks because of that instilled fear. I've seen mechanics use it as a scare tactic. If there is a hole I'd start looking for a new subframe or replacing the car. But i wouldn't pawn the car off on someone else in that condition. And I certainly would ignore book value.

 

I'm all about how I feel with a car. But you also should consider the cost of a "new used" or new car vs a repair you may need to make or may not. A $1,500 repair vs a $17,000 hole in your wallet, might be worth it. And you can always tell the mechanic, look here is your budget that's all your getting. Something like this where its not ASAP, if I knew my buddies and I were going to have a week off work, I'd find a barn or garage and buy some beer. But I at times hate working on my own car and pick my battles with it. A subframe from a local JY that's in better condition can also be sanded down, welded up and painted too.

 

There are MANY schools of thought to rust with only a few decent ones that lead the way. It's just the nature of the beast. Rust happens. If replaced I agree with everyone that a replacement should be painted with a few coats of a rustolium like paint. I'd even paint anything I could see.

 

Diagnostically, I would get under the car, find a spot that has no seeming value and see just how much metal is left. Tapping on the subframe gently with just your fingers and getting a feel for how it feels/sounds will also tell you how thick it is and I recommend it more than sandpapering off some rust. The hope is there is still enough metal under that rust for it to be OK. Remember That subframe should be a few millimeters thick. It's not exactly like your rocker panels and should have been built much thicker than the floor boards.

Edited by Noluck4

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