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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-14-2009, 07:28 PM Thread Starter
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Sad Rust help, cost to fix/difficulty

My 96 Intrepid ES is rusting!

It runs very well, and is just about to hit 130k miles. I think it has a couple more good years left in it, and I'd like to keep it looking at least decent. The body isn't real bad except for each side above the rear wheels has rust spots. My dad (who had the car before me), being a procrastinator, kept saying, "I'm going to get those spots touched up before they get really bad". Well, he never did, and I hope it's not too late. This winter has really made the rust spots noticeable, and I want to ask you guys for help.

1. Can someone give me an estimate on how much it would cost to take somewhere and have them fix it?

2. How much would it cost me to fix it, and how difficult would it be? I've only painted fences and car models when I was younger, and have no idea where to even begin with this.

I'm mostly worried about the two rust spots above the back wheels. The black around the windows isn't that big of a deal, neither is the inside rust on the speakers, but I'd assume those wouldn't be too hard to fix anyway.


(This picture makes me feel ill :grlaugh: )


(The other side has no rust)
(It's rusted this way on the other side too)

Then a couple pictures where you can't see the rust so well. Bad wash job too, I went to one of those manual car washes where you insert the quarters, I ran out of quarters while rinsing . I'll just wait until it gets warmer out, so I can hook up my hose and wash it here.




I really appreciate any and all help!
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-14-2009, 11:18 PM
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Heh, I can't help you myself, but I'll be watching this thread because I have the same problems just starting. Mine is a '94, and in the middle of the snow belt... I've got a little tiny bubbling spot, and a few rock chips that were repaired with what looks like nail polish by the previous owner...
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-15-2009, 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by cdmccul View Post
I've got a little tiny bubbling spot, and a few rock chips that were repaired with what looks like nail polish by the previous owner...
Sounds like that crap they sell at autozone. Glorified Nail Polish that retails at $9.95

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Originally Posted by Sterling View Post
My 96 Intrepid ES is rusting!
1. Can someone give me an estimate on how much it would cost to take somewhere and have them fix it?

2. How much would it cost me to fix it, and how difficult would it be? I've only painted fences and car models when I was younger, and have no idea where to even begin with this.

I'm mostly worried about the two rust spots above the back wheels. The black around the windows isn't that big of a deal, neither is the inside rust on the speakers, but I'd assume those wouldn't be too hard to fix anyway.


I really appreciate any and all help!
No estimate, sorry about that but I can tell you to try and sand off what you can on your car and check the condition of your fenders underneath before you cover up the rust that is there. When I seen what I think is less rust than you have on my car I sanded into it with my 2" air sander and found a huge gaping rust hole underneath !!! My rust starts on the front of the wheelwell and goes all the way into the creases of the door jam !!! I'm gonna have to go to the junkyard and get a panel cut off for me so I can MIG weld it in place.

The black sail panels and the speakers are going to be easiest to do. Take out the panels, sand them so the rust is gone, prime, paint, dry then re-install. Same for the speaker grills. I like Rust-O-Leum Paints for small projects like that. It's thick so when you paint it levels itself off and leaves you with good looking results. I tried buying cheap family dollar store paints but that crap is so thin I was mad because I had to put on like 5 layers to get the same results as 1 layer of rust-o-leum.

The fenders will be much more involved. First sand off all of the rust and see what the damage is. You most likely will have to either fab up some kind of patch panel for the rust holes or get a panel from a junkyard willing to cut one off for you. Trim up the edges of said patch panel with a grinder so it has straighter lines on the edges. Lay the patch panel over the area you wish to replace then use a marker to mark where the edges of the patch lay. Using a sheet metal nibbler, grinder, plasma cutter or maybe sawzall or jigsaw cut out the desired area for the patch panel. The hole you cut needs to fit the panel perfectly butting up to it or it will be hard to weld properly. BTW you will need a MIG welder. Place the panel in said "perfect" hole and use a good sized magnet to hold it in place. Use small "tack" welds in different places all over the area too be welded. Too much heat at one time has the tendancy to stretch or constrict metal causing you to have "waves" in your body panels so be careful. Then after your "perfect" hole is covered up by your "perfect" welds then you must "perfectly" grind the welds so that you don't overheat the panel with the grinder and don't gouge out the metal to insanely. After all this comes the fun part : a little body filler. use some bondo to fill in the holes and gouges left by the metal work and sand it smooth after it dries. Using a long board with a peice of sandpaper in a crossing "X" motion will achieve this. After this is done comes filler primer. Spray on a couple coats of this primer and lightly lay on a very very thin layer of contrasting color paint and give the work area a quick sanding with your board and sandpaper. The areas where there is contrasting color paint left will be a "low" spot and will require more filler and more "guide coat" until the guide coat no longer stays on the car indicating a low spot. After all this assuming you have a good spray booth and spray equipment give it a coat of conventional primer, Lightly sand. Spray the paint. Lightly sand. Spray another coat. Lightly sand. Another coat. Clear coat. Wet sand with 2000 grit. Buff with polishing compound. Clean. Buff with wax. There rust repair 101. Ever wonder why it costed so much to go to a body shop ? That's all the work that must be done to repair the rust and then paint your car.

I'm gonna be ghetto and just use spray paint to cover my rust repair but the metal work is still gonna be there and people will notice the patch I make because it wont be that smooth.

Last edited by Mrbeefy; 03-15-2009 at 07:57 PM.
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-15-2009, 10:08 PM Thread Starter
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Wow! Thanks for the lengthy, and very informative reply! I'll probably wait to do this this summer though.

While vacuuming the car out today, I started to notice towards the bottom of the car is getting rusty too. When I took the car into the shop for the first time under my ownership, they told me not to bother, but I didn't listen. They said underneath the car, everything is totally rusted and the costs for all the repairs wouldn't be worth it. Well after all those repairs, it's running strong. However, I have a feeling the body is going to go before the engine.

I'll still look into getting at least these couple spot fixed up.
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-15-2009, 11:16 PM
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Sounds like the shop was also a used car dealer as well ?? Last time I trusted a used car dealer I got the gaping rust hole I need to deal with right now. Maybe it's possible to find another intrepid with a bad trans or engine but with a solid body. Keep an eye out it seems the 42LE trans in these cars like to pop.
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-16-2009, 12:10 AM
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I've always heard to not wax the paint till it cures for several weeks...
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-25-2009, 08:46 PM Thread Starter
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I was curious how much it would cost, so I asked the local body shop. They looked at it and estimated $1,400-$1,500! I guess my Intrepid is just going to become a rust bucket until it dies :( . The process of fixing it seems too difficult for me, and I don't have many, if any, of the tools needed.
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-25-2009, 09:18 PM
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the welding is the old way of doing body work and you end up with rust again shortly after the repair because the welding burns off any primer and the galvanizing on the metal and you cant paint the back side after the repair now they make glues for metal that are stronger than welding for body panels and no warping just get the patch panel cut out the bad part trace it then make a like so you have about 1/2 inch over lap. go to harbor freight get a cheap flanging tool about $20 flange the metal on the car. line up the patch panel trim it to fit in the flanged section. get fusor panel bonding adhesive i think its fusor 103b but dont remember if that is the correct number made by lord glue it puddy it prime and sand till it is all smooth and flat sand 600. tack rag it base and clear if your good at spraying no buffing will be needed. wait at least 1 month before waxing

or if the car is a rusted peice of shit then hit the rust with a wire wheel. then load it with tiger hair sand puddy paint, if the hole is to big to fill with tiger hair. Foam the cavity with great stuff let dry dig away great stuff below the level of the car so you can fill with tiger hair. then sand puddy prime and paint
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-22-2011, 05:59 AM
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Rust: your enemy

I'll pick this old thread up again to give more info for those who've got rusty Intrepids.

Even if you have the skills and tools to do all the body work yourself, it isn't worth all the effort and money to restore a rusty, high-mileage Intrepid. And especially not worth having a body shop do the work. Unfortunately while these cars are roomy, handle well, and look good, they have low book value even in excellent no-rust condition in dry climates.

As many guy's cars on this site show, they CAN be good project cars (as a hobby) for just that reason if you start out with a rust-free or low-rust car, because there are still lots of Chrysler LH cars in junkyards where you can get parts cheap , and you can also still get new parts fairly cheap compared to many other cars. But again, this is a hobby where people WANT to spend a lot of time doing it, not just fixing up a used car with a few problems quickly to have some transportation.

For the latter purpose, you can sometimes find a low-rust used LH series car that has been owned by someone who really took care of it and changed all the fluids regularly -- such as a retired person with a low-mileage car who kept all their service receipts. However, the original transmissions on the 1st Generation Intrepids (1993-1997) had problems with leaking seals and other internal parts that can lead to expensive repairs. The 2.7L engine in base models on the 2nd Generation (1998-2004) could develop major problems with oil sludge in the engine if the oil wasn't changed every few thousand miles. These cars can be reliable if all the fluids are changed frequently. But obviously there are other used four-door sedans that you can buy cheap that have better overall reliability records, such as old Hondas and Accuras.

With a rusty car you can just drive it until there is a major expensive mechanical repair needed, and then sell it as a parts car or junk it. You can try to keep it from rusting more by spraying off the road salt from the body and underside regularly in winter. However, you need to have the underside inspected (see below) for it to be safe.

I've got a lot of home experience taking rust off old cars and doing body work. I learned it all from books and old muscle car restorer magazines like Car Craft, but you can also take a basic auto body class at a local college or vocational school.

The previous extensive reply was good too tell you what is involved in removing body rust. Unfortunately, once you start you will find that the rust may be more extensive than what you see. To remove it, it is a tedious process with a noisy heavy-duty grinder (takes experience to be safe) or using a rotating wire brush & abrasive wheels to get off all the loose rust. Then you may need to use rust remover chemicals (available at auto parts stores). This is because there may be deep pits remaining with rust in them that you can't remove without a lot of metal grinding. Most of these chemicals (except for a few expensive ones) are strongly acidic and so you have to wear gloves, eye protection (maybe a face shield) and cover your arms. You obviously need to cover the other areas of the car and wear a GOOD particle mask that seals well, and gloves. Your neighbors will not like the noise from the grinder. Not fun for most people .

Painting over repaired rusted areas can be tricky, because the automotive touch-up spray paints available through auto parts stores in the matching OEM colors are lacquer, and the paint on the car is enamel. Sometimes the lacquer will bubble the enamel and then you've got a mess. But if not, lacquer is by far the easiest paint to use because it dries fast and you can sand off dried drips. (You need to obviously use lacquer primer too.)

Small-area body painting with automotive enamel is do-able at home but you need to get the paint color matched and mixed at an auto paint store and buy a little jar/air-canister sprayer (with a few disposable air-canisters). It dries much slower and is less forgiving to mistakes than lacquer. A lot of paint types are too dangerous to spray at home so you would need to select a kind that is relatively safe. You'd need a good organic vapor canister mask to protect your lungs from damage and wear a hood and coveralls. (The paint store has cheap plastic coveralls with hoods.) You have to sand the body filler (Bondo and other brands) very smooth and apply the appropriate primer first (and sand again). You can't do this in a garage unless you cover EVERYTHING you don't want paint spray on, and have very good ventilation, and also use a couple of big fans. If you paint outside it has to be on a very still day and you will still get dust in the painted surface. Again all very tedious unless you enjoy this type of thing. I do, but most don't.

But here's the big thing. The rust on the body of the car is not your biggest worry. It is what is on the underside. This includes not only the unibody frame, but the suspension components. These are safety items. It is really impractical to try to remove the rust from all of this unless it is just thin surface rust. I've done it on cars with jack stands and it is a dirty, messy job. Once you do it, then you have to spray or brush paint everything to prevent it from just rusting again. This requires something like Rustoleum Rusty Metal Primer or Clean Metal Primer and then Regular Rustoleum or one of the specialty paints frame paints from Eastwood (eastwood.com).

However, any rust deeper than surface rust on the suspension parts and frame is going to weaken them. If a suspension part breaks it can cause loss of steering control and an accident. The unibody frame (or ladder frame on old cars) can also become weakened, and this is also very unsafe. I had one old car where I found a huge hole in the rear frame after grinding all the rust off. The only way to fix this is a lot of grinding and welding.

Trying to restore a severely rusted car is only worth the time and money it if it is a valuable classic. For this, a "frame off" restoration is often done since the frame has to be inspected and patch welded to be safe. Often even this is not practical because too much of the frame has been eaten away by rust. There are actually companies that fabricate whole new frames for classic cars. Everything salvageable off the old car is is than transferred to the new frame.

If the car is rusty underneath, the brake and fuel lines may also be deteriorated. This is dangerous also.

If you are going to keep driving it, I would have your mechanic check the suspension, brake, and fuel lines for an opinion on what can be done too keep it safe. If you get the all clear from him (or have the rusty parts replaced), then change the oil and filter, air filter, fuel filter, have the brake fluid flushed/changed, change the coolant, and change the transmission fluid and filter - if you haven't done all that recently. You can also siphon out the old power steering fluid from the small tank (about 8 ounces) with a turkey baster and fill it up with new power steering fluid to the line on the cap dip tube. Do this a few times over a few months until you've used up the whole quart bottle of power steering fluid. Make sure the tires are in decent shape and filled up, and you'll be ready to roll.

Then if something major goes out (like the transmission), I would recommend that you sell it as a "parts car" for the best offer, or you can sell it to a junkyard. If the tires are good, you can have a shop take them off for you to keep (or sell separately) and put some used ones on to sell it. You can also keep the rims if they are nice alloy ones in good shape and put on some cheap used steel ones from a junkyard. With scrap metal prices high and depending on your location, some junkyards will give you at least a couple hundred for it. I got $500 for an old Chevy recently from a junkyard, because it had good parts but a bad frame.

But before concluding that the transmission is bad, replace the transmission (EATX) relay and fuse in the plastic box under the hood, and have your mechanic replace the two speed sensors on the outside of transmission - fast easy job 1/2 hour job and about $25 each for the parts. Anything wrong with the transmission electronic system is going to cost at least $100 for a transmission shop to diagnose (locate good shops at atra.com). And internal transmission repairs will be much more expensive.

Last edited by pt500; 11-25-2011 at 11:23 AM. Reason: Add info on used cars
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-22-2011, 08:06 AM
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I'll add to this old thread by posting a few photos from this summer's rust repair of the '99 Intrepid. The only rust was right below the gas filler. It was mostly bubbles until my son (it's his car now) scraped a stone wall and tore into the same area. The photos show the before, during (with different colors of filler) and after photos. The repair looked really good before I painted it, but I decided to paint it with a brush (because I had the right touch-up color). It was just too large an area to do with a brush for the white and the clear coat. It's not too bad for a 20-foot repair. I'm sure it won't last too long, but it will look better for a few years!
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Start repair sm.JPG (23.5 KB, 58 views)
File Type: jpg Filler photo sm.JPG (24.7 KB, 60 views)
File Type: jpg Finish repair sm.JPG (19.9 KB, 59 views)
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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-22-2011, 09:41 AM Thread Starter
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Haha, I forgot about this old post, but my intrepid's rust has gotten far worse, but it's whatever. The frame is in surprisingly good shape though, I get my car new york state inspected every year and never once had them even mention it. I just had the subframe bushings replaced and transmission mount because they were all rusted and rotten and the car drives so much better. Everything runs well in the car and I hate to see it get junked when it runs so well.

On a side note, I will never get a Honda, haha. I'm only 19 years old now, and hope to be able to drive American cars my whole life. My mom has an 07 Honda Accord with low miles, and honestly my Intrepid is more comfortable, faster, roomier, better looking besides the rust, and way more fun to drive. I just really don't like Honda's. I know they may hold up better, but it's not worth it in my opinion.
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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-22-2011, 10:00 AM
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You do know your car is Canadian, and the Accord is made in Marysville, Ohio, right?
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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-22-2011, 11:56 AM Thread Starter
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I could of sworn my driver's door says assembled in U.S.A
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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-22-2011, 12:01 PM
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Only a VERY FEW were assembled in Delaware, and those were generally only early 1993 models. There is one member on the board here with one made in the USA. All others were made in Brampton, Ontario, Canada.
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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-22-2011, 12:01 PM
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It is possible you have a US assembled one - It'd be fun to see the door sticker if so.
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