Monday, December 1, 2014

It's Better To Burn Out...

...than it is to rust, isn't that the way the song goes?

The Earthf**ker is showing its age. I noticed over the weekend that one of the tiny rust spots I saw over the summer is getting larger, about the size of a quarter now. This is not good. I'm supremely disappointed that my 2007 Dodge Ram is sprouting rot holes not even eight years into ownership. I expected that from the execrable cars of the 1980s. Not so much from a vehicle made well into the 2000s.

With that said, though, there's a few things that can be done. I can bring it to a body shop, have it ground down, refinished and repainted. Probably set me back a couple grand or so; I haven't priced a body shop in a while. Both rear fenders are showing spots, so both sides; the front fenders appear okay, but obviously will be on the horizon. If I were planning on keeping the truck another 6-8 years this is a not-terrible plan - even $2K is only a few months' car payments.

Another thought is fender flares. A quick look finds these, which are on Amazon for close to $500:

A peek at the instructions and it looks like a job that I could tackle myself easy enough; of course I'd want to treat the metal underneath before putting the flares on. How to accomplish that ranges from a full sand and bondo to literally just spraying clear coat and calling it done. The Earthf**ker is 8 years old and has close to 100K on the clock. I can't see keeping it more than half again as long; while the motor might hold up longer, Dodge is infamous for poor transmissions.

And, honestly, if it's starting to rot through in 8 years, I'm wondering what other corners were cut.

Right now it's running good, and I really do enjoy not having a car payment. I know that, left untreated, the small rust spots will blossom into full-blown rot holes and worse, so it's something that should be addressed in the early stages. This is a weird place for me to be; usually I've owned cars that were more rust than metal to begin with; I'm not used to having owned one vehicle so long that the body started to deteriorate. Letting the rust go is a short-term strategy; I think if I were planning on getting rid of the truck within a year I might just continue ignoring the problem.

Nothing's going to happen soon; I'd rather wait until spring and get another winter out of the way first. I might swing into a local body shop and see if they can give a quick estimate first - I'd prefer to stop the rust and get a full assessment of what kind of spread I'm looking at, too. If it's worse underneath than at the exterior, then I may just leave it be and start shopping for the replacement.

But damn, I'd like to hold onto the Earthf**ker a bit longer...

That is all.


libertyman said...

Find a body shop that does rust repairs -- many don't like to. And have them look over the whole truck -- there are places that you may not see. Then make a decision. The fender flares won't stop the rust, but will only mask it when you trade it in or sell it. In fact, I think they will actually hasten the rusting.

It is New England's revenge - all that salt ladled on the roads in winter. My old Jeep lasted 10 years before the first rust blossom on he fender. That was the compelling reason to sell it.

Anonymous said...

For a short terms solution you can go and buy matching paint and touch them up until spring. Most big parts stores stock the standard paint colors. If not order it online.

I usually spray it into the cap then use a paintbrush to touch up the small spots. It will slow down the damage done over this winter until you can figure out what you want to do long term.

Roger said...

A battle with rust is one you can rarely ever win. You'll fix it one or two places and soon thereafter another place pops up.
If you were to sell your truck now, with the winter season coming on hard, with 4 wheel drive, you can get the best price.
Waiting till later will yield more rust and a far lower price. I would put the flares on to hide the rust & sell it ASAP

Mopar said...

Go to the local auto parts store, or possibly even Home Depot and buy a rust converter type primer (I think Rustoleum calls theirs "Rust Reformer"), and hit the rust with that to at least slow down/stop the rusting.

Anonymous said...

Only way to combat rust is to Ziebart the vehicle when new. I just sold my 2004 Chevy S10 with 155,000 miles, NO rust. Don't bother with the factory or dealer stuff, spend the money with Ziebart. Had my new vehicle done within two weeks of purchase. The gunk they put on the roads finds every little crack or crevice and I don't even think crawling under there with a power washer can get it out.

Ruth said...

Quick sand of the rust spots, a rust prevention primer (like the Rustoleum mentioned), and then a quick touch up with a matching paint. Unless its a particularly weird color many car parts shops carry touch up paint. If there's a ton of spots it'll take you the day sure, but it'll keep the rust from spreading for another couple years.

B said...

I own an 03 dodge (2500, but same body) and had the same places rust:

The rear fenders
The area just under the front door hinge.

other than that, the body is still solid..

THese are the only really bad spots that catch salty water and rust quickly.

Cost to repair around here is about $600 per side for the rear fenders.

Done right, this will outlast the rest of the truck.

Best thing to keep the tranny working is change the fluid (and, more importantly, the filter)every 60K miles.

Your truck should go ~225k befor major breakdowns.

Anonymous said...

Try looking for a product called POR-15. It's the best rest reformer out there. I've used it many times in the past. Trust me, rust will NEVER return to any spot treated with it.

Anonymous said...

It's better to burn out.
Than fade away.

Rise up
Gather round
Rock this place
to the ground.

-- Pyromania by Def Leppard

Now that song is stuck in my head.

I'll git you fer that. And yer little damn dog, too.

Joseph in IL

Will said...

Unless the rust spot is from a surface scratch or paint chip, it started on the underside. If so, it will always be worse on that side. The backside of it will look like a crater. That is why when you try to fix it, you end up with a bigger hole than you thought it was.

All of the rusty metal has to be removed, or "converted" by those type of primers. Even to do this, you have to get to bare metal around the spot, or the rust that is under the paint/undercoating that has not fallen off yet will protect a ring of rust. Don't waste time and money doing a half-a**ed job, especially if you think you may keep it.

Jim said...

All the de-rusting advice thus far is correct, and will serve you well if followed.

As for the transmission, do not EVER "flush" the tranny. You'll dislodge varnished seals that will do their job for many years and miles to come, if left undisturbed.

Change the fluid and filter? Hell yes. DO NOT FLUSH THE *@&#ing transmission!

Just. Don't.

Hope I got the point across?

Sunk New Dawn
Galveston, TX

Robert said...

" Dodge is infamous for poor transmissions."

You ain't kiddin'. I had one lock up solid in the middle of the busiest intersection in Norfolk. Couldn't even be pushed. Had to be drug up onto the flatbed to clear the intersection.

LCB said...

I bought a Ford in 04, a F-150 with a manual tranny and a V-6. My "plan" was to get 200,000 miles out of it. HAH

First, the paint started peeling off of the hood. The primer was fine, it was just the paint. Research showed it was one of those "hidden" recalls they would fix had had all of you maintenance done at a Ford dealer. They are way out of my way so I got my oil changes at a tire place. No new repaint for me.

Then, at about 110,000 miles the engine just blew up. I had kept the oil changed and everything else I was supposed to do, but come to find out that Ford's V-6 was a time bomb. Cost me to put a rebuilt motor in it and the truck was just never the same.

Now, I won't by GM or Dodge...and I'm still PO'd at Ford. Not sure what to do for a truck now...cause no one in the USA builds good trucks!!!

Old NFO said...

Ospho and POR-15... No more rust... :-)

Anonymous said...

2000 GMC, 15 years in salty MN, 160K. Ziebart Rustproofed.

The Gas Cap Door (?) is rusting.

Anybody have experience w/ Tundras?