Rust Considerations When Buying a Jeep
I thought I'd throw this out because so many people use this forum, as I did, when looking to buy a Jeep. Many folks scratch their heads and are (politely) clueless as to what is a viable Jeep with a long life and what is a Jeep that may bring them very expensive problems. Here is a major issue to be concerned with when buying a Jeep or any vehicle for that matter.
I have done quite a bit of rust repair and automotive body restoration over the years.
There are usually two issues when it comes to automotive rust pertaining to the body and the frame. Both can be very expensive to repair. However, there is a difference between surface rust and ROT.
Most body shops do not handle car restoration (like rusted panels) anymore because it takes so much of their time which is better spent on collision repair and insurance company money. Body rust is a different animal and includes cutting out the rusted panels, welding in new panels, grinding, some body hammering so the panel can be properly blended into the parent metal and filling the low areas with body filler. Next comes sanding and blocking the repair area, primer and paint. This can take hours upon hours depending on the area of repair. A body shop could probably repair 5 damaged fenders by the time it takes to fix a severely rusted panel. It's quicker and cheaper to replace entire panels, fenders, bumpers etc... on a modern vehicle so why would any body shop want to spend 10 hours PROPERLY fixing a rusted fender, door or panel. There are places that will do these types of repairs but get the wallet ready. When I say PROPERLY fixing it, I mean welding in new metal not jamming the rust hole with Bondo and painting it.
Frames are also an important area to be examined especially before buying a Jeep or any vehicle for that matter. There will always be some surface rust on frames. This can usually be taken care of by using some type of media, brushing or sanding to remove the majority of the rust. Preparing and cleaning the area with a degreaser and coating the area with POR15 or Chassis Saver. Lastly you can coat the frame with a quality undercoating like a 3M brand. The end results will provide years of protection and will look great.
It is very important when examining a Jeep to carefully check the frame for ROT not surface rust. This is what I consider when I see the metal separating in sheets, rusted out welds or observing numerous rust holes etc.. Sellers will often try to pretty up a frame with black paint etc... so it looks pretty when you quickly get on your knees and look under the vehicle. It is very important to get under the vehicle, "on your back," with a good light and check the entire frame. Check all the welds for structural cracking, look for bends in the frame from misuse or heavy abuse and most of all, look for ROT. The frame on a 4x4 can tell you a lot and how its been treated.
I recently looked at a Wrangler for a friend who was hours away from dropping big bucks on it. The Wrangler was great looking when I pulled up. After crawling under the Jeep, the frame was so rotted that I was almost afraid it was going to break in half while I was under it. My buddy was saddened because he had his heart set on the Jeep but was happy he didn't get ripped off.
Surface rust is no big deal and is often a cosmetic fix. ROT is another issue that should be carefully considered based on your time, tools, talent and wallet.
Just the two cent I have left after filling up my Jeep.
Many thanks for taking the time to put this together.
Not all of us are mechanics or experts.
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