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00-04 Outback rust in rear door openings


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13 replies to this topic

#1 WoodsWagon

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 01:34 AM

'Tis the season for rust repairs in the northeast. My parents bought an 03 Outback wagon to replace the 98 Outback that's rusting into oblivion. They found this one after checking many like it in the same body style that all had rust holes through the body hidden by the rear doors. 8 months ago, this one didn't have obvious rust so they bought it.

Here it is after cleaning off the "surface rust":
http://www.ultimates...&pictureid=3880

Here's the same area on the other side:
http://www.ultimates...&pictureid=3881

As far as I can tell, the problem is caused by poor panel overlap and not enough seam sealer where the inner wheel well and the quarter panel dogleg come together at their pinch weld. I vacuumed a fair bit of sand and rust out of the inside of the rocker panel, so ignoring this hole here will lead to much worse rust in the rockers. Sand/salt spray from the rear tire is getting directly into the rusted area and the rocker though the failed seam.

The gap has been highlighted by the rust on the drivers side:
http://www.ultimates...&pictureid=3882

On the passenger side it hasn't leaked badly enough to rust through, but I can see the beginning of bubbling paint inside through one of the trim clip holes. Give it another winter and it will look the same as the drivers side.
http://www.ultimates...&pictureid=3883

The preventative fix for this rust is to pull back the plastic trim cover, which unclips from the side of the car if you pull out on it, and clean the seam where the two panels connect. Then brush on a heavy seam sealer or spray it with undercoating. That should keep the water out of the seam and keep it from turning into a rusty mess.

Cleaning and undercoating the tab where the rear bumper cover attaches with a 10mm head bolt inside the wheel well would be highly recommended because that area rusts though on these cars as well. Taking off the rubber strip on the pinchweld of the wheel arch and undercoating that area is important too. That rubber strip does a great job of holding salt water against the pinchweld.

When it starts rusting like what I'm dealing with, the repair options get pretty short. I can fiberglass and bondo it in, which will last two years tops before that starts to rust off again, or I can weld new metal in. The problem is no one seems to make patch panels for subarus, so I have to buy the whole rear quarter panel for the low price of $450, or get someone in a non-rusty part of the country to cut me this section out of a junk car. A cut-off wheel in a die grinder does a good job for cutting out body panels and can be powered by an inverter or a small portable generator. It could be a good business cutting out sections and shipping them to the rust belt. All 4 of the other Outbacks that they looked at had rot holes in this spot, so it's a common problem and there should be good demand for patch panels.

#2 grossgary

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 01:52 PM

THANK YOU! well done beast, this is the first I have seen of this but both of my (02 and 03) Outbacks have this as well. Thanks for pic's and figuring out where that was coming from, I had no clue and thought maybe mine just had some weird glitch.

#3 grossgary

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 01:59 PM

It could be a good business cutting out sections and shipping them to the rust belt. All 4 of the other Outbacks that they looked at had rot holes in this spot, so it's a common problem and there should be good demand for patch panels.

i'll take a few, we need to organize a big group buy for one of our west coast friends. they can make some loot for a days work and we get some panels?

#4 fishy

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 02:02 PM

My '94 turbo leggo wagon rotted in the exact same spot.

I've been car shopping for a little while and I saw a nice looking 04 outback with lots of pictures in the listing and it also had this rust spot starting on it.

Is this maybe just a legacy body thing?

On my impreza the whole rear quarters and rockers were so see-through that the water didn't get trapped in that little corner. The last 12 inches of both rocker panels had been converted to drain holes. :)

#5 1-3-2-4

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 01:57 PM

my 97 OBW has rust in that same spot for the rear doors on both sides for the rear

also the right rear finder where that stupid plastic part is rust is really bad in that area.. Not sure what to do since I want to paint the car this year.

#6 nickb21

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Posted 13 January 2013 - 02:37 PM

:(

Didn't have the time and tried to do a quick "clean" a few months ago, well that didn't go so well as you can see. I didn't realize this went that far back under the trim. Arggg!!!

I was contemplating going to a body shop, thought it wouldn't be that much... Will keep an eye on this thread if anyone starts cutting sections from donors.

Attached Files



#7 nickb21

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 07:02 PM

I will admit that I haven't done much body work, unless it could be done with a hammer and pop-rivets.

Any suggestions on how (and how much) to cut out of a potential donor car to try and create a "patch" piece? Sawzall, torch?

I should also find out how much this is gonna cost to cut/weld into place, might be more than the car is worth!

Thanks!

#8 WoodsWagon

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 09:37 PM

http://www.ultimates...&pictureid=3919
http://www.ultimates...&pictureid=3920
http://www.ultimates...&pictureid=3921



Haven't taken a picture of it welded in, seam sealed, and painted but it's done.

I searched a few junkyards in a 50 mile radius and after looking at over a dozen legacys and outbacks of this generation, found one that wasn't rusted out in this spot. It was rusted out at the two other spots on the wheel arch.

Legacy's and Outbacks are the same sheetmetal in this area, the plastic cladding is different but the metal is the same.

I cut out an area around the patch piece with my electric die grinder running a cuttoff wheel. I cut inside the wheel well leaving a strip attached to the piece I was trying to save. Once the whole piece was out I could trim it down back at the shop by carefully cutting through the spot welds and chiseling them apart. It is very flimsy metal, so you have to be careful not to bend it.

I paid $50 for the piece I cut out, and I had to bring my grinder and generator in to the junkyard and do the cutting myself. That was after hiking through multiple junkyards and finding nothing but rust riddled subarus. So there is a profitable market for good pieces already cut out.

I noticed there is a tape patch covering over a hole into this rusty area from the inside. If you flip up the back seat bottom you can find the tape plug. That is a great access spot to spray rust preventative wax into the problem area.

Tools required:
http://www.harborfre...haft-44141.html
http://www.harborfre...nder-93389.html
http://www.harborfre...iscs-66393.html
http://www.harborfre...ator-60338.html
http://www.harborfre...sses-94357.html

They also sell this: http://www.harborfre...tool-68523.html
But I find the long neck of the die grinder and exposed disk are necessary for getting into corners to cut out a panel like this.

Edited by WoodsWagon, 05 February 2013 - 09:53 PM.


#9 grossgary

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 07:21 AM

wow - how did you get such a close fit, that's not easy for me to do, I such at that kind of stuff?!

Well if it's flimsy then i'm less worried about it being structural and all, it appears rather solid and looks more structural with a cursory glance.

#10 987687

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 07:51 AM

That's a really nice repair! I'm gonna have to walk around the junk yard with a grinder and sawzall to see what I can find for mine. I've always just welded sheet metal over the hole, but that's a good way of doing it.

#11 nickb21

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 11:17 AM

Wow, thanks for the info, that is an awesome job on the repair. Seems like a good excuse for me to pickup a die grinder at Harbor Fright.

I'll have to take a walk through a few of my local yards, and keep an eye out for folks parting out cars.

#12 grossgary

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 11:56 AM

I've always just welded sheet metal over the hole, but that's a good way of doing it.

where do you get "sheet metal" that's good for body repair/welding like this? i've cut bits out of old fenders, etc - but I don't have any more lying around and that gets hairy due to curving of the fenders, etc.

#13 987687

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 12:10 PM

where do you get "sheet metal" that's good for body repair/welding like this? i've cut bits out of old fenders, etc - but I don't have any more lying around and that gets hairy due to curving of the fenders, etc.


I've bought it from a few places around here. Hardware store has small sheets, and usually overpriced. The last one I got was a 3'x4' sheet from napa, which was also a bit pricey. If you ask nicely body shops will often sell you a sheet, and sometimes metal supply places have it.

#14 bratman18

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 05:05 AM

I've always used scrap sheet metal. It does take a fair amount of time to clean it, and prep it for welding, and even more time to get it shaped correctly, but I always get it to fit in nicely. I usually make it fit in the opening, no overlaps, or not much. But as I said, it takes more time. I hate body work.....






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