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Old 08-09-2012, 11:26 AM   #1
sachilles
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61 Morris Mini

Default Rust PSA for those with a 02+ Impreza wagons

Just thought folks would be interested in seeing a couple of pictures of my 02 wrx wagon, that I recently took off the road due to rust. Very little was evident from the body, but the rear quarter wheel wells started to show the typical rust. Underneath, the control arms are bad enough to fail the recall test, and the subframes and u brace are awful.

What really surprised me was the rear shock towers. The insulation they use around the shock towers has a rubber coating, which seems to hold in the moisture. It did not seem evident in the wheel well itself as the undercoating mixture covered it. I was able to poke through the rust easily.



There is quite a bit more rust than what is pictured above.
Might be worth getting in behind that insulation and having a look on your car if you are working on that area to make sure you don't need to address it.
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Old 08-09-2012, 10:28 PM   #2
BlazeRex
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Yikes! This is what scares me with older/high mileage New England driven Subarus
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Old 08-10-2012, 08:54 AM   #3
myklwrx
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thats from the INSIDE of the car??? im starting to get the rear quarter bubbles in my paint, may have to address this sooner than later.
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Old 08-11-2012, 08:29 PM   #4
sachilles
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Quote:
Originally Posted by myklwrx View Post
thats from the INSIDE of the car??? im starting to get the rear quarter bubbles in my paint, may have to address this sooner than later.
Yup, from the inside.
Probably a real good tell tale sign is to flip up your rear seat and look at the bolts that hold the upper part of the seat in place. If you see rust there, it is certainly worth investigating further.
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Old 08-11-2012, 09:24 PM   #5
Snowphun
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Wow. I've heard of the subframes rotting out, the rear strut issue you have is awful. Your car has been in VT the whole time, I'm guessing it spent a lot more time covered in road salt and muck than some of us down south.

Pretty poor that even in 2001 Subaru hadn't been able to sort out the rust issue. This should be a problem of the last century.
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Old 08-11-2012, 09:31 PM   #6
NateLS1
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Thanks to this post my buddy found his to be rotted to hell lol. Subaru sells the panels for almost 300 each...
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Old 08-11-2012, 10:27 PM   #7
sachilles
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This car tended to be on the road during the worst weather. Was not housed inside in the winter, so it didn't "thaw" in a garage which can be even worse. Had the car on the lift yesterday, and it was pretty bad. Surprised one of the control arms was in one piece. I swear it wasn't so bad a year ago. Seemed to get bad quickly.
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Old 08-12-2012, 04:01 PM   #8
__raj
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I always wonder if VT has a special car eater salt mix.

My sis-in law's older VT Subaru's are swiss cheese and sold running fine but not inspectable safe to drive anymore.

You guys get some serious rust on cars in that state.

I am not that far away either on the Seacoast of NH.
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Old 08-12-2012, 04:19 PM   #9
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Same exact thing with my '99 Impreza Outback Sport. I saw the typical quarter panel rust and wasn't too concerned, but this shock tower/pillar/inner panel rust is not so expected. Oh well...ashes to ashes...

I could post a lot more pictures, but here's just one. This hole is on the passenger side strut tower. There are more rust spots all over both side towers.



I absolutely agree with the OP...it's worth it to check if your car has this issue, and if it does (and isn't too far progressed), it is worth it to try to delay the rust spreading because it would suck to have a strut come shooting up through the tower while you are driving..

Edit: Here's another one. You can see the rust spots on the right side tower. Best pictures I have right now...

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Old 04-10-2014, 11:39 AM   #10
DGWW
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This is a avery thorough approach, one I will be staring shortly. Removing the interior is key to getting a good idea of what is going on (I did this with two tercel 4wd wagons...had to weld in a lot of floor material for that)...
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Old 04-10-2014, 03:00 PM   #11
indirection_
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Crap. I'm also starting to get the rear quarter bubbles in the paint as well.. Damn.
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Old 04-10-2014, 03:07 PM   #12
Drowner
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A friend of mine just retired his 02 outback for the same exact shock tower rot.
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Old 04-10-2014, 06:44 PM   #13
Snowphun
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I haven't taken a close look: what's the process for taking off the plastic trim covers that hide the rear towers?
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Old 04-10-2014, 07:08 PM   #14
69subaru360
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Here in Maine we have it worse than most with rust. I have seen Impreza and Legacy wagons where the entire rear strut tower separated from the body and shot up into the hatch area with the strut still attached.
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Old 10-05-2014, 07:42 PM   #15
Snowphun
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Have a Nice Day?

Bringing this back to the top, IMO virtually every New England bugeye wagon probably has this issue. It's a PITA to get all the trim, clips and sound deadening off to inspect the towers, but this is definitely something you need to fix much sooner than later. If caught early you'll have plenty of good body left to weld onto; if left too long you'll get the super lower rider look after your strut pushes into the interior.

Pics from my car from today (two from each side, before and after), didn't take too long to clean it up, just need to get my act together and weld in some patches.
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Old 10-07-2014, 09:38 AM   #16
Thug
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Yikes.
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Old 10-26-2014, 05:18 PM   #17
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Fix it now before yours becomes what I found in my '03 Wagon after owning it a mere 3 months. Wish I could save it, but I fear it's terminal. Might make it a tad bit safer if I can get my stick welder working with some angle iron but that's being a POS too

Quite disheartened with this "Winter Capable" car, but I also picked up a '02 OBS for even cheaper than this one and it appears to be in better shape body-wise.
My camera eats batteries if I leave them in it so the date's wrong but took these earlier today. Not sure how far the rot wraps around the tower but it's at least half way.

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Old 10-26-2014, 07:09 PM   #18
Snowphun
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Anyone with an older wagon needs to look into this ASAP, the longer you wait the harder it is to fix and can easily get to a point where there isn't enough metal to work with. You can get a hint of problems by looking in the wheel well for the captive nuts used for the seat back bracket and feeling around that area for flaky undercoating or metal. Use a strong flashlight. If you see anything unusual you probably have a much bigger problem. Mine looked good from the wheel well, maybe a bit of loose undercoating but from the inside there was a good deal of rust, once I removed that the holes were big. I welded in some 16 gauge plates and should be good to go for a while, but I'm sure there's more rust in the other parts of the strut tower between the sheets of metal.

In the next few years this is going to become a common place known issue and wagons are going to be time bombs.

Last edited by Snowphun; 11-03-2014 at 02:03 PM. Reason: Clarification
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Old 10-27-2014, 03:04 PM   #19
timeXlost
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damn, this is rough
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Old 11-03-2014, 01:54 PM   #20
xxst1tch3sxx
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My 02 wrx wagon has 240k on the shell and is being retired after this winter out of fear of this lol. I know people who've had their struts shoot up through the tower because it is rusted out.
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Old 11-11-2014, 12:46 PM   #21
lpxltt
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I used a product call Fluid Film for all my rust preventative. Lanolin based oil product, non toxic and works amazing. Similar to what our grandfathers did when they gave their trucks an "oil bath" using old engine oil but far safer and lasts longer.

I used this on my 07 wagon on the interior as well near rear struts after my friends bugeye wrecked because of this issue. On interior use, the stuff has a funny smell for the first couple summer months but after that it is fine. The reason I did this was because it appears it rusts from the inside out as the undercoating in his car was still completely intact in the wheel well.

I use it externally as well, I have a gallon with an airless sprayer I do my underbody once in the fall and once in the spring. Under the wheel wells I spray it every time I wash the salt off with a pressure washer OR if it has been raining/snowing a lot (they have an spray can to make this easier). Works well on the inside of the wheel to keep snow from sticking as well.

Great product for protection. Replaced my rear control arms and lateral link bushings recently and with 140k of NE driving and salt, the "bolt from hell" that connects the lateral links to the knuckle came out with a few taps and an impact driver. In comparison when I did my bugeye's wheel bearing at only 90k and it was from down south, I had to cut the bolt due to it being seized.
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Old 11-11-2014, 06:49 PM   #22
Snowphun
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Fluid Film is good stuff, but it does little to resolve existing rust. For that you need something like SEM Rust Shield, but no product is going to address the issues in this thread without cutting out the rot and cleaning up first.

The strut tower rot does not start inside the car, it starts between the two layers of steel, which is easy for moisture to access thanks to the many holes Subaru cut into the outer layer.
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Old 11-12-2014, 10:18 AM   #23
lpxltt
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Again, I was recommending it as a preventative. Once the car starts to rot like this, yes, cut it out and weld new in if you can.

I'll have to take a look at the way sheet metal is setup. It makes sense that this is how it starts. I mainly did it because I had to replace the carpet in the back when I got the car as the previous owner spilled something corrosive on it and actually ate through it in a spot.

I want to make it clear - Fluid film is something that you use before you start to see rust. My apologies if I implied something different.
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Old 11-12-2014, 12:46 PM   #24
Snowphun
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Next time you have a rear wheel off stick a light in there and you'll see a dozen or more circles about an inch in size. Those are hole cut in the thicker outer layer of steel, leaving the much thinner layer covered in undercoating. This undercoating cracks/fails, lets in small amounts of moisture which gets between the two layers and gets to work. Even worse is on the wagons with the two welded nuts for the seat brackets, these or some other design change unique to the wagon is the entry point for most of the problems.

I agree with you about Fluid Film as a preventative product, if your car is still clean then it's a good way to keep it that way.
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Old 11-12-2014, 01:11 PM   #25
lpxltt
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I'm going to check it out this weekend. I still haven't sprayed for the winter yet so I will be doing it anyways. I'm gonna take the rear carpet and protection out again just to see since it has been a few years and now I'm curious. I'll post pics if I see anything interesting.

This thread is defiantly a must read for any New England wagon owner. I have already sent it to a couple different people.
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