Rust. It’s a heartbreaker. You see a classic car from a distance and it looks pristine, but when you get up close, it’s covered in telltale reddish-brown crumbles of rust.
For some of us, there’s nothing more satisfying than finding a rusty old skeleton in a barn somewhere and bringing it back to its original beauty. Goodbye rust, hello dream car!
But sometimes the rust is just too extensive and expensive to repair. Plus, small bits of destructive rust can hide deep within the vehicle’s body, tricking you into thinking a car is much better preserved than it is.
So let’s look at some important spots to check before buying a classic car to drive or restore. Check these areas first, and you’ll save yourself from making a costly mistake.
Around the Wheel Wells
One of the most common spots to find rust is around the wheel wells. Often it’s in plain view, but you may have to squat down and crane your neck up to see rust sitting up inside the top area of the upper wheel well.
Inside the Fenders
Fender rust is very common in classic cars. If you don’t see any surface rust when you do a quick walk around the vehicle, don’t stop there. Scale rust, which is much more serious, tends to hide in dark and moisture-prone areas.
Look near the inside bottom of the fenders where they sit up close to the vehicle body. Shine a flashlight around the edges of the fenders for a better view.
Along the Doors
Check around the bottoms of all of the doors and door sills. Use a rag to wipe away debris, because pinhole and pockmark rust are hard to see if the car is covered in grime. Open the doors to their maximum hinge allowance and check around the hinges, too.
Around the Windshields
Here’s another place rust likes to hide: around the front and back windshields. Look along the edges of the glass and frame channels carefully, especially along the bottoms. Sometimes, if you peel back the interior lining a little, you’ll find a huge hidden cache of rust across the lower edge of the rear windshield.
The Interior, Including the Trunk
Give the interior a thorough once-over and pull up the carpeting wherever possible to see the areas of naked metal underneath. You might discover that the car once sat with so much moisture in the interior that it rusted out the floorboards. Don’t forget to check the trunk!
Underneath the Vehicle
The entire underside of a classic car is a hotspot for rust to develop. But for the average person, it’s a hard area to check without a mechanic’s help.
Ask the seller to meet you at a garage that has a lift so you can get a complete view of what’s going on under the vehicle. Look closely at the frame rails, the exhaust, the suspension, the floor directly under the pedal cluster, and all the metal joins and solder points.
While it’s fairly easy to replace a rusty door, it’s extremely difficult and expensive to replace major structural elements of a classic vehicle like a rusted-out chassis. Heavy undercarriage rust should be a big red flag that this might not be the car for you.
Too Much Rust? It’s Up to You
The bottom line is that there’s no “right amount” of rust on a classic car. If you’re willing to tackle a major project that involves fixing extensive rust damage, your investment could pay off.
Most buyers prefer to steer clear of projects with too much rust, though. Avoid the cost and hassle of rust, and you’ll spend more time cruising down the road in your dream car.
The Legacy of Classic Auto Insurance
You need to protect your classic car and we’re here to help. No other insurance agency offers the same level of stellar service and genuine passion for the classics as we do.
Classic Automobile Insurance Agency is a family business built on a love of classic cars. We take every opportunity to bring you unique learning opportunities, like our hugely successful Project C10, powered by American Modern. Having owned a variety of collectible vehicles ourselves, we understand the special protections your iconic ride requires.
Whether you bought it at an auction, drove it off the lot, or restored it to perfection in your garage, we have a plan for you. We’ll build you a customized auto insurance program that is designed specifically for owners of collectible cars while providing the top-notch customer support you expect.
Visit our website at www.classicins.com to get an instant quote online, or call 888-901-1338 and see how we can help safeguard your classic car.