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Old 12-11-2010, 09:48 AM   #1
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Rust in wheel wells - worth fixing? cost?

As you can see from the pics, things are going to well as far as rust goes for my '01. It's really a shame and the rust is killing my soul. I know it's getting on in age...

Any body experts here? Does this a) look fixable and if so how much should I expect it to run me?

Thanks for any help!

Driver's Side
Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.

Passenger Side
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Old 12-11-2010, 09:57 AM   #2
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Rather than trying to cut/weld/bondo it, I think I would just replace the fender with an aftermarket one ($200?) and have it painted.
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Old 12-11-2010, 09:59 AM   #3
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Thanks for your help. Do you have a link?

These are the rear wheel wells, unless I'm missing something, it won't be as simple as just replacing a fender (as perhaps it would be in the front).
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Old 12-11-2010, 10:17 AM   #4
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Oh, I was thinking fronts...rears are way more complicated. Might be worth doing a cut and weld on the rears.
Should have paid more attention to the photos...
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Old 12-11-2010, 10:37 AM   #5
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i had 10x worse than that (like 3x3" eaten through), just grinded/sanded out the rust, fabbed up some metal and curved it, put the metal on with rivets, Bondo, fillter, paint etc. and thats it
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Old 12-11-2010, 12:01 PM   #6
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/\/\ That sounds good but I don't have the knowledge to curve metal or work with rivets.

Could you share some pics of how it came out?
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Old 12-11-2010, 12:21 PM   #7
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Ohhhh, this makes me sick... I don't like looking at pictures of something I love so much being eaten away like that. It's like the equivalent of a flesh-eating virus for people.
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Old 12-11-2010, 12:45 PM   #8
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/\/\ That sounds good but I don't have the knowledge to curve metal or work with rivets.

Could you share some pics of how it came out?
really it was nothing lol, someone else helped me who knows more and we just stuck a L shaped piece of metal in a vice and hammered it until it was curved. rivers are kinda like nails, but the machine presses them in and cuts the end off so its flush to the metal

im not a pic person really but on this rear wheel well, the curved part to the left was eaten through, i got quoted at 2k+ for a shop to fix my rust, i had rust on all wheel wells, the rear doors, and a bunch of other places and fixing it was a few hundred in parts

round 2 is coming in the spring, the front right wheel well needs touching up (i think someone hit me there and its started to rust again) then i'm painting the whole car

Click the image to open in full size.

ignore the paint lol, didnt paint perfect because ive planned to paint everything next year. you really would have had to seen the before though, it was just flaked rust pouring out. i have the most foula55 hatred of rust
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Old 12-11-2010, 04:15 PM   #9
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My '02 is starting to rust now, too. It is where the inner fender and outer finder meet in the rear wheel wells. Looks to be a problem with some of these cars. It amazes me since metal now is so much better than it used to be. You hardly see this any more. I even used to get the underside of car washed every other week during the winter. Oh well.
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Old 12-12-2010, 07:47 AM   #10
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It's very frustrating. I've never held Nissan paint in high regard. This isn't the first Nissan I've had do this. I can deal with minor dings, scratches, scuffs as that's just part of owning a 9 year old car but the rust is killing me.

One body shop guy told me not to bother as he felt the rust woudl return. Anyone have any idea what I should expect to pay to fix this properly (which I assume is cut and weld)
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Old 12-12-2010, 08:29 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by merlin2375 View Post
It's very frustrating. I've never held Nissan paint in high regard. This isn't the first Nissan I've had do this. I can deal with minor dings, scratches, scuffs as that's just part of owning a 9 year old car but the rust is killing me.

One body shop guy told me not to bother as he felt the rust woudl return. Anyone have any idea what I should expect to pay to fix this properly (which I assume is cut and weld)
You'll never win a fight with rust specially where you live.
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Old 12-12-2010, 09:10 AM   #12
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mine were not nearly as bad as yours, had a guy fix up both sides and paint match the rear sections for $800 last year, a year later is it bubbling again.

options you will have if you go to a shop is
1-they will cut out the metal then shape and weld on new metals
2-seal the metal and just paint the section so it wont (hopefully) rust again
3-paint the rear section of the car (excluding rear bumper and trunk lid)
4-paint the entire top and rear section of the car all at once, so there is not a paint break spot somewhere along the rear pillars

to have them paint the top and rear sections would actually be a good deal, b/c you could have paint chips and such fixed on the top of the car.

those were my options fyi
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Old 04-06-2011, 09:27 PM   #13
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My '02 is starting to rust now, too. It is where the inner fender and outer finder meet in the rear wheel wells. Looks to be a problem with some of these cars. It amazes me since metal now is so much better than it used to be. You hardly see this any more. I even used to get the underside of car washed every other week during the winter. Oh well.
Nissan has HUGE, I repeat HUGE issue with metal sheet conditioning and rust protection during their manufacturing process.
I owned both, new Altima '92 and new Maxima 2000.
Let me tell you about Altima first. Altima started to rust about 5 years after purchase. It was first front frame beam (or it looked as such) – rust was very visible through bottom front bumper opening. I got it fixed/painted under warranty. Than rust started to develop just about same time (I had about 60K miles on it) along the lip of both rear wheel wells, part facing rear doors (like on Maximas pictures here) (. I noticed that, and was cleaning it every spring and painting and fixing it..but you can do so much, it rusted to the point that rust started to "bubble" on a body side, just above the well edge. I sold the car about that time. Had roughly 120K miles I believe.
While having that issue I was noticing same developments on other Altimas I would pass by on streets. As time went by I could tell that EVERY first gen Altima model (92-95) had same problem.
Now about Maxima! Got it new as well, model 2000 GLE, fully loaded. Guess what - after about 5-6 years, (let me cut and paste from above) - "rust started to develop just about along the lip of a rear wheel wells, next to rear doors".... Exactly same as on pictures above. To make the story short, still own this Maxima, 145K miles on it, it became my sons college car. In the meantime rust started to “eat” both well lips, I "fixed" them using fiberglass and raisin compound, painted it etc. But rust came through again this spring.
Believe me - I can tell accurately which year your Maxima is (models 2000-2005) based on amount of rust it developed in this area. I can do it while you are passing by )
In summary, VERY disappointing Nissan quality when it comes to car body (I also read about rust problems on Quests, Pathfinders, and trucks). The root cause of the problem for both, Altima and Maxima is in the way how they weld inner fender metal sheet to the outer body sheet - they don't seal space between welds and water/salt gets inside in-between metal sheets. Once in there, it is game over - slow death
I am done with this brand of cars…
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Old 04-06-2011, 09:48 PM   #14
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Undercoat it yourself or don't live in a **** hole.

We don't get massive amount of snow (St. Louis), but good luck finding rust on any nissan that's even 15 yrs old here unless it's beat to hell.

There's a certain amount of preventive care you have to do....ie you don't let salt infused snow sit in the wheel wells all damn winter. I spray mine out every day after driving when there's salt present.
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Old 04-07-2011, 06:45 AM   #15
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It's very frustrating. I've never held Nissan paint in high regard. This isn't the first Nissan I've had do this. I can deal with minor dings, scratches, scuffs as that's just part of owning a 9 year old car but the rust is killing me.

One body shop guy told me not to bother as he felt the rust woudl return. Anyone have any idea what I should expect to pay to fix this properly (which I assume is cut and weld)
He's basically right, I had the same rust issue on the passenger side when I bought it used and I had it "fixed" once by a guy for $300, turns out he just bondo'd it and it came back within a few months. I then went to a legit body shop and paid $500 to have them weld in a new clean piece, looked great for about 8-9 months but again bubbled back through. It's now basically bubbled around 3/4 of the passenger wheel wheel arch...driver's side has nothing.

In Mass/NH I'd honestly say about 75% of 2000-2003 Maxima/Infiniti's I see have this problem.

About the only way to try to stop it from happening is to have an entirely new quarter panel put on, I was quoted $1200-1500 for that job...ya no thanks for a car worth $5k.
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Old 04-07-2011, 06:54 AM   #16
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Undercoat it yourself or don't live in a **** hole.

We don't get massive amount of snow (St. Louis), but good luck finding rust on any nissan that's even 15 yrs old here unless it's beat to hell.

There's a certain amount of preventive care you have to do....ie you don't let salt infused snow sit in the wheel wells all damn winter. I spray mine out every day after driving when there's salt present.
Right, undercoat the inside of a quarter panel where the inner and outer are joined? Undercoating the inside of the wheel well would do nothing to prevent this from happening.

This issue is beyond "preventative maintenance", I'm not a clean car freak but I always made sure to keep the wheel wells free of snow/salt when possible, even more so after I had the panel repaired and it still was a lost cause as it rusts from the inside out.
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Old 04-07-2011, 07:26 AM   #17
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I used to to body work and mechanic work at my fathers garage. The side that isnt as bad look as though you may be able to sand it down to bare metal and prime paint and all that happy stuff. The other side...that looks pretty bad. Minus like everyone said the really only way on that is to cut out the metal and have someone (bodyshop) fix it right. I wouldnt let any body shop do it either some places will do a half *** job and it will be back in less than a year. Mine has cracked paint right dead center of the wheel arch on the dr side (do not try to roll your fenders in january with a dead blow hammer) and the other side is the on the bottom part of the quarter where the door meets the fender. have you looked underneath on the floor pan and area where the rear axle is. I live in mass and the sanding and salting is overboard. he floor near the axle needs to be sanded and cleaned and undercoated. The undercoating will go a long way in preventing all these dirty words (salt, rust)

In all reality it may be not worth it to fix vs the price you will get when you sell the car.
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Old 04-07-2011, 07:43 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by AChiTwn View Post
......
The root cause of the problem for both, Altima and Maxima is in the way how they weld inner fender metal sheet to the outer body sheet - they don't seal space between welds and water/salt gets inside in-between metal sheets. Once in there, it is game over - slow death

I am done with this brand of cars…
I Wonder how fender rolling would effect this design flaw? pos/neg ?
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Old 04-07-2011, 08:50 AM   #19
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I Wonder how fender rolling would effect this design flaw? pos/neg ?
Dunno, but Ford used that design from the early 90s through at least ~04ish and they develop rust the same way in the same places as our cars. My '01 Taurus never rusted in the wheel wells, but my brother's '03 did. A buddy at work has a late 90s F-150 that is super clean... save the beginnings of the dreaded inside->out, wheel-well rust.
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Old 04-22-2011, 10:19 AM   #20
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I had the same problem on my driver side rear wheel well also, For a somewhat inexpensive fix maybe (40-50$) worth, just sand the metal down where the rust is then prime paint and clear coat ( I clear coated at least) and that should work for a good amount of time IMO. Its currently working well for mine right now, will see though... and of course keep the car as clean as you can, especially in winter
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Old 04-22-2011, 12:02 PM   #21
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Mines in the same boat. rear pass side arch is bubbled pretty badly at this point but it feels solid and visible rust is practically nill but its def there. I got a quote of about $400 from a very good local bodyshop but hes not gonna sand and fix...

He said what he normally does in these cases is cut the arch out of a DRIVER front panel and weld in place of the bad arch on the PASS rear, make it fit then prep/blend/clear. I said f it. too much for me with 140k on the clock.

Im positive it can be sanded and maybe VERY MINOR filler, painted and cleared for under $150. I just havent found anyone that will do it.
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Old 04-22-2011, 12:19 PM   #22
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Here is a (cell phone quality) picture of the rust I had one a wheel well. Fortunately, I had someone hit me on that side a few inches below the rust spot, which is what I was taking a picture of. I got the scrape, the rust, and a deep scratch in the rear bumper (no pic) fixed for $650 in cash.

Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 06-04-2011, 07:03 PM   #23
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Wow, I thought my oem rims and tires were hitting the inner wheel wells. Both of my rear inner well lips are warped and starting to rust like Merlin 2375's car. I said to myself " maybe I bought the car like this and someone had the wrong offset wheels on the car". I asked my buddy who has a better memory than me who said no way was the car like that when you bought it 5 years ago. It made me feel a little better b/c I know better than that.

So nothing is hitting and it is the metal seperating and rusting? Terrific.

This car is garaged w/ only 96k on it.
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Old 06-05-2011, 11:40 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Child_uv_KoRn View Post
Undercoat it yourself or don't live in a **** hole.

We don't get massive amount of snow (St. Louis), but good luck finding rust on any nissan that's even 15 yrs old here unless it's beat to hell.
Wrong. Mine is virtually immaculate, with a returning spot on one of the wheel wells that, like all spots, comes back. I live in a nicer part of STL County, and the 5.5 only has about 89k on it. Once rust starts (which can be for any number of reasons), you can only contain it without removing the entire panel. Any small amount left will return and spread.

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One body shop guy told me not to bother as he felt the rust woudl return. Anyone have any idea what I should expect to pay to fix this properly (which I assume is cut and weld)
Body shop guys say that because they know it will return, and the customer will hold him accountable. Therefore, they don't want their hands on it, predicting a problem in in 18-24 months when the cancer returns. $300-500 will fix it. Expect to return in two years, since the rust definitely will. Larger places will do this for you, but it will not be warrantied and you must be prepared to repeatedly "fix" it until you get rid of the car.
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Last edited by pikers; 06-05-2011 at 11:45 AM..
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Old 06-05-2011, 11:53 AM   #25
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2001 rust issues

Got the same thing on the 01. Went with $50.00 in body tape, can of Rust Preventer, and fiberglass filler, primer then black spray paint. Good enough.

Now the front crossbar that connects to the motor mounts is rusted through.
Seems this is not right
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Old 06-05-2011, 05:26 PM   #26
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Heres a trick, order two fenders aftermarket, have a shop cut the fenders and use them to replace the rot and your good togo. Thats what im in the middle of doing with mine! i have an 01 AE with the same problem! Good luck
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Old 07-11-2011, 06:25 AM   #27
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Got an update , I got one shop that told me 4k to replace both rear quaters. They just didn't seem interested ...

Anyone do the work themselves and have pics ?
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Old 07-11-2011, 06:40 AM   #28
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Ive been down the same road as well now. Two months ago I sat down and spent 3 days or so cleaning the rust, protecting, and building half a fender out of bondo. In the end I am quite confident it will survive for a couple of years, and then I will be back there fixing it again. As long as you can take the time and do it right it can turn out very well done.

I'm not planning on winning any beauty contests with my max so I don't really care as long as its functional and looks good from a distance.

Keep in mind I spent about 100$ on paint, body filler, PO-15, brushes, and sandpaper products.
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Old 07-11-2011, 07:30 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by maxspeed96CT View Post
Got an update , I got one shop that told me 4k to replace both rear quaters. They just didn't seem interested ...

Anyone do the work themselves and have pics ?
check out the thread squirrel made. it was titled 1/4 Rust repair
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Old 07-11-2011, 08:38 AM   #30
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Rust on rear wheel wells

Unfortunately this is prevalent for this gen Maxima. I recently purchased an '02 from a man who was the sole owner of the car. He had this problem as well, and he actually purchased 2 new front Maxima fenders, had the rear metal cut out then had the new fenders welded in. Not an especially inexpensive project, but the front fenders for this gen car did not generally have the rust issues, so this should cover me for some time. Hope this helps, Eric
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Old 07-11-2011, 09:43 AM   #31
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This is what I did. It was the best alternative I had due to cost. Bought these off of ebay for $55...

Click the image to open in full size.

...had my buddy remove all the rust, used ONLY the rear shiny fender trim pieces and had them attached to the fenders where the rust was removed, blended in with rear quarter, sanded, primed and painted same color as car.

I will post pictures later tonight. I am satisifed with the results only because overall cost was under $500 for his time, materials, and the bling bling fender trim.
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Old 07-11-2011, 07:47 PM   #32
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Pictures as promised.

To see how bad mine got, here is the passenger side:
Click the image to open in full size.

After cutting out rust and preparing surface as well as trim pieces, attaching to quarter panels (drivers side):
Click the image to open in full size.

Passenger side attached and smoothed out:
Click the image to open in full size.

Painting:
Click the image to open in full size.

Finished (drivers side):
Click the image to open in full size.

Since it flares out a slight bit, the flat portion of the OEM fender lip is now gone. But, as stated I can not and will not complain about the results after paying less than $500 for both quarter panels being repaired, both front fenders repainted to cover years and miles of rock chips and a full wet sand and buff of car....
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Old 07-11-2011, 08:06 PM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Child_uv_KoRn View Post
Undercoat it yourself or don't live in a **** hole.

We don't get massive amount of snow (St. Louis), but good luck finding rust on any nissan that's even 15 yrs old here unless it's beat to hell.

There's a certain amount of preventive care you have to do....ie you don't let salt infused snow sit in the wheel wells all damn winter. I spray mine out every day after driving when there's salt present.
I also live in St. Louis and I have this exact same rust on my 02 both left and right sides. It's painful to see it. And I take pretty good care of my car. I don't let the snow sit in the wheel well either. Some things are just unavoidable.
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Old 07-12-2011, 02:11 PM   #34
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I'll post pictures of the process how I deal with the rust problem, come late summer/fall.

I'm in the midst of swapping parts from a 94 GXE into a 92 Brougham, and the brougham will have the entire chassis re-done.

Basically after much dollars spent on the 94 and trying to deal with it, i'll say this. Don't waste your money on fancy primers and paint. The rust may continue underneath no matter how elaborate the paint is. The rust has the potential to move to the path of least resistance and can rot in the other direction without you even noticing before it has spread to surrounding parts. The main problems stem from the preparation phase of the metal, and the welding. For now here are the basic steps. There's a bit more too it, but this will give you ideas:

1. DEGREASE & REMOVE ANY RUBBERIZED OR ROCKER PANEL COATINGS
2. BLAST CLEAN WITH ANGULAR GRIT
3. CLEAN WITH SOLVENT (LAQUER THINNER), STEAM, OR POWER WASH
4. COMPLETELY DRY QUICKLY - RUST WILL BEGIN ALMOST IMMEDIATELY (Not a problem if using Laquer Thinner, it dries quickly)
5. IMMEDIATELY APPLY COATING* OR BRING PART TO A COMMERCIAL GALVANIZER TO HOT-DIP GAVANIZE THE PART
6. ONCE COATING HAS CURED - APPLY SEALANT, THEN RUBBERIZE, ROCKER PANEL COAT ETC. TO PROTECT FROM CHIPS

If the rust is beyond surface rust, the section needs to be cut out and new metal welded in (GMAW or TIG)

*I'm going to do a shoot out between products. Although not metallic, Rust Bullet is an example of this. They claim they are superior to POR-15, but we'll see if it can stand up to Canadian weather. These are more like sealants.

Last edited by Porky; 07-12-2011 at 02:22 PM..
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Old 07-12-2011, 03:12 PM   #35
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has anyone tried naval jelly or por-15 for this type of problem?

My passenger rear well is in a rough state, the inner lip all rusted and flakey and small bubbles on the paint in the area. Driver side getting there too. And dont get me started on the condition of the rims. Luckily you dont notice it at very first. Just makes me wish i owned it from day 1. Previous owners lived near coast and were hardly considered car care experts. When i bought the car it came with a layer of dirt . At least i have the enjoyment of snapping bolts from time to time.
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Old 07-12-2011, 07:53 PM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nismopc View Post
Pictures as promised.

To see how bad mine got, here is the passenger side:
Click the image to open in full size.

After cutting out rust and preparing surface as well as trim pieces, attaching to quarter panels (drivers side):
Click the image to open in full size.

Passenger side attached and smoothed out:
Click the image to open in full size.

Painting:
Click the image to open in full size.

Finished (drivers side):
Click the image to open in full size.

Since it flares out a slight bit, the flat portion of the OEM fender lip is now gone. But, as stated I can not and will not complain about the results after paying less than $500 for both quarter panels being repaired, both front fenders repainted to cover years and miles of rock chips and a full wet sand and buff of car....
Niiiiicccccceeee.....
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Old 07-12-2011, 09:10 PM   #37
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Niiiiicccccceeee.....
Thanks. If you look closely at the last picture you can see where the fender trim flares out right at where the door meets the fender. To the trained eye, "we" can see that, but most individuals would never notice it.
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Old 07-13-2011, 07:41 AM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nismopc View Post
Thanks. If you look closely at the last picture you can see where the fender trim flares out right at where the door meets the fender. To the trained eye, "we" can see that, but most individuals would never notice it.
i can see it now, looks good though, maybe get some far away shots.
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Old 08-19-2011, 10:44 AM   #39
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I too am in the same situation. 2000 Maxima GLE 99K. Super nice ride Fast rust has been eating away for a couple years now. Someone did a hit and run on my rear Passenger side and a trade in is out of the question. I have a fab shop at my disposal and have done a small amount of welding. I am looking for wheel arch panels preformed so I can weld them in. Has anyone found these yet
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Old 08-19-2011, 10:51 AM   #40
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Quote:
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I am looking for wheel arch panels preformed so I
can weld them in. Has anyone found these yet
Uh, did you read the thread?

Only two decent options besides spending a sh!tload on new quarters...

1. Use aftermarket front fenders, cut the arches out and weld them in place.
2. Buy ghetto-fabulous bling bling polished stainless steel wheel well flares, cut to fit, weld them in place.

Blend, mud, sand, prime, paint, done.
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Old 08-19-2011, 10:51 AM
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