Why are the fenders on my car rusting?
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    Tomfive's Avatar
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    Why are the fenders on my car rusting?

    My '02 Jetta has been having a front fender rust issue for some time now. It is rusting at the top of the wheel for a different reason (another topic someday), but a couple of years back, rust started appearing at rear of the fender, at the rocker panel just ahead of the front door. Not much body rust anywhere else on the car which is good for a 17 year old car living outside in New York.
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    Well, earlier this year, the rust got so bad that the sheet metal just deteriorated and I saw dirt under the rust. I started digging and found about a baseball sized clod of dirt, rotted leaves, pine needles, etc inside the fender on both sides. Sorry, but I forgot to take any pics.

    Fast forward a couple of months and I was thinking about where the "things" that fall in the space behind the hood, under the windshield wipers goes. Answer, it goes behind the fender!! Water probably just goes through the seams at the bottom between the plastic fender liners. But there isn't enough open space for solids to go through, so they clog the seam and just sits there, wet, causing rust.

    So I decided to check behind the fender liner on my wife's '05 Suby, and this is what I found!
    Click image for larger version.†

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    Luckily she doesn't have any rust-thru yet. When it gets warmer, I'm going to throughly wash out the area with a hose, and then treat with some rust preventative.

    I don't know if this is common knowledge or not, but I have never done this cleaning before.
    Maybe because I haven't kept cars as long as I do now.

    Just my 2 cents.
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    Tom

    2011 1026R/R4's -- H120 FEL/49" -- 260 BH/12" -- Bro-Tek Ripper -- Artillian Forks/42" -- 244 lbs JD Rear Wheel Weights -- KBOH Hooks and Clevis' --
    Block heater -- 180* T-stat -- Evans HP Waterless Coolant

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    coaltrain's Avatar
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    Certain year the MKIV Jettas had a recall for the front fenders rusting. Don’t know exactly what years but you may fall into that. But I’m sure you are out of the recall window now...

    Edit to add - I learned of the junk collecting in that spot on the TDIClub forum some years ago. I happened to have a Jetta at that time. Opened up that area and like yours, it was loaded with junk.
    Last edited by coaltrain; 04-28-2019 at 11:20 AM.
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    Tomfive's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coaltrain View Post
    Certain year the MKIV Jettas had a recall for the front fenders rusting. Donít know exactly what years but you may fall into that. But Iím sure you are out of the recall window now...

    Edit to add - I learned of the junk collecting in that spot on the TDIClub forum some years ago. I happened to have a Jetta at that time. Opened up that area and like yours, it was loaded with junk.
    Thanks, I did find out about that recall for the top rust ... but I was too late, car was 15 years old and the dealer said that was beyond the "window". I didn't pursue it. I also didn't see anything the dirt collection issue.

    But, yesterday I got the Jetta inspected and NYS now tells you of pending recalls on your car. I have a brake light switch recall that I haven't done yet, because it still works, and the dealer is too far away to be convenient. Now that my fenders are rusted through badly, I'll think about driving it to the dealer to have the switch replaced ... and maybe leave it parked in their lot for a couple of days to show off to prospective VW customers

    In any case, we're probably going to sell the TDI this year anyway.
    Tom

    2011 1026R/R4's -- H120 FEL/49" -- 260 BH/12" -- Bro-Tek Ripper -- Artillian Forks/42" -- 244 lbs JD Rear Wheel Weights -- KBOH Hooks and Clevis' --
    Block heater -- 180* T-stat -- Evans HP Waterless Coolant

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    SRG
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    Coaltrain beat me to it. I think VW warrantied the front fenders for up to 10yrs after the OEM warranty expired, they were that notorious for rusting out. Thankfully someone had them replaced on the '02 I picked up.

    Now i gotta go clean my rears out. Thanks for that bit of info.

    Super fun cars to drive, especially with the 5spd manual.


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    ejb69's Avatar
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    Itís pretty much normal for any vehicle thatís more than 5 years old to have rust holes where Iím from. It happens more with vehicles that donít get the underside washed very often. By the time a vehicle is 10 years old I almost expect to find some rust. Road salt is very very corrosive and they use lots of it here.
    Eric

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    JDSwan87's Avatar
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    Warranty was 12 years from date of service of vehicle. Only covered rust-thru. And it wasn't a recall, it was a TSB on the fenders. Furthermore, ALL VW products have a 12 year rust-thru warranty (except the Routan since it was a Chrysler)

    Once a year, pull the inner fenders, clean all debris and drains, spray with fluid film, reassemble. Remember your windshield drains there on most cars.

    Worst part is it ruins your rocker panel before the fender shows it...

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    JD4044M's Avatar
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    Wow that is more rust then on my whole 79 Chevy Pickup? My 2005 Dodge Ram 2500 4x4 does not have any rust except under the drivers door. I think the hinge pin has some slop it has drug on the opening tin and took the paint off. That has let it surface rust some. They use way more sand then salt where we live. Salt is only used to break up a real bad road ice build up sometimes when the temps are just right. I would be real upset and a bunch of others having their vehicles ate up by road crap to only get rid of ice!
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    Tomfive's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JDSwan87 View Post
    Warranty was 12 years from date of service of vehicle. Only covered rust-thru. And it wasn't a recall, it was a TSB on the fenders. Furthermore, ALL VW products have a 12 year rust-thru warranty (except the Routan since it was a Chrysler)

    Once a year, pull the inner fenders, clean all debris and drains, spray with fluid film, reassemble. Remember your windshield drains there on most cars.

    Worst part is it ruins your rocker panel before the fender shows it...
    I bought my '02 Jetta TDI used, didn't even know about the 12 year rust-thru until after it had past ... I don't think I saw rust during that time period anyway other than surface rust from rock dings. So be it, when I called the VW dealer that's what they told me too.

    Quote Originally Posted by JD4044M View Post
    Wow that is more rust then on my whole 79 Chevy Pickup? My 2005 Dodge Ram 2500 4x4 does not have any rust except under the drivers door. I think the hinge pin has some slop it has drug on the opening tin and took the paint off. That has let it surface rust some. They use way more sand then salt where we live. Salt is only used to break up a real bad road ice build up sometimes when the temps are just right. I would be real upset and a bunch of others having their vehicles ate up by road crap to only get rid of ice!
    I didn't show you the top of the wheel opening, that other rust spot is about 2X of that behind the wheel. Rust through and bubbling paint. Short story, VW put a "sound deadening pad" at the top of the wheel opening, inside. It just kept the spot wet until the rust came through the sheet metal. Both rust spots are on both front fenders.

    Had I known/read earlier on TDIClub's forum, that pad and the dirt collection area would have gotten more attention than I gave it. Oh well.

    Live and learn... 2 cents.
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    Tom

    2011 1026R/R4's -- H120 FEL/49" -- 260 BH/12" -- Bro-Tek Ripper -- Artillian Forks/42" -- 244 lbs JD Rear Wheel Weights -- KBOH Hooks and Clevis' --
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    coaltrain's Avatar
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    The old Jetta did well enough for 17 years of service I think.

    My wifeís Ď99 New Beetle TDI sits in the barn without a lick of rust on it. The previous owner who had it since new and sold it to us at 4 years old never drove it in the snow. I can think of maybe 3 or 4 times since that we have in its 20 year life.

    Planning on a few refurbishing items soon - a suspension refresh plus the turbo needs cleaned. Other than that we still turn the key and go. Itís a shame it only gets 500 miles a year on it since Mrs. C hasnít been able to drive the last few years.

    Hoping when she gets her knee fixed she can get back to driving it. She refuses to sell it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JD4044M View Post
    Wow that is more rust then on my whole 79 Chevy Pickup? My 2005 Dodge Ram 2500 4x4 does not have any rust except under the drivers door. I think the hinge pin has some slop it has drug on the opening tin and took the paint off. That has let it surface rust some. They use way more sand then salt where we live. Salt is only used to break up a real bad road ice build up sometimes when the temps are just right. I would be real upset and a bunch of others having their vehicles ate up by road crap to only get rid of ice!
    Don't move to Ontario then. During the winter we get more salt than anything put down on the roads here. They also put down something that they call 'Brine', a water/salt solution, on the roads before a big snowfall or forecasted freezing rain. It's supposed to melt snow/ice before it can become a problem for the motorists. The problem with the salt is it also prematurely rusts out the cars and trucks. One other small detail about the salt is that the snow that it melts is transformed into a salty vapour when the cars throw the snowmelt into the air. The vapour is circulated by the wind currents and it kills a lot of the vegetation on the side of the road, and goes up onto the hydro wires and insulators. The salt deteriorates the aluminum conductors and coats the insulators, then when there is a light mist the electricity tracks down the insulator and quite often sets the poles and cross-arms on fire as it tracks to ground. Just a little added bonus.
    Last edited by NotYourGrandfathersDeere; 04-28-2019 at 08:03 PM.

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