Rusting Car Roof - What Are My Options?
July 2, 2014 2:44 PM   Subscribe

My car roof is rusting extensively along the windshield edge. I don't know if I can get it fixed anymore as it has gotten bad rather quickly. What are my options? More inside

Calling all car experts:

I have an '08 Jeep Grand Cherokee. I am getting a lot of rust along the edge of the roof (photo) where it meets the windshield. I'm worried that it's too far gone to repair. Is it? A couple body shops said they don't even do rust, and they wanted to replace the entire roof (which could cost upwards of $2,000-2,500). I believe it to be from the salt water from my surfboard :( Lesson learned.

It is not under warranty.

What are my options here? Anyone have experience with this sort of problem?

As an aside:

I'm almost done with car payments - I owe about 1,800 and it will be paid off in January at the current rate I'm going.

The Kelley Blue Book value is 11,000 - 13,000.

It's a gas guzzler, and I tend to drive a LOT. My gas totaled about $450 last month, which is absurd. I was wondering about just trading it in for a hybrid type car.

Do a quick fix and trade it in for a better fuel economy car? Just replace the roof and be glad I don't have car payments anymore?
posted by christiehawk to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Having grown up in northern climates where you can hear the cars rusting at night, that's not a lot of rust. You'd have to scrape the loose stuff off to be sure, but that looks like surface rust.

A body shop won't deal with it because it is very difficult to get the rust to stop once it starts and getting it to look OK will be difficult. That said, you can probably find a place that will take cash and patch it up and that might hold up for a good long time.

Me, personally ? I'd trade the car in - they won't care about the rust - and get something that is more efficient.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:51 PM on July 2, 2014

That's a big job to fix - you'd have to take the screen out to do it properly, which may even mean a new screen (it's probably more labour to take it out without breaking it and clean it up to go back in instead of just putting a new one in). Then there is a fair bit of bodywork required grinding it down and filling it back up and then painting the roof.

$2K isn't that bad, compared to that. Personally, I'd trade it and even if they knock $2K off for the rust (which is unlikely, I think) you're better off getting rid of it.
posted by Brockles at 2:56 PM on July 2, 2014

That isn't a lot of rust.

If it's $2,500 to get it repaired, it's not worth it to make the repair. I wouldn't even be terribly concerned about it.

I would pay it off, if I had the money to do so. Then once I had clear title in my possession, I would either trade it in or sell it in a private sale, and get a new car.

I've never traded in a car for which I still had payments to make, so you might be able to do that.
posted by tckma at 2:58 PM on July 2, 2014

I'd see what you can get in trade. As I read those bumps, there's a lot of sanding to do before you get to bare sheet metal, and it might be fairly close to going through.
posted by wotsac at 3:18 PM on July 2, 2014

That's not a lot of rust. If you're not terribly concerned with the cosmetics, and just want to stop the rusting process, you can do so pretty cheaply and easily DIY. First thing I'd do is surround the rusted areas by several layers of durable masking tape so as not to damage non-rusted finish, along with an equally thick couple layers over the top edge of the window glass, then scrape the bubbled paint away and sand with multiple grits of sandpaper, say 80-150 grit. Once you've got a fairly smooth "scab" of shiny metal with a little bit of rust pitting, spray or hand paint with a one can rust inhibiting paint like POR-15, VHT, Dupli-Color Rust Fix, or Eastwood Rust Encapsulator. You'll be left with a matte black patch where the rust was, but it converts the rust to an inert status preventing the "cancer" from spreading, and then seals the spot.
posted by stenseng at 3:53 PM on July 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Using rust converter - youtube
posted by stenseng at 3:56 PM on July 2, 2014

I've personally had very good results using POR-15 on old Mercedes - old german steel *loves* to rust if you look at it funny. This stuff has been a lifesaver on my 77 240d, 72 280SE, and 68 280SE.
posted by stenseng at 4:00 PM on July 2, 2014

I've done that kind of fix on an old Beetle, it's relatively easy to do with minimal technical knowledge required. You could then patch paint it if you don't want to pay for an expert to paint it. My only concern would be how to fix the rust that is behind the window seal.
posted by arcticseal at 8:39 PM on July 2, 2014

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