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Old 06-20-2019, 12:05 PM #1
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Rusted Frame - Options

Hey guys - noticed quite a bit of rust under my 3rd gen this weekend (2001, 165k miles). No, I didn't wash underneath and no I didn't coat (lesson learned). Sucks because everything else is in good/great condition and wanted to get the car to 200k at least (would be 3+ years...just a to/from work car).

Pics attached - by far the worst area. This is rear passenger side. Everything else is just surface rust.

Two questions:

Is this much rust unsafe to drive? Just passed Virginia safety inspection 3 months ago. Would like to continue to drive to work (8 miles each way, 40 mph tops, no highways) until the new Highlanders come out.

Is there any patch/weld option at this point or not even worth it?

Thanks!
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Old 06-20-2019, 12:13 PM #2
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Safe to drive, ultimately- yes. Would I recommend hard offroad abuse? Most definitely not. If you look at the first couple pages of my Iceberg build you'll find an almost identical size and shape of rust damage, and I recovered from it. Now I don't know what kind of shops you have in your area or if you have any capability to DIY, but it's worth pursuing for piece of mind, for future assurance that you'll get the most out of your runner, and that the chassis won't be the death of a good motor! Good luck with the project, and if you have any questions, let me know
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Old 06-20-2019, 12:42 PM #3
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Rusted Frame - Options

Mine looked just like that take to welder

Last edited by ryanok123; 06-20-2019 at 06:45 PM.
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Old 06-20-2019, 07:46 PM #4
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If the outside weld and floor are still good then it may last longer than you think. Not saying to delay fixing but I wouldn't be that scared tbh. Yes it's repairable you don't need to buy a sissy Highlander.
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Old 06-20-2019, 09:22 PM #5
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Take a screwdriver and stick it through the circular holes in that lower control arm bracket. Decent chance the bottom of the frame where the bracket attaches is gone from where you can't see it. If so, be prepared that it could break loose at any time. That's what happend to mine, and mine did not look nearly as bad as yours before it happened. (See thread in my sig.)

When that bracket breaks loose, it is a chilling experience. I was lucky, I was lightly accelerating in a straight line up a ramp to an interstate, and could easily let it coast to a stop on the shoulder. Three things you want NOT to do if that breaks are: brake, steer, or accelerate. The thing will feel like the body wants to separate from the chassis if you do anything except proceed in a steady straight line. That it did pretty well. I was able to drive it the five miles to home when I got the hang of it.

So if that frame bottom inside the bracket is compromised, I would not feel comfortable driving that truck. If it comes loose at the wrong moment, it could be very ugly.
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Old 06-21-2019, 10:18 AM #6
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Smile

OP here: Thanks for the tip - the lower control arm bracket is attached pretty well (for now) and I'll keep checking.

I'm also going to take it to "my guy" (trustworthy mechanic that has worked on it for 12 years) and see what he thinks. Getting it welded to stretch it out for a bit is a good plan but I don't want to put my family in a vehicle with a patched frame so it'd only be for the short term. I went to two auto body shops and its beyond their capabilities so need to do some Googling.

And the sissy Highlander is for my wife . Part of my master plan to get her a new car, drive her car for a few years, and then get a new 6th gen 4Runner.
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Old 06-22-2019, 05:43 PM #7
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For posterityís sake, the mechanic (Japanese car specialist) said that the rust wasnít that bad and that six months of driving would be no problem. He said he sees 4Runners rust out all the time and has seen a lot worse out there.
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Old 06-22-2019, 06:07 PM #8
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The whole inner side of the frame where the bracket attaches appears to be gone from the looks of that second photo. If this passed the Virginia safety inspection and your guy says he's seen a lot worse out there I wonder what it takes to be considered unsafe. I personally wouldn't drive my family around in that but it's not my call to make.
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Old 06-22-2019, 06:07 PM #9
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I don't have the link right now, but you can buy new upper mounts for the rear LCA's. I think they're about $60 a piece. Be a good time to pick those up and do them both. I have both on stand by for when my buddy and I can do mine, along with patch up the inner passenger side frame. Mine looks about like yours, but goes all the way to the steering rack from the LCA mount. And I can't weld, working on that though, b/c if I could, it would be done already. Patch it right, and I don't think it will be an issue the rest of the time you own the vehicle pending you do your due diligence/proper preventative rust techniques. Hell, patch it up to get by for now and safe for a clean framed 4runner down the road.
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Old 06-22-2019, 10:45 PM #10
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Looks like a NY truck with all the Acid they put down in the Winter.
Best of luck man..
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Old 06-23-2019, 12:29 PM #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bossman15 View Post
OP here: Thanks for the tip - the lower control arm bracket is attached pretty well (for now) and I'll keep checking.

I'm also going to take it to "my guy" (trustworthy mechanic that has worked on it for 12 years) and see what he thinks. Getting it welded to stretch it out for a bit is a good plan but I don't want to put my family in a vehicle with a patched frame so it'd only be for the short term. I went to two auto body shops and its beyond their capabilities so need to do some Googling.

And the sissy Highlander is for my wife . Part of my master plan to get her a new car, drive her car for a few years, and then get a new 6th gen 4Runner.
Totally fixable! As I tell customers with rusty frames, especially rusted out unibody vehicles like a Ford Taurus with no rocker panels under those plastic covers, it's not going to break in half driving down the road, but it will probably fail catastrophically in a bad accident. As you can see in the photo I attached, even though this frame is totally wiped out, the LCA mount is still supporting the weight of this 4Runner on the lift. It's ok to drive for a while, but get it fixed. Once they start to go they get worse quick.
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Old 06-23-2019, 04:40 PM #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaineRunna View Post
Totally fixable! As I tell customers with rusty frames, especially rusted out unibody vehicles like a Ford Taurus with no rocker panels under those plastic covers, it's not going to break in half driving down the road, but it will probably fail catastrophically in a bad accident. As you can see in the photo I attached, even though this frame is totally wiped out, the LCA mount is still supporting the weight of this 4Runner on the lift. It's ok to drive for a while, but get it fixed. Once they start to go they get worse quick.
It's actually not the weight of the body that is the critical stress on that LCA bracket. It is the fore and aft stress that occurs when the driveshaft/rear wheels accelerate. It makes the whole body want to rotate in the horizontal relative to the chassis. This becomes evident when you try to drive with only one of them.
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Old 06-23-2019, 05:19 PM #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDurk View Post
It's actually not the weight of the body that is the critical stress on that LCA bracket. It is the fore and aft stress that occurs when the driveshaft/rear wheels accelerate. It makes the whole body want to rotate in the horizontal relative to the chassis. This becomes evident when you try to drive with only one of them.
You are absolutely correct! I should have noted that. Found that out when I noticed that a customer's 99 had one rear wheel almost touching the back bumper due to the LCA mount peeling off at the front then rotating down and back.
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Old 07-02-2019, 05:48 PM #14
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Too much rust to buy? 4th Gen 2008 4runner

Looking into buying this 2008 4wd runner with 140,000 miles (priced at $12k). Interior is spotless and there is barely even a scratch on the outside. The only con is this car is from Pennsylvania and the car is rusted. These pictures aren't great, but does this look like I might be able to drive this vehicle for 4+ years or will the rust be too much of a hassle in the long run.

(Just realized this is a 3rd gen form, but any help at all would be appreciated)
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Old 07-02-2019, 11:34 PM #15
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What rust?
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