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    Thread: Cracked inner fender

    1. Member
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      07-15-2019 04:41 PM #1
      Hi all, a few days ago, my mechanic found a big crack on my inner fender. I immediately took an appointment with a body shop to have it fixed, but it's only for August 12th.

      Meanwhile, I'm wondering if I should stop using the car altogether. What the worst that could happen? Would the car would break in half? What would cause the crack to worsen?

      I made a red line where the crack is present; the big red spot on the top left represents a rusted out hole.



      Here are the actual pictures:



      Thanks a lot for your insights!

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    3. Senior Member LT1M21Stingray's Avatar
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      07-15-2019 05:00 PM #2
      Do you have more rust elsewhere?
      Quote Originally Posted by Mk1Madness
      Back when making your car faster and better handling was the big thing.
      Quote Originally Posted by Tavarish
      The car's best safety feature includes ejecting you in the moment of impact and wishing you the best of luck.
      Buy my couch!

    4. Senior Member LT1M21Stingray's Avatar
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      07-15-2019 05:24 PM #3
      Here is the part you need to replace, and if you mandate a shop to do it for you, it can become expensive really fast.

      mk1autohaus.com/NOS-Complete-Inner-Fender-Wheel-Housing--Left_p_7573.html
      Quote Originally Posted by Mk1Madness
      Back when making your car faster and better handling was the big thing.
      Quote Originally Posted by Tavarish
      The car's best safety feature includes ejecting you in the moment of impact and wishing you the best of luck.
      Buy my couch!

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      07-15-2019 05:41 PM #4
      Quote Originally Posted by LT1M21Stingray View Post
      Do you have more rust elsewhere?
      No that's the only place there's rust. I suspect that an aftermarket antenna caused the rust because it started exactly where the antenna is located.

      The bodyshop quoted me 10 hours at $60 per hour, plus the parts I should come up to a bit more than a grand. I've no problem paying that into fixing the car, in fact, I budget about $1000 per year in repairs, so that not out of my budget.

    7. Senior Member LT1M21Stingray's Avatar
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      07-15-2019 05:51 PM #5
      Quote Originally Posted by gfk View Post
      No that's the only place there's rust.
      That's what you think.

      Cars with that kind of rust all have rust all over the place.

      Show us pictures of both strut towers and the floors. Also the rear axle where it bolts to the body is another place with lots of rust.

      Prove me wrong.
      Quote Originally Posted by Mk1Madness
      Back when making your car faster and better handling was the big thing.
      Quote Originally Posted by Tavarish
      The car's best safety feature includes ejecting you in the moment of impact and wishing you the best of luck.
      Buy my couch!

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      07-15-2019 06:49 PM #6
      Quote Originally Posted by LT1M21Stingray View Post
      That's what you think.

      Cars with that kind of rust all have rust all over the place.

      Show us pictures of both strut towers and the floors. Also the rear axle where it bolts to the body is another place with lots of rust.

      Prove me wrong.
      This

      That's really bad. There is def rust elsewhere. I found quite a bit under all that fukin coating years back.

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      Quote Originally Posted by .Ant View Post
      What vegeta said.

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      07-15-2019 06:53 PM #7
      I agree that you should be certain the car is otherwise solid before undertaking that repair, and I also think you should be prepared that the repair would cost more or not be entirely kosher at the price that was quoted.

      I'll add that you should stop driving the car. It's not going to break in half, it already is. That crack is in the critical sheetmetal that holds the front suspension, the impact crush zone, and the transmission mount to the rest of the car (the part you sit in )
      It's hard for me to know exactly what these things cost me. I'm guessing a LOT, but I like them, so that's that.

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      07-15-2019 07:35 PM #8
      You're not going to like what that body shop is going to say.
      I'd start by knocking out all the old coating and lose rust to see how much metal is really gone.

      Here's my $2...
      Remove the fender and completely clean the area. You don't even know what you're looking at yet.
      I would go this route:
      (Industrial)degrease, treat the rust with ospho(takes 24hrs), clean again with alcohol, paint the treated metal with 2:1 marine epoxy- let cure, https://fiberglassflorida.com/fiberg...oxy-resin.html
      then fill/cover the area in epoxy saturated fiberglass matt.
      https://fiberglassflorida.com/fiberg...t-yardage.html (a yard is a huge amout)
      This is where it gets gnarley - Do a few layers so its thick (and wide), super strong. Fiberglass matting can also be loose and then saturated to a thick wad to fill any shape. The glass must be fully saturated but not too wet so it tries to hold the resin in place. I used parchment paper as backing last time I did a big rust hole in a floor pan, depends on how big the holes really are.. Came right off after the epoxy cured. Re-inforce the area around it with more epoxy with matting. The underside won't be as easy, but who cares as long as the fiberglass is solid. Epoxy will stop rust because it encapsulates the metal from oxygen. Make the saturated glass/matt thick and it will be strong like a boat hull.
      Use alcohol to clean up any uncured epoxy that gets where you don't want it.
      Mix epoxy to exact ratio, Stir with a drill so it mixes extremely well- Epoxy cures slow so you want that stuff to kick correctly and as fast as it can. Real epoxy generally takes at least 30 min to harden in warm weather.

      A fiberglass resin supply store will sell you a quart kit of epoxy and some fiberglass matt for about 30 bucks. Don't get low-viscosity epoxy, get regular laminating epoxy that kicks in 20-30 min. You'll have extra left and it won't go bad for years. Practice mixing it and saturating the fiberglass first before you try it on your car - the stuff is messy and catalyzing epoxy drips like syrup slowly freezing. All the prep and layups will take at least 2 days, working somewhere out of the rain.
      The fiberglass matting cuts with scissors. Wear good tight fitting nitrile gloves to apply the epoxy and fiberglass. Wear a respirator if you have to grind/sand any excess after it hardens. Tape-off a bit to keep the mess down.

      The body shop will probably say you need a new car, or some serious welding in of new metal along with fresh paint. Maybe you have the money for that kind of technically perfect repair... just don't let them put bondo in there and call it good. Spending more than that whole car may be worth on a rust repair just doesn't work for me.
      These skills can be applied to future rust repairs to keep your mk1 from disintegrating itself or your bank account.

      Most people say cutting out ALL the affected metal and welding in new is the only way. I know how to grind and weld but I'm not buying a mig welder to try to fab a new car.
      The heresy - this was the rear floor pan of a mk2 - huge hole, floppy metal, now you could smack it with a hammer

      I went sloppy on this and just ground off the drips on the bottom and smeared an epoxy paste on the underside to seal it. This truly was a gnarley repair, makes you're fender job look small.
      Here's a mk4 with some compromising rust holes

      Treated the rust, then painted it with POR15 (I already had) as a prep. POR15 is like a superthin epoxy, works but it goes bad fast so I had to use it up.

      The green stuff is another angle - this was epoxy putty with fiberglass fibers mixed in.
      Finish it off with a coating of epoxy resin and it won't rust, at least not from the outside.
      BTW, that green stuff is underwater epoxy putty called "SplashZone", but you could buy a small jbweld package if you just wanted a small amount. Could make a handy prep to bridge some metal before laying up heavy with the fiberglass/epoxy.

      BTW, what Echassin said is absolutely right. That part of the car HAS to be structurally solid. Clean all that crap out of way and take a good look at it. The HF multitool with the flat blade attachment is good for this. The side of the blade works almost like a needle gun to knock loose and crusty rust out the way. Get that fender off, remove all the loose coating and rust -post a picture of that. It could be a parts car.

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      07-15-2019 09:49 PM #9
      Quote Originally Posted by LT1M21Stingray View Post
      Show us pictures of both strut towers and the floors. Also the rear axle where it bolts to the body is another place with lots of rust.

      Prove me wrong.
      Alright, I went and took some pictures. I'm not going to rip up the carpet to convince you there's no rust under it but I took a good look and everything look clean.






      As a small history of the car, my dad bought it new at the dealership in '82. He drove it in the Canadian winter until '92, when it became a "summer only" car. I bought it from him in 2002 and took meticulous care of it. He always kept it in a garage and so did I. The hole made by the rust that can be seen from under the hood was already there when I bought it in 2002.

      I think that the rust formed when it was running in winter, that why I think that if I've been driving it for 15 years like that, it must not be that bad. I realize, thought, that it's like saying "I've been having unprotected sex with street hookers for the last 15 years and didn't catch anything, why should I stop now?" Maybe I've just been really lucky.

      Also, the mechanic who found the crack was doing a complete inspection of the car. He did check for rust elsewhere and would have told me if he had found any non superficial rust.

      As I said in my original post, I budget $1000 for repairs each year and this year I didn't have any repairs to do. So I asked my mechanic for a thorough inspection. Everything else in the car was fine (well he changed the alternator belt).
      Last edited by gfk; 07-15-2019 at 10:07 PM.

    12. Senior Member LT1M21Stingray's Avatar
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      07-15-2019 11:13 PM #10
      Quote Originally Posted by sgnimj96 View Post
      Here's my $2...
      I would go this route:
      (Industrial)degrease, treat the rust with ospho(takes 24hrs), clean again with alcohol, paint the treated metal with 2:1 marine epoxy- let cure, https://fiberglassflorida.com/fiberg...oxy-resin.html
      then fill/cover the area in epoxy saturated fiberglass matt.
      https://fiberglassflorida.com/fiberg...t-yardage.html (a yard is a huge amout)
      This is where it gets gnarley - Do a few layers so its thick (and wide), super strong. Fiberglass matting can also be loose and then saturated to a thick wad to fill any shape. The glass must be fully saturated but not too wet so it tries to hold the resin in place. I used parchment paper as backing last time I did a big rust hole in a floor pan, depends on how big the holes really are.. Came right off after the epoxy cured. Re-inforce the area around it with more epoxy with matting. The underside won't be as easy, but who cares as long as the fiberglass is solid. Epoxy will stop rust because it encapsulates the metal from oxygen. Make the saturated glass/matt thick and it will be strong like a boat hull.
      Use alcohol to clean up any uncured epoxy that gets where you don't want it.
      Mix epoxy to exact ratio, Stir with a drill so it mixes extremely well- Epoxy cures slow so you want that stuff to kick correctly and as fast as it can. Real epoxy generally takes at least 30 min to harden in warm weather.

      A fiberglass resin supply store will sell you a quart kit of epoxy and some fiberglass matt for about 30 bucks. Don't get low-viscosity epoxy, get regular laminating epoxy that kicks in 20-30 min. You'll have extra left and it won't go bad for years. Practice mixing it and saturating the fiberglass first before you try it on your car - the stuff is messy and catalyzing epoxy drips like syrup slowly freezing. All the prep and layups will take at least 2 days, working somewhere out of the rain.
      The fiberglass matting cuts with scissors. Wear good tight fitting nitrile gloves to apply the epoxy and fiberglass. Wear a respirator if you have to grind/sand any excess after it hardens. Tape-off a bit to keep the mess down.




      Quote Originally Posted by sgnimj96 View Post
      Most people say cutting out ALL the affected metal and welding in new is the only way. I know how to grind and weld but I'm not buying a mig welder to try to fab a new car.
      Because it is the only way to fix rust.

      vwheritage.com/blog/2016/01/28/vw-mk1-golf-bodywork-tips/

      http://restoshack.com/
      Last edited by LT1M21Stingray; 07-15-2019 at 11:29 PM.
      Quote Originally Posted by Mk1Madness
      Back when making your car faster and better handling was the big thing.
      Quote Originally Posted by Tavarish
      The car's best safety feature includes ejecting you in the moment of impact and wishing you the best of luck.
      Buy my couch!

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      07-15-2019 11:21 PM #11
      Industrial corrosion inhibitors are another weapon to keep oxygen off the steel.
      Parts of the car you can't really get to, areas not worth the effort to ever paint.
      Spray or brush the wax/oil-based nasty stuff on and it's good for years. . FluidFilm is a popular one but it's thinner than the SP-400 that I use.

      The original, and still the best, was called Cosmoline. Car manufacturers would spray it inside panels and body pillars.

    14. Senior Member LT1M21Stingray's Avatar
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      07-15-2019 11:31 PM #12
      Quote Originally Posted by gfk View Post
      Alright, I went and took some pictures. I'm not going to rip up the carpet to convince you there's no rust under it but ...
      You don't need to convince me. It's your car, not mine. You need to convince yourself.

      I can't see much with your pictures. If it were my car, I'd grab a flashlight and a long screwdriver, and I'd crawl underneath and poke just about everywhere to see if there is rust.

      The floors, where the rear axle attaches to the body, under the rear wheel well. Get the front wheels off and pay attention to the frame where the A pilar is. Rust over the this area is almost always terminal.

      This car was driven for 10 years under harsh winter condition. That's a lot.

      A pillar rust.

      Quote Originally Posted by Mk1Madness
      Back when making your car faster and better handling was the big thing.
      Quote Originally Posted by Tavarish
      The car's best safety feature includes ejecting you in the moment of impact and wishing you the best of luck.
      Buy my couch!

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      07-16-2019 09:30 AM #13
      Any one of us who's been around the rust belt has at one time or another used fiberglass cloth and/or BondoGlass for a quickie rust fix, but to actually recommend it as an appropriate repair for a key structural part of the unibody is definitely taking things a step further...

      The car in question here really does seem otherwise solid.
      It's hard for me to know exactly what these things cost me. I'm guessing a LOT, but I like them, so that's that.

    16. Member fastinradford's Avatar
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      07-16-2019 03:06 PM #14
      sorry I disagree, not everyone has fiberglassed steel to repair rust.

      only way to fix rust is to cut out, and weld in new metal.
      smiles per gallon in a tdi rabbit are unreal

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      07-16-2019 03:45 PM #15
      I'm not saying welding in new metal isn't great, but most people think options are limited to going pro or doing nothing. Old vw's are tough call, and the main reason so many are gone.
      I'm pretty happy about the abilities of rust converters, epoxies, and corrosion inhibitors. I've been dealing with rust happening to my cars for a long time - seen a lot of rust come back after typical bondo jobs. The way I approach corrosion now works pretty good, can be built on, and has many applications. I've even done a home plumbing fix (using splash zone with glass fiber) that would have cost thousands.
      For my mk2 floor panels, someone can always cut all that area out later on if they want to weld some new ones in.

      I'm not one of those people that thinks duck tape is amazing, Silicone tape is if you know how to use it.
      Last edited by sgnimj96; 07-16-2019 at 03:54 PM.

    18. Member fastinradford's Avatar
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      07-16-2019 09:49 PM #16
      theres a million ways to skin a cat.
      ive wondered how it would improve stiffness and sound deadening to pop rivet aluminum skin over top of the inner fenders, floors, firewall and rockers.

      some car bodys are totally made out of fiberglass, I know it is strong.

      hell, pop riveting a patch will get you down the road...
      smiles per gallon in a tdi rabbit are unreal

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      07-16-2019 11:00 PM #17
      Quote Originally Posted by gfk View Post
      Alright, I went and took some pictures. I'm not going to rip up the carpet to convince you there's no rust under it but I took a good look and everything look clean.

      hahahahaha you have no idea buddy...

      this is what you will find when you dig. open wide and deep, it's gonna hurt and won't be cheap....not to mention the full DAY it will take to remove the fender without damage....





      oh...under the carpet?



      you have NO idea the can of worms you're about to open.....

    20. Senior Member LT1M21Stingray's Avatar
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      07-16-2019 11:58 PM #18
      Quote Originally Posted by fastinradford View Post
      theres a million ways to skin a cat.
      ive wondered how it would improve stiffness and sound deadening to pop rivet aluminum skin over top of the inner fenders, floors, firewall and rockers.
      No. It would be the begining of the end.

      Quote Originally Posted by fastinradford View Post
      some car bodys are totally made out of fiberglass, I know it is strong.
      I would never pop rivet sheet metal over my old Corvette body as a "fix"...

      Metal body, you cut and weld metal to fix rust.
      Fiberglass body, you use fiberglass for repair.

      It's that simple.

      Quote Originally Posted by fastinradford View Post
      hell, pop riveting a patch will get you down the road...
      See above picture.
      Quote Originally Posted by Mk1Madness
      Back when making your car faster and better handling was the big thing.
      Quote Originally Posted by Tavarish
      The car's best safety feature includes ejecting you in the moment of impact and wishing you the best of luck.
      Buy my couch!

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      07-17-2019 12:57 AM #19
      [/QUOTE]

      ....Horror. Horror has a face...And you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your friends. If they are not then they are enemies to be feared.

    22. Member fastinradford's Avatar
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      07-17-2019 10:18 AM #20
      this thread makes me sad, I'm going to right back to ignoring my rust
      smiles per gallon in a tdi rabbit are unreal

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      07-18-2019 03:05 PM #21
      Quote Originally Posted by echassin View Post
      I agree that you should be certain the car is otherwise solid before undertaking that repair, and I also think you should be prepared that the repair would cost more or not be entirely kosher at the price that was quoted.
      The $600 quote is for cleaning it and welding some fresh metal. I personally would prefer a new inner fender, he told me he would install that if he can find one. Is there anyone that still makes those or do we have to find one used or NOS?

      Quote Originally Posted by echassin View Post
      I'll add that you should stop driving the car. It's not going to break in half, it already is. That crack is in the critical sheetmetal that holds the front suspension, the impact crush zone, and the transmission mount to the rest of the car (the part you sit in )
      Exactly 100% of the people I talked to about driving the car told me that it was not a good idea, and the last two times I drove it, it unexpectedly started raining (it's a Cabby), I think even God doesn't want me to drive it! So, I guess I'll listen and keep it garaged until it's fixed. It bums me out because I'm in Canada and I only get to drive it a few months a year, during summer. Not being able to drive it during the best part of summer is excruciating.

    24. Senior Member LT1M21Stingray's Avatar
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      07-18-2019 03:10 PM #22
      Quote Originally Posted by gfk View Post
      The $600 quote is for cleaning it and welding some fresh metal. I personally would prefer a new inner fender, he told me he would install that if he can find one. Is there anyone that still makes those or do we have to find one used or NOS?
      mk1autohaus.com/NOS-Complete-Inner-Fender-Wheel-Housing--Left
      Quote Originally Posted by Mk1Madness
      Back when making your car faster and better handling was the big thing.
      Quote Originally Posted by Tavarish
      The car's best safety feature includes ejecting you in the moment of impact and wishing you the best of luck.
      Buy my couch!

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      07-18-2019 03:16 PM #23
      I followed your advice and took a long screwdriver and went under poking around in the car and everything looks fine.

      I also poked around the crack to remove the evil coating and remove the loose rust around the crack. It's not pretty but that's pretty much was I was expecting.

      The view from inside the wheel well from top to bottom:


      Yes it's daylight you're seeing

      That bottom part was still a bit wet from the rain storm I got caught in two days ago.

      From under the hood, this is behind the firewall. The wire you see is the antenna wire. This is the spot that was already rusted 15-20 years ago.

      In front of the firewall, you can see that the crack follows the firewall weld (again, you can see daylight!)

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      07-18-2019 03:20 PM #24
      Thanks, I already found this but I'm in Canada and they're only offering pick-up (no delivery) at their PA warehouse.

    27. Senior Member LT1M21Stingray's Avatar
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      07-18-2019 03:22 PM #25
      Quote Originally Posted by gfk View Post
      Thanks, I already found this but I'm in Canada and they're only offering pick-up (no delivery) at their PA warehouse.
      It's only a 5 hour drive.
      Quote Originally Posted by Mk1Madness
      Back when making your car faster and better handling was the big thing.
      Quote Originally Posted by Tavarish
      The car's best safety feature includes ejecting you in the moment of impact and wishing you the best of luck.
      Buy my couch!

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