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Discussion Starter #1
1996 Thunderbird, 212000 miles

There is some rust in the engine compartment that is really bothering me. The car is a daily driver, and has the typical rocker rot by the rear wheels. It's seen better days, for sure, and I think I have to demote this car to the rank of "beater". But under the hood, I find significant rust near the shock towers and I need to know if this is a driveability concern. Is the car on borrowed time?

This is the right side, looking down at the top of the wheel well.
 

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1994 Cougar XR7 DOHC/5-Speed
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Well it's common if it makes you feel any better. Ford squirted expanding foam inside that specific portion of the upper rail for some asinine reason and it soaks up moisture like a sponge. Sadly when the metal is that bad from the top it's even worse underneath. I wouldn't hesitate to keep driving it though, but I wouldn't dump much money into a car like that. The proper fix can be seen in MadMikey's build thread
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The car is otherwise in good running order. Engine pulls strong, transmission rebuilt 34k ago, and the only codes are 0420 & 0430: catalyst efficiency. Suspension is good and tight; she drives straight as an arrow. AC is nice and cold, too.

Nothing special. Mo major mods. Just a good driving car. All repairs performed using quality parts. I would hate to let her go, but this is Michigan, this is a daily driver, and that combination just doesn't allow a car to last forever.

I don't have any big intentions for the car. Power will remain stock. I don't take it to the track or the strip. It's sure ain't a garage queen. I've long avoided calling it a beater, but it may be time to admit it. For a beater, it sure does run good.
 

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That's not too bad IMHO. Totally safe. By the way that's not the "frame" but I think you know that.
 

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I'd pull the fender liner. Pull the foam out. Douse it with a rust converter like the Permatex spray. Top coat it with some spray paint. Maybe use some matching paint in the engine bay. Then oil the snot out of it. If this was Cleveland I'd say you have 2-3 years max before that's a nice hole.

My DD is just starting to do that. I wasn't aware they had the foam there. I need to pull the fender liner anyway so I'll have to have a look.

If my beater is a good example you may find the IRS mounts rot out before the front fender aprons a issue. It going to be interesting jacking my car up to part it. It's pretty rotted. I wouldn't surprise me if the rear suspension becomes "independent" of the unit body. Than I'll have a full floater ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
That's not too bad IMHO. Totally safe. By the way that's not the "frame" but I think you know that.
Yeah, but I'm still struggling to find the right word... I don't think it's subframe...
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Fender rails! That's it; thanks.

Full disclosure: that picture was taken a few months ago, and I'm only now getting around to posting it. Here's what it looks like today. Geez, I think I'm going to clean that foam out tomorrow. But seeing as I have an actual crack now, I get the sense it needs to be reinforced with something.
 

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My advice would be don't touch it unless you are prepared to fix it. When it gets like that on top, that metal is paper thin, and you could probably punch holes in it with a screwdriver. There are plenty of other areas holding the suspension to the car, so it isn't like the shock will just punch through, but to fix it right involves removing a lot of parts, cutting, cleaning, making patch panels, welding, and applying rust prevention to the inside of the rail before finally painting it. If the car is just a daily driver on the verge of beater, leave it alone and beat on it, just don't open the hood for people. If you want to see what is involved in fixing that right, click on the link in my sig.
 
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