Uhhh... there are rust holes in my subframe!
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This is a discussion on Uhhh... there are rust holes in my subframe! within the Suspension & Wheels forums, part of the Tech & Modifying & General Repairs category; While putting my winter wheels on and doing my stabilizer links today, I noticed that my 2002 WRX has a ...

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    Uhhh... there are rust holes in my subframe!

    While putting my winter wheels on and doing my stabilizer links today, I noticed that my 2002 WRX has a horribly corroded subframe. Mostly behind the front wheels, I can actually punch through the metal with my finger (only did it once... don't want to lose anymore structure!). I'm pretty unhappy about this issue... I've NEVER seen a problem like this on a car, even after working at a Honda dealership as a service advisor in NE Ohio.

    Now, I'm no idiot and know this isn't good. So:

    1. How concerned should I be?
    2. Is this common?
    3. Should I talk to a Subaru rep?
    4. Any idea how much $$ damage I'm looking at?
    5. Are there any aftermarket solutions?
    6. How difficult is this? Is it a possible DIY project?

    Thanks!
    Hi, I'm Mike and I'm a recovering Euro Snob.

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    Registered User Poohbear's Avatar
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    I would call subaru. I know they have a 5 or 6 year rust protection but your an 02.. none the less they may help... Who knows, could have been a bad batch of wrx's that left the plant with poor undercoating and your in some kind of recall or some junk.

    If not, and subaru wont help; being your sub frame I would say whats your safety worth? I know your "no idiot" but are you sure its a structural part of the car? I mean even though you picked away at the rust and dont want to pick any more away I doubt it was doing any structural duties with that kind of cancer anyhow.

    I know sub frame braces are made for autos like mustangs, but I dont think they make them for wrx's; and even then you need solid metal to bolt or weld to anyway, not rust.

    also keep in mind that there is more rust then just what you see... I dont wanna make it sound worse, but it probably is... If you see a rust hole the interior of that part of the frame (at the least) is pretty badly rusted.

    Iv seen this happen with older Mercedes and they end up crushing like accordions in a collision.

    But really if its not bad you can eliminate the rusted parts and weld in steel... but it wont be as sound or as safe as before the rust.

    Pricey? depends on the extent. I would say if it is bad then your probably better off buying an 02 or similar with no motor or tranny etc etc etc and swapping everything over. But im anal retentive about safety...

    EDIT- Also being in ohio we have to deal with that nasty salt on salt off in the winter. After all you know as well as I do, we get an ice storm and salt is placed. Then being crazy ohio weather its like 50 degrees the next day with nothing but salt water on the ground... And thats all bad for the under body of our cars. So Im going to say that it was the local weather and salt thats causing the issue.
    Last edited by Poohbear; 12-01-2009 at 09:34 PM.
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    Admiral Ackbar the 1st mycologist's Avatar
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    I haven't heard of any rust-through issues yet but they will probably start to rear their head more too soon.

    Is it the front or the rear? The front one you just bolt off and then back on. The rear you have to drop the diff (not too bad) and then there are suspension attachments (i.e. you need an alignment when your done). There are various aftermarket options. I would do the group N rear differential bushings if you have to do the rear.
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    Registered User Poohbear's Avatar
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    ^^ didnt know they were bolt ons.. I figured we were more a true unibody construction, affixed to the car.
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    Registered User Sarra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poohbear View Post
    ^^ didnt know they were bolt ons.. I figured we were more a true unibody construction, affixed to the car.
    Being a 'sub-frame', they quite simply just do that, bolt on.

    Not sure why they did that in the rear, but it's probably a good idea, seeing how yours is rusting away.

    The subframes can move while you drive, a few companies make subframe locks that will do just that, lock the subframe in place.

    The subframe mounting bolts being loose will throw your alignment all to hell, specifically rear camber, and the front cradle being loose can throw camber and caster out.

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    It is the front subframe and yes, it appears to be a bolt-on.

    After fighting the corroded stabilizer links and the associate hardware, I'm not about to tackle the subframe myself... when you're an amateur mechanic with just a few simple tools, it makes for an interesting experience. haha

    I'm taking it to the stealership today. I'd like to go through them, I think. She needs an oil change anyways, and she hasn't been to a dealership in years, I believe... the PO did all his own maintenance.

    I've been seeing parts go for $150 used... not cool.
    Hi, I'm Mike and I'm a recovering Euro Snob.

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    I spoke to Subaru Corporate and they didn't seem interested in any kind of coverage. They agreed that they'd never heard of it in a WRX... same with the dealership.

    It's sounding like I'm going to source a used part and do it myself.

    I really expected more from a Subaru...
    Hi, I'm Mike and I'm a recovering Euro Snob.

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    Registered User indytruckboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 22WRBWRX View Post
    I spoke to Subaru Corporate and they didn't seem interested in any kind of coverage. They agreed that they'd never heard of it in a WRX... same with the dealership.

    It's sounding like I'm going to source a used part and do it myself.

    I really expected more from a Subaru...

    What do you expect from a 7-8 year old car?! How many miles are on it?
    I work on vehicles that make 650hp and 2400ft/lbs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by indytruckboy View Post
    What do you expect from a 7-8 year old car?! How many miles are on it?
    Considering all the time I've spent around cars after working at a dealership and NEVER having seen this on any car that ever came through the shop, I'd say it's unexpected.

    I've talked to quite a few technicians who agree.. this kind of thing IS rare.

    The car has 98k miles on it.

    The reason why I talked to Subuar Corporate is because even the local Subaru dealer was shocked and thought it should be covered by some goodwill warranty. They had never seen anything like it.

    So, to answer your question, I expect more from a 7-8 year old car.
    Hi, I'm Mike and I'm a recovering Euro Snob.

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    My wife's 02 WRX just got hit with the exact same thing. We took it in for a new radiator and they found enough rust in the front subframe to keep it from passing inspection next month.

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    Admiral Ackbar the 1st mycologist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by improvius View Post
    My wife's 02 WRX just got hit with the exact same thing. We took it in for a new radiator and they found enough rust in the front subframe to keep it from passing inspection next month.
    The subframe is not weight bearing. Just unbolt and replace it with a used one from the junk yard. Also, you can throw in an ALK or a better bushing while your in there (makes a noticeable difference for sure).
    "From a little spark may burst a mighty flame." - Dante
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    Quote Originally Posted by mycologist View Post
    The subframe is not weight bearing. Just unbolt and replace it with a used one from the junk yard. Also, you can throw in an ALK or a better bushing while your in there (makes a noticeable difference for sure).
    Thanks for the tip. Is this part going to be identical with one from a TS or Outback Sport?

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    Admiral Ackbar the 1st mycologist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by improvius View Post
    Thanks for the tip. Is this part going to be identical with one from a TS or Outback Sport?
    I don't know but expect it might.
    "From a little spark may burst a mighty flame." - Dante
    "The stitch is lost unless the thread is knotted." - Italian proverb

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    rusted subframe 02 wrx

    I just got the same diagnoses... for a rare problem it seems to be hitting a lot of 02 WRXs... thanks for all the tips, guess I'm off to the junkyard..

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    "Supreme Subaphile Extraordinairre" ninefourteener's Avatar
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    I hate to say it..... but honestly.... I'd sell the car.
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