Rust Trouble Spots On The AC/Y Chrysler Bodied Cars

Imperial Home Page -> Imperials by Year -> 1990 -> Repairs & Maintenance -> Rust Trouble Spots

There are a few trouble spots (in terms of rust) on the AC/Y bodies. These spots are due to design flaws, and as a result, may become a problem for AC/Y body owners regardless of their environment.

Here are a breakdown of potential problems:

  • Trunk Area
  • Windshield & Front Fender Area

The Trunk Area

The next time you pop your trunk, look at the design of it. You'd notice that the trunk's weather seal isn't next to the exterior body surfaces- in fact, there is a grove- about an inch deep and a couple inches wide, which runs around the weather seal. This grove acts as a drain for water which may try to enter the trunk. This water then goes down the grove and out onto the rear bumper. This grove will also drain any water which may get between the exterior surface area and the rear window.

Any scratches or rough spots in this grove will generate rust. This is because the scratches will expose the metal to allot of water over a long period of time. Even if you dislike touching up cars, touch up this area every spring and every fall, as needed.

Also in this area, with the trunk lid open, look toward the rear window. You'd see that there are a few screws holding in a rectangular body panel which goes between the trunk lid and the rear window. This body panel covers the upper portion of the drain grove, and can hold dirt. This dirt will hold water and will in time, rust out the rear window area. With the trunk lid up, unscrew this panel and remove it. Check this area for rust and dirt, clean it, and keep it touched up and waxed. The wax will ensure that any water and dirt has a lower chance of sitting in place.

An additional trouble spot is the trunk spare tire well. This well does not have a carpet, and therefore any dirt or water which may get into the trunk may get into the well and just sit on the painted metal. Keep this area clean and touched up (on the inside and out) as much as possible. Want to know what happens if you let this simple, easy, and quick job go undone? Look below!

As you may be able to see by this picture, the trunk's floor boards are gone- in this case the rust started inside and rusted through to the outside. What you can't see from this picture is that the rust caused a hole which extends the entire length of the spare tire well, about 2 feet long, and 3 inches wide. Now that's a rust hole. The sad part is that this only took 10 years to form. In this case, the problem was on a 1989 Dodge Aries. Similar trunk design, and hence the reason why it has the same problems.

Now the only thing that can be done to prevent this, besides care, maybe a thick coating of overcoating spry on both the inside and outside of this spare tire well.


Windshield & Front Fender Area

The next time you step in or out of the front seat of your AC/Y body, look between the open door and the inside of the car, as if you were looking directly at your front tire. You'd notice that there is a small crack in the body, in the front fenders, which extends back to the tire well. This crack fills up with dirt. When I bought my Dynasty, I literally pulled over 8 pounds of dirt out of these cracks.

How does this dirt get in there you may ask? Its actually quite simple. There is a small, plastic trim piece which goes between the bottom of the windshield and the hood lid. This trim piece has several holes in it (one being for the windshield washer tank lid, the others for the hood's springs, etc.). Water, dirt, and other small items will enter these cracks as the car goes down the road, when the car is washed, or whenever the car is exposed to dirt, water, or other small particles. These substances enter the trim piece, into a large grove which is between the dash and the firewall. This mini ditch collects all this dirt and water, and then becomes a major rust problem.

The guys at Chrysler noticed this and its potential problem, and put two drainage holes into the groove. These holes drain the water and dirt into the front fenders. The water then drains out of the fenders through that crack I pointed out. The problem is that the dirt is left behind. The dirt just builds up, while holding water. This will rust out the front fenders and is the main cause for most of the rust which appears on the front fenders of AC/Y bodies.

Besides cleaning these areas (the fender crack, grove between dash and firewall, etc.), the only preventive measure would be changing the front fenders so that the dirt can drain with the liquid. A simple hole would do.

Other then that, the only rust spots which may appear on these cars are in the typical spots (aka rocker panels, floor boards, etc.) which are as bad as all the other cars out there.

The key to keeping a car rust free is keeping it clean, painted, and kept away from road salt (for as much as possible). But for those (like me) who drive all year round, rust is a never ending battle.

This page was last updated on October 2, 2003.  Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club