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Old 06-13-2021, 12:14 PM   #1
boomerB5
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1999 SL1
2005 RELAY-2
Question How bad is it? (Rust)

I bought this 1999 SL1 in November. I needed something cheap and reliable. Its met that need just fine. But I've also relaized I actually really like this car. It isn't flashy or fast. But it suits me nicely. Plus, I've missed driving a manual the past almost 15 years.

So I've been fixing little things here and there. Brakes, shocks, motor mounts, plus, wires, ECTS, upstream O2, and so on. But there's been a "loosey-goosey" feeling that I had not been able to peg. Maybe it was just a lighter car than I've gotten accustomed to? Maybe something else in the suspension?

So when the wicked heat broke for a spell yesterday (90+ every day for more than a week is not what Minnesotans signed up for), I jacked it up and took a closer look than I had up til now. And I think I know what the deal is. I'm just not sure exactly how bad a situation it is.

There is quite a bit of deep rust where the driver's sied lower control arm bolts to the frame. It was far too easy to break bits away with a screwdriver. (I only did a couple small bits just to test how bad it was). Pictures attached hopefully illustrate the scope.

From what I've read, I guess this is not uncommon, especially in the rustbelt. The panels are plastic, but there's still plenty of rust-ready material underneath. It is also my understanding that this can be remedied (if it hasn't gotten too bad) by cutting away the rust and welding in some good steel. Then spray everything with a decent rust protection product, get an alignment and go on loving the car.

Is that the case? I really would like to continue driving this car. But I cannot afford to throw money at a problem that is not likely to be solved. If so, any recommendations on who to contact to do the work? Specific places in the Twin Cities area, or general sorts of places.
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Old 06-13-2021, 12:25 PM   #2
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Default Re: How bad is it? (Rust)

That part is bolt-on replaceable. If you are an experienced mechanic it is a weekend job. Find a good one at the junkyard or eBay, and swap it out. While it's apart that is also the time to change the lower control arms, struts if you think they are due, and swaybar bushings. You may find the swaybar needs to be replaced also.

From post 67 on, you can see some subframe replacement.
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...=230898&page=4





We had the motor out for a rebuild. You can hang the motor and trans from a 2x4 and drop just the subframe. It's also called a K frame. Search for subframe or K frame replacement.
...
Bryan Cotton
'99 SL2, 5SP bought new
Rebuilt at 204,067 September 2017
Engine, subframe, diff pin mod, brake lines, headliner, alternator, and so on!
'98 SC2, 5SP bought 2018
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Old 06-14-2021, 05:43 PM   #3
boomerB5
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Default Re: How bad is it? (Rust)

Thanks. "Possible" is a relative term. If I had a place to do the work, I might try it (if I also had another vehicle to get around with). But the association allows nothing more significant than changing a headlamp bulb or wiper blade on the grounds. So I do my work parked on the street out front. Technically the city only allows "emergency repairs" (change a flat tire), but I've been able to do brakes and shocks and stuff without getting in trouble. Probably helps to have no single-family homes around (just a shopping mall, freeway, two strip-malls and some section 8 apartments next door).
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Old 06-15-2021, 08:07 AM   #4
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Default Re: How bad is it? (Rust)

You'll want to buy a box of PB Blaster cans or Kroil or similar and use a can on each of the 4 subframe bolt nuts over the course of a week or so if working in the street. Don't use the can all at once, but try to keep it soaking all the same.

When it goes correctly and the junkyard leaves the sway bar and control arms on the new-to-you frame it *IS* a simple, fairly easy swap. When it goes wrong generally a metal cutting wheel and a welder are required (the rear bolts by the firewall are easy to replace with bolt & normal nut, the front bolts nearer the radiator are a PITA to replace).
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Old 06-16-2021, 11:38 AM   #5
boomerB5
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Default Re: How bad is it? (Rust)

Yep. I've gotten into the habit of hitting most bolts/nuts I run across with some PB.

Changing brake pads? Spritz down the tie rod backing nut and the strut tower bolts.

Replacing the dogbone mount? There's a rusty looking bolt head attached to the subframe. Not real sure what it is, but I'm putting some PB on it so when I do need to do something with it, it might not be such a PITA.
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Old 06-21-2021, 01:40 AM   #6
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Default Re: How bad is it? (Rust)

That is normal subframe rust deterioration after ten years in wet
rustbelt environment.

If a good one not available locally, the wrecking yards can procure
"southern" 'front subframes' for $150--$250.
I bought one for the higher fee a year ago. It had clay deposits inside,
indicating place of origin Georgia/Carolinas.
There was No rust ... but it took some effort to remove the clay inside, and some exterior oil... and paint.

I would just/only change out the subframe for now -- You need to
disconnect the Exhaust to do the frame swap, but the axels can stay.
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