Vigor Rust and Rust Prevention
This month we have the long-awaited article on rustproofingwritten by our club's rustmeister and Pet of the Year, CW. Everything that follows is CW's.
Lets start by saying one thing: Rust is evil. It will be the ultimate death of many otherwise functioning Vigors (and many other cars). As our Vigors get older, we are noticing an increasing number of common rust areas. So far common areas for rust in Vigors are:
There is a more detailed description of many of these areas in the FAQ section. Any rust found on your Vigor should be repaired ASAP. The short-term cost is worth stopping its spread. The extent of rust is almost always several times WORSE than it appears to be initially. Avoid using body-fill to repair rust problems, its usually only a temporary fix or used to smooth out a surface a bit before painting. The best way to get rid of rust is to cut out the affected area and weld in replacement metal. The ultimate is to have the welds leaded after, but its hard to find someone who can do this anymore because lead is somewhat toxic. The reason for the lead is to stop the weld from oxidizing (rusting). I suggest having a professional fix any rust problems and its worth the extra money (and time) to have a proper job done!
Now on to rust prevention. Taking rust prevention measures is one of the best ways to preserve your Vigor's condition. Yes, washing and waxing will help, and are excellent things to do, but the rust prevention Im talking about mainly focuses on protecting your Vig from the inside where rust often starts and is usually unnoticeable (at least at first). I discovered the best rust proofing system Ive ever seen shortly after purchasing my Volvo from an independent Volvo mechanic. He was using a product called Fluidfilm (www.eurekafluidfilm.com) and did a VERY extensive rust proofing without drilling any holes or anything unwise like that. Once the method was explained to me, I immediately booked an appointment to have my new-to-me Volvo completely rust proofed. Since then I have learned the process myself and I will give a basic explanation for all you do-it-yourselfers like me.
I recommend the Fluidfilm product for several reasons including the fact that its environmentally friendly, it can be bought in bulk, it doesnt dry up or harden, repels water, soaks into rust, and can be effective for many years. If you visit the Fluidfilm website you can find places to purchase it. It is most efficiently applied with a pressurized spray gun that is used with a compressor. If you want to buy or rent one I would suggest talking to someone at a paint shop or a place that sells compressor accessories. If you dont have access to this type of compressor, Fluidfilm can be purchased in spray cans, although they are not as effective as a proper spray gun. The idea of this method is to apply the rust proofing to as many areas in the cars body as possible using all the cars existing holes to your advantage. This means removing factory plugs, trim, door skins, seats, lights, carpet, hood liner, trunk liner, fender well shields, etc, etc. Get the idea? Once you access these areas, you will start to realize how easy it is for rust to from due often to a lack of protection.
I strongly suggest having the factory Acura Vigor Service Manual (available through Helm, Inc. listed on the Links page) to help you remove these parts without breaking too many expensive clips and fasteners. I have included some pictures of a friend's Vigor in the process of being rust proofed. You can see the Fluidfilm in the area where the bottom of the rear seat goes and also where the sill/step covers go. In these pictures, the interior rust proofing has been completed and the carpet has been placed back, the passengers front seat has been reinstalled along with the door skins.
Once you start looking around the car you will realize how different areas can be accessed. The inside of the rear fenders (common rust area) can be accessed from the trunk (behind the liner), and the trunk liner/spare tire can be lifted to expose the trunk floor and joints. If you open the trunk lid and look up at it, you can see where the attachments for the VIGOR letters, Acura symbol, key lock, etc are. These are important areas to spray because rust can form at the edges of the metal where the paint does not provide much protection. Areas under the car that should be sprayed include the rear bumper mounts, fender wells (behind plastic shields), fuel filler neck, rear sub frame, inside frame rails, among other spots. All Vigors that I have seen have a fairly heavy black undercoating that protects most of the underside. Make sure this coating is intact and touch up any scratches in it. Try not to soak this black undercoating with Fluidfilm (or anything similar) because it will make the undercoating too soft for proper protection. The best way to work on the underside of you Vigor is to use a safe hydraulic lift and a nice bright light so that you can see where you need to spray. If you do not have access to a lift, then a strong, tall set of jack stands and a creeper should help with the job.
The following picture (at right) is of the rear passengers side rocker (bottom of right rear door opening) with the plastic sill cover removed exposing what initially appeared to be a fairly minor rust problem on our Vigor. Needless to say, the rust problem was professionally repaired, but is a good illustration of the rust problems that even a very well maintained Vigor can have.
If you do decide to rustproof your Vigor as Ive suggested, the car will probably end up being covered in rustproofing in areas where it wasnt intended (ex. outside of the doors, windows, etc). My suggestion is to wipe the windows clean and just drive the car for at least a week without cleaning the outside. After a week there will probably be spots on the outside of the car where the rustproofing has flowed out and gotten covered with dust/dirt. This is good. After that period when youre ready, get out a bucket, car soap, and a sponge that you dont care about ruining and wash the car. Although, if you want, its ok not to wash the car as the rustproofing will protect the cars finish and can be washed off at your leisure or in the spring. The rustproofing should continue to flow to some extent over time and from time to time will appear on the outside of the car. This is good and means its still there protecting the car. If a proper job is done, a recoat should not be needed for 3-5 years depending on the conditions. I usually just touch up the rustproofing every year to keep it protecting as well as possible.
Well, I hope this article will help us keep our Vigors (and other cars) going longer and hopefully I have provided enough information. If you think there should be a revision or you have a question just find me and let me know.
- Chris L (aka CW or vigor_gs93) 2003 Pet of the Year.
Thanks, CW, for a GREAT article!
JUST IN... 5/04 Update from Vineyardgray (MR)
MEMO: regarding what's under your spoiler AND MR's
annual rust slowing seminar
Things I wish I had done before re-assembly:
Hope this helps someone out there.
Thanks for the update, MR!