Front Radiator Support rotted - replacement required

Started by onion86, November 12, 2022, 14:11

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onion86

Took my bumper off today in order to put on my brand new headlights and in horror I found rust/rot and a big hole in the front subframe N/S and also the same, but not quite as bad, on the O/S under the windscreen washer bottle.

I don't want to feel that I'm instantly going worst case scenario, but I assume that this is structural, not replaceable, terminal and my ownership is now over after 14 years??...  :o

Passenger side:


Driver side:

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Carolyn

I've seen much worse get repaired.
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onion86

Quote from: Carolyn on November 12, 2022, 14:26I've seen much worse get repaired.

Well that is good news! Never really had something I'm not able to do myself so will need to figure out where locally I can get it looked at as I've never used anywhere.

I assumed it would be dangerous to drive as it is, MOT is due next month? Or is it not as bad/important as I think?
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shnazzle

Speak to @MrChris 
My old mr2 turned out to have the same issues. He had it repaired.
One of those lesser documented areas for rusting that nobody ever sees without taking the bumper off and having a look
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Carolyn

I've got the bumpers off mine right now, so I've had a peek at it to make sure which bit of the 'frame' it is.  It's not the subframe that locates the A-arms, it's the one that supports the radiator, yes?

If so, it's not really that 'structural', it just helps keep the bodywork square and it supports the radiator and aircon condenser.

As Shnazzle says, @MrChris had a similar issue - but more advanced rot than yours. He got it fixed OK.  It will probably pas mot.
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Topdownman

I would take some pictures to show exactly where the problem is and email them to Jspec. They will be able to advise your options. They cut out a section of a donor car and sent it to my garage who then welded in the new section. Mine was the front cross member that is under the radiator and he sent the whole front section (ie upper and lower and both sides)  so we could use as much as was needed to get to good metal. I think it was something like £72 delivered iirc.

Dont despair just yet and start looking for a local welder. I would drive it happily myself, after all, now you know there is a problem, you will be a bit more cautious, but you have been driving it for a long time in that condition without being aware of it.
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onion86

#6
Thanks all, definitely not all doom and gloom then and great to know that it can be repaired. I've still got lots of stuff piling up to replace and was even speaking to the mailman this morning about how great the car is, then this came as a bit of a shock.

@Carolyn I did initially think it was just for bumper / rad support, but then when I looked underneath I assumed that as these (2004+) under braces mount to the bottom of it and that might be an issue? The older under braces (i.e. these / these) only mount further back to where the sub frame/cross member (with the jacking point) is.



Good to know it's not going to be an MOT fail though as I've got less than a month to expiry... although in fairness you can't see it anyway, as @shnazzle pointed out so doubt it would fail! Just want to know it's safe, although she's mostly garaged nowadays and only does the odd journey as I work from home permanently since the pandemic.

Decided to leave the old lights on until I've got this sorted and just did an oil / filter change instead. Will message @MrChris in the morning as just off out and then sort out what's needed from J-Spec.
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Bossworld

Didn't @tricky1138  get the front sub frame or a very similar area welded in from another car?

MikeBoo

It's probably worth having a look here MOT Test of Vehicle Structure, Body Condition and Security | rust, corrosion | What is checked, which seems to be a reliable source though it is dated May 2018.
Extract from the website above:
General corrosion
A vehicle can also fail with respect to corrosion (or rust) for:
  • Excessive corrosion in a 'prescribed area' — within 30 cms of certain safety related components, e.g. brakes, steering, suspension, seat belt mountings etc.
  • Excessive corrosion not in a 'prescribed area', but which is likely to adversely affect the vehicle's braking or steering.
'Excessive corrosion' can mean a hole or a significantly weakened structure.
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1979scotte

Imho anything can be repaired it's whether you are willing to bear the cost.
Doesn't look too bad.
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tricky1138

Quote from: Bossworld on November 12, 2022, 19:02Didn't @tricky1138  get the front sub frame or a very similar area welded in from another car?

Just seen this. Yes I did get the front subframe welded in, but mine is the bit where the steering rack and front wishbones attach too.

This looks further forward, where the radiator sits. Guess it's another area that will need checking on the cars.
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Topdownman

It can be hard to tell exactly where the issue is if the photos are too close up.

Below is the image Andy from J spec sent me to confirm we were talking about the same piece. He sent me the whole front section to be sure I had all I needed as the bottom of the legs were bad as well as the cross member. The front cross member is only single skinned though so not surprising that if it goes, it goes.


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onion86

#12
Quote from: Topdownman on November 14, 2022, 08:29It can be hard to tell exactly where the issue is if the photos are too close up.

Below is the image Andy from J spec sent me to confirm we were talking about the same piece. He sent me the whole front section to be sure I had all I needed as the bottom of the legs were bad as well as the cross member. The front cross member is only single skinned though so not surprising that if it goes, it goes.




Thanks, that is extremely useful! It's also not very easy to see in there with all of the plastics. Looking at that pic, it's definitely not part of the main structure, so makes me feel a lot better.

Anyone got any idea if the bottom rad support bar part is different on the later model. As you can see from my previous
image above, I'm pretty certain that the under braces bolt onto that in these places, but there wasn't any of those on the older models:

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Topdownman

I think that the design changed in 2004 so you need the donor car to be the right age as yours. Jspec will ask if you dont state the year of your car! I am not sure what the difference is though.
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onion86

Quote from: tricky1138 on November 14, 2022, 07:20Just seen this. Yes I did get the front subframe welded in, but mine is the bit where the steering rack and front wishbones attach too.

This looks further forward, where the radiator sits. Guess it's another area that will need checking on the cars.

I did replace my rad back in 2017, which was leaking and you can also see my aircon compressor has seen better days, so it could be that one of those things did increase the corrosion in the area, although didn't expect to see it both sides.


Quote from: Topdownman on November 14, 2022, 13:42I think that the design changed in 2004 so you need the donor car to be the right age as yours. Jspec will ask if you dont state the year of your car! I am not sure what the difference is though.
Did suspect that as the bracing was changed in '04, but never done a lot of work around the front. As long as this isn't a huge issue I'm not in a rush if Andy and co don't have a later model in stock at the mo.
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J-SPEC

Thanks for all the awesome recommendations folks. Just going to check the condition of what I have unfortunately it's a common area to rust and late 04 is different to the rest of the cars build from 99-04 .

onion86

#16
No joy unfortunately as it's quite a specific couple of years required, so on the waiting list for another with @J-SPEC . 2 of Andy's of the correct age were also bad and the other was cut off already - maybe that's the one you have Simon!

Generally had a lot of peace of mind from the fact it's a lot more common than I knew and isn't going to cause any major concerns, as it's mostly just for rad support; despite the rust / hole on the outer side of the legs, is still pretty well intact.
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Carolyn

Quote from: onion86 on November 16, 2022, 11:41No joy unfortunately as it's quite a specific couple of years required, so on the waiting list for another with @J-SPEC . 2 of Andy's of the correct age were also bad and the other was cut off already - maybe that's the one you have Simon!

Generally had a lot of peace of mind from the fact it's a lot more common than I knew and isn't going to cause any major concerns, as it's mostly just for rad support; despite the rust / hole on the outer side of the legs, is still pretty well intact.

You could just give ther area a good wire brushing, rust convertor treatement and some paint?
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onion86

Quote from: Carolyn on November 16, 2022, 13:06You could just give ther area a good wire brushing, rust convertor treatement and some paint?
Yeah, that was the plan in the short term, was going to grab some Kurust converter then Hammerite over, unless there are better options.
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Joesson

Quote from: onion86 on November 16, 2022, 15:30Yeah, that was the plan in the short term, was going to grab some Kurust converter then Hammerite over, unless there are better options.

Many yeas since I used Kurust, no fond memory and even less for Hammerite, whereas I've more recently used Rustoleum , that can be applied to rusty metal and suits my needs.
I painted the steel railings in front of our house, South facing, in summer 2018, and no sign of deterioration.
I used a roller and brush but is also available in spray cans.

threepot

Quote from: onion86 on November 16, 2022, 15:30was going to grab some Kurust converter then Hammerite over, unless there are better options.

POR-15 is unbelievable. Soaks in to the rust and goes rock hard, like an epoxy hard. Coats really well and easy. Very thin stuff.

Worth every penny. Descale it all properly. Once you try it I doubt you'll use anything else. Lasts indefinitely... like mummification!

Do not get it on your skin, otherwise you will bear the tattoo for weeks. Everyone does it once  :))  There is no solvent or magic thing that gets it off your skin - other than maybe a belt sander.

Hammerite isn't what is was, used to be toluene based but that was banned. Modern formula does not stand the test of time.

onion86

#21
Have actually managed to get hold of a new front frame (53201-17010) from Paul TCB after seeing it was only ~£90 on a Facebook post.

Unfortunately, the 2004+ one is discontinued. However, Paul's done a bit of investigation over the last couple of days and apparently it's the side parts (which has confused me slightly, as I can't think what's different there) and not actually the rad support on the bottom that differs. So placed an order on the pre-2004 this morning to arrive in a couple of weeks - £85+P&P & VAT = £111.60... apparently the 04+ was £170 odd when it was available. Will have to see how it goes once it arrives and check whether I do need to get some rewelding done to amend the parts. But fingers crossed, that'll be something to easily sort.



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