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I'm thinking of buying a honda 2008. I've been looking around and found one that fits the bill. I spotted some rust on the underside of the car between the back wheels. I'm not sure if its ok for the age, if it needs some repair and the scale or if its time to walk away. Can anyone with experience of looking under cars of this age help?

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  • Try to poke it with a screwdriver. That's what car inspectors do. – Janka Jan 20 '18 at 20:04
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    If I were the seller, I'd very actively discourage that idea. No offense, but I'm not having someone I don't know bang a screwdriver around the underside of my car. – Timo Geusch Jan 20 '18 at 20:53
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    I wouldn't buy a car whose owner wouldn't let me test for rust this way. If it's okay, nothing bad will happen anyway. – Janka Jan 20 '18 at 20:57
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Definitely do the screwdriver poke! I found a gorgeous 1999 Jeep Cherokee. Naive at the excitement of the price I failed to look at the underside. The inspection center poked and prodded. By the time the inspection was completed (and failed), I had a hole in my muffler system along with about $2,500 worth of rust related repairs for a $1000 vehicle. Lesson learned quickly.

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Its possibly just surface rust. However to check you're going to have to do the squeeze test between fingers and thumb on the thicker structural sections, then if you still can't determine how severe or not the rust is.. Its time to get an old screwdriver out and tap (with the handle part) on the rustiest bits.

If the material is corroded right through holes will likely appear, this is not good especially in the structural sections,if this is the case then you may like to walk away from this one as welding will be required. If however it is just surface rust then a scrap off and clean up followed by an application of underbody protection will suffice and your good to go.

The seller should have no issues at all with you taping on the structural parts of the body to check its integrity. You need to know the vehicle is solid, & safe.

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I guess the big question is where you are located. In some parts of the world where lots of salt is used in the winter, this is not unusual rust. That doesn't make it great but it may well be normal for your location.

Do you have a comparison what a similar/same car of the same vintage would look like?

As to "does it need repair" - are there any holes? If not and you don't want to keep the car for long, maybe it depends if you do something about it. If you want to keep it longer term, I'd treat the rusty areas on the underbody with a wire wheel brush on an angle grinder, rust converter and fresh undercoating after a thorough clean.

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