The dealer "over-coated" the rusty undercarriage of the SUV I want to buy. Is it a good idea?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Aug 01, 1998

Dear Tom and Ray:

I am interested in purchasing a 1995 Toyota 4-Runner with 30,000 miles. The
vehicle is clean, fully loaded, and is in great shape, with the exception of the
undercarriage, which is completely rusted. The dealership has overcoated it and
assures me it is in fine condition. Is this true? Should I even consider this
vehicle for $21,000? -- Len

TOM: No. A rusted frame or undercarriage is the one thing you really can't fix.
Almost anything else on a used car can be repaired. But when the frame is
rusted, the car is junkyard-bound.

RAY: Now, the rust on this car may be superficial rust. That is, it may just be
a thin coating of rust that hasn't really eaten through anything yet (maybe the
owner lived by the ocean? Maybe he liked to wade into the water and fish from
his driver's seat?). But why would you want to buy a car that's already started
the rusting process? There are plenty of used 4-Runners on the market.

TOM: So offer him $2,100 for it, not $21,000. Or find another clean one without
a rusted undercarriage and your money will be much better invested.

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