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Old 07-20-2002, 04:45 PM
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Join Date: May 2002
Location: Washington, D.C.
Posts: 395
Unhappy Paradise Lost and Panic!

Today I did some detailing on my '89 560 SEL. And then it happened - I found RUST!

Here is the location: You open the passenger front door. You look down the windshield column. There is a chrome trim piece that is screwed in place that travels all along the top edge of the entry through to the back door along the roofline. Around one of the screws, about 1/4 inch away form each side, 2/3 up the windshield, are rust spots, one on each side, in the body (not in the trim), right where the door seal meets. This is the only rust I have found on the car (garage kept, and yes, no rust in the trunk).

I tried poking holes into the spots to see if they developed from the back side, but the screwdriver would not go through, making me believe it's surface rust that can be treated once I remove the chrome trim.

The driver's side is clean at the same location.

Has anybody else found rust in this area on their w126? What other spots should I check? How well were these cars rust-proofed? What should I do???
Henry Bofinger
1989 560 SEL (black/black)
2001 Audi TT Roadster (silver/grey)
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Old 07-21-2002, 01:00 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Evansville, Indiana
Posts: 8,150
Probably paint failure around the screw and/or loose or overtighten screw causing paint failure. Very typical of aging cars.

Take to a reputable body shop if you don't want to fix it yourself, shouldn't be a big deal. You can remove the trim, lightly sand, coat with conversion primer (or etch primer, same thing) -- this chemically coverts the rust to inert iron phosphates or similar and will prevent future rust. Then pain with factory type primer and paint. have a care that the body shop doesn't paint half the car to "match" the paint! You only need a small repair and "perfect" paint match isn't necessary on an "non-show" car.

Other spots to watch are the corners of the fenders, where road dirt and mud collect, and the base of the rear window gasket. Most of the rear window gaskets on non-garaged cars are in bad shape by now -- you can check by lifting the edge with a fingernail. If it isn't soft and doesn't snap right back down, or shows signs of cracking or rubbing the paint, get it replaced.

1972 220D ?? miles
1988 300E 200,012
1987 300D Turbo killed 9/25/07, 275,000 miles
1985 Volvo 740 GLE Turobodiesel 218,000
1972 280 SE 4.5 165, 000 - It runs!
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Old 07-21-2002, 01:53 PM
jbaj007's Avatar
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Santa Monica, CA
Posts: 2,053
The "drip rail" is held on with screws that are stainless steel. They screw through the drip rail into plastic "keepers" pressed into the sheet metal. The rust is almost surely only around where these "keepers" press into the holes in the body sheet metal. I would get a few of the plastic keepers (dealer only, but cheap) ahead of time and proceed as Peter suggested.
The Golden Rule

1984 300SD (bought new, sold it in 1988, bought it back 13 yrs. later)
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Old 07-22-2002, 12:06 PM
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Join Date: May 2002
Location: Washington, D.C.
Posts: 395
Sorry for responding so late - I really appreciate all the comments.

The good news is the car really was garage kept - the rear window seal is as good as new. The rust appears only to be contact rust where the screw went in, so the overtightening theory sounds right on target.

My immidiate solution is to simply just stop the rust. I.e. I will remove the chrome rain rail and spray some rust arrester in the area. This should buy some time for me to take it in and have the rest done. The spots are not in an open place, and even if you were staring at them you'd still have to look for them to find them.

Moedip - the "new metal" stuff is exactly what I am trying to avoid. Otherwise an update - she is in the shop right now being readied for another huge trip to New England next weekend - I am having the cooling system flushed, coolant swapped (yup - somebody put green stuff in it ) , the b2 piston replaced along with a tranny flush, belts replaced, and oil changed. Then she is going for ride from Washington, D.C. to Cape Cod!
Henry Bofinger
1989 560 SEL (black/black)
2001 Audi TT Roadster (silver/grey)
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Old 07-22-2002, 12:49 PM
Posts: n/a
Hi Henry
So you got the rust bug? When I had mine stripped down for complete restoration I had rust in three places. The rear window bottom piece was very bad - had new piece installed. At bottom inside of driver's side front wheel well had to get new metal installed at at front of driver's side wheel well also new metal - rest of car was perfect. Just my experience - hope it helps you. On my valve cover gaskets - found out the after market ones were too porous compared to Mercedes - got 2 new ones and will install this week - end should cure the leak!
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