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Hi all. I recently purchased a 2003 Honda Pilot EX-L Navi with 208000 miles a few weeks ago. The vehicle was one owner with all dealership maintenance (timing belt and water pump just done for second time) and overall in really good shape minus one bad area of rust where the unibody and rear subframe bolt together. I would say about 95% of the metal was rusted away and I honestly don't know how it hadn't yet separated. Based on this I was able to negotiate the price down to $1500. I did some searching on here and some other forums and saw that this issue was somewhat common with the early first gen pilots in cooler climate locations. Luckily I was able to have it repaired by a local mechanic/welder that I have all my vehicles serviced at. It took him about an hour and a half and only cost me $125. He said the repair was pretty simple to do and that just about any weldshop should be able to do it quite easily. I attached some before and after pics so you can see what I am talking about. As this is a somewhat common issue I figured it would be good to put some more information out there so anyone who runs into this problem doesn't fall for the dealer's advice of junk the car/it can't be repaired/we have to replace then entire unibody at a cost of $3000.
 

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Horrible welding, very un-professional. With this much porosity the weld will start rusting again in no time at all. I suspect he was welding over rust.
What did Honda do to cause such localized rusting? This gotta be intentional and calculated. There should be a recall and a criminal trial.
 

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I don't think the welds look bad. Do they look stock? No, however they look like pretty strong welds and should hold much better than stock. He said all rust was taken or cut out and then new metal welded in. Obviously it looks much better and stronger than before. Also looks like he tried to rustproof for the future as well? Thanks for sharing and I hope it holds.
 

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The welds are poor. They should be a continuous bead of metal rather than the blobs you see in the image.
My off road truck mechanic repairs many Jeep chassis. He cuts out the rotted metal and welds in new metal in its place.
The saddle idea isn't a bad one. But I would have the saddle removed and the welding done in a safe and proper manner.
 

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I think the point the OP was trying to make was that it is possible to fix the damage for a reasonable price. The pictures are extremely helpful in that regard. As such, this post is very valuable. Thanks!

The saddle extends well outward of the damaged area, so the stress is distributed fairly widely (a good thing). The welds may not be the prettiest, but should hold up well, particularly if inspected and maintained regularly. Good luck!
 

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hi all. I recently purchased a 2003 honda pilot ex-l navi with 208000 miles a few weeks ago. The vehicle was one owner with all dealership maintenance (timing belt and water pump just done for second time) and overall in really good shape minus one bad area of rust where the unibody and rear subframe bolt together. I would say about 95% of the metal was rusted away and i honestly don't know how it hadn't yet separated. Based on this i was able to negotiate the price down to $1500. I did some searching on here and some other forums and saw that this issue was somewhat common with the early first gen pilots in cooler climate locations. Luckily i was able to have it repaired by a local mechanic/welder that i have all my vehicles serviced at. It took him about an hour and a half and only cost me $125. He said the repair was pretty simple to do and that just about any weldshop should be able to do it quite easily. I attached some before and after pics so you can see what i am talking about. As this is a somewhat common issue i figured it would be good to put some more information out there so anyone who runs into this problem doesn't fall for the dealer's advice of junk the car/it can't be repaired/we have to replace then entire unibody at a cost of $3000.
Because of your post.....I am going to take my Pilot to my friend"s shop on Monday and check my frame carefully for rust....

I usually take a quick look when I change the oil.....but because of your photos.....I will check very carefully for signs of rust in this area.....

Thanks.....
 

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I also think the OP was just trying to be helpfull BUT I did notice the top plate not even welded ... So one good winter / water and the problem will return.
 

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Hi all. I recently purchased a 2003 Honda Pilot EX-L Navi with 208000 miles a few weeks ago. The vehicle was one owner with all dealership maintenance (timing belt and water pump just done for second time) and overall in really good shape minus one bad area of rust where the unibody and rear subframe bolt together. I would say about 95% of the metal was rusted away and I honestly don't know how it hadn't yet separated. Based on this I was able to negotiate the price down to $1500. I did some searching on here and some other forums and saw that this issue was somewhat common with the early first gen pilots in cooler climate locations. Luckily I was able to have it repaired by a local mechanic/welder that I have all my vehicles serviced at. It took him about an hour and a half and only cost me $125. He said the repair was pretty simple to do and that just about any weldshop should be able to do it quite easily. I attached some before and after pics so you can see what I am talking about. As this is a somewhat common issue I figured it would be good to put some more information out there so anyone who runs into this problem doesn't fall for the dealer's advice of junk the car/it can't be repaired/we have to replace then entire unibody at a cost of $3000.
I would bring it to a welder who knows wtf they are doing. That botch job can be easily fixed with a little grinding and a real welder.


 

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Is there another repair option available ?

looks like the process is

1. lower subframe
2. prep frame, spot weld in angle bracket
3. bolt flat plate to subframe/bushing, raise sub frame, tackle weld in plate.
4. lower subframe
5. weld angle plate and flat plate, paint, coat repair.
6. reassemble subframe, rear end, align.

what thickness, type metal is required? other comments, steps?
 

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If by spot weld you mean tack it, then it can be done that way.
The "good weld" above is TIG or automotive MIG. The OP's chassis was welded with a stick over rust.
Should have cleaned rust better and used automotive MIG.
 

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If by spot weld you mean tack it, then it can be done that way.
The "good weld" above is TIG or automotive MIG. The OP's chassis was welded with a stick over rust.
Should have cleaned rust better and used automotive MIG.
yes, spot it for location/positioning then final weld it.
 

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This post is encouraging. I was considering driving my 2003 LX with 189K miles, and new tires, rear brakes and control arms to the junkyard after one of those $3,000+ estimates. Posted pic looks like driver's side rear subframe bolt area, which is where mine rusted through. So, is this the most vulnerable spot, and, if repaired, would the rest of this "frame" member be trustworthy? With my estimate, I also heard "liability issues" from a body shop that repairs and sells crash vehicles with salvage titles. It would, indeed, be helpfulto hear from others who had this problem and had repairs done.
 

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I now see, looking at other forums that failure of both rear subframe attachment points after hitting a bump is common. Replacing the unibody crossmember sounds cost-ineffective, as interior would have to be stripped to cut the original out and weld the new one in. Since there will be labor cost for dropping the subframe, I'm thinking that repairing both sides at same time makes sense. Might a single piece of angle the entire length of the subframe make sense? Then brackets for the subframe bolts could be welded onto that, will relative ease, and, I would think, strength. Would appreciate feedback on any successful repairs, as I plan to drive, gingerly, to the auto shop that did the rear brakes and control arms, a welding shop and a truck service center, in that order, Monday. I really would like to hang onto this Pilot, as it's ideal for what I do.
 

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sub frame mount rusting away from unibody attachment on 2004 pilot

I noticed the same problem with my 2004 pilot that I bought new. I work with metal a lot at work, and believe I could make a two piece filler plate to make up the void where the unibody comes down to attach to the mount. I would use metal the same thickness as the void, and make the plate larger than the original area so as to spread the stress of the unibody to sub frame mount evenly away from the point of the stress riser. I will look at it again, and let you guys know how the repair went. Maybe before and after pics.
 

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my thought

drop subframe
remove rust, etc
make new plate drill & thread hole for subframe mount bolt
mount plate to subframe - raise in place and tack to frame
drop subframe and finish weld.
 

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I just repaired this issue on my 2003. Looked just like the OP's before photo. After removing rusted bolt, I fabricated a full height U shaped saddle, slipped into place, and secured with heavy self tapping screws, thru the floor, from top down. This requires removing 3rd seat for access. Then a 8 x 1/2 inch thru bolt from top down pulled everything back together. I will post details with photos when I have more time
 

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You can now take it to a good welder and have the brace welded to the body.
 
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