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How much rust is too much rust for a T3?

Discussion in 'T3 & T4 Tech Help Clinic' started by Slowbrick, Oct 24, 2020.

  1. Slowbrick

    Slowbrick Member

    Messages:
    43
    Location:
    Newcastle
    Hi everyone,
    Yesterday I went to look at a potential T3 Caravelle. I took a torch with me to inspect it and noted a few sections of rust that I think are a cause for concern but am not sure if its a common T3 thing or something I should be worried about.

    This particular van is an 85 with the big sunroof in the middle. I has developed rust in the edge of the first raised hump on the roof. The rust spot is about 4 cm long and 1 cm wide and has breached the paint and is perforated. The seller has painted/treated the section and covered it with a 3M adhesive film product. That in itself isnt the cause for the worry. The cause for the worry is that not far but inline with the roof rust is a small section about 3mm blistering in the b pillar where it meets the roof gutter. Then further down inline where the sunroof drains are the sill is a bit rough looking and definitely isnt clean steel despite being painted over.

    I have the concern that the sunroof drains are blocked and have been for sometime causing water to fill the b pillar with water and therefore causing it to rust from the inside out. Apart from those sections the rest looks pretty much like common affair with some rust in the rear most roof gutters, a small amount in the rear lower sills near the seams and some other small spots near the windscreen.

    I dont plan on keeping this van for an extended period of time but also am not keen to buy something that will need to be fully stripped to repair in short order. I wouldnt have a problem with cutting out the roof section and welding in a patch but am concerned I may cut it open only to find a completely rotted out b pillar underneath. So my question to you T3 bunch, how much is too much rust and should I keep looking for a potential candidate or is this amount of rust if managed no cause for concern?
     
  2. Grantus

    Grantus Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    17,395
    Location:
    Southern ACT
    Any rust can be repaired, with varying amounts of time and money, however, it can be a total unknown amount of either, until you really start digging, to find all the surprises.

    Generally, a good body with poor mechanicals, is a better buy, than a rust bucket with newly recon motor, gearbox and running gear.

    In short, mechanical repairs are much more of a given, than rust and body repairs.

    Just my two cents worth........

    But if you have excellent welding and painting skills, and can do body and rust repairs yourself, it does change the above equation.
     
  3. tillis

    tillis Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    308
    Location:
    gold coast
    just depends how much time you want to devote to not only cutting and welding but taking out fittings glass etc and painting and reinstalling. I'm confident my T3 is now rust free and it took about 3 or 4 months as a hobby but it is now my daily driver
     
  4. Slowbrick

    Slowbrick Member

    Messages:
    43
    Location:
    Newcastle
    I have been finding this out with a HQ Pano I am working on. I am by no means an excellent body work guy and am doing it at the level of a diyer to the best of my ability. I dont really want to buy a rust bucket and the location of the rust is more a concern than the actual rust. If it were say in the floor pan or quarter panel or some un layered panel I would feel less concerned but upon inspection there is definitely a correlation between the blocked sunroof drain, the roof rust, the developing b pillar rust and the lower sill rust.

    The sunroof looked like it would be an absolute blast but not at the expense of ruining the entire van. This sucks because ive been saying since selling our last car with a sunroof "wouldnt it be mad to get another car with a sunroof".
     
  5. Barry

    Barry Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    5,026
    Location:
    Abbotsford NSW
    As much as I would love a T3 with a sunroof - they are an extremely rare beast here.

    I would want that in perfect condition as spares are hard to find and you don’t want to be pulling it out.

    Reckon there are better ones to be looked at.
    I would also be looking for a 2.1L motor
     
  6. cbus

    cbus Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    12,884
    Location:
    sunshine coast
    T3 are pretty good re rust so the amount indicated suggests a fair bit once cleaned off.
    Would only be interested if the rest of the package was desirable and suitably priced to allow for all possible rust work.
     
    chris taylor, Grantus and Dapom like this.
  7. Slowbrick

    Slowbrick Member

    Messages:
    43
    Location:
    Newcastle
    I was also thinking about the rarity of the parts for the sunroof as its completely manual and looked to have a few ageing parts such as the seals and various clips to hold down the trim.

    This is kind of the answer I was looking for. So I was right to assume that this particular one could potentially have too much rust compared to another of similar age? The correlation of the position of the different patches of rust was the most concerning as they all seemed to originate from a common source being the rust near the sunroof and travelling down to the lower sill.
     
  8. Dapom

    Dapom Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    756
    Location:
    Brisbane
    From all that I’ve heard the sunroof models are an awkward beast. Parts for the sunroof are difficult to find with some only being available ex Germany if at all. Chances are that has been the issue with this one...seal broken down or roof not lifting into place properly when closed allowing water leaks. T3’s generally don’t seem to suffer from terminal rust as badly as other VW’s but I can appreciate some fear of the unknown :)
     
  9. Grantus

    Grantus Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    17,395
    Location:
    Southern ACT
    Good to see, that you are buying with your head - not your heart! ;)

    Looking forward to seeing Pics of your purchase. :)
     
  10. Slowbrick

    Slowbrick Member

    Messages:
    43
    Location:
    Newcastle
    Syncro27 likes this.

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