How To Repair a Rusted Metro Frame

The front end of all Geo Metros will eventually rust out unless the owner is very active in maintaining the area to protect from rust. To protect the suspension from rusting out it needs to be coated with rust proofing or even oiling it will keep rust away. If you are the owner of a Metro that is not in good shape in my opinion it is possible to repair the car without having to junk it. This is how I would do it if I was going to repair it.

In order to do the repair you need to be a good welder or have access to one. A good source for very good quality work in the United States is to take the car to a local vocational school. They will usually do the work for the cost of materials and a small ~$25 donation to the school. Just make sure to talk to the welding shop teacher and not the automotive shop. To get the car ready there is a lot that needs to be removed. The stuff I list here is what I think needs removed, depending on the repair you might need more or less removed.

  • Take the wheels off
  • Take the Tie rods out, or the entire steering rack, whatever you think is easier. This might be able to remain depending on the repair.
  • Remove the battery and battery tray.
  • Remove the air filter hose and the air filter.
  • Take the front pulley off the engine and the alternator.
  • The axle shafts probably will need removed but depending on the repair they might be able to stay.
  • Pull back the carpet away from the front. Just lay it on the seats to keep it from catching on fire from the welding being done on the opposite side of the floor pan.

This should give you access to the frame areas. If you only need one side repaired you could do just one part but while the car is being repaired doing both sides would be wise.

If it is still solid and not already rusted out enough to let the control arm move fabricate a temporary brace to hold the arm in position. Just tack weld it up to the frame or anywhere handy. I have included the pages in the factory service manual showing measurements so it can be double checked to make sure the car stays square. Click on the pictures to enlarge them.

image_1062  image_1063  image_1064

100_0071edited Take the bolts out of the bottom of the suspension mount so the forward part of the A-arm is free. Now cut off the lip around the mount area. This lip is where the factory joined the different sections together. It is probably not actually doing much more than holding rust now.

The frame rails are made of thin metal as well as the firewall. Welding to these will not be as strong so avoid it if possible. If possible just weld about halfway up the mount. The metal should still be in good shape in that area and have all the strength needed to support the mount.

I would start by cutting a strip a foot or so long by about 2 inches wide and go across the bottom 2 bolt holes wrapping it up to the front. Then take a strip and go across from the wheel area down under the mount catching the front bolt mount and up the other side halfway again. Do the same thing for the rear bolt by starting on the wheel side but the inner part will be tighter and have to be a bit more careful fitting it.

first second third

Once the bolt holes have plenty of metal supporting them they can be drilled back out or if the bolts broke off they can be left covered and the mount just welded onto them. I would then add another layer of metal covering all of lower part of the suspension. If the bracket that holds the front mount sits a bit lower than factory it is not going to really change anything about how the car rides or handles so don’t worry about putting two or three layers of metal over the factory stuff. Also once the main parts are welded up it is probably a good idea to keep adding metal and building up anything that looks weak. It is better to put more on it than not enough.

I would probably use 14ga sheet metal to repair the car. If you want it to last longer than the rest of the car then you can use something like 10ga but it will be a lot harder to weld up to the factory parts. If you don’t think your welding skills are up to it find a shop you trust and ask them about having the work done. On my pictures you can ignore the primer gray tubing shown, I was in the process of building my tube chassis car and used those pictures to explain the process. But with those pictures and looking at your car it should be easy to figure out what needs done to repair the car. Just remember you are not building a race car so trying to save weight on this repair will end up with a weaker repair than you otherwise would so use good metal and don’t be afraid to add more than you think you need to do the job.

Also if you think you are not up to the repair you should find someone who thinks they can repair it properly. Every car will have rust in slightly different areas so the repairs might be different than I have suggested here. If you kill your car don’t blame me, I am just offering my opinion on what is needed to repair them.

Updated: May 14, 2008 — 10:39 pm

28 Comments

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  1. Can you suggest how I can find a driver’s side fender for a 1991 Geo Metro LSI convertible? Every source I have tried has said they do not have fenders for the convertible.

  2. Convertibles use the same fenders as the hatchback. The only difference is the passenger side has a hole for the antenna. The hood and bumpers are also the same. The doors are different though and not much in them will interchange.

  3. Another source of metal of good strength and thickness would be old bed frame metal rails.
    They are already primed/painted and are like angle iron.Best of all it’s cheap.

  4. I have acess to alot of GEO’s and parts if you are interested please send me an e-mail. I have the hatchbacks and convertables and coupes also a tracker

  5. mywelding skills are not the best and the shops I have talked to are not willing to weld frames due to liability issues. can these repairs be made using sheetmetal and screws??

  6. I don’t think screws will hold up for long, Best bet is to find a small local shop that is not a national brand or large outfit and they are usually willing to work with you on the frame. You can always make up a paper saying they have no responsibilities if anything happens.

  7. rick,
    I have been looking at the repairs we need to do to our GEO’s and I see a pattern they all seem to go in the same spot. Was there ever anytype of recall or tech bulletin where GM acknowledged the problem???

  8. Nope GM doesn’t care about the problem, the cars are old enough it would be hard to even get them to put out a tsb on the problem. If they did a recall they would probably just do a buyback where they buy the cars back for list price like Toyota is doing for their trucks that have frame rusting problems. Last I looked list price for these cars is way under what they are currently selling for.

    Every Metro and Swift I have seen around my area (WV) has some rust on the frame around the front control arms. Almost all of them have rust holes. It takes a good bit of rust to make the car dangerous but the more good metal there the better when repairing the frame so best bet is to fix it as soon as rust shows up.

  9. I have a 96 Metro Bas 3/5 – in very fine shape, with 61,000 original two-owner miles – that needs the body frame member where the lower control arm attachs (on the driver’s side) replaced: Can’t locate NOS “inner fender liner” – to which this piece is welded – an am seeking a salvage part … which should be fairly easy to cut out, and rather easy to weld back into my vehicle.

    Resources, anyone?

    Thank you for your time and consideration!

    Steve Phillips
    Two Harbors, MN

  10. I have a 1994 Geo Metro that i was told is not repairable because the a-frame by the frount driver side rusted away from the car does the repairs you explain fix this or do you have to fix it before it gets this bad? I drove the car from the repair shop to my house which was approximately 30 miles and it held up so im just wondering if its as bad as they said and maybe i can fix it the way you say.

  11. I have a 91 metro that I am getting ready to replace the top because someone sliced it a couple of years ago. This is freaking me out though because I live in the south and it has been raining like crazy here over the past year. I had tape over the slice on the top, but it came away, and some rain got inside the car. I am thinking the moisture could cause it to rust. How can tell if it is rusted?

  12. I wanted to thank the provider of the pictures above. I have been battling this rust for far to long but I refuse to get rid of my geo. The lower control arm mounts as well as most of my cowl panel lower side is shot. 14g did most of the job I beefed up my floor pan with 1/8″ flat bar then shot it all with 1k primer inside and out then finished with a heavy layer of undercoating. Myself and my Gas King appreciate the help offered thanks. Any info or help I can offer feel free to ask.

  13. I have repaired three metro’s with bad frames and wheels ripped off. It works well I do it a little different then it shows here and I do extra bracing. All the cars I have done are back on the road,safe and much better then factory.

  14. I do metro frame restoration. I do have people sign a waver. I dont do this as a business Im just a welder that loves to keep the old metro’s alive. The repairs are safe,strong and will improve the ride quality of your metro. So if you are near Wisconsin I can even pick it up and drop it off. I can pick it up,repair and drop off cheaper then you can buy a beater for. I always have a metro that has been repaired and will take yours in on trade if that interests you.

  15. Hello,

    To Dayton:

    I have a 2000 Chevy Metro that needs the driver side sub-frame repaired due to corrosion. The car has less than 80,000 miles and everything is intact (accident / dent free) and I currently have it listed on eBay for sale. Any idea on how much $$$ it would cost to repair the sub-frame??? I live in the Chicagoland area.

    Please let me know.

    Thanks,

    (708) 371-5534

  16. I have done a frame repair on my GEO Metro 95 before it got too bad, I needed to replace three of the four bolts 13mm they were not removable. You need a threaded tube that is welded to the bottom and a support layer 1/2 inch above.
    This is done before the welded shut again. I took the engine out, fenders and the rugs and kept wires and break and gas lines from getting too hot. Welded all the holes up in the back wheel well and the floors. You can get the passenger side floor patched up inside the opened frame chanel before welding the frame shut. I have 50K more miles on the car and drive 70-80mph 500 miles a week.

  17. To all the readers on this forum, Dayton has a new number stop calling his old one. Dayton take your old number off of all your forums.

  18. Does anyone have a working phone number for Dayton. Does he still do these repairs. Or better yet, anyone near NYC do this?

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