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20 year old enthusiast
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Discussion Starter #1
Well it was nice out today and I decided to find that rocker panel access cover. I started on the drivers side which has close to no rust, but the passenger side on the other hand...

This is the drivers side access cover.


This is how it looks on the drivers side rocker panel inside(don't know how well u can see)


Now onto the passenger side where things went downhill fast...

This is the access cover, note the mud and rust buildup inside


holy look at the rust


When I put my hand in the passenger rocker panel I kept scooping out mud, this is just some of it


A little more in depth


This is how the passenger side rocker looks from the outside:



In all the drivers side rocker has close to no rust and theirs no mud in the drivers side rocker, but on the passenger side it's getting rusty and when I stick my hand in the rocker I keep taking out mud...whats going on? Whats causing all the mud buildup? How can I save the rockers from the inside? At this rate my engine will outlast the body which is not in bad shape at the moment excluding the rust buildup on the passenger side..help, I don't want it to get worse! Thanks
 

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Hey 04anniversaryedition,

Is this plug from the backside of the rocker panel? I'm not at all familiar with the 04. I was planning on checking mine - the drain plugs on the backside - this week but didn't have time to get the van in the shop. I did feel underneath mine and there's a plug - a sort of rounded end rectangle on mine. Is there any evidence of a hole in the rocker panel that the dirt could have entered? Just out of interest, did you buy this van brand new from a dealer, or was it used or from an auction?

You are on the right track with removing the mud. Can you get a sprayer wand angled in there and remove as much as possible. Maybe then, you could spray some alcohol-based substance in there to dry it out. Then you would be in a better position to explore the extent of the damage. Are there any soft spots along the length of your rocker panels? Ask Jeepman what to do. He seems to have a LOT of experience/knowledge about the lower body construction of these vans. I'm just in the learning stage about the rocker panels and how to best protect them well into the future.

Good luck and please let us know anything you find out.

Adam

EDIT: After looking again at picture 2, I can see through to your driveway. Is there supposed to be a plug in that smaller hole? It looks kind of uniform in shape to be a rust hole. Just guessing though.
 

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I think that is rust dust, not mud. Put some compressed air in your rocker panel and you will see that dust coming up through the drain holes in the sliding door track area.

By access cover are you talking about the larger cover (vent?) on the back side of the rocker panel near the middle (front to back)?

Do you have a fiberop borescope (fiberscope) to look in there with?

Welcome to the world of rusty rocker panels.
 

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Find one of the digital inspection cameras "(borescope (fiberscope)" to let you look into the holes when you get the foam out.

The prices have come down considerably and you can use it for other things.

You can take your 20% coupon and go to Harbor Freight and get one.
http://www.harborfreight.com/catalogsearch/result?q=inspection
 

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20 year old enthusiast
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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Well I did a little more investigating and work on it today and didn't like what I saw at the sliding door track.

When I went to see what was going on the passenger sliding door track my eyes caught a set of wires tucked at the back of the van, when I pulled out the wires I realized they were for the door locks and such, makes sense as the van was hit at the side (rear quarter panel) before we bought the van, the passenger sliding door lock never worked and they had to remove the sliding to fix it, guess they were lazy to remove it properly and tape the ends up!!! seriously this could cause a fire or electrical problems. just pi$$e$ me off.


Look at that, I finally found out how the mud entered the rockers (I believe) the sliding door track was full of mud, don't ask me how the mud got there cause I don't know, and the drain holes were clogged with mud.


After I cleaned all that mud up, I dug out an entire mini shovel (garden shovel) of dirt...now lets see what comes out of the rocker!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well I spent exactly 20 minutes scooping mud out of the passenger rocker panel by hand, this is how much I pulled out


I kept flooding the sliding door track area with water, all the drain holes are no longer clogged. The water came out pitch brown at first but after a while the water came clear


now on to the drivers side, not much mud, but did pull out a rubber band. I don't even know how that got there


flooding the sliding track on the drivers side. Note the color of the water coming out


Thats all I did for today as time ran out and it was getting dark out. But what I did was take the bottle of rust check and spray that [email protected]#t into the drain holes, gonna wait a week to see what builds up in the rocker panels.
 

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Rust is a very common complaint on the 4th gen vans. Areas at the front of the hood, on the liftgate, side rockers and in the wheelwells are common areas.
4th gen = major design flaw
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Aside from that I did other things, one of those things were lubing bolts, hinges etc... I did apply rust check behind the taillights


these are the products I used today
.

Is there anywhere else I should lube or spray rust check? One place that came in my mind but wasn't sure as to if I should spray rust check or not is at the hatch, in between the glass, basically where it separates from the metal. I've noticed many of the 4th gens rusting from there and was wondering if I should spray rust check there.

Anyways regarding those access panels, those were in the middle of the van, and the ones at the end of the front of the rear and front of the van, I could not get open, it was pretty much sealed or glued shut, even a flat head screw driver couldn't get it loose. Jeepman I need your rocker panel help!!! please, how do I get those access panels open? I will try to keep this thread active, as long as I have time to work on the van and the weather doesn't screw around with me this thread will be active. Thanks for all your help guys its really appreciated, no holes yet and i'd like to keep it that way!

This is the position the van was today

Just got back from lugging approx 1900 pounds in the back of the van (not towing), of a shed, 8 bags of cement, 10 bags pf 50 litre black earth (on sale at rona), and grocery all with the back seats out and me sitting back there. yes I did keep the van in the "3" selection all the way through to prevent strain etc... Spent 6 hours of the day in stores and on the road. I LOVE THIS VAN!
 

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20 year old enthusiast
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Discussion Starter #10
Hey 04anniversaryedition,

Is this plug from the backside of the rocker panel? I'm not at all familiar with the 04. I was planning on checking mine - the drain plugs on the backside - this week but didn't have time to get the van in the shop. I did feel underneath mine and there's a plug - a sort of rounded end rectangle on mine. Is there any evidence of a hole in the rocker panel that the dirt could have entered? Just out of interest, did you buy this van brand new from a dealer, or was it used or from an auction?

You are on the right track with removing the mud. Can you get a sprayer wand angled in there and remove as much as possible. Maybe then, you could spray some alcohol-based substance in there to dry it out. Then you would be in a better position to explore the extent of the damage. Are there any soft spots along the length of your rocker panels? Ask Jeepman what to do. He seems to have a LOT of experience/knowledge about the lower body construction of these vans. I'm just in the learning stage about the rocker panels and how to best protect them well into the future.

Good luck and please let us know anything you find out.

Adam

EDIT: After looking again at picture 2, I can see through to your driveway. Is there supposed to be a plug in that smaller hole? It looks kind of uniform in shape to be a rust hole. Just guessing though.
NO this plug is from the middle of the van, I just bend down and I saw it, there are more at each end of the van but they seem stuck, I need someones help/suggestion on getting that out. The drain plug should be the same since their the same body style, no there are no soft spots and I don't want to have any. I did buy the van used with 78,215kms on her, I thought you knew since you commented in my thread on it being paid off http://forum.chryslerminivan.net/showthread.php/31986-my-04-has-finally-been-paid-off-as-of-27-3-13?highlight= Regarding picture 2 that was looking into the access hole, and that smaller hole is a drain hole from the sliding door track, so your looking up not down. I currently have no holes in the rockers and want to keep it that way
 

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20 year old enthusiast
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Discussion Starter #11
I think that is rust dust, not mud. Put some compressed air in your rocker panel and you will see that dust coming up through the drain holes in the sliding door track area.

By access cover are you talking about the larger cover (vent?) on the back side of the rocker panel near the middle (front to back)?

Do you have a fiberop borescope (fiberscope) to look in there with?

Welcome to the world of rusty rocker panels.
Oh i'm more than sure thats mud, it looks like mud, feels like mud,and has the same texture as mud the drivers side had pretty much rust dust. Yes, that is the cover/access panel from the middle of the van. couldn't get the ones at the other ends to come loose, help!!! and I have nothing to look into it unfortunately, is their a way I can get out of the world of rusty rocker panels?

Find one of the digital inspection cameras "(borescope (fiberscope)" to let you look into the holes when you get the foam out.

The prices have come down considerably and you can use it for other things.

You can take your 20% coupon and go to Harbor Freight and get one.
http://www.harborfreight.com/catalogsearch/result?q=inspection
unfortunately I live in Canada and we have no Harbor Freight so all of that is basically useless to me.But thanks for the effort though, i'll be on a hunt for one as long as the price is right.
 

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Princess Auto may have the inspection camera for you Canadians.

The access hole plugs are held on by clips but mostly by the foam.
Get a good pry bar and hammer and pop them off.

Dorman sells a replacement harness for the (2004-3007 models) which you may need to modify the electrical connectors for it to fit properly. This is cheaper than the dealer.
For 2001-2003, the connector near the pillar is 10 pin instead of 8 pin for the later years. The harness will work, but will need to be modified.


Dorman 747-310 Left; w/Power Sliding Door

Dorman 747-311 Right; w/Power Sliding Door

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias=aps&field-keywords=Dorman 747-310

I posted some pictures in the thread I mentioned earlier, you may want to look at them.

Slideshow with pics
http://tinyurl.com/8r8o5fu
 

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NO this plug is from the middle of the van, I just bend down and I saw it, there are more at each end of the van but they seem stuck, I need someones help/suggestion on getting that out. The drain plug should be the same since their the same body style, no there are no soft spots and I don't want to have any. I did buy the van used with 78,215kms on her, I thought you knew since you commented in my thread on it being paid off http://forum.chryslerminivan.net/showthread.php/31986-my-04-has-finally-been-paid-off-as-of-27-3-13?highlight= Regarding picture 2 that was looking into the access hole, and that smaller hole is a drain hole from the sliding door track, so your looking up not down. I currently have no holes in the rockers and want to keep it that way
You can remove the rubber plugs that the tail light harness goes into and spray in there too, also the rubber piece that the tail light tab goes into. You may find there is some plastic wrapped foam in there. I use a screwdriver to pull it from side to side and let loose with the rust check in between it and the metal. I also remove the gas cap filler attached to the quarter panel and spray in there. I think there are a couple or 3 bolts to loosen off. Just a recommendation, but I would use rust check red for in panels. I think the coat and protect is too viscous to creep as effectively as the thinner red stuff. I also remove the rubber plug in the top of the tailgate where the wire for the upper brake light goes and liberally spray in there. If you can get access to a compressor, undercoating gun and flexible wands, you can feed these in all the access holes in the engine compartment along the inside of the quarter panels. Doors and tailgate drain holes can just be sprayed with the thin red tube that comes with the can of rust check.

If you have minimal rust in your rocker panels you are very lucky from what I have read here on the forums.

All this talk and pictures has made me nervous. I plan to go out today with my gallon of used ATF. I'm going to remove all the plugs I drilled in the top of the rocker panels, insert a funnel with rubber hose attached and start pouring. I'll rig up the hose to reduce to a size small enough to access the holes on top of the rocker below the sliding door. I have a bunch poly sheeting, small buckets and old towels that I will place under the van on the driveway. As our driveway has inclined sections, I'll point the front upwards and pour some atf in and let sit for a while running to the back. Then, I'll reverse the van - front down hill - and repeat allowing the fluid to run forward. This will serve 2 purposes: to identify where the fluid is coming out and thoroughly soak any accessible areas. Later in the week. I'll put the van up on the hoist, remove all factory plugs and try to determine what areas have not been reached by the fluid. I may drill up into the areas that contain the foam/sealant ie in between the sliding and front door and the dogleg area. If they are either damp with water or show no evidence of the ATF, I will then start removing the foam with whatever is needed to do the job whether that be coat hangars, stiff wire, my shop vac etc.

As far as not recalling that your van was paid off...this is what comes with old age. You don't remember half of what you say or do. Add a 2 year old and a 4 year old, a demanding job into the mix and there you have it. :sleeping: lol. Don't worry, you'll be there some day.

Something for your reading pleasure...

http://www.carcomplaints.com/Dodge/Grand_Caravan/2004/body_paint/rocker_panel_rust_perforation.shtml
 

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I have worked on the rocker panels for my 2002 over the years. I have to do a little touch up on them this year that will take a couple of hours. They have obviously weakened some because of rust. I don't let Repair/Tire Shops use the vertical seam for their hoist points. They shouldn't anyway because there are tabs there that shouldn't be bent out of site. Previous rust protection by shops (Canadian Tire using Corrosion Free for one) didn't do a thorough job of spraying the rocker panels, otherwise I would't have had the problem.

I had to do major work on the 2007 last year due to rusted rocker panels. The drain holes for the rear rocker panels were plugged with sealant from the factory. The rocker panels had never been rust protected. I bought the vehicle in May, 2011 and had been mislead to believe that the rocker panels were filled with foam and couldn't be sprayed. That info came from a Rust Check Shop Owner and a Chrysler Body Shop Service Manager. Lesson learned: Never listen to the guys that haven't actually been there/done that, look for yourself.

My work is covered in this Thread: http://forum.chryslerminivan.net/showthread.php/25322-Fiberglassing-and-Fluid-Filming-can-be-fun

I wonder if you Van hasn't been immersed in muddy water some time at that back left corner. Otherwise the door seals may have been defective/missing which allowed lots of dust to get in the sliding door track area while driving on gravel roads.

Once your drain holes are clear, compressed air at about 90 psi will do a good job of blowing dry dust out the drain/vent holes. After that it's spraying a double douse of fluid Film in there using about 90 psi air pressure and a proper spray gun. That can be done through the drain holes. (two per rocker panel) or holes that exist elsewhere or that you may drill yourself. There are vinyl plugs available for various size holes, including 3/8" and 1/2" diameter. If you don't have the equipment or can't borrow/rent it, I would suggest that you check out the Krown Rustproofers in your area to see what you think, an older experienced Applicator is likely the way to go, and have them spray your rocker panels thoroughly.

The two drain holes per side are not enough, I have seen smaller vehicles with lots more, so additional drain holes can be drilled in. My driveway slopes up so any moisture in the rocker panels will flow to the back and accumulate there, and sit there as it's past the drain hole. keep that in mind when drilling drain holes. You can plug those holes if you want with the vinyl plugs mentioned previously. That's something to keep in mind when parking a vehicle, mix it up as to slope.

Princess Auto has borescopes / inspection cameras / Fiberops: http://datasheets.globalspec.com/ds/2614/PrincessAutoLimited
Sometimes they have on on sale, such as this one, which I bought for $69.99: http://www.princessauto.com/pal/product/8428393/Video+Scopes/9+mm+Inspection+Camera
I haven't used it on my vehicles yet, but mostly for tracking down a plumbing leak in a Friend's wall. I could use it to look inside the rocker panel (with a big enough access hole) or check for leaks underneath, or to observe pulley wobble. It's a fun tool.

Another area to be concerned about is the dog leg area to the rear or the rocker panel. There is some foam in there that can trap moisture, I spray that area with Fluid Film. The rear hatch and doors can be sprayed through the drain holes.
 

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Well...just finished drenching my rocker panels with ATF. Here is what I did:

I removed the plugs between the 2 sliding doors and used a screwdriver and plastic stick to bust up as much of the foam as I could, pushing the stick both forward and backward until I felt no resistance. I used my shop vac to suck out as much of the little pieces of foam as I could. Using a turkey baster and a hand pump, I started filling with ATF with the van pointing nose up the driveway. I noticed AFT dripping out along the seam at a few locations and at least as far back as where the foam would be in the dogleg. I also poured ATF in the holes in the sliding door track area. I repeated this process on both sides of the van and continued to observe dripping. I then turned the van around, removed the plugs I had previously drilled in the top of the rocker panels and repeated the same process, again noticing dripping. After that, I removed all the other plugs I had previously installed and literally poured ATF in those. This includes areas above where the foam would be between the doors and the dogleg section.

As I haven't figured out how to add pics, I'll just put these links in and hope it works...

http://i1275.photobucket.com/albums/y458/acbent/Plug3_zps338480e9.jpg

http://i1275.photobucket.com/albums/y458/acbent/Plug_zpsa704e08f.jpg

http://i1275.photobucket.com/albums/y458/acbent/Plug2_zps6ec252fb.jpg


I am cautiously optimistic that the ATF has made it to most sections of the rocker panel. This I will confirm when I have the van on the hoist and can remove the various plugs on the inner side of the rocker panel and if I'm not convinced at that stage, I will get out the drill and go up from below into the dogleg and sliding door/front door sections and explore. I do not know that I have the time or resources to remove all the foam, so I'll probably do my best to get the areas soaked with ATF or rust check.

All in all, I used about a gallon of use ATF.
 

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As I indicated in my thread, the rockers are not completely filled with foam. I think the important thing is to clear a path through the foam on the bottom of the rocker on the inside.
This will allow whatever you put in there to do its job.
The inside bottom is where I found the most rust.
You can accomplish this with a long thin fiberglass rod.

I used this.
http://www.harborfreight.com/3-16-inch-x-33-ft-fiberglass-wire-running-kit-65326.html
 

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As I indicated in my thread, the rockers are not completely filled with foam. I think the important thing is to clear a path through the foam on the bottom of the rocker on the inside.
This will allow whatever you put in there to do its job.
The inside bottom is where I found the most rust.
You can accomplish this with a long thin fiberglass rod.

I used this.
http://www.harborfreight.com/3-16-inch-x-33-ft-fiberglass-wire-running-kit-65326.html
Yes, I found your thread very informative. Thank you for that. I am seeing oil drip out from the areas where the foam is as well as other sections of the rocker panel, so I think gravity is at least getting it to the pinched seem part of the rocker panel - the lowest point of the panel. Where my concern lies is whether or not the oil will then wick upwards between the panel and the remaining foam making contact with the inner panel - the interior vertical metal surfaces - if that makes sense. I'm sercretly hoping that the ATF will dissolve/degrade some of the foam and then creep everywhere, but that's probably wishful thinking.
 

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That foam is tough stuff, it is not like the stuff in the can.
There is an access hole on the pillar between the doors that you can test the oil on the foam. Just pull the plug out and you will see foam.
I do not think the ATF will dissolve it or absorb it readily.
 

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There is an access hole on the pillar between the doors that you can test the oil on the foam.
I believe those are the plugs I took out and worked at removing the foam. I too doubt that the fluid will have any effect on the foam. I'd have to say though that I bet it's pretty well saturated with the amount I put in there. Either that or there's a gallon of ATF sloshing around in my rocker panel, minus, of course, the stuff that's dripping out.
 

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I believe those are the plugs I took out and worked at removing the foam. I too doubt that the fluid will have any effect on the foam. I'd have to say though that I bet it's pretty well saturated with the amount I put in there. Either that or there's a gallon of ATF sloshing around in my rocker panel, minus, of course, the stuff that's dripping out.
If the ATF's sitting in there, the best thing to do is to drive around and take some sharp turns to spread it around. I doubt that it will creep on its own. You can experiment with that using a piece of metal to see if it will creep up when the heat hits it.

An 8 gallon compressor like this one http://www.canadiantire.ca/AST/browse/6/Tools/1/CompressorsAirTools/Compressors/PRDOVR~0587914P/Mastercraft+8G+Compressor.jsp?locale=en (sometimes on sale at about $100.00 off) and a rustproofing gun like this RP-100 Gun kit w/2 wands http://www.lemmer.com/contents/en-us/d36_rust-proofing.html will do a great job of spraying rustproofing inside your rocker panels and the rest of your vehicle
 
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