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Hello, everyone, I have a 2009 AWD Nissan Murano SL with 112k miles on it that's in very good condition with one major issue: I found out yesterday that the rear cradle is extremely rusted, and the subframe has sheared in two where it connects to one of the control arms for the rear driver's side wheel. It's still technically drive-able, but it's only a matter of time before the bolts start shearing off, and I've been told it might not be worth it to have a whole new subframe put in. Right now I'm in Alabama; the rust came from the previous owner, who lived in New York. I had it checked out when I got the car and asked about the rust but was told it looked superficial and shouldn't be a problem; apparently it was a lot worse than it looked back then (I got it a few years ago).

Other than that it's in great condition; breaks are brand new, wheels are good, never had a single problem with the engine, interior is good (though in need of a cleaning), a/c, everything works perfectly except the 6-CD changer, which I think is jammed. I really like this car a lot, but I'm a graduate student so I don't have a lot of funds and at this point I'm not sure what to do with it, or how much I could get for it if I did trade it in or something.

I'm getting it checked out tomorrow morning by a shop that's been touted as doing the best framework in town, but in the meantime, does anyone here know where I might should go from here? Is this the sort of vehicle I trade in (that's what the shop I just took it from suggested) or do I sell it to a salvage yard or what? If I did trade it in or something, how much might I be able to get for it? Lastly, do you guys think it might be worth it to fix it? I'd probably have to have the entire subframe replaced from the looks of it.
 

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You have a problem with that. If you sell it, you need to disclose the problem and that means it's not worth much. If you fail to disclose that major a problem, the buyer could lose control if the suspension fails and that's asking for a lawsuit.

I'd say you should either fix it or sell it to a wrecking yard for what you can get. It doesn't sound safe to drive, even if it's "driveable." Many cars that can move under their own power aren't safe to drive.

Another option: IF you can find a DIY buyer who wants to do the work himself, you should get more than a wrecking yard will give you.

It's a shame, considering how good the rest of the car sounds.
 

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You have a problem with that. If you sell it, you need to disclose the problem and that means it's not worth much. If you fail to disclose that major a problem, the buyer could lose control if the suspension fails and that's asking for a lawsuit.

I'd say you should either fix it or sell it to a wrecking yard for what you can get. It doesn't sound safe to drive, even if it's "driveable." Many cars that can move under their own power aren't safe to drive.

Another option: IF you can find a DIY buyer who wants to do the work himself, you should get more than a wrecking yard will give you.

It's a shame, considering how good the rest of the car sounds.
Thanks for your response!

When you say "not worth much," are we talking like $3k or like $200? It was bought for $16k, so I was hoping to be able to trade it in for a different, much cheaper vehicle (there are a couple around town I'm eyeing that are between $3k-$4k). Is this an achievable goal, or will this only fetch me a couple hundred bucks? I was hoping that the rest of the car being in such good condition might help me get more for it; before this I've literally never brought it in for anything other than a punctured tire (which has since been replaced).

I really feel like I'm in over my head here; I really have no idea about how car pricing, trading, or salvaging works, and because this problem is so serious I feel like I have very little time to learn or else the wheel's going to fall straight off.

Edit: According to the auto parts place I went to, it's currently safe to drive, but most likely will not remain that way for long. I'm thinking of selling it for parts since every part that isn't the rear cradle (and possibly the 6 CD changer depending on if there's just a CD jammed in there or if it's actually broken) is in very good condition; the engine could fetch something like $1000, and there are a whole lot of good other parts in there.
 

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Can you find out how much it is to replace the suspension cradle? The new Nissan part is around $550. Install will likely be the biggest part of the bill. It may not be as expensive as you are thinking. I know you said you're in a tight spot being a grad student, but if you fix it you will end up with a 112k mile vehicle that you know the history of and believe to be mechanically sound. If you go the $3k-$4k route, you may end up with a great car or it may break down the next week. Good luck with it
 

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This is a horrendous example of either the cheapening steel or the de-icing road chemicals , for not even ten years old I'd put money on the steel first. I'd love to see a picture from the OP as to how bad it looks. Not a warranty situation but I'd be on the phone with HQ corp affairs , you might luck out with some sympathy cash. This is safety not cosmetic. I know it the slimmest of chances for any good news on the phone, but I would go the extra and send a letter - no emails - with pictures and tell them you are filing a complaint with all the various government and consumer agencies plus a kicker of getting some media coverage on poor Nissan steel. Would be great if you are in a TV market with one of those consumer advocate type reporters, they love taking on the "man" for the little guy and getting a win . I hope this is just a one off but I will take some time for inspection on ours. I hope this problem doesn't have legs.
 

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A 100K mile vehicle with suspension unsafe to drive is worth hundreds of dollars to a wrecking yard, not thousands. It's worth more to a DIY type who would do the work himself. But if you put $16K into it recently, you're going to take a bath. No way it's worth half of that with a rusted out rear suspension.

A subframe isn't that big a deal - it's a part, and parts can be replaced. You can get quotes for the part and the labor; don't go to a dealer, they'll be twice the price. You can buy OEM parts online for less than a dealer sells them. You may be able to buy parts from a wrecking yard dirt cheap, but that's getting to a level that only a hard core DIY type would go.

The economics dictate doing a repair, but doing it as inexpensively as possible. Get the part and fix the problem. If you can DIY, then do so. If you have some grad student friends who are car guys, see if you can make a deal for them to take it on.

No one can write you a complete "how to" for this in a forum. All we can do is suggest options and you can check them out.
 

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Sorry for the delay here; I know it's been a while since I checked up on this thread. I'm looking into it with insurance (the frame didn't break until I rode over a pothole, so they may fix it), but it's unclear if they're gonna pay out. As of now the adjuster said he thought it could be fixed and estimated ~$3k to fix the broken frame, but I don't think he was accounting for how bad the rust is because when I went to the shop they said it would be legitimately dangerous to fix. I went to the shop this morning and they told me that they would not fix it and that no honest business would, as it's too rusted to be safe. They said they told the adjuster that as well, but it looks like he decided not to take their advice on it. At this point it's really unclear whether or not they'll pay out for it; they've confirmed that they'd pay out for the repairs of the broken part, but given that the rust is the reason that the car is totaled and isn't just an expensive fix, I don't know. I even called the insurance company yesterday and the representative said she didn't know what would happen if the actual damage was due to something they covered but the fact that it's unfixable wasn't.

The more places I take the thing to the worse I think the rust must be because I keep hearing things like "unfixable," "total loss," and "destroyed," and all 3 places have emphasized how severe the rust is. If the insurance doesn't pan out I might just send out a letter to Nissan (I may send one anyway just to complain, but I think it would probably be bad form to ask for money from Nissan after having been reimbursed by insurance). I don't really have particular media connections but I do have a mechanical engineering degree (which, who knows, may be useful). We don't really learn a whole lot about rust in mechanical, but I'm coincidentally taking a graduate-level course on materials failure this semester and we just went over corrosion this past week, so I don't think it would take much to bridge the gaps to learn exactly how much Nissan must have messed up for the frame to rust that much that quickly. Especially if you guys think it had to have been a failure on Nissan's part, I'll look into that. (I'll also note that while the car was in New York originally, I bought it in 2013, and it's been in Alabama since then).

Thank you so much for all your help! I'll post updates (and pictures if I can) when I get them!
 

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I think it's time to bring back Rusty Jones! :D


Take care!

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Quick question to the forums- is there anywhere I can find out what type(s) of steel the rear subframe was made of?
 

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Quick question to the forums- is there anywhere I can find out what type(s) of steel the rear subframe was made of?
I very much doubt it, and I don't think it's relevant. Although there are various alloys of steel, what Nissan used "is what it is."

It sounds increasingly like you have a totaled vehicle and you may be really lucky that a pothole caused the break. If your insurance company is willing to adjust a claim on it, I suggest you take the money and bail. I don't think you have any good options unless you want to learn welding and fix it yourself.

When an indy shop tells you it's not safe to fix and they won't fix it, it's time to take the best option and accept the loss.
 

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I very much doubt it, and I don't think it's relevant. Although there are various alloys of steel, what Nissan used "is what it is."

It sounds increasingly like you have a totaled vehicle and you may be really lucky that a pothole caused the break. If your insurance company is willing to adjust a claim on it, I suggest you take the money and bail. I don't think you have any good options unless you want to learn welding and fix it yourself.

When an indy shop tells you it's not safe to fix and they won't fix it, it's time to take the best option and accept the loss.
Oh, I know it's totaled at this point. Trust me, I'm not trying to get it fixed at this point; it's been made very clear to me that it would be dangerous to even try (and I know enough about structural integrity to know that on my own based on the "fix" that was mentioned).

As of right now the insurance is willing to cover the loss of the car, but the adjuster is insisting that it can be fixed, despite the shop insisting that it would be dangerous to do so. Mostly I'm wondering about the type of steel not for the purposes of repairs but to determine if the type of steel they used was likely to have contributed to the (apparently insane) amount of rust that's accumulated on the frame, so I can know for sure if I need to send in a complaint to Nissan or if whoever owned the car before me just exposed it to a stunningly corrosive environment.

In all honesty, I've lived in the South my entire life and don't really know how much corrosion is normal for a car that's been on salted roads; I'm basing the idea that this is a suspicious amount of corrosion for a car that was only in the north for about 4 years maximum on the earlier poster who suggested it was likely that cheap steel was the culprit. If I can get pictures I can post them here so that people can make a better judgement.
 

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That's an odd situation. Just in case you get into an argument with the adjuster, you might see if you can a signed statement from the body shop that it's not safe to repair.

I doubt it's as much the steel alloy as the operating conditions, and whether the undercarriage was ever washed off to reduce corrosion. I haven't lived in a high rust environment either, so I'm not familiar with how fast that could develop.
 

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You caught a break with insurance, I would not have guessed this would be a claimable item. I assume you'll still be out some $$ at the end of it but still better than having to decide whether to spend good money after bad. Seeing that this is still the only rust thread for this model maybe just a case of bad luck. I would think they corrosion dip these frames in Japan too, hard to think that could have been mucked up. If not a bad chunk of steel then the previous owner must have driven through salt water everyday and had a perfect temperature garage for rust to breed. If it were me I'd still try to get some Nissan goodwill money. Imagine if the frame collapsed at highway speed?

I'm still curious to see some pictures.
 

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You caught a break with insurance, I would not have guessed this would be a claimable item. I assume you'll still be out some $$ at the end of it but still better than having to decide whether to spend good money after bad. Seeing that this is still the only rust thread for this model maybe just a case of bad luck. I would think they corrosion dip these frames in Japan too, hard to think that could have been mucked up. If not a bad chunk of steel then the previous owner must have driven through salt water everyday and had a perfect temperature garage for rust to breed. If it were me I'd still try to get some Nissan goodwill money. Imagine if the frame collapsed at highway speed?

I'm still curious to see some pictures.
Yeah, turns out the insurance will pay for the cost to repair the break from the pothole but not the cost of the damage due to the rust. Thankfully, I talked to the adjuster and he said he'd just send a check for the $2800 that he estimated for repairs unrelated to the rust (after the deductible). I was definitely lucky that this failed when I went over a road hazard instead of just while I was driving down the highway for more than one reason. So I'll be using that, then selling the car for salvage and using that money to get a replacement vehicle. Unfortunately I won't be able to afford anything as nice as the Murano, but it'll get me a decent car that runs.

I may send in info to Nissan, even if there's no goodwill money in it. I feel kind of uncertain about it because I really have no firsthand experience with rust issues like this, but if it was a manufacturing error or something Nissan should probably know, sympathy money or no. It could have been a set of bad circumstances; now that you mention temperature, corrosion damage generally spreads faster in warmer temperatures (and with higher humidity), so maybe the amount of rust accumulating on the frame so quickly could be explained by it being poorly cared for in the North and then the spread of that corrosion damage being accelerated by the warm temperatures and humidity in the South.

I'm heading to go get the title for the car now; hopefully pictures soon!
 

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I encourage you to write to Nissan about this. The dealership can put you in touch with the District rep, and that would be a good place to start. I'm fond of saying, "If you don't ask, you don't get."
 

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Here are the pictures I got. They might not be very good because the sun was in my eyes the entire time I was taking them (it was about sunset), but hopefully they get the idea across.
 

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It's pretty hard to evaluate from a few photos. From what I see, it looks like you could bolt on new new sub-frame members and drive away. But if the mounting points on the unibody are bad, then you're out of luck unless you're going to pull everything off and weld on new underbody mounting points.

Let's face it, NOTHING is non-repairable. But whether it's economically feasible to repair some types of damage is what matters in this case.

If it were a 1966 Pontiac GTO, this would be no problem, they'd just break out the welder and have at it.
 

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Yeah, the shops I went to were all talking about having to weld on new underbody parts. They mentioned that the mounting areas were rusted as well.
 

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I'm in the same boat. My 06 Murano SL AWD (92k miles) frame snapped while my daughter was driving it. Had it towed to a dealership and was told the sub frame AND frame are rusted through and not repairable. The car is a total loss.

Thankfully she was able to control the car and get it off the road. Because there was no "accident" involved the insurance has denied any claims. I'm waiting on a district rep to call me back from Nissan. Hoping they can work with me to get her in something else.

Pics attached are from the dealership who put it up on a lift.
 

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