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Fixing rocker panel rust - 99 s70

Help, Advice and DIY Tutorials on Volvo's extremely popular car line -- Volvo's 1990s "bread and butter" cars -- powered by the ubiquitous and durable Volvo inline 5-cylinder engine.

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Fixing rocker panel rust - 99 s70

Post by smacknab » Sun Apr 12, 2020 2:47 pm

I was prepping for handling some small rust spots when I realized it was way worse than I thought. The rest hidden behind the rocker panel cover is totally gone through. I haven't gotten the cover off, but at this point I figure I have to cut and make some new metal or just cut(?) one off another car. I'm starting this thread to document what I find along the way, but if anyone has tips for handling rotted rocker panels on this car, I'd appreciate the tips!

My next steps are to talk to some metalworking guys from my maker space for more beta and try to see which friends with welders I can enlist to help me out.

For the panels themselves, does anyone have advice for where/how to source a replacement panel?

The photos are from driver's side under the rear door
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99 s70 NA m56 - >213k miles

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Re: Fixing rocker panel rust - 99 s70

Post by abscate » Sun Apr 12, 2020 3:20 pm

New panels unaffordable

Used parts cheap. Bring your Sawzall to Albany post apocalypse
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Re: Fixing rocker panel rust - 99 s70

Post by smacknab » Fri May 15, 2020 9:56 am

Got the panel off and brought it to a guy from my maker space who does custom body work. He said it looks like someone jacked it up by the wrong spot, or maybe a big rock or curb?

He said it seems manageable and the best thing would be a donor panel to cut out and weld in after cleaning it up. He also said I could fabricate the lower part out of 16 gauge blanks since it's getting covered by the rocker cover. He said left alone as it is now it' be good for another 1-2 years.

Has anyone had luck with junkyard rockers cut out and welded in?
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99 s70 NA m56 - >213k miles

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Re: Fixing rocker panel rust - 99 s70

Post by Chuck W » Fri May 15, 2020 4:27 pm

Erg...

I would just find another car at that point.

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Re: Fixing rocker panel rust - 99 s70

Post by Clemens » Sun May 17, 2020 6:54 am

Wow, this is really horrible. I have a rusty wagon for the winter, but it isn't nearly as bad. That needs to be addressed soon. I wouldn't want to be in an accident with these rusty rockers.
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Re: Fixing rocker panel rust - 99 s70

Post by Sveedy » Sun May 17, 2020 9:03 am

If that's any indication, then you certainly have metal termites in other areas as well.
Switching the drive train etc would be easier, IMHO. Keep your eyes out for a donor car.
You'd just be looking for a good body with no brains, so that should be cheap.
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Re: Fixing rocker panel rust - 99 s70

Post by abscate » Sun May 17, 2020 2:08 pm

Yes, someone damaged that to get that sort of rust, These cars just don't rust out like that without help

For a metal guy, not a hard repair with a donor piece.
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Re: Fixing rocker panel rust - 99 s70

Post by Sveedy » Sun May 17, 2020 2:55 pm

Any other rust, or just there ? The way the holes lines up with the rust out, and no other damage inboard from say hitting something, I'd bet that things were at least somewhat compromised before someone bent it all out like that. Looks like it sat leaning with that whole corner holding water for decades . Reminds me of my old '65 Mustang convertible - was great till I had to jack up the car to close the doors.
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Re: Fixing rocker panel rust - 99 s70

Post by Eddystone » Mon May 18, 2020 12:23 pm

Seems unusual for a Volvo even in the Northern Northeast. My guess would be that there was, indeed, damage that allowed water and salt to get in but not necessarily drain out. I'll bet that if someone had just drilled a hole in the right place for water to drain and the area to dry this could have been avoided. I started out many years ago with various British cars from the 60's, and most of the typical rust areas were basically designed in by the engineers. They were often places where salty mud would naturally accumulate and stay moist.In most areas of the USA, you had a chance of avoiding this, but there was something about the United Kingdom (average humidity? salt content in the air? rust gnomes?) that just played right into the hands of the rust devil. I would read Practical Classics and every month see another MGB that was totally rusted out being rebuilt. Many of these cars we would have just thrown away in the USA, but then we had a lot more old MGBs to choose from in the USA than they did in England, and most of ours were in better shape in terms of rust. I actually had a project '67 BGT that I did some amateur welding on. The parts I rebuilt would have lasted a couple of hundred years, but the whole car needed work. Back then, cars didn't get shipped all over the continent, so you worked with what you could find locally. Once you knew a particular model, you knew exactly where to check out a possible purchase for rust. In P6 Rovers, there is a small but deep well under the back seat that is actually the point that the rear suspension hangs off of. People used to think I was crazy pulling up the rear seat cushions and pulling the sound deadening felt out of that hole, but you had to check. As far as late 90's P80 Volvos are concerned, I'm not aware of chronic rust areas. That car in the photos is really quite bad, to say the least.
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Re: Fixing rocker panel rust - 99 s70

Post by j-dawg » Mon May 18, 2020 9:04 pm

Super unusual. I did a rocker replacement on my old Toyota. If you know how to weld it's not terrible, but if the rust goes deep there's a lot of fabrication involved. Once it's through the surface it always goes farther than you expect.

Obviously up to you to decide if it's worth repairing but I'd start looking for a replacement if I were in your position. That spot looks pretty important structurally and includes features related to the door, so safety, sealing, and alignment will be dependent on your ability to make and/or weld that part in just right. Not easy.

As for where to get the panels, grab a grinder or Sawzall and head to a junkyard. Cut several inches past what you think you need. Check forums for people parting their cars out, too.
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