Home » How Can These 20-Year-Old Pickup Trucks In Michigan Be THIS Rusty Already?

How Can These 20-Year-Old Pickup Trucks In Michigan Be THIS Rusty Already?

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My friend Jamie is from Chicago, but lives in the Detroit area. He also works for a steel company and regularly hangs out at junkyards, so it’s possible he’s seen more rust than any human in history. So when he sent me a recent picture of a completely rotted-out pickup truck, and I asked for more photos, he admitted that he didn’t think to, since it didn’t really seem like a big deal. The truck seemed fairly standard, he thought. But no, no it is not “fairly standard.”

“Passes Michigan inspection every time!” my friend sent me along with the picture of completely rotted-out white (and brown) Chevy Silverado.

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The truck is a second-generation GMT-900 Silverado, meaning at the oldest it’s a 2007 — so it’s 17 years old. That’s hardly a spring chicken, so you might expect some amount of corrosion, maybe on the rocker panels and around the wheel wells, but you’d never expect this much rust:

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Look at the rocker panels and that cab corner — they’ve gone completely Bluetooth!

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And of course, that rear wheel opening — my god, where did all the metal go?

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“That’s the Chevy Silverado, made with high-strength steel for high-strength dependability.”

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But this truck really gets crazy at the rear, where the taillight has nothign to screw to, so it’s just taped to what’s left of the bedside. The tailgate hinge is straight-up gone, and the only thing holding the gate in place appears to be the upper latch and what looks like some kind of makeshift lower lip preventing the bottom from falling out:

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Do I even want to know what’s happening on the other side of the truck? Is that the taillight that’s jutting out? Also, the bumper has a hole, and the frame/rear suspension is brown. It’s all brown, really. The whole thing is a nightmare.

Up front, there’s a fender flare that I’m guessing is there primarily to hide all the rust around the wheel.

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“Random shitbox I saw at Walmart today,” my friend Jamie wrote to me, before saying that, even though this is the worst GMT-900 he’s seen, it’s fairly standard to see vehicles like this in Michigan.

“It’s certainly nothing too interesting,” he said. “I was leaving Walmart outside of Lansing when I did a double-take and had to go back for a picture…Someone was sitting in it having lunch. They looked cozy in the sunshine.”

To prove that this isn’t an anomaly, here are some other trucks Jamie has seen driving around — this third-gen Ram 1500 (probably a 2003-2005) can be found around Ann Arbor:

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You see a lot of the same issues that the Silverado has; a rusted-through rear bumper, disintegrated metal around the rear wheel well, the bottom part of the tailgate evaporated into nothingness.

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And here’s a 2003-2005-ish Chevy Silverado that Jamie saw at a steel mill:

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Wowzers. The rocker panel is gone, and once again, it looks like the rear tire had TNT in it and blew up that whole rear wheel-opening.

All the rusty spots share a common theme: They trap dirt, salt, and moisture. Those rocker panels let in the grime and trap it; the rear wheels shoot up wet filth, which sticks to the back side of the rear bumper and to the inside of those wheel wells, rotting them out; t bed tends to trap moisture and leaves, and that rests against the bottom of that tailgate, which itself can often trap dirt and water inside itself. Anytime you have moist, dirty, salty filth sitting against metal for an extended period of time, you can expect your vehicle to undergo a weight-savings program.

That all these vehicles are legal to drive in Michigan is amazing, though I suppose as long as those frames are solid, and nothing flies off, I’m totally cool with them continuing their miserable lives losing the battle to The Tin Worm.

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As bad as these are, none will ever defeat the Detroit Diplomat as The Official Car of Michigan.

[Note: This is no disrespect to those who drive these trucks. Keeping an old workhorse on the road is a hard thing to do, and as someone who has had to do it for years in Michigan, I respect it. And not everyone can afford a newer truck. Still, it’s wild to see machines that have become so toasty in such a short period. -DT].

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James Carson
James Carson
1 month ago

In Eastern Ontario these are about average. I’ve seen trucks 6-7 years old that are nearly as bad. The roads get SALTED here. Some of the older trucks are held together by dirt and the remaining paint.

Tim R
Tim R
1 month ago

Maybe this is why Michigan has the highest auto insurance in the country? Cars are falling apart on the highway

Jalop Gold
Jalop Gold
1 month ago

If you want to see the most rust in human history, work in a shipyard (ocean, not Great Lakes). Honorary mention to mechanics for trucks that carry pool chemicals.
Growing up in PA I loved my Saturn for its rust resistance. Suspension parts still got eaten. Living in coastal SC you would Think we would all have rust free cars, but between coastal flooding and all the northern vehicles there can be nasty surprises on the used market. I will never willingly own another car (or at least not work on) that is rusty!

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
1 month ago

Living in Upstate NY, I can relate. Cars just simply don’t last long up here. A lot of people get serious undercoating put on every fall, but that can only do so much.

The difference here though is that we have inspections. Seriously Michigan, what is wrong with you?

The past couple of winters have been so mild though, that I don’t think there’s been much salt application going on.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
1 month ago

> Anytime you have moist, dirty, salty filth

Don’t threaten me with a good time

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
1 month ago

Oh hey, it’s one of my favorite songs!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIMdpruORPE

(Even more so that Eldritch wrote it to take the piss out of a band member who left. I love a petty beef. I’m a messy ‘lump who lives for drama.)

Also, this is why I tend to be pro-vehicle-inspection. It isn’t for you, the mechanically inclined person who knows if their car is in bad shape and how to handle it. It’s for oblivious types who have no clue they’ve got a vehicle in predicaments or for people who try to drive obviously dangerous vehicles well past their mechanical/structural limits and end up becoming a danger to themselves and others on the road. Your freedumbs should end when your parts fall off and end up damaging someone else’s car.

I chuckled at the truck that was spotted at the steel mill, though. I can empathize if they can’t afford a new one, but if they can…BUDDY, DO YOU NOT WANT TO SUPPORT THE BUSINESS YOU WORK AT?????

Last edited 1 month ago by Stef Schrader
Danangme69
Danangme69
1 month ago

I had a 1963 Ford F-100 that looked like that after 12 years.They have to be using liquid calcium on the roads in the winter like Pennsylvania but even then galvanized steel shouldn’t rot like that

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
1 month ago

Damn! my truck is a 2002 and rust free thanks to no salt on the roads and a dry climate. These Michigan trucks are terrifying to an Oregonian.

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
1 month ago

Oily undercoating is great. I don’t wash my car all winter. It gets waxed and liberally sprayed with Fluid Film every fall before the salt gets dumped. The underside is pristine and the rockers are solid.

Trucks like this are sort of common in western NY. Usually less extreme.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 month ago

“That’s the Chevy Silverado, made with high-strength steel for high-strength dependability.”

OK, now I want to redo that commercial after those cages have sat through 20 Michigan winters with salt sprayed on them.

Curtis Loew
Curtis Loew
1 month ago

Try living in coastal Maine. You get the ocean salt air corrosion settling on the top all year around plus 6 months of salt on the roads. Forget 20 year old, I would see 3 year old trucks with rust holes. After moving to Florida I only see rust on car that live at the beach.

Scott Ross
Scott Ross
1 month ago

while i respect keeping old vehicles running, keeping vehicles in this state should be wrong. I grew up in PA and moved to Michigan, it was a bit of culture shock not seeing inspections.

I would be driving around and there would be cars with ball joint failures. Trucks folding into itself. You’re putting yourself at risk along with other drivers. These trucks are falling apart. What happens when part of a panel flies through a windshield, would you respect that?

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