Rust - How bad is this?

  1. My model of MX-5 is: __NC
  2. I’m based near: __Manchester
  3. I’m looking for technical help or recommendations on: __ Should I worry about this rust

Evening all. I went to see a lovely Green Sport Black today in Mansfield. The car looked pretty clean, panel gaps OK, VIN No. stickers on boot / bonnet / door pillar areas, no noticeable damage other than age related stone chios etc. 1 owner, 64k miles. It’s been serviced each year (not by Mazda) and I’ve looked at all of the MOT’s online, only a couple advisories based on tyres & brakes binding.

This is my first MX5 and I’m not very gifted mechanically (keen ot learn once I get my new MX5). I’m conscious that rust can be a major issue on these cars so had a look / poke around. I couldn’t get under the rear wheel arch liners but did see some slight bubbling on the arches themselves (see rather blurred pictures).

I also managed to get a few pictures underneath (and a video which is all over the place from every angle). It looks a though the car has been under sealed in the past from the finish (just guessing) but there does seem to be a few areas where rust seems to be coming through the under seal.

I was planning on getting the car under sealed once I’d bought it so I’m prepared for that cost (maybe higher if they have to remove the old under seal if thats what it is)


Ultimately, from the pictures I managed to get should I worry about the rust or am I panicking over nothing?

Hope this isn’t too big a question.


Depends on cost. I looked at a few and they all had rust to some degree. I found one that was luckily fairly rust free, they do exist, but if you’re paying good money you should expect a car that won’t need money spending on bodywork anytime soon. The underbody surface rust was pretty common on a few that I looked at and there are many specialists that can deal with that for fairly consistent prices as they’ve seen it all before, but the arch rust wasn’t something i saw and would (personally) walk away from if not priced in as it involves paint to sort and that’s getting expensive.

I personally would shy away from a car that’s starting to rust through the paint finish as it’s likely to spread, especially in an area as vulnerable and constantly exposed to a blasting such as a wheel arch lip.

If the car is within a modest budget then you have to gauge the condition in accordance with what you’re paying. A car with rust that’s cheap is being priced accordingly. A car with rust coming through but priced at market value is probably worth looking around a bit more until you find something better.

I’m sure if you post up what you’re after and what you’re willing to spend people can give great advice as they did with me when I was looking. Best of luck :+1:.

If you intend to purchase this particular model, then I would put aside a big chunk to get the arches and under sealing done, along with other rust areas that will be lurking.
I would also look at the surrounds of the boot lights and side indicators, to see if they have traces of rust.
If it was an all weather car, which it looks like, then there will be a lot more rust surprises around and about.
The rear crash bar/bodywork contact points are a particular rust problem on the NC.
My Sport Black had the same issues you have shown, but no where near as bad.
There will be better ones out there but it’s all down to personal choice and cost.

It doesn’t look great from the few pics you sent. The bubbling paintwork can be fixed but you’d need to get it done professionally. It’s difficult to tell how extensive the rust is underneath. The underseal that Mazda applied in the factory was generally pretty cursory. MX5s are great wee cars but rust is a big problem. If you haven’t bought the cat yet it might be wise to walk away, there’ll be other better cars out there. If you can afford it go for the youngest car you can find.

Those return lips on the rear wheel arches have been painted before, you can see the paint line. No bad thing but it needs stripping back for a better look see.

How much of that underbody seal/rusty bits are just flakey bits or actual rust turning to holes if poked who knows. Owners won’t want you poking around with a large metal pokey thing to find out.:open_mouth:
Looking at it from the pics there’s not enough evidence to go on TBH to make a judgement.

I know where there’s a solid well looked after, no rust, no chips spanking NC available, depends on your budget.:grin::+1:


And if they do decide against their Sports Black find based on rust, Autotrader has another one (on the off chance they’re mainly after the green colour) at about the same mileage, admittedly 2 owners, and all they’d have to do is have a day trip to Glasgow :slight_smile: (sadly the seller blocked half the number plate, so no MOT viewing, but the few photos/video looked fairly good inspite of no close ups of arches and sills etc) .

Cheers for the feedback guys.

I’m not going to lie, I was hopeful it wouldn’t be too bad but that’s why I became a member here, so those that are in the know could help me avoid costly mistakes.

So the car is for sale at just under £8,000. I really like to look of the Sport Black models - the black roof & contrasting body (in all honesty I prefer the white). I’ve seen a few possible candidates disappear really quickly recently so thought I’d give the Auto Trader £99 deposit thing a go.

I looked at the car this afternoon and put a £199 (refundable) deposit on it with the garage so I assume that the best thing for me to do is give them a call and say I’ve been advised the rust issue could be more costly than I was expecting.

Kinda funny considering the one MickAP mentioned is white with a black roof and around the 64k mileage mark :wink: (though it’s also currently reduced to £11,750 so that’s somewhat higher than your “just under £8,000”).

It wasn’t exactly at the top of my budget at £8k. I’d assumed it would need some work doing to it but I’m afraid £11,750 is just too much for me.

Anyway, onwards and upwards.


You’re looking in the same sort of range that I was (but I ended up spending a little more). The cars are out there. I looked at around 4 or 5 and went back to one I’d already seen and ruled out which I turned out to be very happy with. The cars are out there and hopefully you’ll find the right one. Good luck.

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I thought I’d be lucky and drop on a good one early in my search. Unfortunately it looks like I’m going to have to do a bit of legwork. Thanks for the support Dean_S550

MickAP, just had a look at the car you have up for sale. That looks amazing! Dont suppose you’d meet half way would you :wink:

Its just surface rust and is easy fixed, if you not shy of rolling up your sleeves and having a go, then minimal cost.

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I’ll send you a private message.

Its easy to spend thousands sorting out rust and not always successful as you can see if its been done before. Look for the best car you can afford, compromise on other things that are easier to rectify if necessary. There are lots that have lived in garages and been weekend cars.

Thanks so much everyone. I managed to have a quick chat with a mechanic friend of mine this afternoon and he basically came back with the same response as most of you. Walk away and keep looking. I was holding out hope as much for the fact that I’d already started the process and just wanted to own one but thankfully everyone has helped me see sense.

I’ve learned a few things along the way but I’m sure I’ll be back on here soon asking the same things again.

I certainly don’t mind doing things myself, that’s one of the reasons I want to go for an MX5 but I need to be realistic about my ability at the moment and how deep my pockets are. I need to choose my battles.

Speaking of which, I now need to negotiate with my wife to see if I can get an increase in my budget. I can feel a few more hours of housework coming!!

Thanks again

It needs stripping back and rust killing now, if your not that person then walk away. £8k is a lot of money to spend on a project. At the beginning of the year there were 2013 cars for about that, now its spring prices go up.

Mine wasn’t that bad, but I knew i needed to do big work to stop it getting like it.

Just wondering, as it’s difficult to get a look under the wheel arch liners would one of these inspection cameras be any use?

Without taking off the liner which I appreciate people probably wouldn’t be too happy about, is there enough room to wiggle one of these underneath?

This picture tells you all you need to know

I don’t know what year it is but I would avoid. There are cars out there that haven’t been used over winter on salted roads which is the real killer. Keep looking, especially if you want a “keeper”.

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Cheers guys, off to look at a couple more over the next few days, wish me luck !!