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Firewall Rust

Discussion in 'VE Holden Commodore (2006 - 2013)' started by Rusty09, Jul 17, 2019.

  1. Rusty09

    Rusty09 New Member

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    I have a 09 SSV with a rust hole in the firewall near the accelerator pedal.
    I found the hole after several weeks of trying to understand why my carpet
    was soaked.

    Holden has advised a repair estimate of $7600
    They classed it as general wear and tear.

    Any advise would be appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2019
  2. rambunctious

    rambunctious Well-Known Member

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    Hmmm, The car is 10 years old, what is your question ??
     
  3. Fu Manchu

    Fu Manchu Well-Known Member

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    You need to see some of my posts.
    Have just completed this very repair.

    I believe it is a design fault with the panel. Mild steel and the rust starts where the welds are made.

    I got a replacement panel new and checked it over for weak spots first. I then treated it with a high zinc spray.

    I was devastated when I found the rust while removing the dash to replace the evaporator in the ac.

    It is a big job. Huge.

    Remove the entire dash.
    Remove the steering wheel
    Remove the insulation panels in the engine bay
    Remove the wiper cowl and wiper mechanism.
    Unbolt the brake booster from the master cylinder.
    Unbolt the pedal panel

    Not all the insulation panels are made for series 1.
    Series 2, you can still get insulation panels to replace the old ones.

    If I hadn’t been doing the ac, I would have found out about the rust by having the brakes go through the fire wall at an intersection.

    I am yet to do a write up on the jobs involved. There is almost no info on doing it yourself.

    Suggest replacing AC evaporator and heater core at same time because you don’t want to do this again later.

    *The photo of the firewall inside and out is after I did the repairs and spraying.
     

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    Last edited: Jul 17, 2019
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  4. Calaber

    Calaber Nil Bastardo Carborundum

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    Fu.
    It's a damned shame that plate is so complicated to remove, seeing that it's actually a separate removable component. I suppose the consolation is that it IS removable rather than part of the firewall or floor pressings. From your description of the work involved, you would have to weigh up whether to have the car repaired or junk it if it was close in value to the cost of repair by a workshop. . Tough call if its otherwise a good car or a top spec one.
     
  5. Dayvo

    Dayvo Because i can

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    Is the rust visible from under the bonnet or inside the car or do you have to first remove some components ?
     
  6. lowandslow

    lowandslow Well-Known Member

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    Jesus Christ. 10 years old and you get that? Poor form.
    Can you check for it easily?
     
  7. wetwork65

    wetwork65 A wet business

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  8. Fu Manchu

    Fu Manchu Well-Known Member

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    This panel goes in with the whole HVAC system in one go during assembly.

    In VF, the same panel is made from a high density plastic, however it is a totally different shape to the VE. This to me, suggests Holden were well and truly aware of this issue.

    I think every VE owner should get in there and check behind the insulation.

    It was when I had to remove the accelerator while removing the instrument pad assembly that I discovered mine. Finger went right through the rust. The pedal was loose from the plate, if not from a few mm of metal still hanging in there.

    This rust can not be fixed or patched with it remaining in the car.

    I had to treat the firewall for surface rust (due to the rust from the pedal plate) and do some respraying in that area.

    I suspect that it was a few things coming together with this.
    1. Leaking heater hoses (replaced with updated part number).
    2. Insulation panels leaching the seeping coolant through onto the pedal plate.
    3. Poor welds on studs and brackets welded to the pedal plate. Welds go through the metal and create weak spots prone to the rust.

    The panel is sealed with an unusual expanded foam rather than a sealant.
    This comes applied to the panel when new.

    If that foam was available in a tube or applicator, then I’d suggest having that plate electroplated before installing.

    Maybe someone could cad design a 3D printed plastic replacement?

    I chose not to reinstall firewall insulation behind the brake booster and over the pedal plate. Instead I made a foam sound insulation panel for the inside of the car. To go behind the factory one that hides most of this rust.

    In hindsight, I would have made another to go the whole way along the firewall inside behind the factory sound insulation as well.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2019
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  9. Fu Manchu

    Fu Manchu Well-Known Member

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    The assembly of the HVAC and the brake booster etc can be seen at 6:50 in this:

     
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  10. Fu Manchu

    Fu Manchu Well-Known Member

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    When I found it, my heart sank. We need this car and can't afford to replace it. My neighbour is a panel beater and was going to see if their shop could do the repair if I prepped it for them. Then I found that it is a panel that is bolted to the firewall and things looked up a bit more. I didn't sleep so well for a few nights. Was hard to tell my wife thats for sure.
     
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  11. Fu Manchu

    Fu Manchu Well-Known Member

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  12. Rusty09

    Rusty09 New Member

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    Thankyou Fu,

    Your information is has been very helpful. Looks like I have exactly the same problem (see attached photo)
    I understand the cars are old but this is surely a design fault. The plate looks very thin and the coating is
    very poor compared to the underside of the car. How long did the repair take you ? Looks huge like you said
     

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  13. Fu Manchu

    Fu Manchu Well-Known Member

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    That’s the exact view I first saw.

    I still have the car off the road 4mths later however have been doing many other things at the same time and only have about an hour a week at best.

    If I had a how to for removing the instrument assembly I could have had all the interior out in a few hours.

    Cleaning the HVAC two days. Disassemble, clean, condition, reassemble with new seals.

    Reassembling was much quicker.

    Painting the new pedal plate.
    And cleaning up all the nuts with captive washers that hold it (no longer available new) is a couple of hours all up over two days. I painted mine with black zinc galv paint.

    Get a genuine evaporator and heater core. I tried two aftermarket ones that didn’t fit and then all the delays around that.

    New heater hoses (genuine)

    Insulation panels

    I also had to replace the ac liquid line from the hvac to the condenser at the front of the car. Found that out after removing the bumper.

    Various interior clips

    New seals from Clark blubber and an ac shop.

    Foam sound insulation with foil backing from Clark rubber

    Oh. Had to fix rust on the brake booster also. Wire brush and some black zinc galv, then satin black and some clear gloss. Looks way better than factory.

    The clips for the wiper shroud.

    Lots of zip lock bags of various sizes for bagging screws etc as you remove them and write on the bag what they are for.

    Had plastic crates for the bigger interior parts.

    Mobile AC guy to degas the AC

    New AC seals for the Thermal expansion valve. (Genuine) after getting after market that didn’t fit either.

    Rubber grease to treat the floor seal drain for the HVAC.

    Oh rust converter etc for the firewall for cleaning off surface rust.
    Paint for respraying the area.
    Plastic for masking off the area.
    Masking tape

    New corrugated tube for some of the engine bay wiring harness with fresh tape around it.

    I would have also removed the front seats in hindsight, only for the reason of making things a bit easier.

    I have done lots of other jobs on this at the same time though.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2019
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  14. Happydaze

    Happydaze Happydaze

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    My friend has the same issue in a 2007 HSV, car was a one owner immaculate condition with 69000k’s, sold secondhand from the same dealer it was originally purchased from, car now has 90000k’s, rust in the pedal plate was discovered by accident. Holden dismissed it as “caused by external influences” and “not a manufacture fault”. Quoted repair cost $1860 labour $170 for pedal plate and bracket. Pretty obvious it is a manufacturing fault.
    Must be a heap of VE’s out there with the same issue.
     
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  15. wetwork65

    wetwork65 A wet business

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    This is a fantastic set of information Fu.
    Looks like a classic "poultice" on this plate, maybe Holden thought engine heat would keep it dry. But putting heat in a plate like this, by welding, should always have been avoided. This was a goal for me when I designed engineering structures.
    The amount of effort you have gone to is huge. Almost makes me pleased I don't have a VE or I would be continuously looking out for rust at this area.
    Would be like owning a ZB.
     
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  16. gossie

    gossie Well-Known Member

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    Well well what a disturbing post this is.
    I got my decent torch out, pulled that part back exposing the metal, and all there is on my VE is black painted metal with absolutely NO sign of rust.
    Am I lucky perhaps? The car has been garaged most of it's life except when being away, but has of course been out in the rain at times over the years.
     
  17. wetwork65

    wetwork65 A wet business

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    Oh-so-easy to insert the dashboard through the windscreen cavity with the right equipment, at 9:24.
    Compared to taking it out again part by part in the driveway to do the job Fu has done.
    Commentary at 12:42 made me smile - "the right coloured doors meet the right coloured body". Maybe it is not as obvious to an assembly worker as it might seem.
    And to add to my comment above, a leaking heater hose would have kept the wadding nicely wet.
     
  18. Rusty09

    Rusty09 New Member

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    Ticking time bomb for all Ve Owners and most likely VF's as well.

    I did contact Holden about this problem and i can beleive how poorly i was treated.
    I called customer "care" and spoke to a person who said because the car is 10 years old "its case closed" his words.
    I then asked to speak to a manager or supervisor.The guy put me on hold then came back and said the supervisor was not willing to talk to me
    because he was to busy.
    At the time I was just enquiring if it was a known manufacturing fault and asked for a drawing of the firewall because at that point
    i didnt even know what i was up against.
    He said he cant provide those details because they are confidential.
     
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  19. Rusty09

    Rusty09 New Member

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    Gossie,

    The rust starts from the outside so you wont know you have the problem until you have a hole. see Fu Manchu's photo
     
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  20. Fu Manchu

    Fu Manchu Well-Known Member

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    The issue won’t be on VF’s

    While doing this job, I spent a heap of time trying to find out about the details of removing it. The factory manual does not provide much detail when it comes to this task. It’s quite vague which is unusual for a detailed factory manual.

    The VF had an aluminum firewall from what I have been able to make out and that panel is high density plastic.


    I agree that the scale of this issue could be be huge!
    It directly affects the 5 star safety of the car and was there from point of manufacture. That area also had a revised safety improvement under the steering column or somewhere like that to improve the safety rating.

    When I was getting parts from wreckers, I saw these plates in several showing signs of more than surface rust. I browsed eBay as well and you can see them with rust there as well. They are often sold for manual conversions.

    An aftermarket cad designed highdensity 3D printed replacement would solve the issue.

    The whole body of the car is electroplated but this pedal plate is not. The plate holds brakes and accelerator and clutch FFS.
     

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