Fixing rocker panel rust

ottoman

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 25, 2005
Location
Minnesota
TDI
2003 Jetta wagon ALH
The rocker panels on my '03 Jetta wagon have gotten bad enough that I want to perform a proper repair on them; cut off the old ones and weld on new. I plan to keep my car for a while still so I want to purchase new steel and not cut off from an existing, might be rusting, car. The rocker panels are easy enough to source but there are metal caps (or plugs) that fit into the front and back ends of the rocker panel sealing off the inside. On the front behind front tires, this piece is also where the front quarter panel screws into. Uhoh references them in his post here:

https://forums.tdiclub.com/index.php?threads/rocker-panel-rust-repair.422301/post-5276493

I have not been successful finding this part anywhere. Does anyone know where I might be able to source them from?
 

BobnOH

not-a-mechanic
Joined
May 29, 2004
Location
central Ohio
TDI
New Beetle 2003 manual
I got an estimate from a good body shop a while ago. It was most of $400- per side. To cut out all the rot, weld in new steel, finish and paint.
This is why many try to get creative with these damn rockers.
 

ottoman

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 25, 2005
Location
Minnesota
TDI
2003 Jetta wagon ALH
I called a local dealer just to see if they could give me the part number for what I'm trying to find, but they were extremely confused as well. I'm hoping someone here has an idea of what I'm talking about.
 

IndigoBlueWagon

TDIClub Enthusiast, Principal IDParts, Vendor , w/
Joined
Aug 16, 2004
Location
South of Boston
TDI
'97 Passat, '99.5 Golf, '02 Jetta Wagon, '15 GSW
I don't see a part number for that plug in the VW catalog. The rocker is part of the complete side panel for the body of the car, and I wonder if the cap is part of that panel.

I got the rockers repaired for the second time this past Spring. The driver's side was in pretty bad shape, the passenger side was not bad at all: that one had required more extensive repair last time (6 years ago). I also replaced the fenders, again, this time with better undercoating. With electrolysis, undercoating, and paint, cost was around $2K, not including the fenders, which I provided. Not cheap, but I hope I won't have to do it again. And the car looks like it did when new. It's hard enough to find a body shop willing to do that kind of work.
 

tgray

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2004
Location
Marengo, IL
TDI
'02 Beetle, '05 Golf, 2000 Jetta, 2001 Jetta, 2002 Jetta
I am just redoing mine on a Golf. (I bought the Golf this way) I am doing it all in fiberglass and laid some cling wrap on a good part for a mold. Cut out the rot to where I can get to what I need to coat with a rust preventing primer and paint. Then I remove all the chip guard around where I am going to work and fiberglass laminate it all back to shape. The problem I have with welding is it does not deal with the back side raw metal. It also ruins any factory rust proofing around the weld. It looks good for a while but once the salt and moisture get in it all goes down hill in a hurry. With fiberglass and bondo to finish, I can clean, prime with zinc. Laminate over the existing good paint and really seal things up. The rockers are not so much of the structure but more of a splash guard for the structure. The key in these repairs is to seal or protect the metal completely and then coat it all with something like fluid film in case water does get in. As well, make sure it has a path to drain out. I find VW did such a good job of putting on the thick coat of rock chip protection that the metal rots away from behind until you realize there is nothing there. Maybe for a show car you want to stick with all metal but what I do will last and look good when done right.
 

turbocharged798

Veteran Member
Joined
May 21, 2009
Location
Ellenville, NY
TDI
99.5 black ALH Jetta;09 Gasser Jetta
Try PNs 1J0810222 and 1J0810221 for the rocker panel end caps. I have a few stashed away in case they become NLA from VW.
 

IndigoBlueWagon

TDIClub Enthusiast, Principal IDParts, Vendor , w/
Joined
Aug 16, 2004
Location
South of Boston
TDI
'97 Passat, '99.5 Golf, '02 Jetta Wagon, '15 GSW
Rocker rust starts in two locations. Top: Debris collects behind the front fenders, holds moisture, and corrodes the rocker. And bottom: Moisture gets into the pinch weld where the rocker attaches to the floor pan and migrates up and rusts. This happens mostly when the car's been lifted incorrectly and the pinch weld gets bent over and compromised. Very common.

Keeping the area behind the front fenders clean and not jacking the car on the pinch weld helps. But it's not foolproof, as my experience shows. The good news is that these cars have good enough rust prevention that there are few other areas that rust easily, as long as you keep the car clean and waxed. Tailgates on Wagons and Golfs can rust, but that's less common.

I had second thoughts about this last repair on IBW. After all, the car is 18 years old with over 400K miles on it. Was it really worth it? But at the end I realized I'm just not ready to stop driving this car. Glad I did it.
 

TDI MkIV

Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2020
Location
Ontario, Canada
TDI
2004 Jetta Sport TDI PD
The rocker panels on my '03 Jetta wagon have gotten bad enough that I want to perform a proper repair on them; cut off the old ones and weld on new. I plan to keep my car for a while still so I want to purchase new steel and not cut off from an existing, might be rusting, car. The rocker panels are easy enough to source but there are metal caps (or plugs) that fit into the front and back ends of the rocker panel sealing off the inside. On the front behind front tires, this piece is also where the front quarter panel screws into. Uhoh references them in his post here:

https://forums.tdiclub.com/index.php?threads/rocker-panel-rust-repair.422301/post-5276493

I have not been successful finding this part anywhere. Does anyone know where I might be able to source them from?
Where did you find the rockers themselves? I am in the middle of a rust repair at the moment on my Jetta, I can’t find the part i need anywhere, so I’ve been forced to fabricate it myself. It’s the bottom curves of the car, that little curve and angled piece at tho bottom of the body. I’m not describing it well, but I can’t find a piece anywhere. If the car rusts again, I’m replacing everything with carbon fibre.
 

fatmobile

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 16, 2019
Location
north iowa
TDI
an ALH M-TDI in a MK2, a 2000 Jetta
We're not talking a big piece right?
Just the area behind the front wheels?
How long is it?
I've been replacing my rabbit holes with stainless.
Bigger pieces and more curves than that small piece of rocker.
It could probably be hammered out and might as well make it stainless.
 

ottoman

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 25, 2005
Location
Minnesota
TDI
2003 Jetta wagon ALH
Where did you find the rockers themselves? I am in the middle of a rust repair at the moment on my Jetta, I can’t find the part i need anywhere, so I’ve been forced to fabricate it myself. It’s the bottom curves of the car, that little curve and angled piece at tho bottom of the body. I’m not describing it well, but I can’t find a piece anywhere. If the car rusts again, I’m replacing everything with carbon fibre.
Here is a link to the rockers I ordered from Mill Supply.
I was going to order them from Raybuck but their shipping times are 2-3 weeks out right now.
I am also acquiring everything I need for the repair to last a long time: weld-through primer, metal etching primer, seam sealer, rocker panel spray, urethane paint, brush on rubberized undercoating. Before I glue the end plates/caps in place, I will be coating the inside of the newly attached rockers with protective wax. I love this car and want it to go as long as it can.
 

tgray

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2004
Location
Marengo, IL
TDI
'02 Beetle, '05 Golf, 2000 Jetta, 2001 Jetta, 2002 Jetta
Why you don't want to ever use rubberized undercoating. I can speak from experience on this as well The only thing I use undercoating for is when I get spray paint on the plastic fender liner.
What I will be doing on the car I am repairing is to clean everything to bare metal if needed and prime with a zinc based primer. I then cover over with a urethane caulk. Much stronger than the undercoating and more flexible like the factory original stuff. The key is to seal everything from the moisture on the outside. Then on the inside I will flood or coat the other side with something like fluid film to run down into the pores. The biggest problem is when you do the outside right you can't see what is happening on the inside until it spreads all over under the coating and rots the steel away. I will use rocker panel rock chip coating as well on the visible parts. The Golf I am working on right now looked so good when I bought it and half the rocker was rotted out under the rock chip spray from the water getting inside. There wasn't hardly even a bubble.
 

ottoman

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 25, 2005
Location
Minnesota
TDI
2003 Jetta wagon ALH
Well, you just changed my mind about the undercoating. I have been putting CRC Heavy Duty Corrosion Inhibitor on the underside and suspension components of my '03 Jetta since doing a full suspension rebuild a while ago and absolutely zero rust has shown up. I'll just keep doing that.
 

fatmobile

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 16, 2019
Location
north iowa
TDI
an ALH M-TDI in a MK2, a 2000 Jetta
I've never heard of that.
I know CRC makes SP400 extreme corrosion inhibitor.
It's a brown wax type that gets put on every year, before winter.
Is the heavy duty stuff a brown wax?
 
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