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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
If you have fender flares, do yourself a favor and have a look under them. This is my Dakota at 12 years old, spending it's whole life in Michigan. When I bought the truck it had not been taken care of really well, and when I did look deeper, it was sickening.

Front Fender


Rear Fender


Pass Rear Fender
You can see the bulge forming, so I removed it and saw what lurked beneath the flare.





I hope yours don't look like this!
 

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I've got those flares and I'll be sure to keep an eye on that even though I don't live in an area with a lot of snow and salt on the roads.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Oddly enough, the passengers side front had zero rust, and the other 3 were beyond repair. As you can see, the front fender was too far gone and now you can see it with the flares back on.
 

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wow! i will be checking mine, but my truck has never been outside NC so if it has some hopefully wont be that bad

thats too bad man
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
wow! i will be checking mine, but my truck has never been outside NC so if it has some hopefully wont be that bad

thats too bad man
If you have water at all getting behind the flares and sitting there, you still have the potential for damage. The flares have the 6-10 screws holding it on, but also has double sided tape, so be careful. I would honestly make an effort to check one the flares to make sure if there is damage, you know about it before it's too late.
 

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I've always wondered about this.

our '98 dakota didn't have the flares, but had the rusty bumpers. the '04 had the flares, and aside from them being eaten up from the debris from the tires they were fine. mind you we only had it for 2-3 years.

i have to say though, dakotas with flares > dakotas with out flares
 

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Wow I did this check when I had my Dakota and I still had some rust there not that bad and mine was owned by my dad than me for a total of about 160k miles and washed weekely good pics and good looks letting a warning out
 

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Yeah, I had a '95 with flares from Ohio with flares. I had rust holes come through the drivers side rocker panel and just starting on the passenger side. I felt up under the drivers side rear wheel well (carefully - you can easily get cut on that rust) and could feel the rust holes. Passenger side wasn't as bad but it was rusted as well. Didn't bother to check the front ones - figured they were bad too. Just sold the truck. I got ten years use out of it. Had to replace all brake lines and parking brake cables due to rust as well. If you have that kind of rust in the wheel wells, you probably have the same kind of thing going on with everything else under the truck. BTW My flares were not glued on so it could have been possible to flush out the salt from behind them if I had known what was happening. My '93 didn't have flares and my '98 doesn't and it won't get them either. They look nice, but not worth the rust hassle.
 

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Hidden Rust

View attachment 501 I put new fenders on my truck yesterday after finding this.
Yup been there with the 96 as soon as I can get it back on the road the 95 has the same issues, Wisconsin still uses salt on the roads in the winter and thise fender flares that were put on just hold it all in there. Both my door bottoms were gone as well
 

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I bought my 2000 with body damage from and accident on the passenger rear cab corner. The rest of the truck looked really good for its age with just minor dings and scratches and no visible rust.mFell in love with the truck so brought it in to have a complete paint job done and all dings and scratches repaired as well as the broken windshield replaced. Thankfully the body shop owner is a long time friend and is giving me a deal otherwise I'd ended up scrapping the truck!

Upon beginning to prep the body the body put his sander through the rocker and started tapping on panels with a hammer. So far they've replaced both rockers, door bottoms, cab corners and now doing base of windshield as it also pulled out with the windshield! My friend is convinced that something happened at the factory as the truck is rotten from the inside out and it was the paint holding the rusted metal together. The underside of the truck body/frame is very clean, fenders and box clean and nearly rust free but the cab was rusted from the inside out.

Just food for thought when checking out your dakota!
 

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Yeah, I found a similar problem with my Dakota. But you might want to check much deeper then whats under the fender flares, because if you have rust there, it's likely spread everywhere. In my case. I discovered that the cab was rusted out around the front cab mounts. In fact shortly after I discovered the rust, as I continued to drive the truck, the left front body mount broke free from the cab and the right front side wasn't far behind. This meant that I only had two out of four cab mounts still intact. Only the front fenders were supporting the front half of the cab and they were rusty too. Besides this, I also discovered that the rocker panels were rusted out and the floors under the driver's seat was rusted out. When I discovered how bad the cab really was and how little was left holding it on to the frame, and how dangerous it had become. I seriously considered junking the truck. But in the end I couldn't bring myself to just throwing away a perfectly fine running truck. So, I replaced the entire cab, and upgraded to a Quad Cab instead of just replacing with an identical club cab. I replaced both fenders with rust free units and built a custom bed for it. The new cab was completely rust free and the frame only had some minor surface rust. It was a ton of work, but I saved the truck

Personally I hate dealing with rust. It's the worst type of damage to repair, because if you don't get it all, it just comes back again. It truly is a form of cancer and will bring the demise of a truck, in short time. If given a choice, it's better to replace a rusted fender than try to fix it. I'd even replace an entire bed or build a custom bed than patch in metal panels. Do whatever it takes to cut out, or absolutely kill the rust, because if you take short cuts, or you miss a spot, it will come back.

Ed
 

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my truck here in iowa was rusty like yours,so I put flares on it to hide the rust for awhile.Unfortunatly the cost to repair these issues is usually more than the trucks are worth! I work in a collision repair shop,so I'm gonna let mine go till it gets real bad and look for another truck. sorry you had to find out about yours this way :-(
 

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My 2001 has flares and I thought about taking them off to see what was under them, but I decided that ignorance is bliss and I will just clean real well and then run a very thin bead of clear silicone caulk where the arch of the flare meets the side of the truck. I don't know if these flares was sealed in some way around the top arch or not.

I realize that this will only slow the rusting process but it will at least keep water from entering from the top side anyway.
My truck has pockets of rust that is so far is not visible or known by anyone but me and I figure that instead of chasing and repairing rust as it pops up and spending thousands of dollars doing so, I'm just going to drive the dang thing until it falls apart since I don't have thousands of dollars just laying around for body work.
 

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I'm just going to drive the dang thing until it falls apart since I don't have thousands of dollars just laying around for body work.
That's about the smartest thing I've heard. Might as well just use the truck for it's purpose rather than believing it's an incredibly nice, rare car, unless you have the money to fix all the rust or buy a pristine truck, essentially pointless.
 

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I just got a very clean looking '96 Dakota a couple of weeks ago. the only obvious visible rust is the dogleg of the passenger fender, and a little bit starting in the front corners behind the bumper. the cab and bed look awesome. I went to the junkyard today and wouldn't you know it, out of about a dozen square body Dakotas to choose from in this yard, there is one '87 (1st year made!) that stands out. The windshield is marked "RUNS&DRIVES" and boy is it clean! I honestly do not know why it was junked.... 3.9/5 speed. It is the oldest Dakota in the yard and it's the one in the best condition... weird. One thing that stands out is the lack of the fender trim on the 87 that the 96 has.... I will have to pull it from my 96 and put back on once I swap fenders. I am debating on leaving it off, and pulling the ones from over the rear wheels.... permanently, for exactly the reason as shown in the OP.
I also have an 01 Durango (strangely, also white like this Dakota) that I hit a deer with a few years ago. I went junking and bought a nice fender for it as well. Though there are a gazillion of them in the yards I held out for one that was rust free and the same color as it was cheaper than having to have one repainted.
I pulled the molding off of that replacement fender and waxed the S#!t out of it before I put the molding back on....
 

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I just repainted my 92, when I pulled the Flares off, no 3m tape, just the screws holding them on, and no rust, not even through the paint, but Now they have an extra coat on there.. Glad its a NW truck, we don't use much salt on the roads here..
 
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