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Where Does A Golf Mk2 Rust?

Where Does A Golf Mk2 Rust?

Where Does A Golf Mk2 Rust?

I promise we've not written this article to put you off taking on an Mk2 Golf project, just to open your eyes to what could lie behind the body kit or battery in a potential new steed. Luckily for you (and to our own detriment), we have tackled a few dogs in our time, and we're here to share that experience with you. 

Whilst we'd fully recommend familiarising yourself with our Golf Mk2 Buying Guide, it is the condition of the bodywork that should be the real deal breaker, and too much rust is going to cost you both financially and mentally. 

Battery Tray 

Starting at the front, lift the bonnet and take a proper look at the battery tray positioned on your right. If it looks dubious, unbolt the clamp and lift the battery clear to allow a decent prod with something hard. Sadly older batteries have a habit of leaking, and the acid from within has a particular appetite for German metal! The good news is a battery tray repair panel isn't too costly and is a reasonably simple repair for a DIYer to tackle.

Continue your glance down the chassis leg, especially if you find something nasty at the top. This inspection will be easier with no engine fitted, but you should get a good idea of the state of play even with it in place.

Mk2 Golf Windscreen Surround

You may have spotted corrosion around the wiper holes or rust bubbles under the windscreen seal, or been alerted to an issue by wet carpets after heavy rain. Just like an iceberg, the rust will be twice as bad below the surface, so brace yourself for a bill. Replacement Golf Mk2 windshield repair panels are readily available, however, but will need small modifications for the wipers, depending on the year of your car. We also stock the wiper blanking plug and plastic cap for later cars to finish the job off nicely. 

Mk2 Golf Hood Hinge Mounts and Wheel Arches

If you find a car with no arch liners fitted, then you can really inspect the inner wings. Rust likes to congregate all down the A-pillar, from the hood hinges at the top through to the wing bolts at the bottom. The downside of a vehicle with no arch liners fitted is that it will have been subjected to more weathering than you would have liked. If you are shopping for a Driver or GTI then take precautions with the state of the steel hiding below the molded Mk2 Golf arch trims. Warning bells should sound if these have been stuck on, rather than riveted - a common trick for those running wide wheels and low suspension to gain extra clearance. 

Jacking Points and Floor Pans

Below the A-pillar, on the underside of the floor, you'll find a jacking point stump. These get knocked about by trolley jacks and catch the very worst of the winter weather. You'll be lucky if they are 100% solid. We stock some fantastic Mk2 Golf jacking point repair panels made by SSP to remedy this area, although installation is far from a ten-minute job.

It will be no surprise for you to hear other areas of the floor pan will have suffered a similar fate. If time or money is tight you might choose to tackle this with a quick MOT-friendly patch, but if the situation is more serious, or you have your eyes on keeping the car long term you may decide on replacing the floor panels themselves. 

Mk2 Golf Lower Sills

If you are hellbent on a '90 spec car you'll be taking a risk if the seller can't provide evidence on the condition of the sills behind the plastic trims. Coupled with that, there is a sill closing panel that sits along the edge of the floor (seen here with the black grommets fitted) which likes to rot out too. Earlier cars and non-GTI models that don't have these water traps fitted, tend to survive much better - you have been warned!

Door Bottoms

Catching stones flicking off the front wheels, splashing through puddles, and being the bit that always gets missed by the sponge. All of these reasons mean the bottom of your Golf Mk2 doors, could if you're unlucky, look like this. You can find our range of Mk2 Golf doors and door repair panels here

Golf Mk2 Rear Axle Mounts

Just as the front jacking points like to corrode, so do things at the rear. A reasonable rear axle mount repair panel is available, as is a genuine VW mounting panel at the time of writing. Should you have to drop the rear beam, then make allowances for the vehicle being immobilized until solid again. This job is something that might take weeks, rather than days as the examples shown below will demonstrate. 

Golf Mk2 Inner Rear Wheel Arches

The lower 20-30cm of the inner arch is likely to be caked in road grime between the inside and outside panels, just up from the rear axle mount. Picking this dirt out will probably reveal a need for new metal, just like I found when I worked on my Mk2 GTI a few years back. From experience, you'll need to make these pieces yourself. 

A hosepipe is much easier to use than a welder. Even if you don't like washing and polishing your car, this is the reason to keep it clean! 

Fuel Filler Neck

Whilst the fuel tank on the Mk2 is plastic, the gap between the filler neck and the inner wheel arch is a classic rust trap, and this continues to the inner wing-mounted filler neck bracket. You can try and check this by pulling on the filler neck, or by prodding the boot carpet (and checking underneath it) from the inside. Externally, things might look good through the filler flap, but behind the rubber boot you may find most of the original metal has rotted away, like this example (square access hole created to allow repairs to be made.) Fortunately, an outer fuel filler repair panel is available to tidy this up afterward, but the inner section will need some homemade metal repairs to be fabricated. 

Rear Suspension Mounts

At the top of the rear wheel arch, you may find the underseal has been broken or lifted away from the metal underneath, allowing for moisture to become trapped behind it. Sadly, this is another place that's almost impossible to check before buying the car, as it is hidden behind the door panel and in the dark of the wheel arch, but it could easily cause you a headache if the rust has settled in. 


There are a few areas of concern on the Mk2 Golf tailgate, and the surrounding area. The first issue is rust bubbles around the rear screen seal, these are particularly common on GTI models which have a black vinyl trim fitted. Secondly is behind the plastic handle that houses the number plate lights, and then on the inside of the tailgate around the wiring grommets at the top and the rubber bungs on the lower corners too. In lieu of a brand new item, a secondhand tailgate is the quickest way to remedy these issues. 

Rear Panel and Rear Corners

Unsurprisingly, the lower you travel down the rear panel of the second-generation Golf, the worse things become! Honestly, I think you should buy one. No, really...Just be warned! The seam with the rear quarter panel, below the taillights, seems to be a common place for corrosion to hang out, and even more on vehicles that have had accident repair work to the rear earlier in their lives. It's fixable, either with some localized repairs, or a complete rear panel if there are big dents involved too.

The horrors continue to hide below the bumper, especially on the big bumper models, or those with arch trims. I had to rebuild the inner rear corners, before tidying up the outer section and the arches on my 90-spec GTI. Once again, cardboard templates and offcuts of steel were my friends for producing intricate repair panels. The rear arch repair panels are readily available here, as are the lower rear corners if required. 

And there you have it... Where to look for rust on a Mk2 Golf. I hope you have found this useful. If you'd like more articles along these lines then please let us know in the comments. 


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