repairing rusted rocker panel

I have a 1997 Geo Metro. One of the rocker panels is badly rusted. You can't really see it from the outside, but I'm pretty sure that a 4' x
4" section is rusted on the inside. If it can last for another 4 years or so, that would be acceptable to me. I'm coming up for a saftey on the car and was told that as long as it's reasonably covered up and there are no holes it will pass the saftey. The hole right now is 6" x 4". I'm thinking of using a fiberglass and bondo kit though it will probably fall out after awhile. The other option is to cut out all the rusted metal and weld a piece of sheet metal over it. The problem is that this metal will have to be shaped around the contour of the rocker panel. I got an estimate of $500 to do this. The rest of the body is in pretty good condition, but I'm a little short of bread and question if the value of the car is worth putting at least $500 into repairing it. My questions are: 1) how long do you think the rocker panel will last if I don't fix it 2) what do you think is the best solution.
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Impossible to say without actually seeing it. Got a photo?

Pretty much anything that gets past the inspection is OK. If I were you, I'd cover it up with sheet aluminum and sheet metal screws, then spray paint it. That solution will last the longest.
I know some folks have strong opinions about the integrity of the outer rocker panels, but these are relatively unimportant in modern cars. The rocker panel assembly consists of three sections boxed together. It's the outer one everybody's concerned about because it's the one you can see.
Where I live, it's not uncommon to see 15-20 year-old cars (notably Hondas and Ford Aerostars) with their outer rocker panels completely gone. When these cars are raised on hoists, the structure appears unaffected by the loss of the outer panel. The doors can still be opened and closed as normal.
Patch 'er up and forget about it.
--
TeGGeR


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Thanks for the advice. Did you mean I should get rid of all the rust first? Also, I guess I should drill small holes first and then use scews, then bondo it, and sand it smooth.
TeGGeR wrote:

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In your case, it's not necessary to do anything at all about the existing rust. You're just trying to (as cheaply as possible) make a car pass inspection for a few years. If you take a longer-term view, then some consideration should be given to slowing corrosion.
Just make sure the aluminum covers the affected area sufficiently to allow for rust consumption.
You can drill holes for the sheet metal screws if you like, but if you use a drill with a screwdriver bit, the screw will make its own hole. The "drill your own hole" approach works better in Canada, with our Robertson square-head screws. It can get a bit difficult to keep Phillips screws seated in the bit while pushing hard on the drill.
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If it were mine I'd put duct tape over it, then spraypaint over it. Once rust gets started like that, the only way to really repair it is to cut away all the affected metal, grind out all the rust, then assess where you are and start welding in new metal.
Ted
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