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I'm a fellow Southerner like Ski747 and also have rust in similar areas on my '08 Ridgeline RT. It's been in Alabama ever since new and never driven in snow/salt areas during the winter. I have rust at the suspension fittings Ski 747 posted and also on the rear half shaft housings just outboard of the rear differential VTM unit (but inboard of the CV joints). This vehicle is also garaged when it's at home. This is a little concerning for a vehicle that is designed to go off-road; IMHO Honda should have made these components out of stainless steel or, at the very least, painted them over!

I also have the minor tranny whine in top gear that has been posted a lot on this forum and an occasional rattle when going over bumps, no really big deal. Otherwise I love the truck, very dependable and it handles and drives great.
 

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I did some reading up on this and it appears that a small bit of surface rust on steel can actually be beneficial (to items that are thick to begin with, such as drive shafts, housings and suspension components), and so Honda engineers probably just figured it would be OK for the expected 15 to 20 year life of the vehicle. Obviously, such would not be the case for sheet metal parts such as fenders, hood, etc. Still, not all of the suspensions components were left bare on the and they don't all have rust, just the one component near each rear wheel and the drive shaft housings. I really don't think the additional cost of priming and painting those parts is all that much, given the already realtively high (~$30,000 new retail) cost of the RL to begin. Especially given the parts there that are already primed and/or painted.

I guess I had forgotten about it earlier, but I changed the oil on our '04 Honda Odyssey the other day and there is surface rust on the front drive shafts. So I guess this is common practice for Honda vehicles.

We also have a "00 Saturn S-series car; I'll have to check the driveshafts and suspension components on it for rust the next time I change the oil, don't remember seeing much if any previously.

I wonder if Honda Pilots have the same "features"!
 
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