Car rust, also known as car corrosion is one of the main enemies of your car.
If not taken care of on time, it can end up causing the car owner huge problems.
Both financially and in matters of car safety.
So, taking care of rust problems is equally important as taking care of mechanical problems.
Have this in mind as many drivers and car owners pay little or no attention until it’s too late.
To paint a picture, taking care of car rust is much like taking care of your teeth. The more you neglect, the sooner you end up without them.
WHAT IS CAR RUST (CORROSION)?
Since I’m not a chemist, I’d rather leave the explanation (chemical side) to professionals. You can read about that here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rust.
To put it simple, when car rust appears, it’s a slow but progressive process that “eats” the metal parts of the car.
WHY IS PREVENTING CAR RUST SO IMPORTANT?
Car rust attacks the most important part of the car: it’ coherence.
The car body is simply a unity of various panels and parts which are, once put together, a whole.
All the other car parts (engine, drive train, exhaust system etc.) are mounted on the car body.
Car rust essentially weakens those connections making the car unsafe and dangerous to drive.
In extreme cases of car rust, parts of the car will literally fall off !
This is the main point : preventing car rust, however dramatic this may sound, means keeping your car SAFE TO DRIVE!
Other side effects are : losing resale value, problems with selling the car privately,ruined car esthetics, costly repairs etc.
HOW DOES A CAR RUST PROBLEM START?
One reason, above all: NEGLECT!
The main enemy of a long car “life” is the improper maintenance and lack of attention from the owner.
You see, much of us take for granted all of the conditions that the car is subdued to during usage.
From weather to road conditions it’s a pretty hostile environment.
Hot summers, cold winters, dirt, moist, road-salt during winter, gravel…..the list goes on.
Considering this, it’s not all that strange that rust attacks the car.
But rust doesn’t just land on the car. As mentioned, it’s a slow and progressive process.
It usually starts from a scratch that damages the protective coating thus exposing the metal.
A few tiny spots become bigger spots which form in to rust “stains”. Then the paint starts falling off. In the final phase, chunks of what used to be metal also start falling off the car.
So, if you want to avoid these problems know that you simply must be vigilant and alert.
The moment rust shows up, take action.
SURE SIGNS OF CAR RUST
Some sure signs that car rust is appearing:
- Small bubbles on the paint (especially if you have metallic paint)
- Appearance of yellow-orange “stains” on the car body
- Car paint peeling or falling of (revealing rust).
Have in mind that once these signs appear, the rust problem is probably not isolated to that one spot.
In most cases, it’s more widespread so a thorough inspection of the surrounding body parts and panels is a wise thing to do.
MOST COMMON PLACES WHERE RUST APPEARS
Some of the main “nests” of car rust will be places like:
- the wheel arches-especially under the protective plastic above the wheel
- parts of the undercarriage (for example floor panels)
- various connections of the body part panels
- under door or boot seals
- parts of the car body that may have had repair (if the car rust protection was not done properly)
What most of them have in common is low visibility and are (mostly) hard to access. Also, most of these places tend to collect moist and water which are good starting points for car rust.
If you’ve ever had damage on the car body (for example from a car accident) and the rust protection hasn’t been done properly, car rust will surely start at some point in time.
WHAT ARE THE BEST WAYS OF PREVENTING CAR RUST (CORROSION)?
WASH THE CAR ON A REGULAR BASIS
This is the simplest but most important tip of all.
Rust and filth on the car body go hand under hand. Filth, dirt,road salt etc. form a temporary layer that is aggressive to the paint and protective coating. Leaving it on the car makes fertile ground for car rust.
This goes double during winter and rain seasons when the humidity is high, and this is what rust loves the most.
Regular washing of the car is an inexpensive prevention that will significantly prolong the car life.
Washing should be done on a regular basis and as thorough as possible.
If you have the time, a good old-fashioned wash at home is the best. The main reason is that you can get to all of those places that you wouldn’t if you were in a car wash (various small crescents in the car body, upper side of the wheel arches, undercarriage etc). A careful and thorough wash done by your own hand is priceless.
But if you don’t have the time (like most of us don’t) then you’ll just have to drive the car to the car wash (self served or other people do it for you). This is especially helpful during the winter season when washing the car at home is usually not possible and the washing is most needed.
Whatever the case may be, just wash the car on a regular basis. Don’t let the dirt and filth stay on the car for a long time.
USE PROTECTIVE COATING PRODUCTS AND WAX THE CAR
Right after washing the car, giving it a protective wax coating is a great thing to do. This is rarely done by any average car owner since it takes both time and patience.
Since the paint of the car is under constant attack from weather conditions, dust,grit, etc, the primary protective coating which comes originally on the car wears out over time.
Here’s where the protective coating comes in.
Every product of this kind is based on the principle that when it’s applied, the car has an extra layer that will protect the car body and paint.
Just think of wrapping your car in plastic kitchen foil. The basic principle is the same. In this case the foil is being rubbed in, not wrapped.
Almost all of the car waxes and protective coatings are applied on the same principle:
- Wash the car as thorough as you can
- Dry the car up as much as possible.
- Apply the protective wax coating with a cloth
- Let it dry up a bit and then rub in as much as you can. Having a polisher machine will do the job best
- Fine finish the polishing by hand with a soft cloth.
Of course, on every product you’ll have the instructions, be sure to read them before starting.
Avoid doing this procedure in strong sun light or high humidity. The point is that the car protective wax “connects” to the car body as much as possible. The better it connects, the longer it will last.
The pleasant “by-product” of every of these waxes is that the car will shine like it’s new. So at the end of the job the car will be both protected and good-looking.
Surely, a job worth spending time and a small amount of money on.
REPAIR CAR SCRATCHES THAT HAVE DAMAGED THE PROTECTIVE COATING AND PAINT-CAR RUST REPAIR METHODS
Every car will get those scratches. Parking lots, careless driving, chips from rocks or just bad luck are just some reasons for getting car scratches.
They’re not that much of a problem as long as the protective coating under the paint isn’t damaged. Minor scratches can mostly be repaired through quality polishing or using products for that purpose.
However, if the protective coating is damaged, and the metal is exposed, that’s when the rust attack begins.
The moment you see the scratch or rust forming on the damaged part, take action.
The most common rust repair method is (this is really basic and short) :
- Use protective tape and cloth to protect the rest of the car body that isn’t damaged
- Use sand paper to remove the rust and old paint
- Clean with thinner
- Use anti rust chemical to remove any rust residue
- Clean again with thinner-make sure that the surface is squeaky clean
- Apply filler and let it dry out.
- Use sand paper again to even the filler-repeat as much as needed to get a smooth surface that will blend in with the rest of the body panel.
- Clean again
This applies under the condition that the rust damage is not too severe. If it is, it’s best to change the body panel altogether.
Just be careful with the paint job. Remember, esthetics is one of the key elements in these kinds of repairs. Noticing a difference between the new paint and the rest of the body panel is not a job well done. Paint drips included.
If this procedure is not your cup of tea, see that you visit a car body shop as soon as possible.
Just like finding a good mechanic, find one that will do the job properly.
The repair (in most cases) will be done professionally and in quality and what’s most important to all car owners, you won’t know the difference.
4.MAKE A REGULAR INSPECTION OF THE CAR BODY AND UNDERCARRIAGE
This is something every car owner should do on a regular basis.
Perhaps the best time to do this is while washing the car or immediately after.
When the car is clean, you can see the body condition much better and spot any damages right away and more easily.
By making an inspection, I don’t mean “Sherlock Holmes with the magnifier” type of inspection.
Rather take a walk around the car, take a look at all of the body panels, hidden spots, crescents, wheel arches any place where there is a possibility of car rust forming.
Don’t be lazy, also take a good look under the car. The undercarriage is a major hot spot for car rust. Especially if you suspect that you may have damaged the undercarriage in some way (pothole, high curb, gravel etc).
5.KEEP YOUR CAR PROTECTED AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
Besides the mentioned methods of preventing car rust, there are some methods that don’t involve repair. These are more of a preventive nature so it would only be fair to mention them also.
Garage, shed or car cover
You wouldn’t believe how much a garage (or car cover) prolongs a car life.
Even to the point that it is financially justified to build one if you don’t have one.
It’s a one time investment that will pay off both thorough less car repair costs and better car resale value.
If you don’t have a car garage included with the house, building a car shed, either professional or improvised is a smart thing to do.
But if you don’t have the possibility of building one, you can buy a simple car cover. Better something than nothing.
The whole point is to keep the car protected while it’s not driven. This is, you’ll agree, a substantial period of the car “life”.
Also, proper winter car maintenance plays a major role in preventing car rust.
Careful driving and parking
Best way of avoiding scratches and dents: don’t get them at all.
Watch your driving: when getting out of a tight parking space don’t be shy. Ask someone to help you get out. Better that, then a scratch or damage.
Of course, know you have camera systems and park assists that can do that for you.
When you park, avoid tight spaces. Careless people opening doors on the parking lot are one of the most common sources of scratches and damage.
On the road, keep a safe distance. Especially if you’re driving on a gravel road or road of poor quality. This is the most common place where paint chips start.
Avoid, if possible, high curbs or any possible places where you can scratch or damage the undercarriage.