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December 2, 2013

Tips to Keep Your Vehicle from Rusting

Rust is an age-old adversary of the automobile, especially in areas that use road salt to melt ice during the winter. Not only does it look unsightly, it can also be unsafe if it strikes in structurally important areas of your vehicle. It’s not uncommon to hear stories of drivers seeing the road through their floorboards thanks to the brownish-orange plague.

Recent advances in rustproofing and paint technology have made rust less prevalent than before, but even the most modern vehicle with rust protection is still at risk of rusting under the right circumstances. This is why it’s important to find any instances of rust and stop it in its tracks.

How Does Rust Form?

Rust forms when bare metal is exposed to oxygen and water. The oxygen reacts to the chemicals in the metal, causing the surface to corrode and break down over time. Exposure to salts can speed up this process, which is why rust is such a problem in areas that use road salt during the winter. If left alone, rust will eventually eat away at the metal surface, leaving unsightly and unsafe holes in the metal.

Where to Look?

The fenders and wheel wells are good places to start finding rust. Accumulated slush and ice can spark rust in those areas, while the tires can kick up rocks and chip away paint. Rust can also form underneath the vehicle, as it’s far more likely to be exposed to moisture and road salt.

Rust also forms in places where moisture is likely to collect. Rust can get its start between the doors and lower fenders where ice and slush builds up. Areas near drain holes and pinch welds are also prime areas for rust.

How to Prevent it?

Prevention is the key when dealing with rust. By following the tips below, you can put an end to rust before it even starts:

Conduct a regular check-up of areas where rust is most likely to form. This includes the wheel wells, the drain holes along the bottom side of the doors and the undercarriage.
Cover up paint chips and nicks with touch-up paint. Rust will quickly attack any unpainted surface if given the opportunity. If rust has already set in, use fine sand paper to carefully sand the area down to the bare metal and then cover the area with touch-up paint.
Keep your car washed and waxed on a regular basis. Don’t forget to wash the undercarriage and wheel wells to dislodge any trapped dirt or road salt. If you’re traveling in areas with heavy snow and road salt, it might be a good idea to rinse your car down to remove accumulated slush and salt.
Clean your interior carpet and upholstery, as it’s easy to track salt and moisture from the outside.
If you’re buying a new car, consider having it treated with a rubberized undercoating. This will seal the undercarriage against corrosion.

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