A little bit of rust can turn an otherwise flawless vehicle into an undesirable jalopy in no time. Ok, maybe “jalopy” is a bit harsh, but nobody likes the look of a car crawling with rust. Not only is it visually unpleasant, but it’s also unhealthy for the car itself. Here are some things every car owner needs to know about how to protect a car from rust.
WHAT IS RUST?
Technically, rust is a reddish-brown, flaky coating of iron oxide that forms on iron or steel by oxidation – especially in the presence of moisture. In layman’s terms, rust is simply a visual sign of corrosion. This type of corrosion can deeply weaken a vehicle’s structure, and render other parts of the vehicle completely useless until they’re replaced.
COMMON CAUSES OF RUST
Every car has the potential to experience rust in its lifetime, but the three most common causes of rust are location, weather and neglect. Here’s what we mean.
- Location – The closer you live to the ocean, the more likely your car is to experience the damaging effects of salt water. Salt water can be very corrosive to metal, therefore instigating and / or speeding up the rusting process.
- Weather – If you live in a climate where harsh winters and slippery roads call for lots of salt, your car is definitely more likely to rust. Rust typically forms first on the underbody of a vehicle, so be sure to check and wash that area regularly. Rain can also make your car go rusty – especially if your vehicle is regularly left outside.
- Improper Care – While rust is sometimes unavoidable, it’s also important to do what you can to protect your vehicle from the elements. Putting your car on a regular washing and waxing routine can go a long way in preventing rust. As mentioned above, storing your car in a garage or at least out of direct sun and rain can help tremendously as well.
HOW TO PREVENT RUST
Here are six things you can do to help protect your car from rust.
- Keep your vehicle clean! Get regular car washes and even splurge on the occasional under-body flush. This will keep your car’s body and underside clean of the dirt, grime and salts that lead to rust corrosion.
- The second most important thing you can do to prevent rust comes from Popular Mechanics. Check the drain holes along the bottoms of doors and rocker panels, which allow rainwater to flow out. If necessary, use a pipe cleaner to clear those out, and keep the car’s nooks and crannies dry.
- Keeping the inside of your car is important too! Clean up any spills that could start the rust process from the inside.
- Get your car washed even more often if you live near the ocean or if you experience harsh winters that include lots of salt on the roads. Salt is a big instigator when it comes to rust on a vehicle.
- Consider coating your vehicle with a rust-preventing spray or rust inhibitor.
- Be diligent. As soon as you see paint bubbles or blisters on your vehicle’s paint, this means rust. Treat this aggressively to prevent the rust from worsening and spreading.
Rust prevention, protection and treatment is something almost all car owners experience at some point, but should still be taken very seriously. If your vehicle is suffering from a rust problem, schedule an appointment at a Sears Auto Center near you.