Rust is the enemy of all car owners. No matter how beautifully painted or sturdy your car is; no matter how smoothly it runs, rust can happen to anyone. Especially if you live somewhere with severe weather, close to the ocean, or drive on salted roads. Rust is what happens when moisture reaches the metal body, undercarriage, or metal components of your car. Vehicles are sold with a clear “top coat” that protects them from the elements, but over time and with heavy use, that topcoat can wear away. From there, moisture causes the metal to oxidize, making it red, porous, and flaky.
Preventing rust is an essential part of vehicle owner responsibility. Today, we’re here to share the top six ways any responsible vehicle owner can prevent rust from forming or catch rust early and correct it before little rust spots have a chance to do real damage.
Store Your Car in a Garage or Carport
Start by keeping your car protected, the more exposed it is to the elements, the more likely it is for the topcoat to wear away and allow rust to occur. It’s best to keep your car inside a garage, under a carport or, if nothing else, under a protective car-sock. These methods not only protect your vehicle from the sun and rain, but they also prevent acidic bird droppings from wearing away the topcoat and discourage micro-collisions with, say, your child’s bicycle from causing scratches that could open the way to rust.
Keep Your Car Clean
Built-up dirt, grime, and salt can also shorten the lifespan of your protective topcoat. Even if it doesn’t seem like your car is that dirty, it’s best to give your vehicle a wash every one to two weeks. A quick spray down with a hose is better than nothing. Automated car washes can be a practical monthly solution. You may also want to bring your car in for a professional wash every six months to ensure that no rust-causing grime is hiding in places that it’s hard for your hose or the automated wash to reach.
Watch Out for Salt on the Undercarriage
In areas where it gets icy every winter, the roads can be coated in salt and other forms of de-icing chemicals. Those chemicals may be good for your traction, but they’re terrible for your topcoat and can cause rusting faster than any other trigger. Be sure to spray down your undercarriage and the lower half of your vehicle regularly during the winter to prevent the salt and chemicals from eroding your topcoat and accelerating rust.
Have a Wax Coat Applied Regularly
Believe it or not, wax does more than make your vehicle look sleek and shiny. Wax provides an additional protective coating for your topcoat and parts of the vehicle that do not have their own topcoat. While you can apply some waxes at home, the best and most long-lasting type of protective wax can only be applied by a professional when you bring your car in. Having your car waxed, especially in the winter when rust risk is highest, is a smart choice to keep your paint job and the integrity of your metal vehicle body safe.
Respond Immediately to Signs of Wear
If you see anything that looks like the topcoat or paint is wearing away, do not put off maintenance. Take your vehicle into the mechanic immediately. To prevent rust from starting, you need to keep your paint job in pristine condition. Scratches, scuffs, and worn or thin-looking sections of paint can be all the gateway rust needs to start working on that entire section of your car, out from the centre.
Any signs of wear should prompt you to bring your vehicle into the auto body shop right away. They can help you buff out any damage, repaint, and reseal before any serious rusting occurs.
Have Rusting Spots Sanded and Repainted ASAP
Finally, keep an eye out for that flaky, red colour that is an active rust spot. Once rust begins, it spreads from the centre so that the damage gets larger and larger over time. Rust that occurs through worn paint or on the undercarriage can quickly become a serious problem if you let it, but it can also be sanded away and resealed by a professional. Take your vehicle to a professional any time you see signs of active rusting before it has a chance to spread. By getting rid of the rust and resealing the surface of your vehicle, you can protect your car and prevent it from rusting in the future.
Rust prevention is a smart approach, whether you’re protecting a new car or making sure an old favourite lasts for years. Contact us for more great vehicle-owner tips or to find a loan to buy a new car.