Taking Care of Rust

Cars today are made of several different kinds of metal, and inevitably, many metals rust. Living near water or in a snowy climate can make rust start sooner and accelerate faster.

While rust may not look great, is rust really that bad for your car? How much rust is too much rust? Like other kinds of vehicle maintenance, looking out for rust is a part of vehicle upkeep.

Causes of Rust

Rust forms when certain metals are exposed to oxygen and moisture for an extended period of time. Over time, the oxygen and metal react and weaken the structure of the metal. Eventually, the metal will fall apart. Depending on where it is on the vehicle, rust can matter more, or less, but it will affect the overall safety and strength of the vehicle and its parts.

Vehicles that spend a lot of time near the water in humid air or in snowy climates tend to form rust faster than those that are in drier climates. This is because salt accelerates rust; vehicles that spend time either in winter climates where salt is used to clear the roads, or in climates near the ocean will be exposed to much more rust than those that do not. Regardless of temperature, salt is not good for automobiles.

Maintenance to Avoid Rust

Your vehicle’s first defense against rust is the paint coat and the protective topcoat over the paint. These are designed to keep moisture out and to protect the car from damage by the sun’s UV rays. On the car’s body, scratches and dirt are the first causes of rust damage.

Avoiding the carwash is a great way to save a few dollars in the short term, but the cost of a dirty car can grow exponentially as dirt particles work their way into your vehicle’s paint coat, creating tiny scratches and allowing moisture to permeate the metal.

Keeping a clean car is the first step in avoiding rust, especially during the winter and in wet climates. Storing a vehicle indoors, in a garage, or in a dry place can also help stave off rust.

Fixing Rust

There are many ways to repair rust. To keep it from spreading, the existing rust should be treated, removed and covered. It’s important to repair the protective coating on your vehicle and over the paint. Depending on the extent of the rust spots, certain parts may need to be replaced in order to maintain the structural integrity of the car, keeping it safe to drive.

Treating rust is generally not a simple process, and if done incorrectly, a fix can trap moisture under a layer of protectant, allowing rust to grow without signs until the metal is so worn, the damage may not be reversible. If you are concerned about rust, ask your repair technician for tips.