How to Prevent Exterior Rust

When you own and drive a vehicle, you’re usually concerned about performance. You rely on your car, truck, or motorcycle for daily commuting, road trips, and getting you to and from appointments and other responsibilities. Regular service is critical if you want parts to last and systems to do their jobs correctly. Nothing lasts forever, but consistent attention should keep things running smoothly for years to come. However, a properly functioning engine and other parts aren’t the only things you need to keep an eye on with your vehicle.

Your car’s appearance is vital too, and usually around the 6-8 year period, if you live in what is known as the “rust belt,” things will begin to happen. Rust will begin to creep into areas on the car, and suddenly, the resale value on a car that is rust free will change drastically from a car with multiple rust issues. Keeping corrosion at-bay is not difficult, nor is it completely time-consuming. It does require dedication though, especially at the worst times of year. Read up on what to do during those rough winter months in our blog on defending against winter road treatments here, as this is where the majority of rust begins.

How Weather Causes Rust to Invade the Exterior

You’ve no doubt seen vehicles on the road where the rust seems more prevalent than the actual body color. Once rust starts, it can spread quickly and take over the whole car. There are many ways this unwanted invader attacks a vehicle, and whether it happens in the winter, or summer, it all starts with water. Water, and saltwater in particular, are the catalysts for corrosion on metal to begin, and more specifically, in areas that do not dry quickly. This is every nook, cranny, crease, or cavity of your car’s body or undercarriage that are not able to dry, or be flushed out quickly. This is the reason why rust always starts at the edges or seems to rot out from the inside.

Along with rain, snow can play a bigger role in the process. The snow itself is no different than rain, but the treatments put on roads, most notably road salt, are a huge difference.

Wet conditions aren’t the only signs of danger. The beating sun can also be an issue when it comes to rusting. Of course, you need to drive, and some exposure to the sun’s rays won’t be a major concern. However, if your car is constantly outside, slowly but surely, rust will be on its way.

If your vehicle is already rusted, check out these articles:

What Causes Rust on Cars?

1. The Climate You Live In

Certain areas are more prone to rust-causing agents than others. For instance, if you live near the coasts, the ocean air will introduce salt, which can increase oxidation. Extremely cold regions can put your car more at risk for rusting, too. Snow and ice removal will usually include salt, which might remain on your car throughout the winter unless you wash frequently.

2. Not Washing Your Car

Ultimately, rusting can affect any vehicle in any place. It is essential that you take an active role in protecting your car from corrosion. Simply doing nothing and hoping rust won’t appear isn’t nearly good enough. One of the easiest and most effective things you can do is to wash your car regularly. Don’t wait until it’s covered in dirt, mud, or salt in the winter. Get in the habit of taking it to the car wash, or doing it yourself by hand, every two or three weeks. Wash your vehicle even if it doesn’t appear to be too dirty. As you wash it, make sure you reach the undercarriage. Frequent car washes will keep sand, bird droppings, oil and other materials off the paint. This should preserve the body and ward off rust. When you wash your car, make sure you rinse it off and dry it thoroughly.

3. Not Waxing Your Car

You shouldn’t have to wax your car as often as you wash it, but it certainly won’t hurt to do this a few times a year. A coat or two of wax bolsters the paint, giving it an extra layer of protection against rust and corrosion. Of course, this maintenance also helps shine up the exterior and provides an attractive look. Some car washes add a wax component, but it’s most effective to do this by hand. Good wax products can help reduce the risk of your paint job fading in the beating sun too.

4. Exposure to the Elements

The best way to prevent water damage on a car may be pretty simple: Cover it up. When you’re not driving, park your vehicle in a garage or under a carport. If neither of this is an option, you can purchase a high-quality, durable tarp or cover. This is especially important if you live in an area where it rains or snows a lot. When your car does get wet, dry it off thoroughly.

5. Flooding

Sometimes, rusting can start following a single incident. If a flood makes its way through your area and affects your vehicle, prompt action is necessary. It’s critical to learn how to prevent rust after a flood so you can fend off corrosion, not to mention other problems such as mold and mildew. Floods leave massive amounts of water in their wake, and excessive water can leave behind mud, dirt, and other harmful materials. It’s essential to immediately wash off your car and dry it completely. Don’t neglect hard-to-reach areas such as the undercarriage or under the wheel wells. You may have to use a high-pressure sprayer to do a proper job.

Flooding could cause damage to your vehicle’s body, including the paint job. Get your vehicle into the body shop as soon as possible so you can repair any problems. The sooner you handle these issues, the better chance you have of stopping corrosive action. You may even purchase a rust-inhibitor kit and apply the product to the affected area.

You depend on a high-performing vehicle each day. Rust not only affects the appearance of your car, but it can eat away at essential components and compromise your safety. Don’t let this happen to your vehicle. Be aware of the causes and understand the most effective ways to prevent rust from occurring and spreading on the exterior of your car.

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