When you own and drive a vehicle, you’re 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. No one wants to drive something that looks awful. For example, rust can take over the exterior and be a detriment to what was once a gorgeous body. Rust won’t just diminish the vehicle’s appearance. As this problem increases over time, rust can affect other aspects of your vehicle as well. It can be difficult keeping corrosion away, but you can learn how to prevent rust from getting worse and even fending it off completely.

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. Mother Nature is one of the most common culprits, especially rain. Any metal left exposed to water will start to oxidize. If your car is frequently outdoors during heavy rainstorms, chances are good that rust will start to form. It can be even worse if there are dents and scratches on the body.

Along with rain, snow can play a role in the oxidation process. This an especially be a problem during the coldest points of the winter when the snow isn’t melting. If you keep your car outside and don’t use it much, snow could pile up on the vehicle and remain there for days or even weeks. This can lead to serious rusting problems.

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:

5 Factors that Affect Rust


Where You Live

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.


Frequent Car Washes

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 or mud. 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.


Applying Wax

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 or 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.


Keep It Covered

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.


What About 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 not only leave massive amounts of water in their wake, but 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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