Our cars are exposed to numerous dangers; theft, crash, abuse, improper maintenance and the like, but an equally dangerous but more insidious risk is simple rust. Virtually every vehicle is going to have some rust on it somewhere, sometime. The combination of complex sheet metal work, with lots of hidden nooks and crannies, has led to the construction of some vehicles that are notorious "rust buckets". Many manufacturers have taken steps to slow rusting, but most of their rust control systems have failed or proved inadequate. So the problem remains: How does the typical car owner control rust?
There are three main areas of a car's structure that can suffer potential damage. The areas of concern are:
1. Engine and Trunk Compartments Corrosion and rust can cause leaks in the air intake systems, reducing their capacity. Connectors, both mechanical and electrical, can be very problematic, because these kinds of failures may be intermittent and difficult to diagnose. This is especially true, if a car is stored for more than 30 days.
2. Frame and Chassis Sub Structure There are numerous metal devices attached to the frame and chassis structure that rust. Hinges, exhaust and control systems, window frames, braces, bumpers, trailer hitches and various other metal items are in a constant state of attack by water, salt, air and other contaminants.
3. Painted Surfaces Paint takes a horrific beating from the elements. Lumps, bumps and scratches on the paint are the early warning signs of rust. They turn into large bubbles that cause paint to flake off.
What do you do, in order to deal with the threat or reality of rust?
1. Inspect: Periodically inspect your vehicle for the presence of rust, or a weakness of the protective coating. The best prevention is to be alert to early rust and corrosion signs that predict major problems and take action.
2. Protect: A good quality rust-preventative treatment or coating should be applied to the iron to prevent, or discourage the formation of rust. It is easier to prevent rust than to have to eradicate it. Many factors affect the rate of rust and corrosion growth. This is why iron and steel tend to corrode more quickly when exposed to salt (such as that used to melt snow or ice on roads) or moist salty air near oceans.
3. Correct: If rust is detected, it must be aggressively treated to stop it and deal with its effects. The most important step is to treat future potential rust and corrosion sites. Undercoat products are the answer.
4. Periodically rinse the underside of the car to clear debris from the drainage paths and seams.
How do I correct rust problems?
1. Removal and replacement of the affected metal. Ideally, replacing rusted metal with fresh metal is the best way to have a rust-free vehicle, but very few of us can afford the cost of new panels.
2. Conversion of existing rust. Rust conversion involves stopping the rusting process by chemically acting on the rusted metal and changing it into a more stable compound. It's biggest disadvantage is when the rust converter has trapped water vapor. This is when rust converters fail.
3. Slowing and/or stopping the spread of rust. Slowing or stopping the spread of rust is the most realistic and most economically practical. In most situations, neither metal replacement nor rust conversion are wise solutions. For instance, treating the inside of rocker panels and frame rails. Both of these areas are prone to rusting, but are fairly inaccessible. In most cases, these areas only require the use of an undercoating oil based spray, which is easy to apply and will slow and even stop the spread of existing rust. Spraying it on makes it possible to treat difficult-to-access areas. The resulting treatment seals the surface from exposure to air and moisture and most importantly adds inhibitors which slow the formation of new rust and the spread of existing rust. The process is perfect for areas which will not be exposed to direct weather.