Is rust something you should tolerate on your car? Probably not – all it can do is cause your vehicle harm. Car owners who want to preserve the value, look and longevity of their vehicle need to take rust seriously. Here are some practical ways to prevent rust from degrading your vehicle.
Why Rust Happens (Especially in Winter)
Rust can crop up in any season, but winter poses some particular risks. On the most basic level, rust is usually caused by exposing metal to rain or moisture, causing it to oxidize and corrode. During this process, water acts as an electrolyte while metal plays the dual role of anode and cathode (the positive and negative terminals on a battery). These properties create chemical reactions that result in rust. The saltier the water, the more powerful the electrolyte, increasing the frequency and potential severity of rust. This is why people who live near the ocean are often told to be extra-vigilant about car care; the humidity helps carry salt water through the air.
How does this apply to your typical snowy winter, though? It’s actually not because of a natural phenomenon, but rather a man-made one. Winter leads to a lot of dangerous ice build-up. and people often pour salt on icy surfaces to help them melt down faster and become safe to use again. This leads to a lot of contact with this salt as the snow is thrown around under vehicles and melts away. Even though primer on the car helps prevent rust, if the coating gets scratched and that salted water touches metal, rust can make a surprise appearance before you ever realize there was a problem.
What Happens When You Ignore Rust
Some people are not bothered by small patches of rust. The problem is that like a crack in glass, rust will expand if left untreated. Not only will the rust spots grow, they can begin to eat away at the metal, which will make the vehicle unsafe. Rust may also cause major damage to the electronic systems, the engine, the exhaust system and the underside, further increasing the risk of hazards. Never treat rust like a mere blemish – that misconception could cost you dearly some day.
How to Prevent Rust
Rust might be a serious issue, but that doesn’t mean you’re powerless against it. Here are some things you can do to protect your vehicle:
- Wash your car every few weeks to keep contaminants off the metal and make it possible to thoroughly inspect the exterior
- Keep your car in the garage when you’re not using it, ensuring that it’s exposed to the elements as little as possible
- Wax the exterior a few times per year to build up an extra protective layer
- Repaint scratches and areas with exposed metal
- Choose rust-resistant materials when making replacements or additions (avoid stainless steel and chrome)
- Mix vinegar, baking soda and a little extra salt to make a solution you can use to make small spot treatments on problem areas
If rust spots crop up, make sure to try and remove them before they can spread. You can use tools like razor blades and fine-grit sandpaper to scrape the rust away. After that, you should apply rust arrestor with a brush or cloth and let it dry a few hours.Then give the area a thin coat of primer with a brush until no more metal is exposed. Let the primer dry before applying touch-up paint.
Remember, all vehicles can rust due to environmental factors and neglect. The best way to prevent rust is to routinely check and clean your