5 Surprising Things You Might Not Have Known About Rust on a Vehicle

Rust is the bane of many drivers, especially if you own classic cars. It’s like there’s a giant sign on your car that screams “old.” Rust is often a sign your car may need a little TLC, but do you know exactly what to do when you see that it on your automobile? Here are five facts about rust to help you prevent and treat it.

Should I rustproof my car?

According to Hot Cars, your vehicle needs to be rust-proofed. The question then becomes when and how often. If done correctly, rust proofing should last for at least two years. You don’t have to wait for a certain season to rust proof. While it’s a good idea to wax your car before the first snowfall, you’re not doomed by waiting until spring.

If you’re going to purchase a new car, don’t let the sales associate convince you to spend extra on rust-proofing. According to Consumer Reports, “All modern cars are factory-treated for rust protection, and additional undercoating can do more harm than good.” Later on, your vehicle will need another rust proof treatment, but a new car is safe from rust’s stain.

Will keeping my car in a garage prevent rust?

Unfortunately, no. To understand how this happens, you need to know a little about how rust develops. How Stuff Works states, “Because rust only needs an anode, cathode, and electrolyte to form, cars are susceptible to it. The metal in your car can act as the anode and cathode. Water is an electrolyte.” 

While water won’t touch your vehicle when it’s safely sheltered in your garage, driving in the rain will obviously get it wet. It’s also unprotected from the elements when you park in an area that lacks a parking garage. If you live in a region prone to lots of rain, and you park outdoors, your car may be regularly exposed to the elements.

Can I rust-proof my car after spotting rust?

While there may be many naysayers, your car is not beyond redemption if it has a rust stain. Hot Cars states that a rust spot can be fixed. You may want a professional to take a look at it, as treatment options depend on the rust’s severity. The most important thing is not to wait. Like most car repairs, it will only cost you more in the long run.

Does washing my car too often cause rust?

Hot Cars reports that washing your car too often is a myth. Your car picks up a lot of dirt and grime from the roadways, especially in the winter when roads are salted. According to the DMV, “Road salt, while helpful for safer driving, can cause rust and corrosion on your vehicle. Since your vehicle’s undercarriage is completely exposed, this is the area most at risk from deterioration from road salt.”

Washing your car often in the winter will remove the salt. Any water residue will most likely dry before it has time to set and cause rust.

Can I do it myself?

Yes. Professionals will obviously tell you they’re the only ones who can do it properly, but anyone can rust-proof a vehicle. DetailXPerts reports, “There is a DIY rustproofing kit for virtually every make, model, and size vehicle you can think of. Buying the right package ensures that you have just enough to treat your entire vehicle sufficiently.” 

If you don’t have the time to rust proof it yourself, or would rather spend the extra money to have a specialist do it, that’s always an option as well.