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Rust is a common issue for vehicles. Technically, you can still drive a car with significant rust damage, but too much rust can affect the performance of your car over time. A rusted frame could break, which increases your chance of injury in a car crash. If your vehicle’s body has holes from rust, exhaust fumes could leak into your car, which poses several health risks.

Once rust has started to form on your vehicle, it must be treated before it gets worse. Depending on the extent of the damage, you may be able to fix it yourself, according to Advance Auto Parts

How does rust accumulate?

If you want to prevent further rust damage, it’s best to understand how rust occurs. When your car becomes too wet due to prolonged exposure to rain and snow, the paint will oxidize, causing rust. Nobody feels like washing their car in the dead of winter, but it’s the best way to prevent rust. Waxing or using ceramic coating will give your car an added layer of protection.

What qualifies as major rust?

Larger areas of rust are considered major problems. Significant rust can cover entire areas like door panels, fenders, interior panels, and bumpers. If left unattended, the rust will spread and affect the car’s structural integrity. Even a tiny crack or hole caused by rust can develop into a lot of rust.

Since the damage of major rust is often more extensive than what’s seen on the surface, you may need to seek professional assistance to get rid of it. However, with enough skill and patience, you may be able to fix major rust damage on your own.

Before you begin, make sure your skin is protected with a mask and gloves. Try to do this outdoors in temperatures higher than 65 degrees. Using a grinder with a sanding wheel, you can sand off a good amount of visible rust. After you’ve cleaned the remaining debris, apply a body filler to the affected areas. After this is done, the area can be sanded and painted.

When should the parts be replaced?

If you have the tools and time to spare, repairing major rust yourself is a good way to save money. However, it’s important to know when you can’t save a rusted car part. As a general rule, Advance Auto recommends a replacement part when rust takes up more than 20% of a single car part. A new front fender may be expensive initially, but it’ll save you from wasting your time and money on a part that’s too far gone to be salvaged.

Surface rust

When surface rust hasn’t made its way under your vehicle’s hood, you’re facing a simpler fix. If an area has bubbling paint or small holes, it’s probably due to rust. All you need to do is properly clean the area and then spray it with a rust remover. After it’s set in, you can remove any remaining residue with a towel or rag.

As long as the corrosion has not spread deeper than the surface, a little patch of rust is nothing to panic about. To keep its paint job in good condition, make sure you regularly check for rust throughout the year.