Rust is one of the biggest problems vehicle owners can face in relation to the bodywork and cosmetics of a vehicle. Whether modern or old, all vehicles are susceptible to rusting, and as well as being very unsightly, it can often be costly and time consuming to repair, even reducing the resale/overall value of the vehicle in some instances.
Rust usually occurs in the same sorts of areas across all vehicles, so we can target these areas appropriately to try and prevent any from forming. The most common areas for rust to form on a vehicle is around the wheel arches, at the front of the car around the lower edge of the hood and grill, at the rear of the car around the edges of the trunk, and around the door edges and shuts. However, given the correct conditions and levels of neglect, rust can form anywhere on the metal based areas of a vehicle.
With rust, prevention is definitely better than cure and by far the best way to prevent it from forming is simply to thoroughly wash your car on a regular basis. Washing removes any contaminants sitting on the surface and so prevents them from being able to bond and take hold which can lead to rust formation. It also removes contaminants out of any damaged areas of paintwork like chips and scratches, that if left uncleaned can also begin to rust.
A good quality, wax based wash product should ideally be used as this will help to add a little protection to the surface in between the washes. When washing, the whole vehicle should be thoroughly cleaned from top to bottom and particular attention should be payed to the above mentioned areas that are particularly prone to rust formation (wheel arches, hood edges & grill, rear of the car, and the door shuts).
Another step in the right direction to preventing rust would be to properly polish and regularly wax or seal your vehicle after the wash routine. This not only improves the condition of your paintwork but also prevents any contaminants from being able to bond to the surface due to the smooth finish it creates, and thoroughly protects the paintwork from the elements.
There are specialist waxes and sealants available that provide long term protection and so polishing & protecting doesn’t necessarily have to be a regular practice. A car that is polished and waxed/sealed twice a year for instance, will greatly benefit from it and rust would be allot less likely to form than it would be on a car that hasn’t been polished and protected, generally though, the more a cars paintwork is maintained and protected, the better.
Most vehicles come sealed and protected underneath and around the lower areas from the factory, but over time this can wear away and fade. Products such as waxoyl can be purchased over the counter and allow you to top and re-protect the underside and lower parts of your vehicle, and, although it can be a messy process it is more than worthwhile doing if your car is a little older or does not come undersealed from the factory – for example if it is an imported vehicle. Similar resin products can also be injected into the panels of a car from inside the vehicle to help prevent rust formation, however this process is only usually undertaken when an older vehicle is being fully restored and the interior has been completely stripped down in the process.
Paint protection film is a great way of indirectly protecting your car from rust, as it prevents stones from chipping and damaging the paintwork, which can then easily develop into rust spots if left untreated. These films are completely clear and cannot be seen once they have been applied. They are most commonly applied to the front parts, lower side skirts and around the wheel arches of a car, and especially flared wheel arches as these are very susceptible to stone chip damage.
‘Car bras’ are also available for most vehicles which provide the same solution as protection film but with a thick material item instead, and while these may look a little unsightly, they still effectively protect the hood and front of the vehicle against damage and are allot cheaper than having paint protection film applied to your car.
If parts of your vehicle are already in the process of rusting however, there are things you can do to try and stop it progressing. Areas of rust can be ground away to remove as much of it as possible, and then suitable rust prevention products applied, these products permanently seal the metal via a chemical reaction and stop any remaining rust particles from growing. These areas can then be touched up with an appropriate matching paint to try and disguise the affected area. It is then important to keep the surrounding area clean and contaminant free.
It is common for some vehicles to have a thin rubber or vinyl cover which sits on the inside lip on the wheel arch, or to have material based arch liners, and if you you have rust forming around your wheel arches these covers and liners may well be where the problem originated. If possible, these items should be removed and then be cleaned and dried semi regularly to ensure they are contaminant free and not retaining any damp. Sometimes though, it is actually better to permanently remove such items and simply keep the areas that were underneath and around them clean and protected with appropriate products.
Lastly, if possible, your vehicle should be kept in a garage or under a car port as this will vastly reduce the likely hood of rust forming, as it is not exposed to the elements permanently and is kept away from environmental hazards and contaminants. If this is not an option however, it may be worth considering looking at getting a good quality, waterproof and breathable car cover which will keep your car dry and contaminant free if it’s kept outside all year round.