rust damage on red car Premature rust is the last thing any car owner wants to see. Weather and age-related damage often cannot be helped, but rust spots after a couple years put a pit in your stomach. Before you experience this feeling, know the reasons why your car could be rusting.

How Rust Forms

Through a chemical reaction, metal needs water or salt to start oxidizing – the process that causes rust to form. As such, cars parked outdoors in warm, seaside climates tend to rust first. On the flip side, vehicles driven over salt-covered roads in colder, snowy conditions experience a high degree of rusting along the undercarriage.

A small patch of rust on your car will gradually start spreading. Much of this activity occurs under the paint; bubbling or flaking can be the first clue your car’s metal is rusting. Even a little scratch or ding can invite rust to form, especially if you frequently leave your vehicle outdoors in the rain or parked near the water.

Before you research ways to scrape off the rust and repaint the metal, prevent it in the first place with the following methods.

1. Rustproof in Advance

Depending on the severity of the rust, several approaches may be taken:

  • A heavier coat of wax is applied
  • An impermeable ceramic over-coating is added atop the clear coat to the undercarriage and trim
  • In more extreme instances, a car owner may opt for a clear car wrap

Through whichever method, the coating reduces how deep scratches and dings penetrate, lessening the likelihood the metal underneath will be exposed. It also allows water to bead off and prevents tree sap and bird droppings from eating through the paint. In turn, it blocks out or mitigates certain factors that increase rusting risks.

2. Regularly Wash Your Car

How often do you wash your car in the winter? When you drive over recently salted roads, your car picks up a bunch of corrosive debris. Unless you wash it off within a reasonable timeframe, it stays there and accumulates, eating away at your car’s undercarriage and trim.

As the first line of defense, wash your car regularly throughout winter, especially if it snowed earlier that day. If you live oceanside, schedule regular washes, followed by a wax application. In addition to the road salt, this also loosens and removes bird droppings, tree sap and dirt that can mar or thin out your car’s paint job, which all contribute to rust formation.

3. Don’t Forget the Drain Plugs

Especially during the fall season, drain plugs are a magnet for leaves, dirt and moisture. These aspects gather inside, wear away at the paint and could invite rusting. If you’re unsure where they are, check around the edge of the hood and trunk or along the bottom of the doors, cleaning out any debris.

4. Clean Up Spills Inside Your Car

Any drink you accidentally knock over won’t just be absorbed by the carpet. Rather, it can pass below the upholstery where moisture starts to gather. From here, don’t be surprised if patches of rust form and gradually spread across your car’s underside.

After a spill, many recommend using a highly absorbent microfiber towel to soak up as much moisture as you can. If this doesn’t work, remove any rugs to dry outside your car. If the carpet cannot be taken out, park the car in the garage with the doors open to air dry.

5. Identify and Treat Rust Early

Before structural issues have to be addressed and parts replaced, check your car for rust formation and nip it in the bud before it spreads:

  • Look for bubbles or “puffy” areas in the paint.
  • Check around key rust formation areas: Windows, wheel wells, fenders, drain holes, undercarriage and any place where two body components touch.
  • If you have the necessary tools, remove your tires to inspect less-visible parts for rust.

6. Keep Your Car Parked in a Garage

If you live in a damp, snowy or seaside climate, develop a storage strategy that keeps your car out of the elements. This reduces exposure to moisture and salt, lessening the chances your car will start to rust. A moisture-free garage is recommended, but you can also consider setting up an enclosed carport kit.
To prepare for the upcoming winter season, make an appointment with DaSilva’s Auto Body to rustproof your car or remove existing corrosion before it gets worse. To learn more about what we can do, contact our Naugatuck shop today.