rust damage on red carVehicle rust is often associated with door panels and around wheels, but this problem typically begins with the wheel wells. This component is not overtly visible, thus it’s an overlooked area that attracts plenty of dirt and debris.

Especially when the undercarriage is exposed to salt and moisture throughout winter, the metal starts to rust. Not long after, oxidation begins to spread along the undercarriage and panels surrounding your wheels.

As a starting point, pay attention to your car’s wheel wells whenever you wash and treat it against rust. What other preventative measures can you take to reduce rust formation?

1. Lift and Remove Dirt

For the greatest amount of impact, lift your car’s wheels fully off the ground with a lift or jack stand. This allows you to reach past the wheel wells to the brake rotors – a significant source of grime and debris.

At this angle, you want to wash away any accumulation without scratching the surface. Scratches are a significant factor that could invite oxidation to begin. Use a pressure washer or higher-powered hose to remove any chunks of dirt, buildup and anything else that has been sitting in your car’s wheel wells.

Once the larger pieces are gone, use soap and water to remove any particles sticking to the surface. You can also use a wheel gel or similar solution to loosen up anything that won’t budge, like tar.

2. All-Purpose Cleaner

As the wheel wells and surrounding parts are often hard to access, you might have to scrub a bit more. Use an all-purpose cleaner or similar substance that’s known to dissolve tree sap, bugs and hard, stuck-on accumulation. Spray the wheel wells and neighboring parts, fully scrubbing the area behind the wheels. After all, this is where most of the debris accumulates, then falls back into the wheel well.

3. Water-Repellent or Undercarriage Spray

Beyond cleaning off dirt and debris, the goal is to protect the area against future damage. Professional rustproofing often does the trick but on a day-to-day basis, you may need to build upon this with a water-repellent solution or stronger undercarriage spray.

Simply rinse off the rest of the dirt, let the area dry and apply the solution. If the wheel well is made of plastic, the solution tends to reduce fading and wear, along with creating a barrier against dirt, moisture, dust and rock salt.

4. Develop a Weekly Maintenance Plan

While their location is less visible, the wheel wells are exposed and require a bit of maintenance to prevent rust formation. Start a weekly washing schedule, spraying down the undercarriage to dislodge anything the car picked up during the week.

You can also re-coat the area with an undercarriage spray, after brushing off any accumulated particles. This gives consistent protection against dirt, dust and grime, ensuring the rustproof coating lasts longer.
If you live in New England or a warm coastal location, DIY car maintenance only goes so far. Full protection against the elements requires the work of a professional, like DaSilva’s Auto Body. Whether you’re seeking top-level detailing, rustproofing or rust removal, we provide these essential protective services. To learn more or set up an appointment at our Naugatuck location, give us a call today.