restored classic carRust can be a serious concern for someone who collects or restores antique cars. The perfect chrome and enamel paint you expected is suddenly marred and the vehicle may need major repairs.

Unfortunately, due to how manufacturers constructed now-vintage and classic cars, rust has long been an issue. Often a result of the metals and paints used, many of these vehicles started to rust right off the lot decades ago and further experienced mechanical problems after a few years. As such, many of these vehicles require a significant amount of refurbishment.

Today, nearly all cars on the road use galvanized steel and are treated to resist rust – to an extent. Models from the 1950s through the 1970s used 22-gauge steel without the protection against the elements zinc affords. As a result, the main sheet panel is especially rust-prone.

Types of Rust on Vintage and Classic Cars

As you’re shopping around for a vintage car to fix up, you may encounter the following kinds of rust:

  • Surface Rust: You may see surface rust, even if the vehicle was kept in optimal storage conditions. This rust develops as a result of moisture settling on the surface, which causes the metal below to oxidize.
  • Pitting or Scale Rust: Once rust passes below the surface of the body panel, the metal develops a pitted appearance. A more superficial issue, sanding and painting can often correct the damage.
  • Rusted Body Panels: You may find certain parts are completely rusted through. Some may need to completely be replaced but others can be repaired. Generally, this issue has started once you notice rusting and bubbling below the lower door and in front and back of the wheel. Any part rusted all the way through to the point a hole is created should be replaced.

When buying a classic or vintage car, fully assess the vehicle for rust and any resulting structural issues. Areas where the metal has rusted through tend to require significant repairs in order for the car to be safe and usable.

Taking Care of a Classic Car to Avoid Rust

Due to the risks associated with rust, your vintage or classic car requires a significant amount of upkeep:

  • Any scrapes or dents on the body should be repaired right away. Due to the metal, rusting can happen almost instantly.
  • Consider how you store and cover your car. Never keep it under a plastic sheet, as moisture will build up underneath and invite rust to form. Keep the vehicle in a fully enclosed, dehumidified garage.
  • Regularly clean and wax your car. Make sure its fully dried inside and out before you place it back in storage.
  • Continue checking the body for signs of rust, particularly around the wheels and other drainage areas.
  • If you do spot rusting metal, don’t just paint over it. Rust needs to be removed before the area is primed and painted. If you intend to handle the paint job yourself, be sure to have the paint color ordered ahead of time, rather than keep the vehicle’s metal exposed.

If you recently purchased a classic or vintage car or have been fixing up an older vehicle, DaSilva’s Auto Body can help protect it with our restoration services and rustproofing services. To learn more or schedule an appointment, contact us today.