Rust can be the bane of any car owner’s existence; the corrosive compound spreads like cancer and can wreak havoc on vehicles young and old.
Not only does rust leave unsightly marks, but it has severe safety implications as well. The reddish-brown iron oxide substance affects a vehicle’s structural integrity, leaving you more vulnerable to injury or death in a collision. As a result, most Australian inspectors will fail your car on a roadworthy test upon sighting rust in certain areas.
It’s worth taking the necessary steps to protect your car from rust. What’s more, you’ll need to take swift action the moment corrosion rears its ugly head.
In this post, we’ll outline ten practical tips on how to prevent your car from rusting and what to do when it occurs.
1. Park Undercover
The most common cause of rust is exposure to moisture through rain, sea spray, and snow. While snowfall is rare in Australia, most metropolitan regions experience substantial rainfall (at least during certain seasons), so it’s worth parking undercover if you can.
Undercover parking is a sought-after fixture in new homes as it’s the most effective way to keep rust at bay. Whether you’re purchasing or renting a new place, keep this in mind to enhance the lifespan of your car.
2. Use a Car Cover
Long-term undercover parking isn’t always possible, which is where the car cover comes in handy. Unfortunately, car covers are a bit of a hassle to remove and replace on your daily drive—most car owners can’t be bothered to run through the motions every time they need to pop down to the shops.
Nonetheless, if you’ve got a car you don’t use every day, and undercover parking isn’t feasible, it’s well worth covering it up to prevent rust. Weekend leisure cars are easy enough to protect, and it’s definitely worth covering up your caravan or motorhome in the off-season.
3. Wash Your Ride Frequently
A build-up of dust and dirt makes rust accumulate at a rapid rate. Therefore, keeping your car clean is a great way to keep the issue at bay. Don’t worry if you can’t afford to take your vehicle to the carwash because hand washing it at home will suffice.
The ideal frequency depends on where you live and how dirty your car tends to get. As a rule of thumb, however, aim to wash your vehicle every two weeks or so.
4. Check Your Water Drain Holes
When you’re washing your car, take the time to examine and unclog the water drain holes.
These tiny little plugs typically reside under the car door and on the edges of your bonnet and boot. Dust and debris have a nasty habit of clogging them up, which allows water to pool and inevitably results in rust.
It may add a few minutes to your car washing routine, but clearing out your drain holes goes a long way towards preventing rust.
5. Hose Down the Underbody After Driving on Sand
If you enjoy driving on the beach, it’s essential to wash down the underbody after every seaside excursion.
Sand contains large amounts of salt, and your tires will flick the substance all over your undercarriage. If left unaddressed, rust will spread beneath the chassis and compromise the safety and performance of your car.
Thankfully, the solution is simple. After driving on the beach (or any coastal sand tracks), give the underbelly a quick spray down with a freshwater hose.
6. Put on a Ceramic Coating
While waxing was once the preferred way to safeguard against exterior damage, most auto body specialists now recommend using a ceramic sydney car coating instead. These cost-effective liquid polymer products can be applied directly to your vehicle’s paint and provide a powerful protective barrier against rust.
One of the great advantages of ceramic coating is you only need to apply it every few years. Wax, on the other hand, requires re-application every few months.
7. Mop up Interior Spills
Interior spills will damage upholstery and can result in unpleasant smells. Worse yet, the excess moisture might spread to the exterior of your car and potentially cause rust.
To stop this from happening, use a dry towel or cloth to wipe up any spills as soon as they occur. Once you’ve got the majority of the water out, leave the car to air dry with the windows down.
8. Assess Hard to Reach Areas
Rust doesn’t only pop up in easy-to-spot areas, so make sure you look beneath the chassis and examine the edge of the windshield for tell-tale signs. Be sure to check water drainage gutters, if you have them, as these are notorious hotspots for rust to form.
While a mechanic should check your car for rust damage during your scheduled services, many work on tight deadlines and may have to skip some steps to hit their targets.
9. Treat Rust As Soon As You Spot It
As soon as you spot any signs of rust, set a time to treat it. Rust spreads like a cancer; the longer it grows, the more damage it will cause. In some cases, the repair will cost more than the car is worth, effectively rendering it a write-off.
There are numerous ways to treat rust at home—a simple anti-rust spray may do the trick in some situations. Another alternative involves filing the affected area down, applying a rust converter, and then putting on a top coat of anti-rust paint. However, DIY methods are not always the best especially if you are inexperienced and the extent of the rust is considerable.
10. See A Panel Beater
In some scenarios, the best solution is to get a panel beater involved. Heavy rust damage may require cutting out the affected section and welding a new bit of metal in its place—it’s certainly not a job you can DIY.
to carry out this highly technical procedure. A reputable panel beater can give you expert insight on the extent of rust damage inflicted upon your car and offer you the most practical solution.
By following the ten tips outlined in this guide, you’ll have a good chance to stop rust in its tracks. And remember – take action as soon as you notice the early warning signs. The longer you let it fester, the worse your rust woes will become.