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Aug 12, 2014

Should I Rustproof My Car?

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Rustproofing is one of those things that you’ve likely heard of, have definitely been offered, and might still be confused about. Some say it is an absolute necessity, while others think it’s a waste of time and money.


What Is Rust?

Before you figure out if you should get it done or not, it’s probably a good idea to shed some light on what rust really is. Basically, rust refers to an electrochemical reaction between bare steel and water. If there are depressions or creases in the metal frame, moisture can be trapped which increases the contact time and promotes more rusting.

Rust became an issue in the 1950s when salt started being used to melt ice in the winter. The salt that’s in the water that gets trapped in creases of the metal accelerates the corrosion even more.

What Is Rustproofing?

Through the 1960s and 1970s, rustproofing became big business. Parts of the car that are vulnerable to rust are treated so that the salt on the roads won’t have the same corrosive effect.

Today, car manufacturers are able to coat the metal more effectively so rust isn’t as big of an issue as back then, but the fact that vehicles usually stay on the road longer means specific parts are more likely to rust. These may include fuel lines and brake lines, electrical connectors or power steering tubes. Replacing these parts isn’t cheap, so rustproofing is probably a good idea to reduce maintenance costs and prolong the life of these vulnerable parts.

Many dealers try to sell you on thick rust treatments known as “undercoating,” but a lot of mechanics don’t advocate using them. They prefer thinner, oil-based rustproofing coatings that will protect all of the elements in question.

New Technologies

One of the newer rustproofing technologies that many places are promoting is called electronic rustproofing. This consists of a small gadget installed on your car that is supposed to act as a rust inhibitor. According to the Automobile Protection Association, these things only work if the vehicle is submerged in water, which for most people isn’t very often.

If you feel that rustproofing your vehicle is the right thing to do, opt for a lighter coating and avoid the electronic rustproofing that has not been proven effective in normal situations. Ask as many questions as you see fit when the dealer or mechanic is trying to sell you any rustproofing system! Usually, if any type of treatment doesn’t seem to make sense, it’s for a good reason.

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