How Do I Fight Rust on My Car?

Now that you have bought your new car it is now time you learn how to protect it. As the years go by your car takes a beating from many things including the weather, debris, potentially yourself and others, and rust. Rust?? Yes, rust. Although you just bought your new car, there are many areas that go simply unprotected or see more abuse than other areas of your car. I speak of areas such as your trunk, engine compartment, under carriage or frame of your car, and if applicable, your wheels. Many other areas rust as well, but we are assuming you have a newer car and these areas can be maintained by anyone quite easily.

Just so you know what you are up against, here is a quick definition of rust: Rust is formed by the reaction of iron and oxygen in the presence of air and/or water. As you can see, rust is virtually unavoidable unless you live somewhere without oxygen or water.

Prevent Rus From Forming

Since that is not possible, there are several things you can do to prevent rust from forming as quickly. Listed below, we have compiled a checklist for you.

Wash your car regularly

  • fight-rust-car
    Dust and dirt can scratch your car, leaving bare metal exposed
  • Allows you to see areas that may need touch up paint
  • Wash underneath your car frequently, especially during the winter. Road salt eats metal aggressively.
  • Apply wax after each wash, this will apply another layer of protection against the elements.
  • Wash your wheels regularly especially areas hard to get into. Cars do not use steel wheels as much as they used to. Now you will find an alloy or aluminum wheel. These will not rust like steel but you will find whitish pitting.
  • Do all of the above much more frequently if you leave near a ocean or other body of salt water.

Touch Up Minor Dings/Scratches with Paint

  • Exact match paint can be found. Look for the paint code inside the door jamb on the drivers side.
  • If at all possible, use a primer, base coat, and clear coat. This will give you the most protection possible and if done right, will blend better with your current paint. Make sure to read the instructions and allow proper time for the paint to dry.

Fix Major Damage as Soon as Possible

  • Bare metal rusts fasts
  • If fixed soon, it is possible to repair the damage versus having to replace it due to corrosion.

It is very important to remember that rust is much easier to prevent then it is to remove. A few minutes of your time here and there is much better than the cost and time needed to cut out rust spots along the body or worse, repair or replace a whole panel. There are a few other areas that could use your attention as well. There is a plug in your trunk that is supposed to drain water. This is generally in the lowest part of your trunk, most times underneath your spare tire. Be sure to keep this clear of any debris so it can drain properly. Some will need to be manually removed to drain water. Just be sure to check your trunk and see if it has water in it.

Having mentioned that, be sure to check all rubber moldings around your doors and trunk and make sure they seal properly. A fun way to do this is to have someone get into the trunk with a flashlight and have some one trickle, not spray, water on the trunk to see if there is a leak. You can do the same thing to your doors as well. A few other quick tips would be to grease pivot points such as your door and trunk hinges. Anything that needs to move or pivot should be greased often.

How to Remove Rust From Your Car

As I mentioned above, rust is much easier prevented than it is removed. The most important tip to give you here is to make sure you do not paint over rust and if you are removing it, you need to get down to clean and bare metal. And once you have, it is important to move quickly. If you let it sit too long, maybe a couple hours, you will notice light rust start to form. Many methods can be used to remove rust depending on severity. If it is just surface rust you can use a baking soda and water mixture. This will neutralize the chemical reaction that happens when air and/or water meets steel. A fine steel wool will work well for surface rust. For bigger projects you may need to use a 4 ½ grinder with soft sanding disc or wire wheel.

Whichever method you choose, you need to be sure that the rust is completely gone and even if it is only temporary, you need to apply some sort of primer to prevent more rust from forming. It should also be mentioned that paint and rust particles can be extremely harmful to your health and you should always wear a face mask or respirator when performing these tasks.

In short, even though rust is unavoidable in most cases, most times with the proper attention it can be prevented and treated. It is very important to wash your car frequently, maybe once a month in the summer and twice a month during the winter. The $5 you spend on a carwash can save you a couple hundred, even a couple thousand, later on in the future. Not to mention that the tips above require more of an investment of time then money.