Do You Know Why Cars Develop Rust?

It’s a heart-stopping moment for a car owner. Routinely looking over your vehicle, you see a spot of rust. If you’ve ever dealt with rust before, you know this is trouble, because rust is not only unsightly but also dangerous. Left to its own devices, it can damage your car’s structural integrity and decimate its resale value. How do you get rid of rust? Better yet, how do you prevent it from happening in the first place?

If you’ve already got a rusty spot, get to an auto body repair shop as quickly as possible. Rust doesn’t just damage the paint job, it can affect the brake and exhaust system, as well as damaging the subframe. It’s best to let a professional handle rust removal, to make sure the job is done correctly and thoroughly.

But what causes a vehicle to rust? Rust is technically called iron oxide, and it forms when an iron-containing metal oxidizes because of extended exposure to oxygen and moisture.  Steel, from which auto bodies are made, contains iron. So, even though steel is durable and strong, it’s also susceptible to iron oxide, or rust. What increases the likelihood that a vehicle will rust?

  • Older vehicles are more susceptible to rust than newer vehicles. That’s because newer vehicles have paint that’s more protective, and they’re made of galvanized steel. In the right circumstances, galvanized steel can last up to 70 years without sustaining any corrosion. During the manufacturing process, however, the steel must be cut, drilled, and heated, and this compromises its integrity somewhat. Areas of your car like the panels and doors, though made of galvanized steel, are still vulnerable to rust.
  • Paint affords a level of rust protection. Automotive manufacturers use primer and paint designed to protect vehicles from rust. If this protective coating is damaged in any way, though, the bare metal under the paint is exposed to moisture. Even the smallest dents and scratches can provide a breach in protection that allows moisture to penetrate and start the oxidation process. That’s why it’s important to get any scratches or dents in your car repaired as quickly as possible.
  • Certain locations make cars more vulnerable to rust. To begin forming, rust requires an anode, a cathode, and an electrolyte. The metal in the car provides the anode and cathode, and water provides the electrolyte. Saltwater is better at carrying electrons than water with a low salt content, which is why rust is more likely to form in areas near the ocean. The humid air means moisture is constantly in contact with your car’s surface, and because of its proximity to the ocean, that moist air has a high salt content. If you live in a cold climate, where salt is used to clear snow from the roads, the saltwater that splashes onto your car from the melted snow is also likely to cause rust spots.
  • Where you park matters. If you can possibly park on a paved surface, do it. Parking on dirt, grass, or snow exposes your vehicle to moisture that can cause rust. If you park on asphalt, apply a sealant to any cracks that form in the asphalt. Otherwise, those cracks will expose your car to unnecessary moisture.
  • A clean vehicle is less vulnerable to rust. Taking care of your car’s paint job is a good way to maintain rust prevention, so wash your car at least every week or two. Take care to wash the underbody, to remove any road salt or grime that’s collected beneath your vehicle. Once a month, apply a protective wax coating.
  • Rustproofing is the best defense against rust. For some car owners, it’s not worth the investment, and this is a subjective decision that you’ll have to make on your own. If you live in the desert, rustproofing may not be necessary. If you live near the ocean or in a northern climate, though, rustproofing is a good move if you intend to keep your car for a long time. Your auto body shop can make recommendations about the best rustproofing method for you. It’s wise to ask for expert advice, because there are many different rustproofing methods available, including:
    • Electronic Module: One of the newer rust protection methods, it’s also the most controversial. To protect your car against rust, a small device is installed in your vehicle. This device emits a weak current throughout the vehicle’s body, and this prevents it from reacting with oxygen. The technology was initially used on the bottom of boats and has been proven effective in that situation. On cars, though, many experts are skeptical as to its efficacy. Because it’s a costly rust protection method and the reviews are mixed, car owners are often reluctant to install it.
    • Tarbased Spray: This method of rust protection, also known as undercoating, is an affordable, non-invasive, and time-tested option. Tar-based rustproofing has been in use since the 1950s when it was introduced to provide quieter car rides.
    • Dripless Oil Spray: Designed to protect your car’s underbody, this spray forms a moisture seal. Compared to the tar-based sprays, dripless oil sprays cover more surface area.
    • Drip Oil Spray: This method is similar to a dripless spray but is generally more effective. That’s because it reaches more parts of your car than a dripless spray can. Because it has more leftover residue, however, it leads to dripping oil.

Whether you’ve noticed a spot of rust on your vehicle, you’ve let it go and have a larger rust area, or you simply have a dent or scratch that needs repair, don’t hesitate to contact B&L Automotive Repairs. A family-owned business, we have over 30 years of experience handling every kind of body and mechanical repair, and we’ve even got a play area to entertain the kids while you wait. Our expert staff is continually trained and updated, and our state-of-the-art equipment allows them to serve you with the highest level of expertise. No matter what make and model you drive, or which insurance company you use, we will provide fast and reliable service to make sure your needs are met. Call us today at (773) 463-1622, or contact us through our website for more information.

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