How to prevent rust on your car

DRIVE Team
September 12

If cars could talk, we’re sure they would agree that one of their fears is rust.

The brown crust shows up without invitation, forming around your fenders, doors, windows, and hidden parts of your car. To help protect your vehicle against rust it helps to know more about what it is, how it happens and what steps you can take to help prevent it.

What is rust?

Rust, in text book terms, is really an electrochemical breakdown of iron-based metals called oxidation. When these molecules react with oxygen they create new molecules called iron oxide (a.k.a. rust).

Will my car get rust?

If you’re driving a brand new car, you probably have less to worry about. Today’s auto manufacturers treat cars with a durable rust protectant that helps prevent the nasty stuff from forming. That being said, the condition of your car will depend on how you drive it, where you drive it and how you look after it. Driving a new or old car through rough conditions and ignoring the first signs of wear could cause rust to develop earlier than anticipated.

How bad is rust on a car?

It’s important to keep in mind that all rust is not created equal. There are less invasive forms that take place on the surface of your vehicle—caused by nicks, cracks or scratches. Scale rust usually forms as a result of street salt or water damage. And penetrating rust, the most invasive variety, occurs when holes start to form and the metal becomes extremely brittle (this damage is non-reversible and will require replacement parts for a lot of $$$)

Tips to help prevent rust on your car

Whether your car is new or old, there are things you can do to help prevent rust from forming:

1. Inspect your vehicle regularly

Look for signs of rust on the underside of your vehicle, where body components meet or rub, and between wheel wells and bumpers—common trouble spots for rust development. It helps to have your tires rotated twice a year and the underside of your vehicle inspected at the same time.

2. Wash your car regularly

Although dirt does not directly cause rust, dirt and sediment can wear through your paint over time. Abrasive road salts, gasoline and acidic bird droppings can also lead to corrosion. So, make sure to wash your car every few weeks! Don’t forget to dry areas where water might pool and cause damage down the road.

3. Slow down and leave room

Driving too close to the vehicle in front of you increases the potential for road debris to hit and damage your car. Slow down and leave space between you and the car in front. Easing up on the gas pedal can lessen the impact of abrasive material hitting your car.

4. Wax on, wax on

Applying a coat of wax to your vehicle twice a year will provide the paint with an extra layer of protection and help reduce the chances of rust forming. Wax also repels water and protects paint from fading in the sun.

5. Get a car bra

Yes, a car bra is a thing! Made of vinyl or plastic, it attaches to the front of the hood—a car part that takes a beating and is often at risk for rust—to help protect it from damage.

6. Don’t forget the inside

Salt and other road debris can easily transfer into the interior of your car, and left for long periods of time there is the risk of corrosive damage from the inside out. A thorough interior cleaning every few months of your trunk, flooring and car upholstery is also recommended.

7. Schedule regular maintenance

Having a mechanic inspect your car when it’s hoisted for oil changes, tire rotations, or other service ensures the not so easy to see spots get checked out for potential signs of rust. To help take the hassle out of scheduling service appointments, sign-up to DRIVE and easily book with your dealer or trusted mobile mechanic.

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by RBC Ventures Inc. or its affiliates.