Car Rust Protection: How to Prevent Rust on a Car

July 2, 2012

With rust, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Learn about electronic car rust protection, anti-corrosion paint and rust removal products.

Car Rust

Where Rust Comes From

Car rust protection has always been a concern for car owners, especially for those in places with long, harsh winters and roads that utilize salt to melt snow. Rust greatly decreases the value of your car, and for good reasons. Not only is rust unsightly; once rust begins to form, it continues to spread and is hard to remove and repair.

Rust is a combination of natural elements such as salt, water, and heat. Salt absorbs water and carries it into small cracks and abrasions on the car's surface, and into the metal. With the combination of heat, oxidation occurs where the water reacts with the metal in order to produce rust.

Most modern automobiles already have built in car rust protection, especially when painted with a clear coat finish. However, over time weathering usually occurs, which makes the car more and more vulnerable to rust attacks.

How Car Rust Can Be Prevented
Cars usually have a rust protection warranty of around six years. Unfortunately, that is about the time when rust first begins to be apparent in cars. And because of its corrosive nature, once rust develops, then the original metal is lost forever. You can hide it with filler and give your car a new coat of paint, but that will only lower your car's value.

The best option is to keep rust from forming on your car. The only solution is a watchful and vigilant eye, and of course, regular maintenance. This is true especially during the winter months. Never let salt residue stay on your car for more than a week. Otherwise, rust may begin to grow.

Most drive-in car washes now also provide a certain degree of rust proofing in their options. However, this isn't enough to protect hard to reach places on your car, especially the undercarriage.

Recently, a better understanding of rust formation has led to the development of new car rust protection techniques and ways to keep our cars from rusting. Now, the only problem is to choose the right one for your car.

Is It Necessary to Get New Car Rust Protection?
Dealer or aftermarket car rust protection is an additional layer that acts as a barrier between the elements and the metal that makes up the body panels and frame of your car.

Modern cars are superior compared to their counterparts of 15 to 20 years ago, which virtually required aftermarket rust protection. Car manufacturers have realized the importance of creating vehicles that are more rust resistant. Manufacturers back up their products with rust and corrosion warranties to reflect the confidence they have in the process. Most major car manufacturers offer six year rust and corrosion protection.

Unless you live in a place where excessive salt is used on the roads, or you frequently drive on loose dirt or gravel that can damage your undercarriage, purchasing additional rust protection for your car is not necessary. Washing your car and the undercarriage on a regular basis will prevent dirt and other debris from building up and keep it rust free.

How Electronic Car Rust Protection Systems Work

The most popular method of applying car rust protection, used by most manufactures, is electronically applied primer, otherwise known as e-coating. This is the preferred method because it helps to make a mechanical bond between the metal and the paint. This type of primer system, coupled with galvanized steel, helps modern cars resist rust much better than their predecessors. Below is a simplified description of the entire process.

Whether you are using e-coating or a manually sprayed application method, the metal has to be prepared for painting. This is done to ensure a good adherence of the paint. The most common way this is accomplished is by using a mild acid to etch the metal. In the e-coating process, this is usually accomplished by dipping the entire body. To accomplish this, the body must be fully submerged the solution. Most e-coat systems are a multiple stage system where the entire body is constantly sprayed, to remove contaminants, and dipped to achieve the best results. Once the pretreatment sprays, acid dip and post dip sprays are complete, it is time to apply the paint.

Paint Application
This is where the process is the most complicated. Once the acid dip stages have been completed, the body moves into the paint stage. The paint is applied by dipping the body in another bath. Some manufactures simply dip, while others rotate the body while it is in the bath. The paint is applied by electro magnetism. This is accomplished by charging the bath with one polarity and the body the other; For instance the body could be positively charged while the paint could be negativity charged. The difference in polarity causes the paint to be drawn onto the body. Another advantage is the full coverage that comes with a paint dip. This allows the paint to flow into all the crevasses and hidden places that a manual spray cannot achieve.

After the paint has been applied, the body enters the post-treatment stages. The painted body moves from the paint through another dip or spray, which helps remove any contaminants, and ensures an even paint coverage. After all the treatment stages are complete, the body moves into an oven where the paint is cured. Using an oven to cure the paint helps speed up the dying time, accommodating the fast pace of a modern automobile assembly line.

This is only brief overview of the process, since every automaker has a different way of accomplishing this task. The actual number of stages, paint makeup and oven specs are proprietary information and are kept strictly confidential.

Related Questions and Answers

What are the Most Popular Rust Removal Products for Cars?

There are several popular rust removal products for cars in the market at present. A few of the most popular products include: Kroil Anti Rust Products. They are specially formulated for use with cars. The site sells products for cars that have rust prevention and rust dissolving properties in them. Take a look there for more information. Eastwood has one of the best selections of anti-rust products on the market. You will get rust dissolvers, clear anti rust and even aerosols for use on the underbelly of your car. Rustoleum is pretty popular too. Texaco Rustproof Compound L seems to work the best on underbellies of cars.

    Where Can I Buy Anti Corrosion Paint for My Car?

    Although all paints are used to protect cars from corrosion, every paint brand cannot be called as anti corrosion paint. To protect, you have to apply special anti-corrosion paints on your car. There are a few sites where you can buy anti corrosion paints. Get in touch with specialty websites that sell anti corrosion car paint. Most car paint makers will also have anti corrosion paints that are used for touch ups. Check with your owners manual to find out which anti corrosion paint was originally used and then order the same. Use trade directories. There are several large trade directories that have listings of anti corrosion paint retailers. Find one located the closest to you and order the right variety.

      What is Electronic Rustproofing and Can I do it for My Car?

      One method of rustproofing that has become popular is electronic rustproofing. Rustproofing your car becomes essential when parts of your car get exposed to water. Rust is an electrochemical reaction where the overlying water causes exposed steel to oxidize. Based on the same reaction, an electric current produced by Electronic rustproofing devices can form a layer on the surface of your car. It can slow down the rate of rust formation by cathodic corrosion protection. But even though the theory is sound, it's very difficult to know whether devices like CounterAct will work on an entire car and its underbelly.

      What is the Best Method for Removing Surface Rust on a Vehicle?

      Removing surface rust from a car requires a little knowledge. There are several methods that you can use and most methods work well on big and small rusted areas too. For small rust spots, you can use rust removing pens, paint on rust converters, sandpaper and steel wool, or rubber abrasive sanding blocks made by Cratex. For slightly larger areas, you can try sanding machines that will do the job faster and more accurately followed by phosphoric acids. These also work very well to actually scrape off all the rust and then etches the surface of the car till it appears shiny.

      What Tools are Required to Remove Rust from a Car?

      One might feel intimidated to remove rust from their car with tools. Here are a few car rust removal tools you should have before you start. Wet and dry sanding paper in different grits ranging from 200 to 500 and more. These will work well to scrape off the rust from the surface of the car. You can combine them with electrical sanding machines to scrape off the rust. Rubber sanding blocks from Cratex also work well instead of sanding paper.Body Putty and filler for filling in dents and scratches, and body paint to cover the denting and body putty.