The underside of your car is at a higher risk of corrosion, because it’s more likely to stay wet after you drive in a rainstorm, as the sun can’t reach it to dry it out. Over time, as these areas stay almost constantly wet, that trapped water will wreak havoc on the metal of your vehicle.
Salt speeds up the electrolytic reaction that occurs between iron and oxygen in the presence of water, so a wet and salty undercarriage during the winter months is at an even higher risk of rusting out. You can help keep things free of corrosion by adding your own light covering of oil or undercoating, which will cling to the metal and repel water.
Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time. I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.
If rust gets into a vehicle’s frame or body structure, it can become a safety issue for drivers. In fact, if a vehicle’s structure gets rusty enough, there could be a catastrophic failure even in routine daily driving.
First, moisture and carbon dioxide in the air mix to create a weak acid that starts to dissolve the iron. Think about how easy it is to crumble a flake of rust between your fingers, and then imagine that stuff trying to protect you and your loved ones during a car crash.
A stray piece of gravel or a minor fender bender is all it takes to chip a car’s paint, and any iron in the body panels will start to rust as soon as air and water reach the metal beneath it. That means rust spots can be fairly common on used vehicles, particularly if they’ve been driven in a northern U.S. state that uses chemicals and salt to device winter roads.
But if the rusting process goes on too long, it can eat right through the metal, causing holes and allowing body panels to fall to pieces. This is where problems go from cosmetic to dangerous, because modern cars and SUVs rely on these body panels for their structural integrity.
The most serious problems occur when rust gets beneath the car’s surface and within its underlying components. Rust -free body panels boost a vehicle’s structural integrity, but the parts doing the heavy lifting lie under the car’s skin.
Unfortunately, this area of a vehicle is often susceptible to rust -causing chemicals and water, which can accumulate there when a car drives down wet or icy roads. Most customers should avoid used vehicles that show strong signs of structural rust.
CARFAX also recommends getting an expert inspection that includes putting the vehicle up on a lift, to give your mechanic a better view of under body components. You can apply touch-up paint to stone chips, small scratches, and other minor nicks and dings, but truly repairing rust can take several steps, a variety of tools and materials, and quite a bit of skill.
Depending on the size and severity of the rust, blending the repaired area with the surrounding paint may require wet sanding or buffing the surface. Dirt can retain and trap moisture, and road salt, bird droppings, and other corrosive materials will eat away at paint if they’re left unattended on metal surfaces for long periods.
Waxing it on a regular basis (twice or more each year) will add a protective surface to the paint and clear coat. Wash and wax more frequently if you live near an ocean or in an area where highway crews spread salt on the roads to melt snow and ice during the winter.
Also, frequently check the fender liners and other areas under the hood, along the sides of the engine bay, for any standing water. Check the trunk or cargo area to make sure water isn’t seeping past the seals.
And it’s not just the structure; rust can corrode various parts, rendering them useless unless completely replaced. Unfortunately, rust issues aren’t confined to cars from one certain manufacturer or age group.
One major determinant of a car’s likelihood for rusting is its geographical location. Rust problems are more common in humid climates and in areas where road crews use salt to keep ice off the streets during the winter.
Areas such as the Upper Midwest and parts of the Northeast are especially known for rusting vehicles, largely because they suffer from both humidity and heavy road-salt use. But just because you’re located in an area that isn’t known for humidity or salt use doesn’t mean you’re safe from rust.
Common rust spots include the frame rails, which run underneath a car’s doors on each side, the wheel wells, the exhaust, the suspension and virtually any other underside components made of steel or metal. Once you have the car back on the ground, pull up the trunk carpeting and check for any signs of rust.
While we generally suggest consulting a professional about these issues, you can usually remove rust spots by sanding them away, so they don’t become worse and create further problems with your car. I spotted some rust on the underside of the car between the back wheels.
By the time the inspection was completed (and failed), I had a hole in my muffler system along with about $2,500 worth of rust related repairs for a $1000 vehicle. However, to check you're going to have to do the squeeze test between fingers and thumb on the thicker structural sections, then if you still can't determine how severe or not the rust is. It's time to get an old screwdriver out and tap (with the handle part) on the rustiest bits.
If the material is corroded right through holes will likely appear, this is not good especially in the structural sections, if this is the case then you may like to walk away from this one as welding will be required. If however it is just surface rust then a scrap off and clean up followed by an application of under body protection will suffice and your good to go.
The seller should have no issues at all with you taping on the structural parts of the body to check its integrity. In some parts of the world where lots of salt is used in the winter, this is not unusual rust.
If you want to keep it longer term, I'd treat the rusty areas on the under body with a wire wheel brush on an angle grinder, rust converter and fresh undercoating after a thorough clean. Maintaining the aesthetics of a vehicle is important to make the car appealing and obtain the optimal resale value.
Numerous substances such as mud and dirt make cars less visually appealing, but owners can rectify those problems with a good scrub. To the dismay of car owners, they have little to no control over how rust affects a vehicle.
Although parking your car in an enclosed space may prolong the start of corrosion, some vehicles are prone to rust regardless of the precautionary measures the owner takes. To help consumers avoid unnecessary headaches, we scoured the market for cars that are known to be rust buckets.
Its cars regularly feature on the Consumer Reports Reliable list and are some of the best-selling vehicles in North America. Drivers who purchase the Rav4 can take pleasure knowing that they not only drive a reliable vehicle, but the safety features in the Rav4 are some of the best on the market.
Buyers who want to own a vehicle that provides good fuel consumption should take a peek at the Alma. Alma owners will enjoy good fuel economy but will have to tolerate the rust.
Consumers who have deep pockets and enjoy a versatile sports SUV might pop into a Land Rover dealership to find out why everybody is making a fuss about the vehicle. The car delivers performance, a comfortable ride and contains many features in the cabin.
When the American manufacturer produced the Ford Key, it intended to provide a reliable vehicle that owners could use to commute around the city. Once the vehicle begins to corrode, you will be the proud owner of a small, rusty car.
Jeep unveiled the Wrangler in 2006 at the North American International Auto Show and has kept the vehicle in production since. Owning a Wrangler enables you to experience offloading in a way that other cars struggle to replicate, but the fun ride has a price.
The design and the features of the Wrangler are appealing, but none of that will matter once the vehicle's exterior begins to peel away due to rust. Although Ford has done a sublime job with the manufacturing of pickup trucks, its production skills lack with sedans.
Consumers who want to avoid mechanical and corrosion problems should stay clear of the Focus. For the 2012 model, Mazda offered the newly developed SkyActiv technology, a direct injection engine, and a new 6-speed transmission.
Although Mazda made significant changes to the design and features of the vehicle, it has not managed to correct the exterior problem that the car faces. The Mini used to be the car that everybody made fun of, and ownership was reserved for characters who resembled Mr. Bean.
The appeal and the performance of the Mini Cooper have improved, but the English manufacturer has had a difficult time preventing corrosion. You may look cool while cruising in a Cooper around town, but a rusty vehicle is anything but attractive.
The car suits a college student who needs a ride around town without expecting performance. The car has various names in the different markets that Chevrolet sells the vehicle but is globally known to rust.
One of the reasons that the car lasted only two years on the market is that it was prone to corrosion. Owners of the vehicle discovered after purchasing it that the exterior suffered irreparable damage due to corrosion.
That might sound like a reasonable price, but the vehicle is unreliable and aesthetically unappealing due to the high possibility of corrosion. Owners of the Saturn Relay turned their backs on the brand after experiencing innumerable problems.
Although the Mazda 3 and Rav4 are prone to rust, the South Korean manufacturer has ensured that the Accent does not corrode. Owners of the vehicle will be glad to know that they are driving a car that will be around for a long time as the parts and exterior are durable.
To ensure that young buyers are impressed by the vehicle, Kia designed the exterior to last a long time and made the car with the highest quality materials to prevent corrosion. The car may not provide great performance as the engine is capable of pumping out only 173 horsepower, but the exterior will not suffer from rust.
It seems that if you want a car that will not provide any hassles with rust, then stick to Asian vehicles. The Lexus LS is a full-size luxury car, which serves as the flagship model for the brand.
The LS stands for Luxury Sedan, and owners will experience a comfortable vehicle that is not prone to corrosion. Sweden may not be known for many things, but the European country knows how to make reliable vehicles.
The third generation is scheduled for a 2018, latest 2019, release and built in America's first Volvo factory in Libreville, South Carolina. The United States will be the sole global source of the S60 when production in China phases out in 2019.
The latest Golf GTI models allow drivers to obtain blistering speeds while cruising in style. Driving a magnificent German vehicle such as a Mercedes-Benz allows drivers to experience speed, luxury, and sophistication.
The German manufacturer has produced some of the best vehicles on the road and strives every year to outdo its previous model. The latest generation is the first car to feature the Modular Rear Architecture platform.
Enthusiasts of the car know that they are getting value for their money if they buy the A3 as it will not give owners any problems with corrosion. Honda's and Toyota's are the two most stolen vehicles in the United States because of the quality of its parts.
The latest Civic model is not only reliable and durable, but it offers a sporty design that makes the vehicle look like a speed demon. The comfortable leather seats, the solid handling, and advanced technological features allow the driver the royal experience.
The easiest choice to make when selecting a vehicle that is reliable and durable, as well as resistant to rust, is the Toyota Camry.