The Detroit Post
Monday, 25 October, 2021

How Does Rust Form On A Car

David Lawrence
• Thursday, 29 October, 2020
• 7 min read

Because rust only needs an anode, cathode and electrolyte to form, cars are susceptible to it. If the climate is humid enough, your car can develop rust even if it's undercover.

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But even if you live hundreds of miles away from the water, salt can still give you trouble. As the ice melts, you're left with an electrolyte capable of turning your car into a rust bucket.

But if this coating is damaged from scratches or dents, moisture can make contact with the bare metal under the paint. Iron oxide forms easily and vehicles can develop rust in any region or environment.

But it’s easy to learn how to remove rust from a car and to prevent it from starting. A deep scratch on the bare metal of your car ’s exterior also can produce some rust.

That allows air and water to reach rusting iron, causing even deeper corrosion. The presence of salt and salty water can speed up the corrosion process.

Hydroxide rust is the flaky stuff that doesn’t stick to the iron. It’s important to remain diligent about preventing rust or removing it right away.

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The rusty section will need to be cut out and replaced with a clean panel. The easy and cost-effect approach to avoiding rust is to make sure that water doesn’t collect on your car ’s surface.

Pay close attention to keeping the undercarriage free from salt. Try using compressed air, a shop vac, or a leaf blower to blow out the water that hides behind all the creases and trim on the car.

So, it’s a good idea to check the lines yearly to make sure they are free from obstructions. Some vehicles use galvanized and stainless steel to resist rust.

It’s worth thinking about a protective undercoating that you can apply to the floor pans. If possible, get recommendations for reliable managed facilities from local car club members.

Before storing the car, wash and wax the exterior and clean the upholstery. Unlike corded nylons, radial tires stay round when parked.

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If you store the car in a garage, make sure that air is circulating to avoid a damp environment. It’s where water can slip past the weather stripping and collects at the bottom of the door panel.

It’s best to promptly paint it with primer to ward off the rust until you are ready to re-paint fully. You might be able to repair the area with body filler designed for these rusty spots.

The owner of this truck caught the rust issue before it became a big job to fix. The acid reacts with the rust to form iron mandate, which is not corrosive.

To avoid contaminating the rust converter material in its original package, pour only the required amount into a separate container. It’s also smart to use a disposable brush to coat the rusty area.

But in most cases, use a primer coat of paint for extra protection. After a few hours of soaking, notice how the tip does not show rust.

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eBay Motors offers exterior body parts for this purpose. Or a skilled craftsman can pound a raw sheet of metal into the right shape.

In the most severe cases, rust can destroy a car ’s entire body. Treating rust as soon as it’s detected will help you avoid that situation.

The cost could grow to $500 or more when a body shop has to tackle a larger area of rust. You might have seen rat rods or other older vehicles with an intentional rusty finish.

There is a trick to sporting a rusty patina while protecting your car from quick deterioration. 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.

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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.

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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.

Use a coat hanger or pipe cleaner to make sure the holes remain open. 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. Stone chips and other nicks and dings that are left unrepaired can develop into rust spots over time, so it pays to buy some matching touch-paint to cover those imperfections.

The most common cause of rust on cars is exposing the metal to water. Then you may be able to help slow down or prevent rusting from beginning on your vehicle.

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Many people ask why cars rust faster when in seaside locations. Therefore, it is not a surprise that the combination of water and salt in the seaside air can lead to a car rusting faster.

However, some other things that vehicle owners can do to help slow down the rusting process include more frequent washing, professional rust -proofing, waxing your car regularly, and seal scratches and dents immediately. It is recommended that you wash and wax your car at least every two weeks when you live in a high moisture or seaside location to help keep the salt and moisture mixture from starting the rusting process.

You will also want to make sure that you seal scratches and dents you find on your car as soon as they are noticed. You can do this by applying clear nail polish to the scratches and dents immediately.

Once you understand the factors that are located in your geographic area, you may be able to take precautions to limit or stop the beginning of the rusting process on your vehicle.

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