“The types of metals and treatments have changed over the past 20 years and cars are well protected from rust right from the factory.” Consumer Reports’ reliability data tracks a 10-year history of a vehicle, reporting on issues consumers have with their new cars after 12 months of ownership. Quincy says they actually removed questions about rust from the survey several years ago because the results were showing it wasn’t a factor anymore.
If a car has been in an accident, and unprotected steel was exposed, there’s still a chance of rust occurring. For extra peace of mind, Quincy explains that there are some tips that every driver should consider keeping their car as rust free as possible.
Aluminum car parts are less likely to rust than steel, although it isn’t very widely used in mainstream vehicles yet. “Aluminum isn’t prone to rust since it’s an oxidation of iron,” says Brad Start from Audi.
The Audi A8 was the first car on the market with an aluminum chassis, and other automakers, like Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar are also adopting this strategy. While aluminum construction is mainly for saving weight, the added benefit of long-term reliability is also a great selling point.
The people at Known Rust Control understand that new cars are well protected, but also believe that new chemicals on the road are more corrosive. “The chemicals used on our roads are far more corrosive than those used in the past,” says Freeman Young, president of Known Rust Control.
“Although protecting body panels and vehicle frames against rust is important, the best rust inhibiting products also protect electrical areas such as battery terminals, wiring harnesses, switches and plugs from moisture,” he says. “Keeping these areas protected with the right type of product will greatly reduce repair costs and vehicle breakdowns.
Lubrication of moving mechanical parts like brake cables, suspension components, and door hinges is another benefit of a good rust inhibitor/lubricant.” Overall rust is far less present now than it was 20 years ago, leading outlets like Consumer Reports to downplay the need for rustproofing.
When you buy a new car, the dealership will try to add on extra features and services before you finally agree to purchase anything. This type of corrosion can spread like a rash and eventually shorten the life of your car, as well as lessen the value.
Rustproof undercoating is meant to help protect your car from corrosion due to rust and other gunk that can form. Even though this newer and more protective method of rustproofing is used in most all vehicles now, it doesn’t mean they’re completely invincible against rust.
If something were to happen that would scrap or chip off the zinc layering on the galvanized steel, the metal underneath would be exposed, allowing it to face the risk of rusting. The tactics manufacturers use to combat this type of corrosion is all you will need to protect your precious new vehicle and will even extend into the life of a well cared for used car.
This is especially important for the undercarriage of your vehicle, which commonly comes into contact with substances such as water, chemicals such as salt, and other dirt and debris from the road. Without some sort of protection, the bottom of your vehicle can rust and corrode, leading to part failure.
The best time to rustproof or apply undercoating protection is when you buy a brand-new vehicle that hasn't been driven yet. In essence, ask the dealership to apply the protection before you even drive off the lot.
This represents the best time to have an undercoating applied, as the under body of the vehicle is probably the cleanest it will ever be. If you only plan on keeping the vehicle for a few years, you might consider sparing the expense and foregoing getting an undercoating applied.
While the underside of the vehicle has already been exposed to water, dirt, and other debris from the road at this point, applying an undercoating now can protect it from further exposure. When having your vehicle rustproofed or an undercoating applied, you have a few options to choose from.
Whether you prefer the latest technology or a more tried and true method, knowing what the different options are should allow you to choose the best one for your vehicle. Using a weak electric current, this small device can stop the corroding effects of rust.
This method involves spraying a tar-based substance on the exposed parts of a vehicle's under body. The tar-like undercoating acts as a barrier once it hardens, keeping out moisture, salt, and other substances.
It also requires expert application, or it can crack, letting in moisture. A wax-like substance applied to the entire body of the vehicle, it hardens once it has dried.
One of the downsides of dripless oil sprays is that you need to have holes drilled into the body of the car at specific points to make it effective. The spray also has a high viscosity, meaning that it does not always get into all the nooks and crannies of your vehicle.
While you could pay someone to apply an undercoating to your vehicle, you can also save money by doing it yourself. Sand any remaining rust using sandpaper designed for metal.
After removing any rust, it is time to prime and paint the underside of the vehicle. The last step in the process requires you to apply an undercoating to the under body of your vehicle.
Allow this coat to dry for at least an hour, or longer if the instructions call for it. A rubberized undercoating is more durable and seals better, protecting the metal from exposure to water.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. When you shop through retailer links on our site, we may earn affiliate commissions.
Consumer Reports recommends that car buyers skip the undercoating and several other pricey add-ons, including VIN etching, fabric protection, and extended warranties. Editors Note: This article also appeared in the September 2018 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.
Listed below are some common myths, and truths concerning what rustproofing does and if you should take advantage of it. If you’ve lost some of your car to rust, you can still slow the process with rustproofing.
The real culprit when trying to rustproof is salt, dirt, and build-up. In fact, a quality rustproofing job should last you up to ten years and provide you with peace of mind regardless of the weather conditions.
Now granted, if a rust spot is allowed to build and grow, there may not be much that can be done. Still, if caught early, a car can be salvaged and rust can be repaired.
One would think with all the exciting and modern features available on a new car, that rustproofing would be included. However, the truth is that rustproofing is considered an after-market service, no not normally included with a new car purchase.
The next time you hear someone claim one of these myths about rustproofing as true, keep these facts in mind. New -car buyers have invariably heard sales pitches for extended warranties and protection packages that have become the bread-and-butter of many dealerships.
But with consumers often opting for extended-term car loans that can last up to 96 months, a small investment to keep rust away may be a worthwhile consideration. While the CAA recommends rust protection to prolong the life of your vehicle, it prefers and endorses sprayed solutions instead of the modules.
It involves spraying a black, tar-like substance on the floor pans, wheel wells, and other exposed parts of the under body of your car, which then hardens and acts as a permanent shield against moisture, salt, and other elements. This will not protect the whole body of your car though, and it cannot stop corrosion if it has already started, which means it is best applied to brand-new vehicles.
The major risk to tar-based solutions is that if not applied properly, cracks may develop in the hardened coating over time and trap moisture within itself, leading to rust. Heart is one of the largest providers of this method of rust protection and charges approximately $150 per vehicle.
Heart also offers something called Penetr-Oil, which is a very dense, wax-like oil spray applied to the entire body of the vehicle. There is a catch though, as this method involves drilling holes into a car's doors, fenders, and other areas to make sure the substance gets applied everywhere.
Another known issue is that due to the substance's high viscosity, it cannot get into all the nooks and crannies in the same way more watery oil solutions can. As the name suggests, a slight annoyance is that the sprayed oil drips for about two days after application, potentially leaving stains in your garage, driveway or parking spot.
Andrew Tai is CEO of Untangle, which helps consumers find new car deals by providing access to data on what others paid for the same vehicle, current incentives, invoice prices, and more.