The Detroit Post
Saturday, 16 October, 2021

Is Rust Undercoating Worth It

Elaine Sutton
• Tuesday, 22 December, 2020
• 10 min read

And for those who deal with arctic climates or live in areas that frequently use road salt or mag chloride, it can be a lifesaver to protect the undercarriage of your daily driver. If you live in the Northern USA or in coastal regions like Houston, Louisiana, and other cities, it’s quite possible you’ve been introduced to the term undercoating.

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The undercoating is sprayed on the chassis and is marketed and advertised to customers as a rust protectant that also helps reduce road noise. It’s always best to apply an undercoating when you first purchase a new car, as it coats to the surface and not road grime or other ‘stuff’.

To be honest, most cars, trucks, and SUVs made today have some rust protection ingredients mixed into the materials. Plus, more and more daily drivers are using materials like Aluminum that naturally resist the development of rust.

This method involves removing the electrical current capacity of items underneath the vehicle. It circulates a weak electrical current through the materials, which reduces the potential of corrosion.

Drip oil spray is an incredibly messy, but very effective method of protecting the undercarriage. When it’s sprayed, it fills all the nooks and crannies of the chassis, providing an exceptional layer of protection.

In fact, it’ll continue to drip for a minimum of 48 hours in most cases, and not fully cure for up to a week. This is a wax-like substance that will be applied to the entire vehicle (body and undercarriage) to provide a rather strong layer of protection but can wear thin sooner than other traditional methods.

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The biggest advantage of undercoating products is the protection against corrosion for longer periods of time. An extra layer of insulation is always a good way to reduce noise from penetrating materials.

Whether it’s a home or your car, the more ‘padding’ between you and the source of the noise, the quieter things will be naturally. There are several DIY products for applying a rustproofing or prevention spray on the undercarriage of your ride.

However, it can get messy, cause your vehicle to be out of service for a few days while it cures, and is usually more time-excessive vs the amount of money to have a pro take care of it for you. Remember, each type of under body spray is unique, so it will require specific steps to be completed.

Degreased products A disc grinder and pads Air hose Eye protection Protective gloves Sandpaper (usually 200 grit) Scraper The Undercoating & Recommended application products A hydraulic lift (quite helpful for removal and spraying) The first thing you need to do is fully debris the undercarriage or all areas you intend on treating with the spray.

Generally, spray, let it soak for a few minutes, then remove with shop rags or microfiber towels you don’t mind trashing. It’s a good idea to use a mild grinding pad and take a progressive approach to removal.

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Sanding : After all the crap is off the surface, use a 200 to 400 grit sandpaper to remove scratches and other small contaminants. The best type of primers is those with high zinc levels, as this really helps to reduce that whole corrosion process if the surface layer is penetrated.

A ceramic coating is a great way to extend life, protect the shine, and keep the surface of your car cleaner, for longer periods. Investing in a high-quality DIY ceramic coating like Armor Shield IX is a great way to ensure corrosion doesn’t turn your ride into a rust -bucket.

And the best part, we treat our customers like family, so if you have any questions or just looking to chat about cars, we're only an email or call away. 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.

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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.

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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.

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.

Make sure to apply it to every part that you expect to be exposed to the road. 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.

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Editors Note: This article also appeared in the September 2018 issue of Consumer Reports magazine. Undercoating and rust -proofing are examples of offering protection and care to the underbelly of your vehicle.

Even if you live in a warm climate where salt or ice-melting chemicals are not used on roadways, it is essential to protect against corrosion and rust on the underside of the car, truck, or SUV. All the moving parts underneath the vehicle must work in harmony to ensure your driving experience is safe.

Here are the pros and cons of having an undercoating installed to consider if you’re thinking about having this service performed on your vehicle. When an undercoating is properly applied to a vehicle, then you’ll be providing the underbelly with a layer of protection against rust and corrosion.

Instead of contacting the metal components of the vehicle, the debris encounters the undercoating, which then proactively repels the dangerous items away. Although an undercoating will eventually wear out, it can provide years of protection against premature corrosion.

It can get into your metal wires and cables, affecting any component which comprises steel or aluminum. Even your transmission and engine have exposure to rust when there isn’t a vehicle undercoating applied.

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Over time, the underbelly of your vehicle is going to develop nicks, chips, and scratches because of the debris you encounter while driving. Unlike older forms of undercoating, which included the use of asphalt and animal fat, modern products provide a real layer of protection because it can morph into the various areas of small damage.

A modern undercoating is usually wax-based, which creates a living barrier that your vehicle can use to promote a self-healing experience. If this service is applied at the dealership, it may cost up to $1,500, depending on the make and model of your vehicle.

A standard undercoating method applies a tar-like substance to the exposed components of the vehicle underbelly. A dripless oil spray applies a waxy substance that fills in the entire body of the vehicle, which hardens when it dries.

If you reduce the risks of a claim by giving your vehicle a proactive service, of which an undercoating applies, then it may lower your overall premiums. States which see high levels of cohesiveness, such as Hawaii, typically see the steepest discounts with this advantage.

Although the premium decrease won’t offset the cost of the service, a discount of 3% to 7% may be available for some owners. For an undercoating to be the most effective, it should be in place before the underbelly of your car begins to rust.

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If you apply it over corrosion, you will still isolate the metal from further moisture and airflow, which is good, but the existing oxidizing/rusting process will still continue to occur. If you’ve purchased a used vehicle, then the cost of preparing the underbelly for an undercoating might be more than the value of the car.

The best time to have an undercoating applied is when a vehicle is purchased new because it offers a superior level of protection then. Although an undercoating does add value to a used car, that only applies when the rustproofing product used provides a transferable lifetime warranty.

Most vehicles that are on the road today are able to make it five years before any corrosion begins to show. If you wash your vehicle regularly, especially during the winter months, then you might be able to save the time and money required for this service.

Some new cars no longer need the undercoating service provided because the structure of the vehicle has it built-in already. Most vehicles today that leave the factory floor are all provided with included rust -proofing.

When your vehicle weighs more, the distance you can travel on a single tank of fuel is reduced. The undercoating might reduce your efficiency by up to one mile per gallon, which creates a small additional fuel cost over time.

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An undercoating can provide a hardened layer of protection against dirt and debris that may cause corrosion. If you drive your vehicle on gravel roads or dirty areas frequently, you reduce the integrity of the protective layer.

The only way for an undercoating to provide ongoing protection for your vehicle is to have the service repeated frequently. You must perform your own due diligence on a vehicle you’re wanting to purchase to decide if this service is right for you.

And, if the cost is an issue, it is possible to apply your own undercoating, though such an action might void an active warranty. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.

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