Dealing with rust should be a priority for all vehicle owners, not just those living at the coast, says Dewald Ranft, Chairperson of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), a proud association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI).
Modern vehicles are made of many metal components. The metal frame and metal door panels that provide the structural support your vehicle needs can easily be erroded by rust. The main cause of rust is water or moisture chemically reacting with any exposed metal on your vehicle, such as scratches or dents. “If you live near the ocean your vehicle is more likely to rust due to the high salt content of the humid ocean air, but that does not mean if you live inland your car is safe,” he says.
While it might be impossible to completely eliminate any rust from your vehicle, there are a few simple things that you can do to help prevent minor rust problems from becoming a full-blown structural risk that compromise the safety of your car.
Ranft says parts most susceptible to rust include the body work, chassis, doors and windscreen corners. These are areas where moisture sets in and starts the oxidation process.
Ranft explains that rust can be prevented externally by simply washing the vehicle every two weeks and applying a wax coating once a month. The metal used to make vehicles has a high iron content. When iron and oxygen interact, rust begins to form. Dirt particles can be quite abrasive and scratch your car’s paint if not removed quickly. By washing your vehicle regularly, you can help prevent rust from compromising the structural integrity of your car in the future. “The internal part of your engine that is most susceptible to rust is the cooling system so you also need to ensure that the cooling system has approved antifreeze in it at all times.”
He says you may also consider adding an undercoat to your vehicle’s undercarriage which is most susceptible to rust formation. This is because there is no paint to protect the metal components of the undercarriage. The underside of your vehicle is also exposed to the most dirt and debris while driving so adding a layer can be beneficial in preventing rust.
Minor rust issues can generally be treated by sanding the rust away and using a primer and touch-up paint on the area. “However,” says Ranft, “extensive rust needs to be dealt with by a professional repair shop to avoid damaging the vehicle in the rust removal process. I’d strongly advise vehicle owners to rather take their vehicles to a reputable repairer than try to attend to the problem themselves.”
“Remember to examine your vehicle regularly for signs of rust damage – a bubbling or reddish brown coating appearing on exposed metal. Wash your vehicle after a visit to the ocean and if living close to the ocean protect your vehicle with a car cover or park it in a garage. Treat minor scratches and dents immediately with a primer to prevent rusting,” he advises.