Whether you buy used or new, a car is an investment and a big responsibility for anyone who owns one. As such, maintenance is a no-brainer topic when it comes to owning a car. However, there is a looming threat to car owners everywhere that often goes overlooked that definitely needs more attention: rust. Yes, as odd as it sounds, rust damage is a very real potential problem for car owners. Early detection is critical in order to prevent vehicle rust damage as well as save yourself the substantial costs unchecked rust damage will bring.
What causes rust?
So, what exactly is rust? Rust is a chemical reaction caused when water and oxygen mix with certain types of metal. If left unchecked, rust results in the browning, weakening and erosion of any affected metal. The most commonly affected metals are iron and steel, metals commonly used in the construction of a car. Rust can accumulate both on and inside a car due to neglected washings, repeated exposure to the elements and moisture, and extreme temperatures. Since cars are driven around the world and can be exposed to any one of these aspects of life, any car is susceptible to rust. It’s important to ensure that any rust discovered on your car is detected early and dealt with swiftly because rust is not just an eyesore for car owners; it is also a severe safety hazard.
Dangers of unchecked rust
As mentioned earlier, rust eventually results in the corrosion of the metal it has affected. Since car is made primarily of metal, rust acts like a silent killer, eating away at your car’s structural integrity. There are three places on your car that are particularly at risk for rust accumulation and should be checked often to avoid putting yourself in danger.
- Painted surfaces
- Like the surface of your skin, the painted surfaces of your vehicle are the first line of defense against the elements. If they are not properly maintained and kept free of things like dirt, mud, bird poop and other soiling components, they can eat through the top layer of the car and allow contaminants access to the metal workings underneath your car.
- Metal frame and chassis
- If rust makes its way past the surface, the next place on the chopping block is your car’s metal framing and chassis. This is where rust can become especially dangerous. Your car’s frame is the skeleton that holds the vehicle together and keeps anyone inside of it safe. If the metal frame is weakened by rust, then an accident will result in a higher likelihood of serious injury to the car’s passengers; weak bones are easier to break after all. On top of that, a weakened metal chassis will also delay the reaction time of airbags following an impact.
- Trunk and engine components
- Metal use in a car runs deep indeed and rust can affect even places like your engine and trunk. If allowed to spread, rust can eat away at internal connectors, intake valves and other important mechanical parts. This portion of your car, when it comes to rust, is often very hard to diagnose due to the problems caused by the rust being intermittent.
Prevention of rust
Thankfully, like any problem, rust can be avoided with proper precautions.
- Frequent checks
- One big way to prevent rust from taking a big bite out of your life (and wallet) is early detection. Frequently check the three places listed above that are prone to easy rust exposure. Rust becomes a big problem very fast, so early detection is key.
- Washing and waxing
- Keeping your car clean is a sure way to prevent rust. When a car becomes dirty, it’s more susceptible to rust due to the soiling wearing away at the car’s protective coating. Once that goes, paint chipping is more likely and with that the metal component of the car’s chassis becomes directly exposed to the elements. A weekly wash and bi-yearly wax should suffice.
- Rust proofing
- Additional protection from the elements is also a wise move for preventing rust. Try investing in a rust preventing treatment or coating for your vehicle either as a do-it-yourself job or from an auto shop.
A car is a huge investment that should never be taken lightly by an owner. The maintenance costs will certainly take a toll on your budget even if your car runs smoothly all its life. But rust is a danger that all car owners should be aware of for both monetary and safety reasons. A rusty car is a disaster waiting to happen for anyone occupying it. A car with a weak skeleton increases the likelihood of any accident being the last for the car and its passengers, so take the necessary steps to protect your car and yourself.