Five Tips to Prevent Rust

It has been said that the Europeans invented rust and the Japanese perfected it. But our oxygen-rich atmosphere guarantees all cars and trucks will rust over time. Add road salts – Canada uses some five million tonnes every winter – for the perfect electrolyte solution to turn your commuter, hauler, or work truck into red-brown dust in the wind. Is it even possible to prevent rust?

New, your vehicle comes with some basic protection. Aside from aesthetics, paint blocks oxygen, preventing rust formation. Some automakers go so far as dipping the entire vehicle into a paint pool or applying undercoating to critical areas of its body and chassis. Still, any rust-bucket proves factory coatings may be insufficient. Here are five tips to prevent rust.

Five Stages of Rust Prevention

Deep Car Wash – With care, automotive paints can last decades. Abrasive pollen, brake dust, road salt, traction sand, and road grime can wear it down. Acidic brake dust, exhaust fumes, and bird droppings also burn through your paint. A regular car wash, with this Car Wash Kit, eliminates abrasives and acids before they ruin your paint. Remember these key areas: underbody, wheel wells, and chassis and frame members.

Polish and Wax – Next, “protect the protection,” that is, the paint already on your car. To keep the paint in good condition, polish and wax serve to remove embedded contaminants, smooth the surface, and leave a protective layer. Remember these key areas: grille, nose, and fenders.

Undercoat Treatments – Less launching your car into orbit, an undercoat treatment is one of the best investments. Methods vary, but the general idea is to apply an additional layer of protective coating on the most-exposed parts of your vehicle, sprayed outside and inside frame and body panels. Do this before the weather turns cold, or in a heated garage. Remember these key areas: hollow frame members and hollow body panels.

Clean Those Drains – Movable windows can’t fully seal, allowing water to pass the seals. Drains allow water to escape, but these can become clogged with dust, leaves, even spiderwebs. Sitting water then accelerates corrosion of unprotected surfaces. In some cases, you can blow out drains with compressed air or clean them with an augur. Remember this key area: sunroofs with four drains may require removal of the headliner or interior panels to access.

Quick Paint Repairs – No matter what you do, though, chances are good a stone will chip your paint or paint will start bubbling. The time to act is now! Small chips, if they haven’t rusted yet, can be filled in with color-matched touch-up paint. Large chips, flaking paint, or paint bubbles will require more care. After removing loose chips, dissolve the rust, then sand, prime, and paint. Even if it’s not a professional-looking job, it’ll prevent rust from eating your car. Remember these key areas: wheel wells are notorious rust-out spots because they rust out from behind. Rust-converter/primer will stop rust in its tracks.

How well you can prevent rust can be boiled down to how much protection you can provide. The more you care for your paint, the less rust will form, maintaining your vehicle’s appearance, safety, and resale value.

Check out all our products available on or trust one of our 600 NAPA AUTOPRO shops for routine maintenance and repairs. For more advices on how to restore your headlights, chat with an expert at your local NAPA Auto Parts store.

By Benjamin Jerew

5 Replies to “Five Tips to Prevent Rust”

  1. Jeffrey Smith says:

    What is the normal interval between car waxes? Please advise.

  2. Taylor Wright says:

    It’s interesting that you should spray body panels and other exposed parts of the vehicles to keep it from rusting. I just got a new Jeep and I’m worried about it from rusting in the future. I’ll be sure to keep these tips in mind to keep my new Jeep from rusting at all.

  3. Davy Jones says:

    Some great tips there. I have found that getting a new appearance protection coating every few years also helps. And the car looks great.

  4. Brad Sawka says:

    What can you do to prevent rust on the underbody of your vehicle?

  5. Shammy Peterson says:

    You made a good point when you said that less rust will form if you will properly care for your car’s paint. This must be the reason why my husband is planning to purchase an effective rust inhibitor for his car and other metals. He failed to provide proper maintenance to them while he was out of the country for two months.

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