Rust is the enemy of any Canadian motorist. Insidious, expensive to repair, and dangerous to the safety of your vehicle, rust and corrosion are aided and abetted by our country’s love affair with road salt: a chemical which together with winter’s wet works to make Swiss cheese of your vehicle’s steel panels and suspension components throughout the coldest months of the year.
Now that summer is here, it’s time to do what you can to try to mitigate not just the effects of rust, but also plan to best protect your vehicle for next season’s snowy slog. Check out these tips for dealing with corrosion quickly and affordably.
Clean it up
The secret of road salt’s enduring ability to eat away at your vehicle’s iron is its ability to attach itself to its body panels, its chassis, and its exhaust system and then stay there, undetected, secretly chewing.
This happens for a number of reasons. The first is that salt often becomes mixed with water out on the road – or is contained in a sprayed-on solution right from the get-go – which means it splashes its way into the nooks and crannies of your vehicle as you drive and stays behind after it has dried out. As a result, over time it can accumulate in certain areas such as the wheel wells, the top of your shock towers, behind your bumpers, or on top of your muffler, areas where it’s difficult to see and harder to clean.
At the end of the winter season, the best thing you can do to work against the corrosive effects of salt is to give your car a thorough wash. Not just a suds-and-bucket job to get the paint clean, either – you’ll want to hit the underside of the car with as strong a jet of water as you can. Don’t be afraid to go to a hand-wash and ask them to use their angled sprayers underneath your vehicle – chances are you’ll be surprised at the gunk and salt-laden dirt that flushes out.
Seal it up
Your car or truck’s paint is one of the most important barriers against rust. By adding several layers of protection over the bare metal, paint keeps the elements at bay and prevents salt from getting its hooks in.
A rock chip, or deep scratch, can wipe out that protective advantage by slicing away the paint and revealing the steel underneath. You may notice that chips on the hood or door panels of your vehicle that seemed innocuous at the start of the winter have graduated to small rust spots by the end.
The most effective way to deal with rock chips is to use a small paint pin or chip-correcting system to deal with them before they become rusted. If it’s too late, the next-best thing is to use a small square of sandpaper – or purchase a sanding stick – and use that to gently remove the surface rust. Once that’s gone, you can prime and then use your paint pen to seal it up. Left too long, you risk the rust eating all the way through the metal and creating an actual hole, which requires a much more expensive and time-consuming repair.
Wax-on, plus undercoat
Just like your paint adds a protective layer, so too does an application of wax. Think of a good coat of wax as a second skin for your car’s paint, and one that can help repel water and salt throughout the summer and into the next winter.
You can’t exactly give your undercarriage the same carnauba treatment, but you can undercoat it with a thin layer of oil or ‘rust-proofing’ that is commercially available from a several different franchises and garages. Once you’ve cleaned out the underside of your vehicle in step one, it makes sense to protect it with an anti-rust coating to seal out the elements.
Clean out every crack, take care of each stone chip, and don’t ignore the warning signs that rust has started, and you’ll add years to the life of your vehicle.
Check out all the wash and wax products available on napacanada.com or trust one of our 600 NAPA AUTOPRO shops for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA Auto Parts store.
By Benjamin Hunting