Do modern cars need rustproofing?

Modern-day cars are much less susceptible to rust compared to cars from 30 years ago. And because of this, modern-day cars do not require any additional rustproofing per se. If you do opt for rust-proofing though, it should further increase the levels of protection.

But the necessity of additional rust protection is questionable. Modern cars are constructed with galvanized steel which is much less likely to corrode compared to older untreated steel. Rust-proofing an older car makes much more sense as it does not offer such rust repelling properties.

And the technologies like e-coating, plastic coating, or galvanized steel are being used throughout the entire car industry specifically for rust protection. Some manufacturers are even so confident in their means of protecting that they would rather offer you a decade-long warranty rather than let you rust-proof the car by yourself.

So, it’s rather obvious that most modern cars do not require any additional rust-proofing. But if you don’t take care of your car all that well, or you live in a place with horrendous roads and lots of ice, salt, moisture you ought to look into protecting your car if it does not void your warranty.

Galvanized steel

Galvanized steel is usually the backbone of all modern factory rust protection solutions. Galvanization is a process in which a protective layer of zinc coating is applied onto a bare steel or iron panel to prevent it from reacting with moisture and oxygen, or in other words, to prevent it from rusting.

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This process is usually carried out during a so-called hot-dip galvanizing. This is a process in which all the body parts are submerged into a molten hot zinc bath. Some manufacturers do this to all of their cars multiple times in a row, and it literally is a hot zinc bath, just like dipping your fries into ketchup.

This protective zinc coating works best if the entire surface has been covered, but, manufacturers go to even greater lengths to ensure that the panel is protected as best as possible. A process called electroplating protects the panels even if there are some areas in which the zinc has been scratched. As long as there is zinc nearby, the panel is well protected.

But galvanizing does not last forever, and after a few decades of continuous weather batter, the levels of protection are not as prominent as they once were, especially so if the panels were exposed to any acidic chemicals.

E-coating and other means of factory protection

But galvanized steel is not the only method mainstream brands use in an effort of rust protection. Mercedes cars for example are also protected by a French company called Permagard, a company in the business of damp and rust protection for all kinds of industrial, marine, and aero equipment.

Lots of manufacturers also use special e-coating which electrically charge the entire car in an effort of prohibiting corrosion. BMW does this right after galvanizing, and the entire process is finished by robots applying a thick plastic-like coating before and after the paint has been applied.

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Some more vulnerable parts of modern cars are protected in different ways as well. Some manufacturers use other rust repellent metals either to completely replace the steel or iron components or to cover up all the metals prone to corrosion.

It’s rather obvious that the sheer levels of modern-day car rust protection are way more advanced than what they once were. So it does seem that there is no need for any additional rust-proofing, especially so if your warranty is still intact.

Aftermarket rust-proofing

If you do want to further protect your car because you carried out a bunch of repairs, your warranty has been voided or expired, or you simply want to own the car for decades to come, there are a few different ways to achieve a higher level of rust protection.

One of the most popular ways is to apply a thick tar-like undercoating onto your car’s underside. This process costs around $100-200, and in a best-case scenario should last you a few years tops. This method is especially handy if you’ve already been exposed to corrosion.

Special drip/dripless oil sprays are also a fairly popular option. A drip oil spray is sprayed onto all of the vulnerable areas of your car, and it drips into all the unreachable spots as well. The dripless oil spray on the other hand requires you to drill into some car panels, which is never a good idea.

These two methods also cost around $100-200, but if you want a special electronic module that sends out a constant current throughout the entire car to prevent corrosion, you are looking at a $500 bill, but the protection is not all that thorough nor effective.

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FAQ Section

What should I do if I encounter rust?

If you come across rust, take your car to an experienced professional. It’s worth mentioning that rust can be fixed fairly often, but sometimes it does not make any sense financially.

If the corrosion starts spreading or it already has severely damaged the panel, you might even want to replace the panel entirely. This only makes sense if the car is worth saving because the car requires a thorough check-up which costs a lot of money.

Can I do something to prevent corrosion?

Yes, you can. You should regularly wash your car, especially so during the winter while there is loads of salt around. Try to pressure wash your entire underside a few times per year, and inspect the car for any signs of corrosion.

You can also apply different kinds of coatings onto your car to make sure the paint itself is as protected as it can be. A special paint protection film is a fairly popular method of paint protection and is worth considering.

Are aftermarket rustproofing solutions worth it?

This depends on the method used and the way it has been applied. Undercoating and oil spraying can be beneficial for a few years, but if these are not carried out professionally they might even worsen the situation altogether.

No matter what you do, consult a professional about all the different products on the market just to be well aware. These methods work best if they are repeated every once in a while.

Marko Mikulic

Why do you love writing about cars? I love writing about cars as cars are a huge personal interest of mine. I was raised in a car enthusiast community and ever since I was young, I always wanted to do car-related work.

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