Cars are made with lots of parts containing iron. If you mix untreated iron, oxygen, and water, corrosion occurs which can disintegrate the parts themselves. This means that rust can either just look bad, but also can cause serious structural issues if not treated at an early stage.
You can think of rust like a car disease. Newer cars which have not spent a lot of time on the road are not as prone to rusting compared to an older car. As cars age, they are usually not maintained all that well, which often means that rust occurs and starts deteriorating the car’s body and structural panels.
Most newer cars are rust protected straight from the factory which means that rust-proofing your new car is not as necessary. But, if you want the highest level of protection possible, then you should go ahead and rust-proof the car, especially if you plan on owning it for a long time.
If you are using the car as a part of a three-year lease for example, then there is no need for any additional rust-proofing. Just do all the regular car maintenance like washing your car and trying not to scuff the paint. You should also protect the vulnerable areas of your car with PPF or a/and a ceramic coating.
Rust-proofing a new car
Newer cars are built way better compared to older cars. Newer assembling techniques ensure precise body gaps and alignment which both ensure that the seals are way stronger and more tightly packed. If you pair that with a wide-spread galvanized steel construction, additional rust-proofing is not all that necessary.
Rust-proofing your new car also depends on your specific usage scenario. If you only drive your car in winter and you come across lots of moisture, rust proofing is worth considering just to be as sure as one can be.
Some car brands like BMW and many others do comprehensive rust-proofing solutions before the cars are even painted. This means that newer cars go through an extensive rustproofing process which ensures the cars are protected even at the sub-atomic level. Specific 10-12 year-long warranties are also included in the new car price.
If you are planning to own the car for a long time, and you often drive your car in climates with adverse weather conditions rustproof your car. If you also do longer journeys where stone-chipping is more common, and your country uses salt as an ice deterrent during the winter, you should definitely rust-proof your brand-new car.
Rust-proofing a used car
Rust-proofing a used car seems more logical, but if your car is not worth saving, spending an additional $ for dedicated rust-proofing is rather useless. Your used car might have been a victim of corrosion already, so you better take your car to an experienced body shop just to inspect all the vulnerable body panels.
It’s worth mentioning that the vast majority of car owners never take their cars for dedicated rust proofing. Rust-proofing is mostly done by enthusiasts who aim to retain as much of the value of the car as possible, and your regular 2003 Honda Civic with 180k miles on the clock is not a likely candidate.
Rust-proofing certainly offers better all-around protection no matter if the car is used or new. If you opt for dedicated drip/dripless/tar oil spray techniques or space-age electronic modules rust-proofing solutions, be sure that it makes sense financially.
That being said, a car’s residual value is often higher if the car has been rust-proofed for the majority of its life. It’s also worth mentioning that some techniques such as drip/dripless oil sprays require you to drill into the car’s body panels which can even worsen the rust build up if not done by an experienced professional.
Tips for a rust-proof car experience
There truly is no need for dedicated rust-proofing if you just do all the regular, affordable daily/weekly/monthly maintenance. First and foremost, be sure to wash the car regularly to clean up all the contaminants that can scratch the car’s paint over time.
Applying paint protection film and/or dedicated ceramic coatings onto the car’s body panels is also a good idea to keep your paint in great condition. It also shields you from stone chipping and scratches which can result in corrosion after a while.
You should wash your car even more often if your country uses salt as an ice deterrent during the winter as salt can progress corrosion quite substantially. Inspect your underbody from time to time, and try to look for any signs of corrosion yourself.
Furthermore, make sure your interior is also clean and that all the water plugs around your car are not clogged up. Just do all these regular car maintenance requirements, and there is honestly no need for any additional rust-proofing for brand new cars, especially so if rusting is covered by warranty.
What should I do if I find rust in my car?
If your car is covered by a warranty that also covers corrosion, go ahead and contact your dealer as soon as possible. Try to mitigate the rust as soon as possible because rusting can spread rapidly, and if it does, you are looking at a repair bill that just does not make any sense financially.
If you own a valuable car, you should do this with an even greater sense of urgency because this can devalue the car fast. Rust happens, and that’s a given, but there are ways one can fix it if you do act on time.
Do classic cars rust more often?
Yes, they do, classic cars rust way more compared to newer cars. And this is especially the problem if you are looking at a classic car which costs a lot of money, but the prices were not as high as they are now a few years ago.
There are lots of expensive classics out there which weren’t as expensive for a while. This means that a lot of these were plagued by corrosion, and they were fixed as soon as the value of the car made it feasible to do so. So always take care when buying an older car, inspect it thoroughly.
Should I ever buy a car plagued with corrosion?
If you come across a tempting offer that entails a car with mild corrosion, it’s not necessarily a dealbreaker. It takes time and effort to fix a car with lots of corrosion, but for some models, it’s actually a good idea.
This is primarily so for valuable, limited-edition classics and sports cars. These types of cars are often found in dreadful conditions but later restored to their former glory. If the repair job is done right, the value of the car is not as affected.