Tips on preventing premature vehicle rust

You won’t likely see rust like this on new cars, but that doesn’t mean they’re invulnerable. These are some tips to keep rust away for a long time.

Is there a scarier word for an auto owner to hear than rust? While new vehicles are usually relatively safe from the compound also known as iron oxide— forming when an alloy like steel is exposed to oxygen and moisture for an extended duration — at least for the first few years, there are still situations that can cause this reaction to take place prematurely.

For instance, unrepaired door dings or other parking lot mishaps may penetrate through the protective layer of paint, and then salt and rain from winter driving expedite the process. Worse yet is when rust occurs on the undercarriage or other areas that are not easily visible. Rest assured though, there are measures, which we show you here, you can take to stop it from happening.

BMW all-weather floor mats

Dry mats = happy mats

Floor mats get wet — it’s an inevitable actuality, particularly for us living on the west coast. Ones made out of fabric are especially prone to staying wet, potentially letting wintery sludge water seep to sensitive areas underneath. Consider putting in rubber all-weather mats sometime around when fall hits.

Say yes to undercoating

When purchasing a new car, the store staff will often offer optional undercoating. This provides a rustproof barrier on the underside, which takes a beating from road debris and other harmful materials kicked up during the course of a drive.

Toyota touch-up pen

Mind the chips

Long highway commutes and following too closely behind semi trucks is a recipe for rock chips forming at the front of the vehicle. They tend to cluster on the leading edge of the hood, leaving little divots where moisture collects. Pick up a touch-up paint kit from your dealership’s parts department for an easy DIY.

Flaps on

If your vehicle doesn’t already come with a set of mud flaps, they can usually be ordered as a dealer accessory. Mounted behind the front and rear wheels, the flaps stop stones from being kicked up by the tires and chipping the shiny paint.

To the shop

If you’ve managed to nick a pole or bump into some other foreign object, even at a crawl, chances are the shielding effects of the paint has been compromised. Rather than wait, try and get the damaged area(s) looked at as soon as possible to prevent any further damage from happening.

Posted by Benjamin Yong

Benjamin Yong is a freelance journalist and communications professional living in Richmond, B.C. He is often found writing about cars and the auto industry, amongst other things, or driving around in his work-in-progress 1990 Mazda MX-5. Twitter: @b_yong Instagram: @popuplights