Home / Auto News / News article: Should You Rust Proof Your New Car? - AutoGuide.com News
 |  Mar 21 2013, 11:19 AM

Plymouth-Special-Deluxe-Rust

After the purchase of any new car, an opportunity to rust-proof arises. Should you do it, or is it just a waste of money?

First, it’s important to know what rust is. Rust is an example of corrosion. When iron (which is in steel) and oxygen mix with air or water, rust occurs. Eventually, rust can take over any iron mass and cause it to disintegrate. Corrosion can also occur when dirt or moisture accumulate on a car’s underbody.

Rust is a serious problem and spreads like a rash. It can shorten the lifespan and value of any vehicle.

Since rust is a possibility in just about every car, automakers these days are galvanizing steel used in cars in order to lower the risk of rusting.

GALVANIZED STEEL PROTECTED FROM RUSTING

Ford-China-PlantGalvanized steel has a coating of zinc to protect it from rusting. Oxygen and zinc don’t react like iron and oxygen do, so galvanized steel doesn’t rust. This process is also pretty low-cost; so many automakers are doing it.

“Rust is far less of a concern now,” says Mike Quincy, Automotive Analyst at Consumer Reports. “The types of metals and treatments have changed over the past 20 years and cars are well protected from rust right from the factory.” Consumer Reports’ reliability data tracks a 10 year history of a vehicle, reporting on issues consumers have with their new cars after 12 months of ownership. Quincy says they actually removed questions about rust from the survey several years ago because the results were showing it wasn’t a factor any more.

But that doesn’t mean new cars are invincible. If a car has been in an accident, and unprotected steel was exposed, there’s still a chance of rust occurring.

So if that zinc coating gets chipped, the metal underneath is at risk of rusting. Same thing on a car’s paint finish, if a rock-chip cuts deep enough into a car’s paint job, it can still rust. This rust occurs on the outside of the car, and while it’s ugly, it’s not a catastrophic problem. Fortunately, car frames are also galvanized and well protected from chipping as well.

For extra peace of mind, Quincy explains that there are some tips that every driver should consider keeping their car as rust free as possible. Wash a car regularly, especially in the winter after you’ve been driving on salted roads. Driving over this salt could spray it deep into your car’s underbody. The easy thing to do is to wash underneath your car with a pressure washer or automated car wash.

WHAT ARE AUTOMAKERS DOING ABOUT RUST?

2013HyundaiSonata

Some automakers are looking into more advanced methods of rust proofing their vehicles.

“We’re clearly at the leading edge of rust treatment,” says Derek Joyce from Hyundai communications.

Hyundai uses a roto-dip process, which dips the chassis of the car into the galvanization treatment and rotates it to ensure full coverage of the zinc coating, and ensuring no part of the vehicle goes uncoated. “There’s no way any part of the surface isn’t covered,” ensures Joyce.

Audi-R8-cutaway-1--body structureAlong with galvanized steel, more exotic materials are being used in cars for weight or cost savings. Plastic, aluminum, fiberglass and carbon fiber car parts are all less likely to rust than steel, although they aren’t used in mainstream vehicles.

“Aluminum isn’t prone to rust since it’s an oxidation of iron,” says Brad Stertz from Audi. The Audi A8 was the first car on the market with an aluminium chassis, and other automakers, like Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar are also adopting this strategy. While aluminium construction is mainly for saving weight, the added benefit of long-term reliability is also a great selling point. The same can be said about Carbon Fiber.

DEFENDS AGAINST MORE THAN JUST RUST

Truck Broadspray PicThe people at Krown Rust Control understand that new cars are well protected, but also believe that new chemicals on the road are more corrosive.

“The chemicals used on our roads are far more corrosive than those used in the past,” says Freeman Young, president of Krown Rust Control. “Add to this the high humidity and the huge variations in temperature and you have a recipe for rust,” he says.

Young points out that rust proofing also protects other important parts of a vehicle.

“Although protecting body panels and vehicle frames against rust is important, the best rust inhibiting products also protect electrical areas such as battery terminals, wiring harnesses, switches and plugs from moisture,” he says. “Keeping these areas protected with the right type of product will greatly reduce repair costs and vehicle breakdowns. Lubrication of moving mechanical parts like brake cables, suspension components, and door hinges is another benefit of a good rust inhibitor/lubricant.”

THE VERDICT

Old Car

Overall rust is far less present now than it was 20 years ago, leading outlets like Consumer Reports to downplay the need for rust proofing.

So should you buy a rustproofing package when buying a new car? “We don’t recommend rust proofing,” says Quincy. “It’s very likely a waste of money and almost all of the cost goes right into the pockets of the dealer.” Even third party rust-proofing is considered a bust, “after-market rust proofing is a waste of money regardless of who’s applying it,” says Quincy. “Factory rust proofing is all you need.”

  • Rudyxhiebert

    After rust proofing the interior is much quieter. Road deicing chemicals, ie. liquid Chlorine, Calcium seem to be more prevalent than the simple salt, Sodium Chloride, of the previous generation.    

  • Mikesmith

    Why would you rust proof your interior?

  • Guest

    I find this article to be very partial, almost unrealistic. It seems to be trying to offer one single answer for all of North America, all vehicle types and all drivers. The weather and road conditions throughout NA vary enormously depending on where the car “lives”. The length of time that owners keep their cars is also a big factor that affect expectations in terms of rust resistance. Saying that cars nowadays are much better protected against rust than they were 20 years ago is correct. But stating that rust proofing is pointless nowadays is flawed. Galvanization and paint application processes aren’t perfect and there may be points where rust could initiate, whether on the body, the structure, suspension members or powertrain components, even when none of them were damaged during use. Personally, I’ve seen rust developing on a 2005 premium brand German car. I drive in the snowbelt and expose my car to lots of roadsalt. And despite washing it weekly during winter, rust still developed on suspension parts and underbody panels after 7 years. If you change your car every 4 years, you may certainly never notice any rust; but cars these days may still rust, though not as soon as older cars. And rust proofing can still help these days depending on where you drive. I just get informed on the different types of rust proofing available, their pros and cons. They aren’t infallible and they may be overpriced, but they still can make financial sense depending on how long we want to keep our cars.
    I am not affiliated with any rust proofing company. I just try to exercise my common sense.

  • Sean Cullen

    I know I’m going to come off as an idiot here, but i freaking LOVE the photos in this story. 

  • brownbardy

    I agree. I have a 1990 Acura Integra which has moderate rust everywhere. But when I visited my daughter in California 2 years ago, I saw the same car there that had no visible rust. I also saw a lot of older model vehicles that had better-looking bodies that the same ones in Toronto. It had to be because they do not use road salt. Therefore, rust proofing is not a waste of money because the same car in California is worth more than in Toronto because it looks a lot better.

  • N_H

    It depends on where you live if rust proofing is a waste of money or not.

    In areas where salt is used to clear ice and snow you end up in a slush puppy of rust accelerator and in those cases you really want to have additional rust protection.

  • ORLANDO T. CALAMBA

    RUST NEVER SLEEPS…

  • Tom

    If you drive in regions of the country that use deicers such as Calcium Chloride, Magnesium Chloride, Road Salt and brine, then correctly applied annual oil spraying like Krown or Fluid film will extend the life of your ride. The best time to spray all inner cavities and enclosed sections is in the spring. Warm weather accelerates the corrosion process and also allows the oil to penetrate and creep into the cracks and crevices where rust likes to begin.

  • 808krate

    I live in Honolulu and I remember the cars back in the 70s and early 80s that used to rust easily. After reading this article, it makes sense why the cars here in Hawaii don’t rust like it did back in the day. When I went on trips to the Midwest cities like Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago and Milwaukee, I had noticed the cars there had a lot of lower body rust. Passing by on the freeway going up from Chicago to Milwaukee I noticed a silo looking building off the feeway. I asked my friend from Chicago what was that building for and he had told me that it was a salt silo. It was used to store salt for the trucks to spray salt on the roads during the winter time.

  • Jason

    Nobody cares about who owns the car next. Don’t extra rust proof, the sucker who buys it from me, and the impoverished sucker that buys it from him or her can deal with it on their own.

  • scott

    consumer reports should do a report on mike quincy for giving bad advice.

  • Alex Greene

    You’re such an idiot!… J/K..lol

  • Phillipp10

    Couple comments on rust proofing. First off, it is regional dependent. Unless you live in an area where there is
    salt on the road, don’t worry. Not an
    issue Now, for salt prone areas, based upon
    cars from the early 1990 (and earlier), yes, rust proofing did some good. Note I said some good. Not a cure all. However even in those cars, lots of rust
    proofing did not get where it was really needed, deep inside the fenders, door
    etc.

    Now, onto the year 2013 (and most cars built after the year
    2000). These newer cars have all been galvanized
    and then painted. Rust proofing would do
    nothing. I live in Minnesota and in the
    late 70’s. early 80’s, cars would rust in 8-10 years (starting as surface
    rust). Now, I see cars 15 years old and
    they are just starting to show surface rust.
    At 15 years old the car is basically worthless anyway. Rust proofing is un-necessary and after 15
    years, not be of any help. Think of it
    this way, if a car company could apply a coating the would improve their
    product over the competition, wouldn’t they want to do that? They don’t apply it cause the galvanizing is
    all they need. Rust-proofing is just
    another way the dealer scalps your cash.

  • Howdy

    2009 Jeep Compass Limited – less than 70,000 Kms -
    undercoated by the dealer when new. Just been told the front sub-frame, some
    call it a cradle – Chrysler dealer calls it a K frame – is badly corroded, the
    frame on my Jeep is rusting out. It must be replaced – it’s a safety issue.
    Frame and sub frame rust and corrosion have been a problem in some Chrysler
    cars and some Jeep models for years – Google shows dozens of complaints…

    Dealer says no support from Chrysler on this. Beware!

  • Jack Black

    Consumer Reports are idiots. What do they know about rust? Going to keep your car for more than 5-6 years? Get it rust proofed by Krown and you will make it well past 5-6yrs.

  • Oingo

    Hey Tom, Where I live most apply the treatment in fall. I am preparing to do mine. I try to get it on after the fall early winter rains end and before the snow and salts are applied to. I would think that the cold shrinks metal and other materials opening up gaps that might otherwise not be there. But I would appreciate it if you could expand on your point of view and point me to some materials as I am always interested in doing things the best way not my way.

  • Tony Montana

    After reading Toyota Tacoma forums about rusting frames on 2005 models, it makes me
    think. Toyota had a huge recall for 90′s Tacomas and now some consumers are complaining about newer models.

  • adam west

    I agree. if you’re going to keep your car for more than five years and you live in an area where they salt the streets rust proof. I`ve been using krown on my 2004 Sebring since new, it now has 240,000KM and still looks like a new car.

  • ladkraemer

    Why won’t manufactures stand by there cars longer than 5 years? If they are so confident in their rust proofing then cover it for 10 years and include surface rust and paint the car with non chipping pain, they have it its available. The warranty is so vague. I’m in the car business and try to get something fixed under their rust warrant. Rust proofing doesn’t stop rust it just keeps it at bay. You protect the paint surface, the undercoating and interior coating will pay off in the long run. You either keep your car longer or get more money for your trade because the fist question from a used car buyer is, in salt States and Canada, has the car been rust proofed? If the answer is “NO” the used car price in their mind just went down. Car dealers know what used car customers want and they want cars that are rust proofed. So, car dealers have to figure your car will be a harder to sell with out the rust proofing and you won’t get top price for your car. You might not care about rust but the next guy does.

  • ladkraemer

    But they are the only company who payed their customers 150% of value of the truck or repaired them buy replacing the frame which coast Toyota up to $11000.00 per truck. Chevy, Ford, Chrysler said that your truck is out of warranty. Quality is what a company will do when they made a mistake without bureaucratic intervention..

  • Rob

    they do not cover the 05 models and they have had plenty of time and experience to get it right

  • ladkraemer

    They protect the vehicle against average conditions and those who live in the salt areas are not in average conditions. I’ve been in the Automotive business for over 20 years and have all my personal vehicles rust proofed, undercoated, paint sealed and fabric guarded because it works. The Cost is only 3% of the value of the car, don’t be cheep, undercoat it next time and rust proof it. All the naysayers should put their money where their mouth is and pay for the rust problem people are having because they listened to Consumer Report and the people who don’t want you to keep your vehicle. I have my rav4 that is a 2001 with 178K on it… the paint, interior and body look like it’s less than 3 years old… and I have it detailed once every other year. So the rust, paint undercoat have paid for themselves. Oh, by the way I live in N. Ohio a salt state. Next time you buy a vehicle do it right if you’re going to keep it. actually I just realized it’s been over 30 years in the auto business. Remember it costs us to live in the snow belt and rust, undercoat is one of the costs… Oh oil spray is very environmentally a no! no!

  • ladkraemer

    Yup, that’s why I buy Toyota. They had the same problem but they fixed, repair, rust proof/undercoated, replace the frame or bought the vehicles back for a 150% of value.

  • Rob

    I won’t buy a Tacoma that has not been rustproofed and unless you buy new and have it done, its near impossible to find.

  • ladkraemer

    Ok, if your car looks great and still runs great at 15 years old and you can run it like I did my Corolla for 26 years then you are right but, I saved 16 years of car payments because the body held up 3 X as long than it should have and of course the engine didn’t loose a drop of oil and the air and radio still worked. I’d say I got my 700.00 dollars worth out of the rustproofing, wouldn’t you. I plan on getting the same out of my 2001 Rav4, our 2009 Rav4 and our 2009 Corolla matrix. When I get my new Tacoma, I will have it rustproofed, undercoated, paint sealed and fabric guarded, so I can keep it for 26 years. By the way I don’t know what Business your in but, I bet your business has a lot of unnecessary Items they want to sell customers And over charge for it. You forget the labor, the cost of the material, putting bread on the table, keeping the lights on, the interest on cars on the lot and the insurance policy that has to be paid on the product, etc… When you say they are just trying to line their pocket, yes just like in you do. So when doctors line their pocket with 10 dollar aspirine, that’s ok. I’m sorry, I get mad when people who do the same thing in their business complain. Look ate building a house and what they charge for the nails. 3 X what it would coast at retail, but I don’t begrudge them of their money.

  • ladkraemer

    Remind me not to do business with you!

  • ladkraemer

    Not good for the environment, undercat is better and it’s a one time thing.

  • ladkraemer

    I meant undercoat… LoLo

  • ladkraemer

    I think the person meant the interior panels of the doors and body panels.. it does quite the car more.

  • Robert

    “Aluminum isn’t prone to rust since it’s an oxidation of iron” After reading this, the article has lost all credibility. I feel bad for Brad, I hope this was not a direct quote from Audi; aluminum is an oxidation of iron… wow.

  • haha

    thats what i first thought, but you misread, he simply states that rust is an oxidation of iron, not alumin-i-um…. there is only one way to spell aluminium, and it’s the proper way.

  • RC

    Quincy is wrong about rust proofing when the vehicle is used in areas where they salt the roads. Just take a look at the 10 Worst Cars for Rust lists. I don’t work for or apply rust proofing. Fluid Film and Krown will likely be the best products to use. Toyota has a huge problem with frame rusting on Tacoma, first and second generation and the Tundra. Check it out! Once a year application of some type of “wet” rust proofing is going to help a great deal. I don’t recommend a dealer applied product. Go with a self-applied Fluid Film, or drive to Canada, if you can, for Krown.

  • RC

    You are incorrect. Just take a look at the 10 worst cars for rust lists. Lots of new cars have huge problems with rust. Rust proofing stops or greatly slows it down. If you’re going to keep the car, and you live where the roads are salted, rust proof it with a “wet” product every year. Especially important with the underbody.

  • JC

    TO: Derek Joyce from Hyundai communications. How can you explain that every single Elantra from 2003-06 years is rusted in the two back panels above the tires? My 05 elantra (170,000 km) is perforated completely in that area and it is not even ten years old yet, rust started after year 7; I have a coworker with the same car -rust-proofed and it is in the same condition. How exactly is it that you are at the leading edge of rust treament????

  • bob

    Double fail. Look up the spelling of aluminum before you show yourself to be a complete idiot. But at least you interpreted the quote correctly, unlike Robert. Pure aluminum corrodes very easily. However, when it pure aluminum is exposed to oxygen you get a thin layer of aluminum oxide on the surface, which is very hard, does not corrode and protects the underlying aluminum metal. Aluminum oxide has basically the same color as aluminum, which is why you don’t notice the corrosion. So, another way to say what is said in the quote might be “Aluminum does not corrode the same way that steel corrodes as it does not contain iron. Rust is the product of the oxidation of iron.” The quote is grammatically correct, just confusing.

  • desco103

    I don’t know how much rust proofing helps, but I just got rid of a 2010 Ford F 150 with rust holes in the cab corners, rust all along the rockers, and signs the doors and bed were next to go. Most people are talking about cars 10 or more years old. I would be happy to get that. I am thinking about trying rust proofing of some sort for my new truck.