How to Fix Rust on a Car

Whilst older vehicles – including models that are much younger than the classics – are making a comeback and becoming favourites amongst avid collectors, no one likes a ‘rust bucket’.

Dealing with the realities of owning, driving and maintaining a rusty car can be something of a challenge, not to mention expensive to fix and unsightly. Whether it’s rusted brake discs, a rusted exhaust pipe or rusted brake calipers that are the problem, or rust is taking over your bodywork, it is important to recognise that car rust treatment is an option. Read on to discover more about how you can fix your rusty car.

What causes a vehicle to rust?

Rust is the result of a chemical reaction, namely between iron, oxygen and water. Known as oxidation, the reaction causes a reddish brown coating to appear on the surface of a vehicle and/or its components. If left untreated, this will go on to corrode a larger area to cause significant damage to the affected part.

Rust affects cars new and old, as a result, there is no specific age that your car becomes more vulnerable to rust. Some vehicle makes and models are more susceptible to rust than others, however.

Older vehicles which were manufactured before the advanced car rust proofing precautions used during car production today are more likely to be affected by rust. Even more modern makes and models become vulnerable to rust over time as non-reactive paintwork and protective coatings diminish due to wear and tear. 

The climate can also make your car more prone to rust formation. Cars in rainy locations, or more specifically seaside towns, tend to rust at a faster rate. Your driving style can make your vehicle develop rust quicker too. Vehicles used for off-roading or green laning often rust earlier without the right care and maintenance.

What are the types of car rust?

Surface, scale and penetrating rust have all been known to affect cars. Surface rust is the least problematic, and develops on the outermost layer of the metalwork. This rust type is rated the least severe and, in most cases, can be easily repaired with car rust treatment.

If left untreated, surface rust will worsen and develop into scale rust. Exposure to road salt is thought to accelerate this process. Penetrating rust is the most severe rust type to affect vehicles. Without early intervention, both surface and scale rust can develop into penetrating rust, which can lead to the complete replacement of body panels and parts.

Are some parts of the car more vulnerable than others?

In short, yes. Some car components are more susceptible to rust, but understanding where these vulnerable areas are located will leave you better placed to spot the signs of rust early and seek the necessary car rust treatment. 

Along with your bodywork, the frame rails, wheel wells and suspension tend to rust more quickly than other vehicle parts. Rusted exhaust pipe repairs are also common requests from our customers. The exhaust is after all exposed to moisture from both inside and outside of the vehicle. Rusted brake discs and rusted brake calipers are common occurrences too. 

What are the signs of rust?

The earliest sign of rust development is the bubbling of paintwork. This occurs when the pain loses contact with the metalwork underneath before becoming filled with air and water. Rust will develop shortly after. 

Other irregularities, damage to the body (including the smallest nick or dent), and even the presence of puddles inside the car are other early signs of rust.

Can rust be repaired?

The success of car rust repair comes down to the scale and depth of the damage. As we mentioned earlier, surface rust can be rectified rather easily. Penetrating rust on the other hand often requires replacement of the affected panel or component.

The cost of car rust treatment varies as a result. Whilst not recommended, there are car rust repair solutions that can be administered at home. There’s however nothing better than seeking professional car rust treatment that delivers a seamless finish.

Should I explore car rust-proofing?

As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. With this, car rust-proofing is well worth exploring. Many of the steps used to prevent rust on a car can be completed at home. 

When washing your car, be sure to rinse your vehicle with water and dry it thoroughly with a chamois to minimise the risk of rust. If your car is being left idle for a while using a dehumidifier to lower the concentration of moisture inside the vehicle will protect it from rust whilst it’s not in use. Applying wax will offer an additional layer of protection to prevent the chemical reactions that cause rust, even in the face of wet weather and road salt exposure.

Using WD40 on the components that can’t be reached with wax, such as your car’s hinges and joints, is another must for dispersing the water that causes rust.  

For further information on car rust repair and car rust proofing, please contact Collison Motoring Services