How to Keep Rust From Ruining Your Car

Toyota Prius Prime

Toyota Prius Prime by Automotive Rhythms (CC BY)

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Toyota Prius Prime
Toyota Prius Prime by Automotive Rhythms (CC BY)

Rust-Free Zone

Once you get rust on a vehicle, the value and appearance diminishes, and the lifespan may as well. Plenty of things cause rust, from chipped paint to bad weather, and some parts of the country are more prone to the problem than others, especially states that use salt and other chemicals on roads during winter months. Check out some of the best ways to protect your car.

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Car & Foams

Wash Your Car Regularly

Washing your car is probably the best thing you can do to prevent rust. While dirt itself doesn’t cause rust, it can damage a car’s protective clear coat and paint, creating the perfect spot for rust to sneak in. Washing every two weeks is a good practice to follow, with additional washes if a car becomes exceptionally dirty.

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Car handle with rust and corrosion, gray, metal. Abstraction, grunge.
Dmitrii Smirnov/istockphoto

Catch Rust Before It Spreads

Rust is like a plague: You want to catch it before it gets out of control and ruins everything. The best way to always be aware of what’s going on with your vehicle is to inspect it  regularly. Wheel wells are a common problem area, so they should be regularly checked, along with bumpers and the undercarriage.

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Dings on the car door

Keep a Close Eye on Your Paint Job

Pay close attention to your paint job. If you notice the clear coat is flaking or there is a spot where paint has chipped off, you’ll want to get things touched up. Paint is not just meant to make your car look pretty — it actually protects your vehicle, and it’s important to maintain it.

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car wash

Don’t Forget to Wash the Undercarriage

As you wash your car every two weeks, don’t forget the undercarriage, especially if you live in an area where it snows. During the winter, salt and other chemical deposits used on roads to melt snow and ice can coat a vehicle’s undercarriage with corrosive residue that can cause rust. Most automatic car washes offer undercarriage washes; if you wash your vehicle at home, find a safe way to jack the car up and spray it off with a hose.

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car parked in garage

Don’t Allow Water to Sit In or On Your Vehicle

It’s no secret that water causes rust. Make sure your car is parked in a garage or carport during rainy or snowy weather so it doesn’t stay wet. If your car does get wet, you’ll want to make sure you don’t allow a lot of water to sit on any spot on it.

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Man Polishing Bodywork Of Car During Valet

Wax Your Vehicle at Least Twice Each Year

By now you’ve probably grasped that the best ways to protect your car from rust are to ensure the integrity of its protective coating and paint. Waxing your vehicle at least twice a year is a good way to maintain the protective coating.

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Silver car broken side with damaged metal with rusty paint and corrosion above the tire

Prevent Any Existing Rust from Spreading

It’s important to know how to fix rust spots on a car so they don’t spread. It requires scraping any rust you find off using fine grit sandpaper or a razor. You can then apply a rust arrestor. Once the arrestor dries, you can apply primer and color match your car’s paint to touch the area up.

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Scratching on the front of the car's wing in a car repair shop.

Check for Rust Where Body Components Meet

Rust commonly occurs where two pieces of metal meet, especially when there is room for them to rub together. The rubbing can wear down protective layers on the car, making it susceptible to rust. Some of the key ways to check these areas include opening the hood, doors, and trunk as you inspect your vehicle, keeping an eye out for signs of bubbled-up paint.

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