Automotive Answers

How to Protect the Bottom of Your Car from Rust

Tips for avoiding a rusty car bottom

An area that people often ignore when it comes to car maintenance is the bottom of the vehicle. Otherwise known as the undercarriage, it’s also the area that requires the most care, as it’s extremely susceptible to rust. Instead of taking the “out of sight, out of mind” approach, give your undercarriage the care it needs. Below, we’ve listed a few tips that’ll help you care for your undercarriage and prevent you from getting a rusty car. Follow them and keep your car’s undercarriage rust free.

Protecting Your Undercarriage from Rust: Why It’s Important

There are two main reasons why rustproofing your undercarriage is important. First, it will save you money in the long run. Rust repairs can cost you anywhere between $30 to $2,000, depending on the extent of the damage. Sometimes, there’s nothing more to be done to treat rust damage than to entirely replace the affected vehicle part. Even the slightest spot of rust will bring your car’s resale value way down.

Secondly, and more importantly, rustproofing will make your car safer, as rust can affect the structural integrity of your vehicle. Furthermore, rustproofing will help prevent leaks and other mechanical failures, which can be costly as well as dangerous.

Protection against rust is particularly important in cities that experience snowy winters, such as Edmonton. During winter, cities like Edmonton spread ice-melting road salt on streets to keep them from becoming dangerously slippery. That’s good news for public safety, but bad news for your undercarriage. Salt accelerates the formation of rust when it combines with water and oxygen. Over time, and especially during winter, it accumulates under your vehicle and starts to do damage.

Check Your Undercarriage for Signs of Rust

First thing’s first, it’s important to regularly inspect your car and its undercarriage for signs of rust. Aside from the undercarriage, other areas to pay attention to are the fenders and other areas not immediately visible.

Hints of rust aren’t always obvious. Even something as innocent as a tiny scratch or nick can spell trouble. Keep an eye out for small scratches and treat them before they begin to erode. Also, look for dark spots in the paint, as these are usually symptoms of rusting metal beneath.

Checking the undercarriage is tricky if your car sits low and you don’t have the equipment to raise it. In that case, get your mechanic to inspect it next time you bring your car in for an oil change.

Wash Your Car at the Turn of the Seasons

At the start of spring and autumn, it’s a good idea to give your car a good cleaning, undercarriage included. A thorough cleaning will prep your undercarriage the next step, which is to coat it with a rust-proofing formula.

During autumn, before winter has its effect on the roads, clean every inch of your car. That will clear your car’s surfaces of anything that could get trapped under the layer of sealant you’ll apply afterwards. That’s important because rust-causing elements can still do damage when trapped underneath sealant.

If you didn’t get around to cleaning your car and applying sealant this past autumn, don’t fret. Spring is a good time to get it done too.

Cars are more vulnerable to rust during spring. There’s more moisture in the air, and temperatures fluctuate. Plus, the grime from melting snow means there’s lots of salt on the ground. This makes for a perfect storm of rust-forming conditions that you should prepare for.

Rust Proof Your Vehicle’s Undercarriage

When it comes to rustproofing your car’s undercarriage, you have a few different options, any one of which you can accomplish yourself or have done at the mechanic’s shop. Your first option is to have it oiled with a rust proofing spray. Most agree that this is the best way to do it, since the oil based liquid can creep into every crack and crease for optimum protection. A thicker sealant spray can also be used, but be sure to completely clean the undercarriage before applying it. Otherwise, you run the risk of trapping rocks and corrosive materials beneath it.

Be generous when applying rustproofing agents to brake and fuel lines. These are the parts of the undercarriage most prone to rust. The rustproofing agent acts as a barrier to moisture, salt, and other damaging substances.

It’s never too late to rustproof your undercarriage. However, the best time to do it is before the car even leaves the dealership. The undercarriage of the vehicle will never be cleaner than when you first get it.

Finally, a lot of people use electronic rustproofing systems, or “electronic rust inhibitors”, to protect their cars against rust. These systems work by issuing a weak electric current throughout the metal on your vehicle. The current interferes with the charge between the metal and oxygen, preventing rust from forming. You can buy them at the dealership or at any Canadian Tire. That said, most people prefer the tried-and-true methods we discussed above.

Electronic devices can cost anywhere between $300 to $1,000, while traditional methods fall within the $100 to $200 range.

Wash Your Car Often During Winter

Winter’s a bad time for your undercarriage, but you can make it better by regularly washing your car. Most automatic car washes offer undercarriage cleaning. But if you want to be thorough, you can spray the undercarriage with a pressure washer.

In terms of how often you should do it, every ten to twenty days is a good benchmark to follow. Also, you should wash your car after snowfalls, rainfalls, and whenever the temperature goes above 0-degrees during winter.

Avoid Puddles

Puddle water is basically dirty salt water mixed with all the grime on our roads, and those aren’t exactly spotless. You should avoid driving through big puddles of standing water when you can. Otherwise, the salty puddle water will splash up into the undercarriage and facilitate the formation of rust.

If do-it-yourself car maintenance isn’t your expertise, Go Auto will be happy to get the job done for you. Click here to start booking your service appointment online, or give us a call at 780-777-7777. Our 24/7 customer service representatives will be happy to help.

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