Rust is a type of corrosion which, in turn, is a type of electrochemical oxidation of iron. Rust refers specifically to the oxidation of iron. The chemical name for rust is iron oxide (Fe2O3). Iron oxide forms when iron atoms give electrons to oxygen atoms. Oxygen is abundant, so rust is common where iron is present. But the transfer of electrons also necessitates the presence of electrolytes which form a sort of electrical circuit between the metal (anode) and oxygen (cathode). Water is one such electrolyte. When water naturally combines with CO2 in our air, it forms an even stronger electrolyte, carbonic acid (H2CO3) that speed the rate of electron transfer.
Most cars feature primarily steel bodies which is an alloy containing iron. That means most vehicles are susceptible to rust. Automotive paint offers a few layers of protection from the metal and the moisture-rich air. However, if your vehicle suffers a deep scratch or dent, air and water will reach the surface and begin the slow, inevitable process of corrosion. If your vehicle is often wet, it will rust. If you routinely expose it to road salt, it will rust. And if you live near the sea, it will rust. Now, you may feel like Leiningen, hopeless against the swelling tide of his faceless evil, but you are not defenceless.
Rust Prevention Tips
If you care for your vehicle with some diligence, and if you don’t live by the sea, corrosion is perfectly avoidable – for at least as long as the powertrain lasts.
- Wash your vehicle regularly. Road salt is corrosive and dirt scrapes through layers of protective paint, exposing the metal to the elements.
- Also wash the underbody and wheel wells. These areas are more difficult to access, but they’re also most susceptible to accumulating corrosive material. Wash them regularly, especially in winter.
- And don’t forget the interior. In winter, make sure you have well-fitted rubber floor mats. Water and road salt get on your shoes and you track it into your vehicle. If you don’t have good floor mats, this goes straight through the floor and can lead to rust.
- Check for parts of your vehicle that hold water. When it rains or snows, some vehicles have spots that accumulate water. Maybe it’s your truck’s box, or your car’s trunk. Wherever it is, make sure you drain or dry it if your vehicle is wet. Your vehicle probably has drain holes, so ensure they’re not plugged.
- If you do find a patch of rust, treat it immediately. The first warning sign will be bubbling paint. Scrape off the flakes with fine sandpaper and then apply a rust arrestor followed by primer and paint. That should stop corrosion in its tracks.
- Don’t buy a vehicle made of steel…
Aluminum is an element. Therefore, it does not contain iron and cannot rust. But it can corrode – actually, it’s very susceptible to corrosion – but that’s not a big problem. Aluminum oxide, unlike iron oxide, is not weak, flaky, or discoloured. It acts more like a protective barrier and protects the metal beneath it from further reaction. This chemical behaviour, in addition to aluminums low weight, make it a great alternative to steel for use in automobiles. Many luxury vehicles and sports cars are aluminum-bodied, and mainstream vehicles like the Ford F-150 have followed suit.
If you take care of your vehicle and wash it regularly, you should be able to avoid rust pretty easily. If your vehicle is already damaged, bring it to Universal Collision Centre for expert repairs. Do you have any other rust prevention tips?