If you have recently encountered rust on your car, you may be wondering how to repair it before it gets any worse. Rust can cause many otherwise functional cars to make an early trip to the junkyard, and so it is important that any rust located on a vehicle is quickly and comprehensively repaired. With proper care, even a car that has experienced rust can last for years.
What Rust Actually Is
Many people believe that rust is a type of buildup that occurs when water dries repeatedly on a metal surface. However, rust is actually the result of a chemical reaction. Many vehicles are made of parts that contain iron, and when these iron molecules come into contact with oxygen, they produce a new molecule: iron oxide. Iron oxide is another name for rust, and it gets its name from the process of oxidization, or joining with oxygen, that the iron undergoes.
Many cars experience rust no matter the climate. However, certain conditions can accelerate the formation of iron oxide. One of the main culprits is road salt. Road salts dissolve in water and function as electrolytes. Electrolytes speed up the process of exchanging molecules during a chemical reaction; in cars, this boosts the speed at which rust develops. This is why individuals who live in snowy areas where road salt is commonly used often experience issues with rust, while those living in arid climates with mild winters see less rust in the same amount of time.
The Types of Rust On A Car
A car that has begun to rust is beginning to oxidize, but the type of rust that is occurring will determine what sort of repair is necessary. Surface rust is the simplest to treat and typically arises from small scratches or nicks in paint that reveal the metal underneath. Surface rust is not dangerous as long as it is handled quickly, before it can progress.
Scale rust is the next step if surface rust is left untreated. It progresses deeper into the metal and can cause flaking. This flaking reveals more metal surfaces, which then also begin to corrode, and the problem can become exponential very quickly. This is why tackling surface rust immediately when it starts is wise.
The most damaging kind of rust, penetrative rust, appears when the oxidization process is allowed to continue without repair until it eats holes in the metal. This is not merely an aesthetic concern; it can cause equipment to fail and make driving hazardous.
Stopping Rust Before It Starts
The most effective way to stop rust before it ever becomes a problem is to immediately treat surface rust as soon as you notice it. An experienced car restoration shop can perform this task quickly and at low cost. Be sure to wash your car regularly to remove any potential contaminants, such as road salts, that could speed up the oxidizing process. Sealing your vehicle and keeping its paint in good repair are the most important steps you can take to slow the development of rust, because they inhibit the ability of the iron molecules to interact with oxygen and begin creating iron oxide. Many surfaces that begin to rust quickly are easily treated or will resolve on their own, such as when steel disc brake rotors temporarily rust but will have the rust wiped off by the regular process of stopping the car.
Fixing Rust That Has Already Occurred
Rust that has already taken hold on a vehicle can present a challenge, depending upon what type it is. Surface rust is relatively simple to repair using sandpaper and grinders. This can remove the rusted area and allow for repainting and sealing that will keep water out so that the rust does not reappear. More heavily rusted sections can be repaired by replacing the parts entirely or through more intensive procedures that are best handled by an experienced car restoration shop. Remember, a spot of rust as small as a quarter may require a repair as large as a basketball to ensure that the vehicle is stable and safe.
Work With The Rust Repair And Auto Restoration Experts
If you would like to get a head start on preventing rust on your vehicle, or if your car has already begun to rust and you need assistance before the problem gets worse, be sure to work with an auto body shop that has experience in restoration and rust repair. The professionals at Robs Customs & Restorations would be happy to examine your vehicle and inform you about any safety hazards and possible repairs necessitated by rust. Reach out to schedule an appointment with an expert.