Where Do Cars Rust MOST Across U.S.? (With Examples)

Salt on the roads will cause all motorized vehicles to rust. But where is the problem biggest across the 50 states?

Cars in the Northeastern states have been known to have rust build-up more than in any other state because of the use of salt in snowy weather. These, among others, are known to be in the “salt-belt”:

  • Minnesota
  • Iowa
  • Wisconsin
  • Ohio
  • Michigan
  • Indiana

Read on for the full list!

Why Do Cars Rust More On The Seaside?

This combination of water and salty air is mostly found in seaside locations. The mixture seeps into little pores in the metal and oxidizes the metal which results in the appearance of rust.

Cars that are located seaside often rust earlier and faster than cars inland. The coastal air together with water can lead to rusting even on newer cars.

Unfortunately, even if you don’t live in coastal areas, your car can become rusted.

During winter, snowy and wet weather can make driving a car tricky and skidding is more frequent, resulting in more accidents on the roads. So, ice is used to de-ice the roads.

Adding salt to the roads lowers the freezing point of the ice from around 32 degrees to 32 degrees to 15-16 degrees Fahrenheit.

Although this leads to more friction between your tires and the road, it also promotes more rust on the car as the salt builds up.

Using road salt is more prevalent in coastal areas especially the Northeastern states and this is referred to as the “salt belt”.

Cars in these states have been known to have rust build-up more than any other state.

This is no surprise because these areas are wet and icy during the winter months.

The salt belt, also known as the “rust-belt,” is where the rusting in cars is found the most. The salt belt includes all the states Northeastern of the U.S.

So does this mean your car is safe from rust if you live in California?

This is a question you might be worried about if you’re looking to move to California. Or maybe you already live there and just want to find out if your car is in danger.

A good indication is also looking at other cars in your area.

If you find that a lot of cars have rusty patches, it might mean your car is next. 

If your car isn’t rusted yet, then taking preventative measures is a good idea to keep the rust away.

Do Cars Rust In California?

Unless you live near the coastal areas of the state, your car will have minimal rust in California. California has less rain and has lower humidity than Northeastern states, therefore rust-free cars.

So this means if you don’t live near the beach, or in the mountains where it snows a lot, you can enjoy a rust-free car. But this does not mean you don’t have to take precautions to prevent rust building up.

Rust will most likely start showing if you don’t take good care of your car.

Taking good care of your car should be standard practice.

Regular washing and waxing are just some of the simple things you can do to prevent rust building up.

California also doesn’t get a lot of rain compared to other coastal areas, so because of minimal water and less salt, cars in California can have little to no rust at all.

Keep in mind, though, that on certain highways in California salt is used depending on the conditions of the climate or weather.

But what if you live in Southern states that aren’t in the salt-belt, such as Florida?

Do Cars Rust In Florida?

Florida cars do rust. If not properly taken care of, exposure to seawater, if you live by the coastal areas, can rust various components of your car. Rusting might not be as prevalent in Florida as it is in the Northeastern states, but it can happen.

Again, if you live far from the coast rusting will be much slower. But if you happen to live by the beach, your car is prone to rust creeping in.

This also depends on who you ask this question. A car owner who regularly washes and looks after their car very well will have no idea what you’re talking about – because they keep their car clean and prevent any rust from building up.

This goes for every state whether coastal or not.

Not only does cleaning your car keep the rust away, but it can also keep the resale value of the car high because it has minimal damage and appears pristine.

Here are a few tips to prevent or slow down rusting.

  • Wash and clean the exterior of the vehicle, keeping a close eye to notice any rusted spots.
  • Use a matching color to touch up any spots.
  • Apply wax to the exterior of the car.
  • Get an anti-rust spray after sealing the spot and spray it onto the spots and paintwork.
  • Rub a coat of linseed oil to prevent rusting for longer periods. Warning: linseed oil is highly flammable and the rag used must be disposed of correctly.
  • Use a high-quality wax, polish, and clay bar for your vehicle paint.
  • Our in-house expert also recommends that you clean the undercarriage with a pressure washer to get rid of any debris stuck on the underside of your vehicle. This should be done 3 – 4 times a year.

Cleaning your car should be done regularly not only because it looks great after a good wash, but it also allows you to monitor any rusting before it spreads to other parts of the metal.

These are especially useful to keep in mind in the cold and can keep your car from rusting underneath.

If you live in any of the Northeastern states, these washing tips are highly recommended because of the higher chance your car has of rusting.

But now that begs the question:

Which Other States Are In The “Rust-belt”?

These are the worst states for rusty cars in the U.S.:

  • Connecticut,
  • Delaware,
  • Illinois,
  • Indiana,
  • Iowa,
  • Maine,
  • Maryland,
  • Massachusetts,
  • Michigan,
  • Minnesota,
  • Missouri,
  • New Hampshire,
  • New Jersey,
  • New York,
  • North Carolina (Coastline),
  • Ohio,
  • Oregon (Coastline),
  • Pennsylvania,
  • Rhode Island,
  • Vermont,
  • Virginia,
  • West Virginia,
  • Wisconsin,
  • and Washington D.C.

Although Alaska has harsh, wet winters, they use minimal salt on the roads. Rather, sand or gravel is used so this minimizes the risk of rusting in cars.

If you live in any of these states, make sure to check your car regularly or whenever you have a chance. These won’t completely stop your vehicle from rusting, but they go a long in maintaining the quality of the paint job.

Rust is best dealt with as soon as it creeps up.

So the quicker you see it, the better you’ll be able to stop it in its tracks without spending a whole lot of money.

A small spot might seem harmless at first until you forget it and it becomes a huge brown rusted area in the paintwork of your car.

Rust not only looks terrible on a car, but it can also significantly reduce the resale value of your car. After all, who’d want to buy a rusted-looking car when they can find other options somewhere else?

Which States Are Cars ‘Rust-Free’?

Rust, or corrosion caused by oxidation, is a widespread issue, particularly in places with high humidity or in coastal environments.

However, several areas in the United States are noted for having little to no rusting, earning them the title of being ‘rust-free.’

These ‘rust-free’ states are as follows:

  • Oklahoma
  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • Texas
  • Georgia
  • California
  • Nevada
  • Colorado
  • New Mexico

The aforementioned states have a drier environment with low humidity levels, which is critical in preventing rust growth and development.

Considering the oxidation process that leads to rusting is accelerated by moisture in the air, the reduced humidity in these areas decreases the vulnerability of metal surfaces to moisture, reducing the danger of rust.

Many of these places are located away from the main coastal areas. As a result, these areas are less exposed to the corrosive effects of salty air, resulting in less rusting.

Arid or desert climates can be found in places like Arizona, Nevada, and sections of Texas and California.

However, states with high-altitude terrain, such as Colorado, have lower humidity levels due to colder and drier air at higher elevations.

Here you can find reasons why some cars rust very little.

Can You Buy A Car In Another State?

You can buy a car in another state, but you’ll have to pay the taxes. In most cases, the car dealer collects and sends your taxes to the correct agency in your home state.

This helps with tax evaders. It also helps buyers understand the procedure.

Checking whether the dealer has sent the necessary paperwork to your home state’s Department of Motor Vehicles is recommended.

When you finally get to register your new car at your local DMV, they will need to check your bill of sale to make sure the necessary tax was paid.

So make sure to also get a bill of sale for the car purchase from the dealer.

If you do find your next purchase a few states over, it shouldn’t be too much of a hassle if you know the necessary tax laws.

However, keep in mind that if you buy the car from another person instead of a dealer, the work increases on your part. This is because you need to handle everything all on your own.

That includes state and local taxes and registration paperwork.

All that work increases and so does the likelihood that you might forget something. A slip-up like that can see you paying double on tax all because you forgot to pay something. Going the dealer route has its own perks.

Having the paperwork done for you is one of the time-saving benefits.

You might also be worried about having an out-of-state driver’s license. This is not a problem.

It is allowed to buy a car with a license from a different state.

Getting as much information as you can before going ahead with the sale will save you time and money in the long run.

In The End…

Your car will likely be one of your most expensive investments. And should be treated as such if it is to last you a long time.

In general, it is much easier to buy a car in the state you live in. But if you happen to see your next car purchase a few states over, it’s best to double-check tax laws that apply to vehicle purchases.

Emission requirements and registration are also issues to self-educate on if you’ve decided on a car out of state

When all the necessary taxes and paperwork is handled, you’ll need to start taking good care of your car.

Taking preventative measures such as washing and waxing your car on a regular basis is a good start if you live in states that are prone to rusty cars (the “Salt-Belt”).

So with these basic cleaning habits, together with the listed cleaning tips above, you can keep your car or truck rust-free for longer.

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