Do All Cars Rust Eventually? (Here’s What To Expect)

Automakers use steel to build car frames because of its inherent strength and durability. However, it contains iron, which rusts when exposed to moisture.

Car owners have little control over how rust affects their vehicles because it can occur anywhere on the body.

Still, they have the power to keep rust at bay for a while.

We’ll answer your questions about rusting cars and how to deal with it in this article.

Here’s the short answer to whether all cars rust eventually:

Well, if you keep using the car, eventually, it’s bound to rust. However, there’s little probability that if you live in the ideal environment, under the best of conditions, it wouldn’t. Or at least not while it’s with you. The sad news is that it’ll take a lot of work.

How Fast Do New Cars Rust Today?

Newer cars are less prone to rust relative to ancient ones. Still, we’re a long way from perfectly rust-free vehicles.

Most cars today have plastic covers around the body of their chassis.

This doesn’t stop dirt from accumulating between the undercarriage and the plastic covers, and it leads to rust over time.

However, new cars should last over 7 years without rusting (give or take depending on environment and maintenance).

Regular exposure to rain and snow increases the likelihood of rust, and that’s not all.

Off-road driving leaves cars vulnerable too and exterior paint peeling usually welcomes rust.

Are There Any Cars That Cannot Rust?

Most cars receive some level of rust protection from their manufacturers. Some more than others. Many cars will rust eventually despite maintenance, while others might withstand rust longer.

Some cars from well-known brands such as Audi, Volkswagen, Kia, Mini, and Honda are very resistant to rust.

  • Audi: The A3, A4 and S4 all have excellent rust protection. They will remain rust-free for a long time, even if you live near the ocean. Still, you can’t skip maintenance.
  • Volkswagen: The Beetle, Golf, Passat, Rabbit and Jetta are highly resistant to rust.
  • Kia K3: Kia designed the K3 with the highest quality materials to prevent corrosion. It may not deliver exceptional performance, but its exterior will last longer.
  • Mini: The Cooper and Countryman both get good factory rust protection.
  • Honda: The Acura CSX and TL, the CRV, Fit, Accord, Civic and Odyssey would also stand the test of time with maintenance on their side.

Yet, while these cars are impressive, we haven’t come across any that cannot rust.

How Come Modern Cars Don’t Rust As Much As Older Cars?

Rust used to be a disturbing issue with older automobiles. Modern cars can combat corrosion because of advancements in the auto industry, with better protection than older models.

Rust in vehicles has considerably decreased over the last few decades.

Among the technological advances that have reduced corrosion is the use of galvanized steel. Galvanizing involves coating the steel in a thin layer of zinc, which protects the underlying, more corrosive metal.

Zinc rusts slower than steel and prevents its surface from corroding.

Also, automakers are no longer as reliant on steel as they once were. In order to save weight, lighter non-corroding materials like carbon fiber and aluminum are used in modern cars today.

Cars are also now designed to be more watertight with fewer openings so mud and water cannot pass through. Water runs off instead of penetrating these openings.

In addition, the paints on modern cars have higher grades, with longer-lasting coatings. Before painting, the cars are primed and sealed to reduce contact between the metal body and air.

Modern cars also use more efficient methods to attach components. It makes way for tighter seals that are less prone to water intrusion.

Carmakers also designed older car models without modern day rust-proofing techniques. That’s why they’re more vulnerable to rust.

Related: Where Do Cars Rust The Most In The U.S.? (With Examples)

Do Cars Rust Faster on the East Coast?

Certain environmental factors along the east coast may quicken corrosion.

The combination of sunlight and salt air in a coastal environment ruins a car’s bodywork. This is because of the opening up of paint pores. Also, salty moisture gets absorbed, leading to increased corrosion.

Rust only requires an anode, cathode, and electrolyte to form. The metal in your car supplies the anode and cathode, while water serves as the electrolyte.

Salt water is one of the leading causes of car rust. This is because salt is an agent that speeds up rust by improving the ability of water to carry electrons. It is also why rust is more likely to form in humid climates and nothing says salt than seawater.

Hence, your vehicle is more susceptible to rust if you live on the east coast. Note that this factor doesn’t affect all the parts of the states on the east coast. These states are quite large.

The coastal areas feel the effects the most. Whatever you do, monitor your vehicle and show it proper care.

Related: Are Kit Cars Worth It? Depreciation & Common Problems

Do Cars Rust If They’re Stored in a Garage?

Garages cover cars from rain and snow. This does a lot to prevent cars from rusting because it shields them from excess moisture.

Storing cars in garages with regulated temperatures and humidity extends their rust-free lives.

It would seem a car stored in a garage is the best way to stop rust. However, this is not always the case.

If proper precautions are not taken, corrosion in garages will be sped up and rust spots will appear much sooner. A car is less likely to rust when the temperature and moisture levels inside the garage are properly regulated.

In colder climates, cars parked in garages will rust. Except, of course, the cars are properly cleaned at all times and the humidity is well controlled.

This is because road salt is extremely corrosive. If any of it sticks to your car while it’s parked inside a garage that’s warm, it would corrode.

A significant step against rust in your garage would be to get a dehumidifier.

Do All Cars Have Rust Underneath?

Most cars have rust underneath them. Over time, people tire of strict cleaning and this causes corrosion to thrive.

When most people think of rust on a car, the first thing they do is inspect the exterior paint. They usually ignore the underbody.

Underbody rust is the most common type of rust. It occurs when car parts underneath come into direct contact with salt water and air. Car suspensions are more likely to rust because they’re prone to trap moisture and go unnoticed.

However, not all cars have rust underneath.

Apart from the car’s exterior, the frame rails and suspension beneath the vehicle should be given special attention. While washing your car, it is important to clean the underbody as well to prevent road salt from accumulating. This will help protect the metals there.

It’s possible to repair underbody rust if it’s not too severe. The repair is like paint repair.

You can remove mild rust with an abrasive wheel or sandpaper to reveal the metal surface. A primer is then applied, followed by paint and coating finish to keep the rust from spreading.

Related: Will A Hummer Fit My Garage? 4 Things To Know (Before Buying!)

How Can You Avoid Rust on Your Car?

There is little one can do to keep rust from ever forming on their vehicle as corrosion is inevitable. However, there are a few techniques that, if properly followed, can help delay corrosion on your car.

Clean and Dry Your Car

Keeping your car neat and dry is the first step. You can do this by parking in an enclosed garage or using a car cover. However, car covers have limitations and they barely do much to shield the underbody.

Try to observe the gaps in your car exterior when cleaning it. Rust can go unnoticed in these areas for long periods. Wash your car at least once a week and wax it every few months. The waxing frequency should depend on your environment.

After driving off-road, rinse the underbody and allow to dry. It isn’t a great idea to let trapped moisture in the stuck soil remain there.

Use After-market Rust-Proofing Products

Aftermarket rust-proofing measures are usually effective.

However, some automakers warn against it with claims that it tampers with their own factory rust-proofing. Confirm with your dealer first. If that’s the case, you’d better stick with rigorous maintenance.

Aftermarket options come in different forms. It could be a regular spray, oil spray, ceramic coating or something else.

If you can’t afford to have your car waxed or sprayed with anti-rust every few months, use lasting options. Some ceramic coatings can last up to three years once applied.

Final Thoughts

Maintaining your car helps it look new and reduces its depreciation rate. Rust not only causes your car to lose value, it also affects its structure.

The rusted areas become weak, rendering the car’s crash test ratings irrelevant. Cars eaten up by rust are more dangerous during accidents. Hence, if you leave the rust unchecked, lives are more at risk.

Also, most insurance companies consider rust as normal wear and tear, so they don’t cover it. It’s best to just keep your car rust free.

Unless you live in a typically dry environment, rustproofing is a smart choice.

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