7 Reasons Some Cars Rust Very Little (Explained)

Rust is one common problem car owners face, especially those living in areas with lots of moisture, salt, and humidity. It is not only unattractive but can also cause severe damage to the structure of the car over time.

Rust-resistant cars are becoming prevalent in the industry, so many cars are naturally more resistant to rust than others.

While it is believed that all cars would likely rust eventually, understanding why certain cars rust less can help you when purchasing a new car or taking steps to prevent rust on your current one.

1. Galvanized Steel: An Essential Material in Car Manufacturing To Prevent Rusting

Galvanized steel is a material used in the production of cars to prevent rust and corrosion. Galvanization is the process of applying a layer of zinc over a steel or iron surface to prevent corrosion.

This zinc prevents oxygen and water, the core elements responsible for rusting from reaching the steel beneath by forming a zinc oxide layer on the surface.

The zinc oxide layer, when in contact with moisture, turns into zinc carbonate, which gives the metal a dull gray patina that is insoluble in water and stops any further chemical changes.

Galvanized steel can last up to 70 years without rusting, although this depends on the situation the metal is being used for.

Modern vehicles are galvanized, which is why there has been a huge reduction in automotive rust over the past 30 years.

This is why Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) make use of galvanized steel for various components of vehicles, including body panels.

2. Protective Properties of High-Quality Paint for Cars Against Rust

High-quality paint can prevent rust and corrosion by creating a protective layer over metal objects and preventing moisture from reaching them.

Rust is a form of corrosion when the chemicals in a vehicle’s paint break down.

With regular use and age, low-quality paint dries out and loses its oil content, which can lead to paint oxidation.

Oxidation is a form of corrosion that can cause the paint to feel rough and dusty, and the coat flakes off in patches, exposing the metal to other corrosive agents.

The science behind high-quality paint preventing rust and corrosion lies in the paint’s ability to create a barrier between the metal and the environment.

Moisture is one of the major causes of rust and corrosion, and high-quality paint slows down rusting by preventing moisture from reaching the metal.

It’s also a great idea to know some of the main reasons some cars rust more than others.

3. Drainage Channels in Cars: A Key Factor in Preventing Rust

Drainage channels in cars are designed to allow water to flow out instead of accumulating and remaining in contact with the metal, as cars with fewer drain holes are easily clogged and can trap moisture against the metal, leading to rust.

When water is allowed to accumulate in areas of the car like the

  • Truck
  • Undercarriage, and
  • Door frames

It can cause serious damage to the overall performance of the vehicle.

Water can enter a car through various openings, such as the

  • Sunroof
  • Door seals, and
  • Windows

In addition to causing serious damage to a car’s

  • Body
  • Undercarriage, and
  • Structural integrity

It can also affect the car’s electronics and electrical system and decrease its lifespan.

It’s important and advised to maintain and inspect the drainage channels regularly to ensure they remain clear and effective in preventing rust.

4. Cars Made From Aluminum and Carbon Fiber Rust Less Due to Material Properties

Aluminum is a sturdy lightweight metal that does not rust and this makes it an ideal material for the production of car frames. Carbon fiber is also very light and strong, but it is more expensive than aluminum.

On the other hand, regular steel is vulnerable to corrosion and rust, which is why the car industry is shifting to aluminum and carbon fiber materials in manufacturing cars.

While there are no vehicles built entirely from aluminum or carbon fiber due to their cost, many new passenger vehicles include some aluminum components.

Some examples of cars made from aluminum and carbon fiber include high-end sports cars, such as the

  • BMW i8
  • Audi R8, and
  • McLaren 720S12

Often used in auto body manufacturing, carbon fiber is very expensive, which is why it is used almost exclusively in high-end sports cars.

Aluminum being a lightweight metal is also used in the production of some cars, such as the Ford F-Series trucks and Bollinger’s chassis, to cut weight and ultimately, to prevent rust and corrosion.

5. Electro-coating Creates a Protective Barrier Against Rust on Cars

Electro-coating, also known as e-coating or electrodeposition, is a process that creates a protective barrier against rusting in cars.

During production, car bodies are submerged in a large tank that contains waterborne e-coat, and the coating is applied through cathodic electrodeposition.

This ensures that the coating is evenly distributed over the entire surface of the car body, including hard-to-reach areas.

E-coat resin technology, combined with the excellent coverage provided by electrodeposition, provides one of the most effective coatings for protecting metals from rust.

This process is the foundation for modern automobile manufacturing after the 1990s, and nearly all cars use e-coat technology as a base foundation for their paint job.

Electroplating is one of the most common reasons why some cars rust less. It deposits protective metal ions onto a substrate, which in turn creates:

  • Wear resistance
  • Corrosion protection, and
  • Protection from abrasion

You should also check out the 25 cars that rust the least.

6. Regular Maintenance To Prevent Rust Buildup in Cars

Regular washing of the car to remove dirt, salt, and grime that has built up is one of the commonest reasons why some cars rust less.

Pay special attention to the undercarriage of your vehicle, especially if you live in an area with lots of snow, where road salt and chemical deposits can build up and compromise the car’s ability to protect against rust.

Rustproofing is another way to prevent rust buildup. It is the prevention or delay of rusting, achieved by a process of surface finishing or treatment.

Coating your car with a rust-prevention lubricant like WD-40 can dry the metal surfaces and prevent rust. WD-40 can be applied to the

  • Engine
  • External painted parts of the car, and
  • The undercarriage

Treating rust spots early is also important to prevent rust from spreading quickly. Rust spreads quickly and can cause major cosmetic and mechanical damage to your vehicle.

Instead of letting the problem go unchecked, regularly clean any scrapes and use touch-up paint to protect the area from further destruction.

If you are uncomfortable with this, consider taking the vehicle to an auto body shop.

7. Weather stripping Helps Cars Resist Rust

Weatherstripping is a rubber material that seals the edges of a vehicle’s doors, windows, windshield, and other areas.

It prevents outside elements such as rain, snow, wind, and pests from reaching the interior of the vehicle.

Water intrusion in car trunks typically leads to rust-out floors. Vehicles with coated weather stripping are more likely to rust following the premature failure of the paint.

Weatherstripping also plays a part in maintaining satisfactory ride quality in the vehicle, being partially responsible for sealing noise out from the passenger compartment.

Therefore, weather stripping is an important factor in preventing rust in cars by keeping water and other elements out of the vehicle.

Also, find out where cars rust the most in the U.S.

Final Thoughts

The type of metal used in a car’s construction, the quality of the paint and coatings, and the level of exposure to moisture are all key factors that affect a car’s rust resistance.

Highlighting the importance of regular maintenance and washing to prevent rust and prolong a car’s lifespan, this article also offers practical advice for car owners looking to protect their vehicles from rust damage.

However, it is important to note that there is no such thing as a completely rust-proof car, even with

  • The use of aluminum or carbon fiber materials
  • Regular maintenance, and above all
  • Galvanization
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