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Do vehicles need rust proofing?

We get to read most of the articles and studies about protecting vehicles against rust and log into many discussion groups found on automotive forums about the subject and it ceases to amaze us how different the opinions are on the topic. We have compiled information for you, the consumer, so you can make up your own mind. There are traditional chemical applications and newer environmentally friendly electronic rust protection modules that have become very popular to choose from.

Rust is nature’s way of returning a man-made product such as steel back to its natural state — iron. Steel contains iron and when exposed to air and moisture, rust will occur. The chemical process that occurs is called oxidation. Where’s the proof? Leave the cover off your barbeque for a couple of seasons left exposed to the environment and you’ll see the evidence! Even stainless steel barbeques have regular steel used in the support frames and that’s where you’ll find the brown stuff start to form. The steel that is used in vehicles is galvanized which does provide protection. Galvanizing is a process whereby steel is dipped into a liquid metal (zinc), thus forming a barrier between the steel, moisture and air. Every time a piece of sheet metal is cut or welded in the manufacturing process, the galvanizing protection is lost thus creating a rust-prone area. These areas are precisely where rust starts to form on a vehicle in its 3rd or 5th year on-ward. Where’s the proof? Open the sliding doors of some 3 to 5 year old mini-vans and you’ll see the evidence! Also, consider the amount of bombardment the under-body of a vehicle endures. Stones and gravel are kicked up hacking away the galvanizing protection from the factory leaving bare metal exposed. Can you imagine how the under body can’t begin to rust?

Most manufacturers’ corrosion warranties were written by highly paid lawyers. When you read the fine print, you’ll discover that the corrosion warranty is really only a perforation warranty covering rust from the inside of a painted body panel through to the outside caused by defective parts or poor workmanship. Specifically not covered is any rust caused by a scratch, ding or dent where bare metal is exposed to the environment. Any rust caused by industrial fallout, acid rain or ROAD SALT is specifically not covered. Also not covered is the complete under-body, wheel wells, suspension area, braking and steering systems, the engine bay and trunk. Where’s the proof? Read your manufacturer’s warranty and you’ll be surprised.

Many experts suggest against protecting your vehicle if you’re not going to keep it a long time as you won’t realize the benefit from the investment. The true cost of ownership is what you pay for a vehicle plus the maintenance and repairs less what you’ll receive for your vehicle when you trade or sell your vehicle privately. When a consumer is considering purchasing a used vehicle, one of the first questions asked is if the vehicle was rust-proofed. Why? They want to know if the original owner protected the vehicle and if they didn’t, rust could have started to form in hidden areas; when it starts, it’s like a malignant cancer in the vehicle. Where’s the proof? Consider the resale value of a home that has had thermal aluminum or vinyl windows installed, extra insulation materials or treatments applied or vinyl fencing installed for example. These homes traditionally will sell for more and much quicker because the purchaser feels more confident because the original owner invested in the home with materials and treatments that will keep the home looking new for years to come.

Chemical Applications:

Many experts claim that applying an oil spray every year or two is an excellent investment and the best way to protect your vehicle. While oil spraying will provide some protection, the best time to apply any protection is when the vehicle is brand new with no dirt or grime accumulation. If you drive to your local oil spray facility, the installer likely spays the oil on top of whatever dirt or grime has accumulated. Any accumulation of dirt and salt is therefore trapped causing a rust-prone area. The rust that forms from this process is called poultice rust. Where’s the proof? Does the installer at the oil spray facility pressure wash the under body of your vehicle and let it dry before spaying on the oil? Why do most automotive dealerships not offer oil spraying as a solution to protect vehicles against rust? The answer is quite simple; it’s not the best solution for their customers.
Oiling a vehicle would involve less labour and the material costs would be significantly less expensive if profit was their only motivator.

Many automobile manufacturers’ brochures and advisories indicate that further protecting your vehicle with rust protection applications is not necessary under the corrosion warranty. Those high paid lawyers really do earn their wage! The corrosion warranty only applies to the painted body panels and the warranty covers rust that is caused by a perforation. The warranty does not apply to the other components and areas of the vehicle that are not covered and so the brochures or advisories refers only to perforation on a painted body panel. Where’s the proof? Read the brochures, advisories and the warranty booklet and you’ll see how it instils false confidence.

Apart from protecting a vehicle from rust corrosion, undercoating a vehicle creates a sound guard that will reduce road noise. Where’s the proof? If you tossed some marbles into an empty paint can and shook it, they would make a rather loud sound. Toss some marbles into an empty paint can that was treated with some rust protection and the noise reduction is quite noticeable.

Electronic and Environmentally Friendly Solutions:

An electronic rust module installed on a vehicle inhibits rust from occurring by thwarting the chemical reaction of oxidation. Whenever the protective coat of the paint is broken, the underlying sheet metal is exposed starting the corrosion process. Conventional chemical applications protects the vehicle from the window line down but now, electronic rust modules protect the entire vehicle up to the roof.
Electronic Rust Protection either supplies an overabundance of free flowing electrons onto the exposed sheet metal inhibiting the oxidation process or combines strategically placed positively charged anodes to draw the current away from exposed areas. There is also a patented process used by Final Coat's corrosion module that uses radio frequencies. There are several options for a consumer to consider.

Many dealerships offer this environmentally friendly technology as an alternative that offers consumers a clean way of protecting their vehicles from corrosion. Most modules are also transferable to another vehicle. Where’s the proof? This technology has been used for years on ships that float in salt water, bridges, pipelines and underground tanks. This technology has been adapted to the automobile sector and offers a ‘green’ alternative to protect the entire vehicle from the road to roof.

Most manufacturers and independent operators will only provide a limited warranty restricted by time and kilometers. Many independent operators in fact have limits to the dollar amounts that will be paid out and offer a limit of only one claim. Be sure to read the warranty that an independent rust protection company offers you and the details of their process before you invest in having your vehicle treated by them. Also consider if they are likely to be in business years down the road should you require a claim.

If you live in a warm and arid part of the country, the process of oxidation is obviously minimized however, if you live in a part of the country that experiences the full wrath of winter and where salt or other chlorides are used on roadways, protecting your vehicle against rust is most definitely a justifiable investment.

If you were going to lease a vehicle and had no intentions of buying out the vehicle at the end of the lease, it would make sense why you might not invest in a complete rust protection package. Many customers who do lease their vehicles have their vehicles undercoated solely for the purpose of driving a quieter vehicle. Many consumers though, change their minds when their lease is up and purchase the vehicle for themselves or as a gift to a family member. Some dealerships recognize the value of rust protection and offer a trade-in bonus if you trade-in your vehicle to them in the future.

It’s up to you. If you have confidence in the manufacturers’ warranty, give it a miss. If you want to insure your investment, have your vehicle protected with an anti-rust treatment. is a community resource website providing the automotive and RV industry with facts, statistics and information with respect to aftermarket products and services that would benefit consumers.
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