If you live in an area with four seasons, winter brings snowy fun for you and your family—and trouble for your car. Cold temperatures, freezing rain, and piles of snow aren’t great for your car. Add a wet winter to road treatments like salt and snow, and you’ve got conditions leading to car rust.
Not only does rust look terrible on a car, making it appear older and dingier, but as it spreads over time, it can cause major damage. The good news is that if you take steps to prevent rust and remove it at the first appearance, your car can survive even the snowiest winter still looking and functioning great. Read on for details on the damage rust can create, how to prevent rust on your car in winter, and how to remove rust from your car.
Dangers of Wintertime Rust
Winter is tough on cars. One of the biggest problems it creates for car owners is rust. The salt many cities scatter on the roads to melt ice and snow eats through clear coats and creates corrosion. Rust happens when water and air react with iron metals—and salt speeds up that chemical process.
Wintertime rust can damage your car in several ways:
- External damage: When a car’s paintwork is damaged by a chip or scratch, the metal is exposed to the air. If you don’t deal with the rust, it will continue to eat at the metal and flake it away, making the car difficult to look at—and even worse, unsafe in an accident.
- Engine damage: If your engine drains get clogged, water will spill over and cause rusting in the engine. Engine rust can weaken the exhaust system, eat away at the engine, and damage the trunk region, eventually making the trunk more susceptible to water leaks.
- Car floor: Wet boots and shoes track in snow and mud, which if aren’t cleaned up or given time to dry, can rust and eat away at the floor of the car.
- Underside damage: The underside of your car is most susceptible to winter rust damage. It’s bombarded with snow and salt flung up by your car tires. Rust can create oil or fuel leaks.
How to Prevent Rust on Car in Winter
The best way to avoid rust damage to your car during the winter is to take steps to prevent it from happening in the first place. There are steps you can take both before and during the winter season to keep your car safe from rust damage.
Before the weather turns cold, take these steps on how to prevent rust on your car:
- Apply a coat of oil treatment on the underside of your car. The manufacturer may have treated the underside to prevent rust, but the protective coat wears off eventually. You can buy a spray-on protection that will protect your car from salt and moisture at an auto shop.
- Purchase rubber floor mats. Protect the inside of your car from salt and water you track in on your feet by placing rubber mats in your car. Putting them in before winter will guarantee you’re prepared for the first storm.
- Wash and inspect your car. As the winter turns cold, give your car a good wash and inspect it for any signs of rust. Check it regularly throughout the winter and be aware of any changes to the color or exterior of your car. Consider getting your car a pre-winter check-up at an auto shop.
- Wax your car’s exterior. This will give it a protective coating and fill in any cracks in the paint.
- Clear out your drains. Every car has drains throughout, usually along the bottom of doors, in the floors, and in the tailgate—consult your owner’s manual to find your car’s drains. They can get clogged with leaves and dirt and cause problems, so clean them out before winter starts to make sure water can drain well.
Follow these steps throughout the winter months to keep your car safe from rust:
- Keep your car washed. Wash your car after every big storm, as well as when it may have been exposed to salt or sand on the road. This might seem excessive, but it’s the best way to remove the salt and other chemicals that speed up the rusting process. Aim to wash your car at least once or twice per month. Avoid washing when temperatures are below freezing, use warm water, and dry the car off when you are done.
- Vacuum the interior regularly. This will remove the salt residue brought in by shoes and protect the car floor from rust.
- Avoid puddles. If you can, drive around them. Salt tends to collect in puddles, and the water may splash chemicals and water up on your car.
How to Remove Rust from Car
If you spot rust beginning to form on your car, never fear: if you treat it now, you can prevent major damage in the future. For minor rusting on the exterior of the car, a simple fix is all you need. Simply apply a liquid or spray rust remover and re-apply paint to the area.
If the rusting is extensive, you’ll need some high-power tools. Use a grinder with a sanding wheel to remove the rust, and dig out any rust that remains. You’ll need to fill holes and dents created in this process with a fiberglass-reinforced body filler.
Sometimes it’s easier to simply replace the part that has rusted through, such as the bumper or muffler. If more than 20 percent of the part has been damaged, save yourself cost and effort by replacing it.
To replace rust-damaged car parts or for products to protect your car from winter rust, check out Wade Auto today.