Importance of Rustproofing & 3 Car Rust Protection Treatments
Our harsh Canadian winters require special treatments. Preparing our vehicles mechanically with fresh oil changes, fluid top-offs, tire rotations, and braking component checks is common practice in every province. Some of us also have to go through tire changes, whether due to recommendations or mandates from our specific provinces.
We discuss this more in our article with 5 easy ways to prepare your car for winter.
But beyond the negative effects of winter on powertrain and driveline components, the vehicle’s body should also be considered. After all, it is exposed to the elements every time you go for a drive. And although your vehicle’s paint is coated to withstand the snow and rain, wintry roads come with elements that can severely damage your vehicle’s body (especially the underbody).
Salt and calcium has long been spread on roads to ensure everyone’s safety. While very efficient at de-icing the roads, these materials can be very bad for metals and can rust out your undercarriage enough to compromise its integrity. Nothing in the automotive business costs more than paint, chassis, and body work.
The best preventive maintenance you can do to keep your undercarriage healthy is to perform rustproofing treatment. The sooner and more often you do it, the better the odds of avoiding damage and stopping corrosion in its tracks.
What is the best car rust protection for a car?
Rustproofing treatments come in many forms. Let's look at the different treatment options that are available to understand the implications for your time and budget.
Most expensive: the grease-based treatment
A grease-based treatment is the costliest option and should be performed during the first year of ownership. Thankfully, this treatment will last for the entire lifetime of the car. Some treatments will recommend touch-ups after five or six years in order to maintain complete protection. Also, if you will most probably swap our parts during the years that you own the vehicle as part of regular maintenance, or because the vehicle has been implicated in a collision. These will have to be treated in time. This treatment can be done directly by the dealership or in a specialized workshop.
Most common: the good old oil treatment
A conventional oil treatment is the most common type of rustproofing and is relatively inexpensive compared to the grease-based option. However, this treatment must be done, ideally, every year because it wears off with the elements. If your vehicle’s make/model is prone to corrosion, it is even more essential to follow the yearly schedule to avoid rust penetration. However, considering the fact that the product adheres better on warmer surfaces, it is better to complete before the winter for maximum results.
For a long time, oil treatments were notorious for causing oil stains and dripping. In addition, the implication of drilling holes in key components discouraged drivers from going back. However, oil rustproofing methods have evolved and oil spillage is much more contained than it used to be.
As for the holes, they are there for a reason. They essentially allow the technician to access areas of the car where salt and calcium accumulate, guaranteeing optimal, long-term protection on every part of the vehicle. Most rustproofing technicians will also seal the holes with plastic caps in order to keep everything nice and tidy under there.
Alternative methods including electronic rust protection
You might’ve heard of several other “alternative” rustproofing techniques, whether from your enthusiastic brother-in-law or on late night television. Electronic rust protection falls into that category.
This is how it works: your 12-volt battery serves as a power source for an electric module that transmits a current to the vehicle’s underbody. This current prohibits rust from forming. While this can be effective on plain surfaces made of a single type of metal, a car is made from a variety of materials, such as plastics, rubber, and aluminum, which do not conduct the current the same way – or sometimes not at all.
Unfortunately, this makes the treatment ineffective (and drains current from your battery in the winter when you need it the most).
Whether you’re opting for the permanent grease-based protection option or the more common oil-based rustproofing option, your car should be impeccably clean before application for the treatment to work properly.
In addition, it is always wise to keep your vehicle clean year-round and wash off any potential contaminants to minimize the chances of breakthrough corrosion that could compromise the process.