Check out this informational video about the process of having your vehicle applied with Rust Check.
Rustproofing fact and fiction
November 22nd 2010, by Michael Goetz
What has slowed in recent years is still inevitable: rust. But how can you keep your car looking great without leaving it in the garage?
Back in the late 1970s, the classic Neil Young album, Rust Never Sleeps, was on heavy rotation in my 1973 MGB’s cassette player.
I know this dates me, but that’s the point — I’m of the generation that has had lots of face time with vehicular rust.
Most German automakers even coat the undersides of their vehicles in a material that repels both noise and rust, but undersides are not as vulnerable to rust as the body panels are
You, however, may be of a generation that has not seen such rust-related havoc. Vehicles just don’t rust out like they used to…
Does this mean you forgo any and all anti-rust treatments, and maybe even invite rust as a Facebook friend? The answer is clearly “no": because your vehicle is rusting right now!
Rust works slowly, at first
“It takes five to seven years, for metal to rot completely through,” says Reg Pizzimenti. “First you see little blisters, usually at the bottom lip of the doors. They form like cocoons. Veins sprout out from these cocoons. Then those veins sprout side shoots. Not long after that your beautiful car has a rust spot.”
Pizzimenti operates Reg’s Auto Refinishing in Scarborough, Ontario. He was one of first in this country, to offer an annual rustproofing treatment that used a “wet” product that would penetrate and creep and spread to cover most of a vehicle’s vulnerable metal.
Rust prevention tips
Here is smattering of rust prevention tips from our panel of experts, and one from yours truly…
•If possible, get rust treatments done during warmer weather (for better “creeping” possibilities)
•If you acquire a new or used vehicle in late spring, don’t wait until winter to get it treated. Late spring is just as bad for salt, as mid-winter
•Wax your car, for protection, and so it is easier to clean in the winter
•Don’t wash the underside of your car during winter. When using automatic car washes, select the most “basic” service, which generally excludes underside washing
•Touch-up cans of rust prevention oil are available, and can be used to re-apply critical areas between annual visits
•To stay motivated in the anti-rust fight, play “Rust Never Sleeps” at least once a month on your car’s stereo
He thinks and talks about rust the way Don Cheery thinks and talks about hockey — often and passionately. He’s been in the business for over 32 years, and every time a vehicle has been taken apart in his body shop, he has turned into a crime scene investigator (CSI) specialized in rusticide.
Needless to say, Pizzimenti can hold forth on any rust-related issue, but his main message for vehicle owners is to realize that rust will execute its evil plan, minutes after you drive your shiny new vehicle off the lot.
The other part of the message is that critical areas are actually not under the car, where most people look for, and angst about, rust. Body panels are where you need to bring your A-game.
“Any place where there is two layers of metal touching will create the conditions for rust to develop,” says Pizzimenti. “Moisture will just stay there.”
Those places include the fore-mentioned bottom lip of the doors, as well as wheel arches, hood and trunk lid edges, rocker panels, gas filler areas, spoilers, etcetera — areas generally spot-welded and/or where metal is bent at sharp angles.
Cars are better, cars are worse
No doubt that new cars hold up to rust vastly better than their predecessors. This reality allows automakers to offer very extensive corrosion warranties.
Chrysler Canada’s corrosion warranty, for example, is three years/unlimited metrage (or mileage) on any panel which develops a hole caused by corrosion, or five years/160,000 kilometres, whichever comes first for any outer sheet metal panel where corrosion caused a hole.
Why so confident? “Our corrosion protection starts with galvanealed sheet metal, which is coated with a full e-coat and full body anti-chip primer, and chip resistant paint,” says Daniel Labre, national communications manager for Chrysler Canada.
Most German automakers even coat the undersides of their vehicles in a material that repels both noise and rust. All this is well and good, notes Pizzimenti, but he reminds us once again, that undersides are not as vulnerable to rust, as are body panels.
The Automobile Protection Association (APA) acknowledges that vehicles are much more resistant to rust, and do not show visible signs of rusting until they are over five or six years old. But they also feel that some automakers have taken their eye of the ball, and may be relying too much on the new breed of steel, and not finessing the rust-resistant cause like they did even a decade ago.
“We're seeing more rusting on spoilers, front hood and trunk lids,” says APA president, George Iny. He adds that some automakers now use “glue” in certain low-stress areas, where they previously spot-welded, and that this glue now becomes a magnet for moisture.
Electronic rust control products were originally developed for keeping ships and underground piping from rusting — with good results. But as they need a “perfect loop” to work, the skeptics point that cars are unable to provide that as completely as sea water or wet ground.
Pizzimenti also points to the increased use of sound deadening materials between body panels, which can also retain moisture and become a perfect incubator for rust.
According to the APA, if you live in the “high salt” environments of Central and Eastern Canada, a vehicle older than five or six years will experience mechanical and body deterioration due to corrosion, and that by the seventh or eighth year, this deterioration will usually result in increased maintenance and repair costs, or a reduced market value on resale.
Robert Segreti, vice-president of Rust Check, is obviously “pro treatment,” but suggests that any skeptic need only visit one of their Rust Check locations and watch the cars coming in for their annual applications: “You'll see many 10 to 20 year old vehicles and they look great. Compare them to other vehicles of the same age. It’s very simple; if you’re only keeping your car for a few years, then don’t waste your money. If you plan to keep your car, or run a car that’s over five year old, then use our product.”
Which treatment? And from who?
If we’ve convinced you to seek treatment, the next questions are which ones works best, and where can you get it?
If you’re looking for a “one time” treatment, and live in the Montreal area, the APA recommends Barry's Rustpoofing, which applies its grease-like product everywhere, and takes trim pieces off to do so. That first application costs $425-$700. Retouches are recommended every three years after that, at $100 per.
The APA doesn’t recommend traditional one-time treatments that are tar-based: they are expensive; more difficult to apply on every surface (they don't “creep”); and the material starts to peel after seven or eight years (and when they peel they can trap moisture.)
While drilling a hole in a body panel will not itself void the warranty it is not recommended. Any failure related to the drilling of the panel will not be covered by the manufacturer’s warranties
Reg’s Auto Refinishing, Rust-Check, and Krown Rust Control all are well known and respected purveyors of “annual” anti-corrosion treatments. The product goes on wet, and stays wet. It is designed to creep and penetrate to all vulnerable metal surfaces. Prices vary, but generally range between $100 and $200.
They are obviously many other firms who can provide this service, including new car dealerships. The APA’s George Iny notes that dealers have an “uneven” record in providing a good quality anti-rust product. In other words, some good, some not so good. Do your homework. Ask questions.
Dealers and Canadian Tire and others also offer “electronic” based rust control products. Typically these run several hundred dollars, and offer the advantage of “no drilling.” How? They work by sending a small, constant stream of electrons to metal, inhibiting the formation of Zinc Oxide, one of the main causes of rust.
They have their skeptics. After many of years of trying, Canada has finally certified their use for automobiles.
They were originally developed for keeping ships and underground piping from rusting — with good results. But as they need a “perfect loop” to work, the skeptics point that cars are unable to provide that as completely as sea water or wet ground.
Fear not the drill
The “annual application” tribe likes to drill holes in your vehicle, to get the stuff to the right places. But a lot of people hate to see their vehicle “drilled,” especially if the vehicle is brand spanking new and/or if dealers tell them that drilling could void warranties.
“We only drill if we need to,” says Rust Check’s Segreti. “A lot of new cars now give you access. But for the most part, you will need some drilling to access those body panels.”
But does drilling void your corrosion warranty? “Absolutely not,” says Segreti.
Chrysler Canada’s take: “While drilling a hole in a body panel will not itself void the warranty it is not recommended. Any failure related to the drilling of the panel will not be covered by the manufacturer’s warranties.”
So, if you drill a rocker panel, for example, and that rocker panel rusts out, then the factory would not repair that particular rocker panel. They would still, however, cover any other part of the car.
The APA reports that they have had no complaints from its members at all, about parts that corrode after drilling.