Is Fixing Your Rusty Car Worth It?
February 14, 2020
There’s a good reason why mechanics nickname car rust “rot.” Like rot, a serious case of rust will destroy your car over time. Fortunately, fixing rust is very possible and affordable ... if you take care of it in a timely manner.
Find out when and if fixing rust on your car is worth it.
Is It Safe To Drive A Car With A Rusted Frame?
A rusted frame will be a major safety hazard if the corrosion is bad enough. Don’t take a chance. Bring your car to a good body shop for the pros to look at. Body shop technicians will put your vehicle up on the lift to inspect it thoroughly from all angles. After assessing structural integrity, they’ll tell you whether an expert welding job could fix the frame or whether you’d be better off just selling the car for scrap.
If you’re shopping for a used car, consider a badly rusted underframe -- as opposed to a few minor rust spots on the car body -- to be a major red flag. Unless you feel like gambling on a potentially pricey repair (which might cost more than the car itself is worth) and the possibility of failing safety inspection, it’s best to just to move on.
How Long Will A Rusty Car Last?
This is a tough question. It depends on where and how badly the car is rusted, as well as how quickly you get it treated. If you have only a small amount of surface rust and look after the problem promptly, you could still be happily driving your car years from now. However, as mentioned above, a rusty frame is far more serious and might mean the car will have to be junked.
One thing for sure... rust WILL spread to other parts of an automobile when left untreated, and sometimes surprisingly fast. That means what started as a slight problem could develop into a very big deal, sooner than you think.
TIP: Save money and hassle -- take proper care of your car and treat any rust spots promptly.
How Much Rust Is Too Much On A Car?
Here’s a question that’s frequently asked before buying a used car. Several considerations are involved:
- Age, mileage, and price. Weigh these factors carefully when forming a decision. Obviously a 15 or 20-year-old car, with 200,000+ kilometres and a bad case of rust, is not a prime candidate for purchase.
- Type of rust. There are 3 types of rust: surface, scale, and penetrating. Surface rust is an easy and affordable fix. Scale rust, exposing the bare metal under the paint, is still repairable, but more difficult. Penetrating rust transforms the car’s steel to iron oxide, turning it brittle and allowing holes to form. This is much more complicated to fix.
- Location of the rust. Corroded supports for the exhaust or fuel tank are clear dangers. Rust on the underframe could negatively impact your ability to drive safely, while rusted body panels might endanger you and your passengers in case of an accident. Penetrating rust in either of these locations can let in water (bad for the vehicle) or exhaust (very, very bad for human beings and pets). Fixing these rust problems might not be worth it.
How To Prevent Rust On A Car?
Keep your car clean and waxed. Washing and waxing your vehicle not only makes it look amazing, but also protects against rust.Wash your car, including the underbody, regularly every two weeks (or as often as once a week in winter, to clean off road salt). Recommended: a professional car wash with clay bar treatment. In addition, apply a coat of wax 2-4 times a year; waxing prior to the first snowfall is especially important when you live in a snowy city like Ottawa.
Catch rust right at the beginning stages. Whenever you rotate your tires – about every 8,000-12,000 kilometres -- check your wheel wells and bumpers, prime areas for the onset of rust. Rinse dirt off with a garden hose and inspect the area with a flashlight. Do you see a rust spot or two? Have it taken care of ASAP. And, by the way, did you know that mud flaps do a great job of protecting against water, snow, salt, and gravel (all rust hazards)?
Beware of scratches in paint. If your car’s paint job gets scratched or otherwise damaged, it’s left vulnerable to rust. Fortunately, there’s an easy fix. As long as the scratch doesn’t expose bare metal, a small spot can often be buffed out by an experienced technician. Otherwise, a body repair expert will be needed to sand away the damaged paint and any incipient rust, and then treat in a 4-step procedure: 1) primer, 2) paint, 3) clear coat, and 4) buffing. Now you’re looking good!
Be gentle with your car. Treat your ride right to prevent those nicks and scratches that eventually lead to rust. Remove snow the right way – use a foam brush without stiff bristles. Avoid placing your bag or briefcase on the car even for a minute and be careful never to let your keys scrape the side.
Find Out Whether Fixing Rust On Your Car Is Worth It
Are you wondering whether your car is worth repairing due to rust? You may be pleasantly surprised. Or perhaps you’d just like to do some preventive maintenance.
For professional automobile advice, care, and repair, choose Bemac. We provide high-quality rust repair, rustproofing, car wash service, repainting, and more!
Deal With Your Rust
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