Rust is a killer of older cars. A vehicle that could otherwise be in good condition with good working mechanical parts could be condemned and taken off the road if there is excessive rust, or rust in particular areas (i.e. seatbelt mounts, structural areas) that make the driving of the vehicle potentially dangerous.
Whilst modern day cars are vastly better than cars of the 1970’s and 1980’s in terms of both their build quality and rust prevention treatment, modern cars certainly aren’t immune from this problem either. And much of the rust can often be un-seen; in chassis sections etc underneath the car, suspension components and under carpets and trim.
The annual MOT should identify any areas which are being affected, even if they aren’t, at that stage, an MOT failure. But, don’t solely rely on the annual MOT to assess if your car is rotting.
Is often said that cars rust worse in the U.K than in many other warmer climates because of not only the ‘typical British weather’, but also the way we treat, for example, roads in the winter. Salt, which prevents slip and helps to melt ice on roads, is one of the greatest enemies of a car’s bodywork. If you live by the sea, you only need look at your metal satellite dish to see how quickly, and how badly, airborn salty weather can turn metal to crumbs.
But there are some simple measures that can help prevent, or at least slow down the onset of this dreaded problem. Regular washing of a car will help remove contaminents that can damage paint and get to the metal underneath. Better still, if you can afford to properly protect your paint with several layers of car wax or a ceramic coat, it’ll effectively give another barrier for rust to have to penetrate. When washing your car, a jetwash underneath as far as you can get, and underneath wheel arches would also be beneficial as this is where material like mud and salt can accumulate, and it’s often where the worse of the rust can be found.
If rust has already started to appear, remember that rust is often compared to an iceberg so only the tip is visible with the bulk underneath the paint. But, nevertheless, a competent car enthusiast/owner and/or garage, can use various treatments to kill off existing rust and protect that area going forward. Though this often means paint removal and therefore cost to not only treat the rust, but also to repair the paint. And of course, you should never leave a car’s bodywork exposed, even in the dry without layers of paint as atmospherically alone, the bodywork will start to rust almost immediately.
The worst case scenario, before a car is condemned altogther, is to require metal to be cut out and replaced. This isn’t as uncommon as many people may believe, with many classic and historic cars actually having such replacement panels or sections, available to buy online. If doing this, or particulary box sections, it may be worth considering injecting rust preventing wax, or oil based products into cavities to stop the problem reoccuring from the inside-out.