Is rust-proofing worth the cost?

Not in California, perhaps. But here in Canada, where your car will be assaulted by gravel, ice and salt? You bet.

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by Romana King
January 11th, 2011

From the Dec/Jan 2010 issue of the magazine.

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Rust. It’s a four-letter word that can wreak havoc on a car—and your wallet. So wouldn’t it make sense to pay for some extra protection?

If you lived in California, like Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing at Edmunds.com, he’d tell you after-market rust protection is a waste of time. But you don’t. You live in Canada, where ice, snow, salt and dramatic climate fluctuations, combined with thousands of kilometres of gravel roads, can chip away your car’s built-in protection in no time. Because of that, Edmunds believes that even drivers in temperate areas of Canada would benefit from rust protection.

Much of the damage to your car’s existing rust coating is caused by driving on unpaved roadways, like those found in cot­tage country or at national parks and campgrounds across Canada. “The stones fly up and grind and chip and work at the surfaces on the undercarriage of the car,” explains Edmunds. “This particular kind of damage­—repetitive surface damage—can leave exposed areas that be­come susceptible to corrosion.”

If you update your ride every couple of years, getting a spray-on rust coating isn’t worth it. But if you plan on driving your car into the ground, it can lengthen your car’s life. “The additional protection and cost only makes sense if you plan on keeping your car over the long term,” says Edmunds.

After-market protection costs roughly $150 for 12 to 18 months of protection, says Kirk Robinson, owner of Robinson Auto­motive in Mississauga, Ont. He says rust-proofing can prevent a variety of repairs, such as fuel line corrosion—which can cost $1,000 to fix.

So which type of rust-proof­ing should you go for? That’s easy, says Robinson. “About two years ago the Canadian army tested every rust-proofing brand on the market.” The top pick was Corrosion FREE’s Formula 3000, with an 83% success rate. Other brands rated as low as 28%.

Robinson’s final advice? Wash your car’s undercarriage before taking it in, and stay away from sprays that are thick or waxy. “Those promote air pockets,” he says, “and that’s where you get rust.”

15 comments on “Is rust-proofing worth the cost?

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  2. Would have to respectfully totally disagree with ANY rustproofing what so ever. Rememner Ziebart…? I drive a 1995 BMW 325is with 250,000 km in wintery Calgary. There is not one spot of rust on the vehicle. Buy a well made car, spend the money on hand held washes and a good polish…put the rest into dividend stocks and send your kids to better education. You will be light years ahead.

    Reply

    • I work for a corrosion free shop and although Im a firm believer that it is effective, due to the ammount of ten year old customers with no rust, I also have a friend with a 1989 780i BMW who doesnt get it rust proofed and it is mint.. And the parts rarely need to be changed.. So you are right too!

      Reply

    • Those chemicals are not too healthy either. When you turn on your fan in your car, guess where the air comes from? Plus, newer cars are so well made comparing to cars 10 years ago, that they even put 12 year rust guarantees on them. I can see you may need rust proofing if you have a older car, but the above posters says even that is not always necessary.

      Reply

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  7. Research galvanized steel. I don't think there is a single car manufactured today that is not fully utilizing galvanized steel. The rust proofing/painting process is then reinforced through eletroplating the chasis with a rust resistent primer and then paint and clear coat.

    Some aftermarket places rust proof by drilling through the paneling of the car, which completing breaks the factory electroplating process and accelerates rust.

    Keep in mind that auto manufacturers have teams of chemical and materials engineers whose sole purpose is to find ways of reducing/eliminating rust. Think of this when deciding to have the car rust proofed.

    Reply

    • Is that why Mazda 3s rust…due to use of galvanized steel. Our last car was rust free after 16 years when we sold it to a happy new owner. My present car is now in its 13th year and shows no rust. I use Krown T-40 and apply it myself using my compressor…no holes drilled as I take my door trim panels off.

      Reply

  8. Strange, as someone who works at a Canadian Forces facility that tested rust proofing, the recommended product was Krown T-40. I've been using it since 1990 and that was 9 years before those tests came out. I know it works.

    Reply

  9. I have a Saturn and it is mostly made up of plastic and still it rusts as well as Honda, Mazda etc. All cars do even the most expensive ones, but less of course. We buy what we can afford and do our best to protect our cars, but in Canada roads are best and weather changes, so rust happens!

    Reply

  10. I've heard this same story for 30 years. "Rust? That only happens on the older cars. The newer ones use the new XYZ process and don't have the problem. Why I have a <whatever> with no rust." Baloney! Automakers have used galvanized panels and dipped sub-frames forever. As soon as a metal car gets older, cars in the rust belt turn into rust buckets like all of the rest in rust belt junk yards unless you employ some method to slow it down. Since when is it in the auto makers best interest to make a car you don't need to replace? The unitized construction methods cars have moved to starting in the 60's has exasperated the problem with all of their double metal spot welded areas that trap water and salt. The only reason they have rust warranties is competition, and wait until you try to collect. The only place a metal car doesn't rust is where it has an oil leak, and why the most successful systems to prevent rust today are basically that. The problem is those need to be re-applied every year or two. The heavy coatings used so often in the past seemed to make things worse by trapping water underneath themselves on both flat surfaces and the spot weld seams. The tricis picking the right product because you cannot for instance get something to stick to metal you've been soaking with oil and/or wax in the past.

    Reply

  11. Isn’t this the absolute worst type of journalism; a product endorsement disguised as an informative article?
    Obviously Romana King is a big fan of the “Corrosionfree Brand” rust proofing. King’s comment “Formula 3000, with an 83% success rate. Other brands rated as low as 28%” is not very informative, and somewhat deceptive by omission.
    Why not inform your readers of all the ratings, for all the companies involved in the study? So they, your readers, can compare for themselves, and make an informed decision?
    Especially when you consider the cost can range from $150.00 for F-3000 to $95.00 for other well established brands.

    How well or poorly did each of the other companies do? Is F-3000 really worth the extra $55.00

    Did second place score 82.99%? We don’t know, your article left us with more questions than before we read it.

    Onmitch

    Reply

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