Mechanic Tips

How to Protect Your Car from Salt and Rust in Winter

The cold winter months can wreak havoc on your vehicle if you’re not diligent about protection. Road salts, ice, snow, and moisture promote rust and corrosion, which can quickly damage your car’s underbody and critical components. Don’t let winter ruin your ride – follow these tips to keep your car rust-free all season long.

Wash Regularly

One of the best ways to combat rust is by washing your car frequently in winter. Road salts and grime build up quickly on the underside of your vehicle, so aim to wash at least once a week. Hit the undercarriage with a high-pressure hose to dislodge debris. Then use a sponge and car wash soap to scrub the body. Be sure to thoroughly rinse the salty residue. Washing regularly prevents corrosive agents from having prolonged contact with metal.

Invest In Rust Protection

Consider getting an annual rust protection treatment before winter hits. Professional shops can apply a protective coating to the underbody, cavities, and welded seams that acts as a barrier against moisture and salts. This coating inhibits rust formation and seeps into crevices that are hard to reach when DIY cleaning. Rust protection packages range in price, but provide an added safeguard against corrosion.

Dry Properly

Don’t allow moisture to linger on your car’s surfaces after washing. Use a chamois or microfibre cloth to carefully dry all exterior elements, including door jambs, mirror undersides, and wheel wells where water can hide. Moisture left behind can promote flash rusting as metal rapidly oxidizes. Be vigilant about drying your vehicle thoroughly to prevent this.

Quick Touch-Ups

Even with regular washing, salt and grime build-up is likely over the winter months. Perform quick touch-ups between complete washes to spot clean problem areas prone to collecting debris. Use a spray bottle filled with water to lightly rinse the underbody and wheel wells. Then wipe down with microfibre cloths. This helps inhibit rust formation in hard-to-reach spots.

Store In A Garage

If possible, store your car in a garage to shield it from the elements. Road salts, ice, and snow will have less exposure to wreak havoc. A garage also protects your car’s finish from damage caused by UV rays and temperature fluctuations. However, be sure the garage has adequate ventilation to prevent condensation from forming and contributing to rust.

Lubricate Components

Lubricating essential components is important for preventing rust. Focus on hinges, latches, and any exposed cables that are susceptible to seizing up. Use a light lubricant like WD-40 or silicone spray to keep these moving parts functioning smoothly, protected from moisture, and rust-free. Re-apply monthly.

Check Vulnerable Spots

Periodically inspect your car’s underbody and other vulnerable spots for any rust formation. Catching it early makes rust easier to address. Look along welded seams and joints, inside wheel wells and door jambs, under doors, on exhaust components, and along the subframe. If rust is present, clean and sand the area, then apply touch-up paint.

Avoid Parking On Grass

When parking your car in wintry conditions, avoid setting it on grass or soil. The moisture and salts that collect on your car will transfer to the ground underneath when parked. This accelerates rusting from the underside. If possible, park on paved or gravel surfaces. If not, try to park in different areas of your lawn each time to minimise ground contact in any one place.

Remove Salt Residue

Make an effort to remove salt residue whenever you can. Use a hose to spray wheel wells and wipe down hubcaps. Vacuum or sweep out rock salt from the interior carpets and mats. The longer salt sits, the more damage it can do. Never let it cake on surfaces. Be vigilant about cleaning up spills right away.

Wax Paintwork

A fresh coat of wax before winter provides an added layer of protection against the elements. Car wax seals the exterior paintwork, acting as a barrier against moisture and salt. Re-apply every few months as needed. Avoid waxing if temperatures are near freezing or if the paint is excessively cold. The wax won’t cure properly in extreme temps.

DIY Undercoating

For inexpensive protection, you can apply a DIY undercoating using rubberized or asphalt-based sprays. Clean and then coat the underbody, wheel wells, and lower panels. This creates a protective barrier against corrosion. Re-apply yearly or as directed. While not as durable as professional applications, it adds a defence against winter weather destruction.

Following proactive maintenance steps will help safeguard your vehicle from rust damage all season long. Wash frequently, address problems quickly, store properly, and lubricate as needed. With vigilance and regular care, your car can emerge from winter rust-free and road-ready.

For any car issues big or small this winter, visit us at SNC Automotive in Brendale. Our certified Brendale mechanics have over 20 years of experience servicing all makes and models. We provide affordable rust repair and expert advice to keep your car protected. Book an appointment or call 07 3205 4315 for assistance. Why Choose Us: With decades of experience, we are your trusted local garage for getting cars winter-ready. Our techs provide friendly service and transparent pricing.

FAQs About Protecting Cars From Rust

How often should you wash your car in winter?

Wash your car at least once a week in winter. Washing removes corrosive salts and grime so they don’t have prolonged contact with metal surfaces.

What areas are most prone to rusting?

The underbody, wheel wells, and lower panels are the most vulnerable. Pay extra attention to seams, joints, doors, hinges, exhaust and any exposed cables.

Can DIY undercoating help prevent rust?

Yes, applying a rubberized or asphalt-based spray can provide a protective barrier against moisture and salt. Re-apply annually.

What causes flash rusting?

Leaving moisture behind after washing allows rapid oxidation. Proper drying inhibits flash rusting on metal surfaces.

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