5 Tips to Prevent Your Car from Rusting in Winter

How to Protect Your Car From Rust This Winter

Car rust can quickly lower the resale value by thousands of dollars. However, repairing rust on a vehicle can also cost far more than what you are willing to spend. For that reason, it makes more sense for you to focus on how to prevent a car from rust, to begin with.

In this article, we look specifically at how you can prevent rusting during winter since this is the time when the car is most susceptible. We also discuss why prevention is so important. At the end of the guide, you will get some answers to a few questions you’ve been asking. 

How to Prevent Your Car From Rusting In Winter

During winter, make sure you are providing regular car washes and applying a coat of wax. You should also apply an undercoating and buy rubber floor mats to prevent damage to the interior. Finally, make sure you clean out all of the drains, which often get clogged and cause problems.

Let’s examine these steps in depth. 

1. Regular Car Washes

car wash

The simplest way to prevent rust on the car is to wash it. During winter months, you may be driving in ice, snow and slush. Additionally, roads can be treated with Sodium Chloride, otherwise known as salt, which is highly corrosive to the car body. If you don’t get these substances off the body, rust is going to form. 

There are other benefits to washing your car. It will look new and shiny, making it more attractive. Washing the car also helps to prevent scratches and scuffs from debris that sits on the paint. 

Here are some basic car wash tips to follow.

  1. Choose a high-quality car wash soap. Avoid using dish soap.
  2. If your wash mitt or towels touch the ground, don’t use them on the car.
  3. Use two buckets – one for cleaning off the mitt and another for getting soapy water.
  4. Avoid washing your car in direct sunlight, as it can bake the soap into the paint.
  5. Use a microfiber cloth for drying.

Ideally, you should wash your vehicle every week during winter. Aside from that, we also recommend taking your car to a professional cleaner once every season. A high-quality detail is something your car deserves occasionally. 

RELATED: How Much Does a Car Wash Cost?

2. Apply a Coat of Wax

wax car

Aside from washing the car, you should also apply a layer of wax. By waxing it twice a year, you can prevent rust. A good wax supplies a layer of protection between the moisture and car paint.

There are several different types of car wax to choose from. Here are some of the most popular.

  • Synthetic wax: created in a lab and designed to last longer
  • Natural wax: carnauba wax and beeswax are all natural products, but they don’t last as long
  • Cleaner wax: combines elements to clean and wax at the same time
  • Hybrid wax: combines a synthetic wax with some ceramic coating for additional protection

There are also several different forms of wax. You can choose a liquid wax, spray or paste, depending on the finish you want and how much time you have to complete the job.  

If you don’t park in a garage, you may prefer waxing the car more often since it’s always sitting in the elements. Here are some basic waxing steps to consider.

  1. Apply the wax to the car surface, one section at a time.
  2. Rub the wax in with a microfiber cloth. Take your time as you work it into each panel.
  3. Buff any remaining wax product with the other side of your towel.
  4. Repeat as needed.

You can also apply some wax products with a buffer. Follow the instructions given with the product you use. 

3. Undercoating Rustproofing Application

car rust protection

If you live in a harsh environment or are struggling to prevent rust under the vehicle, consider choosing a special coating applied by a professional. While this is an ideal step for anyone driving on salt-treated roads, it’s also beneficial if you live near the Gulf of Mexico or the ocean since the air is filled with salt. 

If you have a lease or don’t plan to keep the car, you won’t want to spend the money on rustproofing. However, this is a good investment for anyone planning to keep the car for many years. 

4. Buy Rubber Floor Mats

car rubber floor mat

Interior floor mats may not seem like a good way to prevent rust, but they serve a mighty purpose. As you walk across ice and snow, your shoes carry slush into the car. As the moisture melts and seeps into the car carpet, it can cause rust, especially if salt is included.

However, a good set of rubber floor mats prevents the carpets from getting wet. The best part about this step is that you don’t need to spend a lot of money. For most cars, you can find a set of floor mats for less than $50. 

5. Clean the Drains

car door drains

Your car has several drains built in that you may never have known about. There are car door drains, as well as some in the trunk and windshield. 

Starting at the bottom of your door, you will see a rubber strip that covers the drain. You may also find some near the shock towers or towards the windshield washer motor cowl. Another location is found by the taillights, but this section can be tough to access at times. You should also look for a drain hole near the spare tire in your trunk. 

These drains can get clogged, which only keeps moisture from draining properly. As the moisture builds up and sits on the frame of the car, it causes rust. You could carefully use a safety pin or needle to clear up the blockage. Some people use pressurized air to push it out as well. 

To prevent blockage in the future, keep the area around the drain holes clean. If leaves and other dirt build up on your car, these drains are going to become blocked again. 

Prevention Is Easier Than Repair

As with all things, it’s easy to prevent rust than to repair it. In reality, there’s very little cost or time involved in preventing rust. Making simple changes, such as being careful where you park, can make a big difference. If you can park in a garage, you are already a step ahead of many.

Knowing that rust can cause the resale value to drop thousands of dollars, you may choose to repair the damage before trying to sell your vehicle. Not only does this cost a lot of money, but it’s going to cause you to be without the vehicle while it’s repaired.

In many cases, it’s not worth paying to have the rust repaired. Forbes suggests that “it is virtually never worth repairing on a modern vehicle.” With fewer repair shops embarking on the repair, you may also have trouble getting the work done.

The only way to ensure you don’t need to make these decisions is to keep the rust from occurring in the first place. Treat your car as if it could give you thousands more dollars when it comes time to sell it because it can without any rust. 

Does washing your car in winter prevent rust?

Yes, rust is going to develop where moisture, road salt and snow accumulate. By washing off these substances and ensuring the car is dry once it is clean, you help to prevent rust. Ideally, you would wash your car once a week during winter. 

Will a car rust from one winter?

Not normally. It generally takes time for rust to set in from repeated moisture. However, if the car has had a large amount of salt on the body or is always covered in moisture, the rust is going to occur faster than normal. Either way, you want to protect your car to ensure it doesn’t rust this year or five years from now.

How do I keep my car from rusting?

Start by washing the car regularly. Twice a year, you should always apply a high-quality wax to the body. Look into some underbody rust protectants that can be applied. Aside from that, it’s important to keep the drains cleaned and you can put floor mats in the car. Finally, try to park in a garage to avoid the elements.

How often should I wash my car to avoid rust?

During mild weather, you can wash the car every two weeks for basic protection. During winter, you should wash your vehicle once a week. It’s also important to apply wax twice a year. On top of that, we recommend getting the car professionally detailed every few months.  

Is a little rust on a car OK?

Surface rust is considered a cosmetic imperfection in the paint. If it’s not dealt with immediately, it will eventually eat through the metal frame, leaving permanent damage and holes in the car. When it is severe, it can start to affect the structural integrity of the vehicle. 

If you drive in winter weather, you have to take more steps to protect your vehicle from rust. It might be fun to look at snow-covered roads, but there’s nothing about it that the car likes. As professionals, we see a lot of damage caused by winter weather, some in the form of mechanical failures and others through corrosion.

Thankfully, it’s not hard to prevent rust from occurring. By adding a little more car care time to your schedule, you can keep your vehicle looking as good as new, which pays off when you want to sell it. 

Categories: Cleaning & Detailing, Guides, Paint

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