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Atlantic Racing Scene

Our exclusive look at
Rust prevention

xBy Jay Lerue

In an earlier issue of Auto Atlantic, I talked about how cars from the Southern US can really turn heads, considering their overall pristine condition. Of course, this is a result of a lack of road salt in those areas, which is incredibly caustic and harsh, where metal cars are concerned. This time, I want to talk about how undercoating affects the overall longevity of your car, particularly if you are going to drive the car year round. Have you ever noticed an older car, still in great shape after say, after 15 years and wondered how could this be possible in Atlantic Canada?

Proper application of undercoating, involves covering all areas. Here, the technician injects undercoating in the hidden areas, under the hood.

Well, it’s either been restored, with new paint and possibly body work, or it’s been undercoated regularly. You’ve probably noticed the stickers on the rear windows of cars, illustrating the respective years that the car was undercoated.
There’s no secret to the fact that having your car undercoated on an annual basis will work for you in the long run.

I want to focus on the ins and outs of how and why undercoating our cars has become a popular and accepted practice, here in Atlantic Canada. Undercoating your car offers a protective barrier between the metal of your car’s parts and the elements around you.

Water and salt are the main culprits to protect against. Protecting your car’s vulnerable parts with quality undercoating will significantly slow down the corrosion process of your vehicle, promoting its longevity, and offsetting the often expensive repair/replacement costs.

Let’s face it, our Atlantic climate is not the friendliest to our cars (particularly winter!) and we have to do what we can to protect our vehicles, as best we can. Where undercoating is concerned, you have a couple of choices. You can do it yourself, with the spray can style of undercoating you can buy at any automotive outlet, or take your car to a professional to have it undercoated.

The “do it yourself” guys may save some money initially, but there are virtues to bringing your car into a respected outlet and having it done for you as well. For example, anyone who has ever applied the spray on, rubberized undercoating themselves, has to be aware of the potential (and hard to clean up) horrendous mess that this stuff can create! Get this stuff on you and you can throw your clothes away for the most part. Not fun!

The other issues found herein include the fact that it’s impossible to cover every area on the vehicle with this method and many hard to reach places are often left unprotected. Very often, these are the areas that are most prone to corrosion.

It’s effective as long as the protective surface is not damaged, but when damage occurs, no matter how small, rust will occur. Cracking at the body joints, stone chips, scratches, peeling and brittleness of the home applied undercoating, can result in water getting trapped between the metal (forming “bubbles” sometimes an inch or more across) and the undercoating allowing rust to form where you can’t see it until it’s too late.

An undercoating technician makes certain that the doors of a vehicle are properly protected, by injecting undercoating inside..

At the very least, a reputable undercoating professional will be more experienced and knowledgeable in getting to those more vulnerable areas of your vehicle, serving up a better protective barrier. Professionals can also get into your doors and fenders easier than you will at home, making the undercoating job more sound.

As far aswhat undercoating is made out of, there seems to be a few different materials used, ranging from oil and tar to even wax based products. Another style, called “non drip”, acts as a thick coat of very dense protective material over vulnerable metal parts. Grease and graphite was a popular “at home” method in the past, but has since become far less used, due to the mess involved and also the fact that working on a car where grease and graphite has been applied ends up being a nightmare for a mechanic!

I’ve heard a rumour that when a mechanic has to work around this stuff, they usually charge more for their services. OUCH!

So, the option is to either do-it-yourself and risk not doing it properly, or take it in to a facility that specializes in this type of work, offers a guaranteed warranty, and does a professional and thorough job.

I’m not suggesting that one method is the only way to go, since either method is better than not undercoating at all. But while some motorists may be inclined to complain about having to bring their cars in annually for a fresh application of proven rust protection, wise motorists wanting to maintain the rust-free appearance and re-sale value of their vehicle, will consider it a good investment.

You can Email Jay here