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Summary
  • The antenna, areas below the body moldings and trim, and cracks and corners of your vehicle are some of the car parts that are most susceptible to rust.
  • To stop rust from forming on your car, you should wash your car regularly, keep the drain plugs open, and apply a wax or ceramic coat to your car.
  • You can also try repainting your car, rinsing your car after driving in the winter, and keeping your car’s interior clean and dry to prevent rust from forming.

Rust is one of the last things you want to see on your car. Not only does it mar your vehicle’s good looks, but it also damages the affected part. A rusty part is more likely to underperform and is at risk of breaking down.

Once rust sets into a part, removing the damage is usually going to be more trouble than it’s worth (If it ever gets that bad, you can check out our article on how you can remove rust without resorting to a welder.) That’s why prevention is the best cure. Save yourself the cost of repairing or replacing rusted parts in the future by taking simple steps to prevent corrosion from taking even a square inch.

Which Car Parts Are Prone to Rust?

Some parts are more prone to rust than others. There are various reasons for their vulnerability. They could be located outside your car, exposed to the elements, or they could have shapes that collect dirt and water.

rust developing on car undercarriage
Some parts are more prone to rust than others.

Below is a list of the car parts that are the most susceptible to rust:

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How to Stop Rust on a Car

Here are the most common and effective methods of stopping rust from forming on your car:

Wash Your Car Regularly

That’s right. One of the best weapons against rust is water. Specifically, it’s water combined with car wash soap to get rid of the dirt, salt, and mud on your car.

Dirt doesn’t directly cause rust, but it can damage the paint and outermost layers of stainless steel that repel air and water. Once those protective layers are damaged, the part becomes vulnerable to corrosion.

To reduce the risk of rust, wash your car every two weeks. If you live in an area where there’s salt on the roads in the winter, you might want to wash your car once a week during that period, as we’ll discuss later on. You don’t have to go to a car wash. Save fuel and burn some carbs by doing the job yourself. Use proper car wash soap—household detergent can strip protective wax from your car, making it more vulnerable to rust.

Don’t forget to wash your car’s undercarriage as well as the exterior. Pay extra attention to the wheel well—it tends to get dirty, especially when you drive off-road.

Keep the Drain Plugs Open

There are areas in your car that can collect water because of their shape and location. The space under the car doors and the edges of the trunk and hood are examples of these areas.

These parts usually have drain plugs that eliminate water in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, debris can clog the plugs and prevent them from draining properly. Check these drain plugs regularly and clear them out.

Apply a Wax Coat or Ceramic Coat to Your Car

Add another layer of corrosion protection to your vehicle by waxing it. A wax coat protects against minor damage and ultraviolet rays that can ruin the paint. It also stops fading and keeps your car looking new.

Experts recommend applying a new coat of wax at least twice every year. Make sure to use enough wax to block UV light and reduce the damage caused by minor impacts. If you’re willing to put in the effort, wax your car after washing it to renew whatever protection was lost.

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If you don’t want to keep reapplying car wax every few weeks, you can try applying a ceramic coating on your car. It’s a liquid polymer that bonds with the paint and can withstand more stress than wax. Depending on the weather in your region, ceramic coating can last for years.

Rust Prevention Kits

When restoring or replacing metal components on your vehicle such as subframes, axles, or control arms, you can use a rust-protector kit such as this one from POR 15.

This kit creates a non-porous surface that seals and protects metal from water, chemicals, salt, battery acid, fertilizers, and other corrosive contaminants.

Repaint Your Car

Paint does more than simply make your car look good. It also serves as the first line of defense against corrosion by shielding metal parts from direct exposure to the environment.

man performing repainting on car rear
Paint does more than simply make your car look good.

Unfortunately, paint will also degrade over time. The clear coat can get damaged by things like minor collisions and fender benders, debris kicked up by the tires and objects like branches falling on it.

If the paint was improperly sprayed on the body panel or part, air bubbles can form beneath the layer. Not only does the exposed part or patch look bad, but it becomes more likely to rust.

Once you notice any major damage to your car’s paint job, take it to a trusted body shop for restoration. It costs far less to retouch or apply a new clear coat than to get rid of rust or replace a corroded part.

Rinse Your Car After Driving in the Winter

Here’s another tip that will seem weird at first. If you live in a state that experiences winter and drive a lot during that time, rinse your car at least once a week.

Many states apply de-icing salt to the roads during winter to keep them free of slippery snow and ice. The salt is harsh and corrosive⁠—it can damage exposed metal and encourage rust to form on the surface. Whenever you drive on de-iced road surfaces, the salt gets sprayed onto your car.

A thorough wash will get rid of the salt that got splashed onto your car after driving over a de-iced road. You don’t have to clean your vehicle every time you come home. Once a week will suffice in most cases.

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Keep Your Car’s Interior Clean and Dry

We’ve already covered how dirt can create an opening for rust to form on a metal part. Liquids are a more obvious cause of corrosion.

So be thorough in cleaning up any leak or spill in your car⁠—evaporated fluid can make the cabin’s atmosphere more humid. Floor mats can make your job easier by catching dirt, debris, and liquids before they reach the flooring.

Rust is not an issue you should take lightly. But it’s not an insurmountable problem, either. As long as you stay alert and follow the tips above, you can keep your car free of rust for a very long time.

Where to Get All-Purpose Cleaners for Your Vehicle

As mentioned, one of the best ways to keep rust at bay is by regularly cleaning your ride. While being thorough is crucial, the task will be easier if you use effective all-purpose car cleaners to wash your daily driver. You can find high-quality cleaners with just a few clicks here at CarParts.com.

Rust is no laughing matter — that’s why we only stock top-notch all-purpose cleaners. Take your pick from our catalog, place your order, and get it in as fast as two business days, thanks to our strategically located warehouses across the county.

If you have questions, give us a call using our toll-free hotline, and our round-the-clock customer service team will be ready to assist you. For immediate product returns, simply file a claim through our returns center, and we’ll issue you a full refund.

Enjoy the best prices on car cleaners when you shop from us. Shop now to take advantage of our unbeatable prices!

About The Author
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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